We have another MASSIVE episode in store for you here! Scott and Ray chat with Steven Black, Facebook and Amazon marketer, about buyer psychographics, customer retention, and the different ways to segment and determine your brand’s niche and subsegments.
In this jam-packed episode, Steven discusses how to properly communicate the solutions to the various pain points of customers & how conveying these messages correctly can lead to a strong & passionate community of loyal fans. He also goes DEEP into finding your brand’s key differentiator & intangible value to cut through competition, especially for highly competitive verticals.
The discussion also gets into case studies and real-life examples of how personalization & specializing content for your audience works better for you in the long run (hint: it’s about customer retention). Steven drops a lot of insights and pro-tips here in this episode, you wouldn’t want to miss it!
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0:00 – 0:27 – G&G eCommerce Podcast Theme
This is the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast, powered by Right Hook Digital, with your hosts Scott Seward & Raymond Johnston. If you’re an eCommerce brand founder, entrepreneur, or marketer looking to accelerate profitable growth for your business, then listen in ‘cause this is the podcast for you.
0:27 – 21:15 – Introduction of guest Steven Black
Scott (0:27 – 0:52) – Okay, welcome back! We’ve had a little hiatus of late. Things have been a little bit crazy, prepping for Q4, and we’ve meant to get around to this earlier. Super pumped, we have the one and only Steven Black with us today. We are gonna be diving deep into customer psychographics, positioning, all of these, sort of, untouched areas that we don’t really dive into too often. Steven, welcome!
Steven (0:52 – 0:57) – Thank you so much for having me. Glad to be here, glad to be able to help any way I can.
Scott (0:57 – 1:51) – Looking forward to it ‘cause I think we’re gonna dive into some areas that, you know, don’t get covered that deeply too often. Everyone’s so focused on the paid advertising, the acquisition, the hacks, the tricks, the structures – these areas – and when it really comes down to it, that’s not really what drives people to buy, to purchase. I think we want to dive into this and understand, I think, more, especially around the aspirational type brands where you’re not necessarily directly solving or communicating, you know, a “pain,” something that’s dealing with a personal issue, or a physical issue, or something like that where you can create an easy messaging around it. The journey for buying something that you wanna buy and why people buy those things, it makes you look good, it makes you feel good, the deeper level areas.
Steven (1:51 – 2:31) – Yeah, that’s absolutely my bag of candy, helpful, happy to do all of that. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about, actually. You said brands that don’t actually solve a problem like something, somebody maybe sells like plumbing accessories or something like that, right? We’ll found out, with the questions I know you guys are gonna end up asking me is, the problems are there, they’re just not as visible, and that’s what we’re gonna talk most about. I’m gonna boil it down to where there’s just a few little criteria that you say, ok, if it’s this, this, this, now we know how to proceed here. It’s pretty straightforward when you actually boil it down so ready to jump in.
Ray (2:31 – 2:50) – So, Steven, I love that segway. You talked about going deeper and I love that. Some few people go deep enough, and I have a lot of questions, but I wanna ask. Give us just a background of you, how you got into what you’re doing, and I guess what really turned you on to this idea of going deeper.
Steven (2:50 – 3:04) – Okay, so 16 years ago is when it all started; long, long time ago and I wasn’t a digital marketer then. I was actually a professional ballroom dancer.
Ray (3:04 – 3:05) – No way!
Steven (3:05 – 4:50) – Yeah, absolutely. I was a professional ballroom dancer, travelled all over the world, did all of that. And here’s the thing, and this was the last time I worked for somebody else. People that come into dance do not come in to dance. That’s not the reason that they’re coming in. They’re not coming in to learn body flight or better hip action or, you know, a better tango quarter, that’s not what they’re looking for. There’s deeper, underlying things that we have to address that are emotional holes and personal issues. They want to be significant amongst their peers. They want to feel accepted by people that they admire and have aspired to be like. They’re lonesome, they need people to be around that have a like interest that aren’t as judgmental because everyone is terrible at dancing when they start, okay? Now, what I figured out pretty quick was, okay, this is the things I need to start addressing, but it’s ballroom dancing. That’s a tiny, local market, right? I sold half a million dollars a year in dance lessons, based on, like, an 80% repeat purchase rate and just retention. So everything I knew to do was setting people up to come back in. I had to be their favorite place, I had to touch them as often as possible. And so, to do that, I had everything sorted out. I had, you know, I guess the scripts I would use, the formatting I would use, kind of like we do in digital marketing now, where you test creatives, you test copy…
Ray (4:51 – 4:53) – Is that face-to-face, Steven? You do it face-to-face?
Steven (4:53 – 4:54) – Yeah, face-to-face.
Ray (4:54 – 4:56) – Oh, wow, okay. Nice!
Steven (4:55 – 5:06) – I had to where about 60% of the people I met from total stranger, within 3 months, you’re gonna spend $10,000 dollars on dancing.
Ray (5:06 – 5:10) – You got the personas down ‘cause, like, different people from different walks of life come in, yeah.
Steven (5:11 – 5:14) – I had it totally nailed.
Ray (5:14 – 5:16) – How many? How many personas did you have?
Steven (5:16 – 5:32) – There were a few. I taught it to the staff around me. We, collectively, as a staff, we were doing 4-5 million dollars in dancing at one studio, out of a local market.
Ray (5:31 – 5:32) – That’s a lot.
Steven (5:32 – 7:25) – Out of a local market, selling dance lessons? That’s some, talk about a tougher sale than that, right? But I figured out how to talk to people, I figured out what the dynamics were, how to spot what people were really looking for. And so, I ended up opening my own studio in 2014. Was it earlier than that? It might have been earlier than that, it was a long time ago. Anyway, I opened up my own studio, and I knew how to bring people back in, but I didn’t know how to market. I was like, ‘oh, boy!’ This is a whole lot different than I know how to do my thing. I know how to be good at my service or my product. So I jumped on Facebook and the original Facebook Ad Buyers group by our buddy Tim Burd, I was part of that group before it was 3,000 people. So I reached out to him via direct message and said, ‘This is what I got going on. You know you’re the big guy here. Everyone keeps tagging you. What do I do?’ And he basically said, ‘Read, apply, and shut up. Don’t respond until you’ve tried stuff and figured it out.’ And I just did it. I brought in people, I figured out how to do the local thing, and off we go! Okay, cool! I figured out the marketing side from that by having to bring people in, basically, a local lead gen was the model, right? We all know what that is, but then keeping people coming back. How do I do that? Well, if I had to spend all of my time teaching some of the dance lessons on top of the staff that I hired, and running a business, well, how do you keep that as the most important thing in people’s lives? You build a content repository so you keep the experience in their hand. What I did is, after every lesson, I would video their lesson, like a sequence, like a little two-minute tip thing, here’s what we did.
Ray (7:25 – 7:28) – Every person? You recorded every person?
Steven (7:28 – 7:29) – Every single lesson.
Ray (7:29 – 7:30) – Wow. Did you have a guy in-house, that’s all they did?
Steven (7:30 – 8:16) – No, we did it all on phones. We uploaded it to a Google Drive with their name on it. And so, we can email them and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re gonna work on next time we’re in here. Make sure you look at this.’ Now, there’s homework. Why? Because all of a sudden, it was on their mind, I have to do this. It’s touching them again, it’s getting them to go back over again. It’s getting them to reinvest themselves as far as time, they’re getting more out of it as a customer experience, and it already prompts them that they’re going to come back in. All of the group classes, we did it by levelling by dance in a Google Drive, and anybody could come in and access it. That was it; we email them, this is your group class that you did, check it out – this is what we’re gonna work on next week, off you go. That kept it in people’s hands.
Ray (8:15 – 8:32) – Steven, I have a big question on that. Two questions, would you ever find that people, one, maybe self-defeating at the video of themselves, or would you ever kind of… this is what you’re gonna be doing in 6 months or this is what you’re gonna be doing in 9 months?
Steven (8:32 – 9:09) – Yeah, so, this is part of what we’re gonna get into when we talk about our fashion or jewelry brands. It’s aspirational content. When you have people that are saying, ‘Okay, this is where I am. Where does this go?’ You can show people. Wedding dances were actually the easiest because you can take people and you can say, ‘Hey, you know, I can clearly see, dude, you’re nervous about this. I’m not gonna have you walk out there and look like a clod, or going out there and looking like you’re doing some stuffy something with your bride having your big moment. No way, we’re not doing that garbage.’ You just talk to people real like that, talk to people normal.
Ray (9:08 – 9:14) – Love the wedding niche. Wedding niche is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Steven (9:14 – 10:43) – What we did is we showed them wedding dances. We had a reel, like if this is what you want, just click. It was a 3-lesson deal. We can do this, this, and this. ‘They only did 3 lessons?’ That’s all it takes. 3-lessons, you’ll have your day. You’ll never have to see me again. Simple as that. People would take that and they’d come back in for group classes sometimes, or they’d refer people, or you’d have a higher average order value (AOV) because, now, they do their wedding dance and they wanna buy another 2 packages for the parents. You’d go from something that’s, like, a $300 AOV to, like, a $1,200 AOV just because you helped give them a good experience. Simple as that. That’s very, very helpful if you can keep rolling that and you know your numbers and you know, on average, how you can upsell people that way ‘cause you can then arrange the pieces. We do it all the time in digital marketing, right? But that content was so, so easy. Now, as far as the self-defeating part, yes, sometimes, people like, oh I don’t like watching myself on video. I say, that’s okay. I will always tell people this. That’s okay, it could be worse, it’s not a sex tape, because of that reaction you just had. People laugh and they go, ‘Okay, alright, alright.’ You’re not being graded on this. This doesn’t make your life. This is just so you know, this is what we’re talking about and you can check it out. I don’t need you to be good at it…
Ray (10:43 – 10:46) – I like how you anchor that, by the way.
Steven (10:45 – 10:46) – Tell me.
Ray (10:47 – 10:54) – I like how you anchor that to the worst case scenario, so automatically, you remove the obstacle. That was clever.
Steven (10:54 – 11:52) – Bingo! Bingo, bingo, bingo. Yeah, that’s a copywriting thing. Anchoring to their biggest roadblock and just calling it out. Say, ‘look, it’s not gonna be this, and you’re not looking to be perfect.’ I also, not only anchored it. I framed the lens with which they’re viewing the situation. You’re not trying to be better at it. You’re trying to be conscious of it so, when you come back in, you’re a little better, and you can move through the material faster, and graduate to the next part. That way, they’re getting more for their money. That’s how I did the whole thing. Now, fast forward, few years went by, I have two kids, and I got to a point where, what does dancing do for you? You’re always there nights and you’re always there weekends – I was smoked. I was making good money, but I hated it. I was at that point where all of us that scale a business get to where we don’t want anybody, including our family, to get in the way of growing the business, but we hate our business because we can’t spend time with family. It drives you in circles…
Scott (11:53 – 11:55) – Don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t know what you’re talking about.
Steven (11:45 – 12:14) – Takes you to very dark places. So, I was there, and I had it coming up, I had 2 studios by that point, actually, and they were both coming up on lease within, like, a few weeks of each other, and I told my landlord, I was like, ‘Nope, not gonna renew.’ He was like, ‘What are you gonna do? Sell the business?’ ‘Nope, I’m getting out.’
Ray (12:12 – 12:16) – Just shut down. Wow!
Steven (12:14 – 12:47) – Just shut them down. I gave all, so I rehomed, basically, all 8 of my teachers. I made sure they had a studio to go to, and I told the student body and I made sure that they were all with their teachers, but what have I been doing before that? I had it to a point where, think about this, in a local market – local, local, local – I had 150 – 200 people in my dance studio every single Friday night to dance. That’s not something you can get anywhere that’s not a bar.
Ray (12:47 – 12:48) – Nope.
Steven (12:49 – 13:12) – I had 2 parties a month. It paid my rent. Everything else was profit. That’s crazy. I had so much traffic coming on, I had to renegotiate my lease for a capacity limit with my landlord because the entire restaurant downstairs couldn’t serve their takeout customers on a Friday night so I was winning.
Ray (13:12 – 13:23) – That’s epic. Those 100 people, were those… ‘cause I took dancing lessons, were those people on a subscription, or are they people who signed up for the Tier 1 or Tier 2, whatever you call it?
Steven (13:23 – 14:45) – Ah, I didn’t do subscriptions, and this is my differentiator. In Nashville, when you signed up for dancing, everybody had this big subscription package thing you had to sign up for. Everybody was nervous about that because they had experience elsewhere ‘cause my studio was the new kid on the block. There were 7 other studios in the local market, say, within 70 miles, right? 6 of them were owned by 1 family. It was the people I used to work for. I said, no thanks, I’m gonna go do my own thing, right? So, I told them, basically, like this – look, come and see me one time. If I don’t do a good enough job for you to wanna come back, I should’ve done a better job. And people were like, ‘Okay, cool, I’m not on the hook, it’s all on you.’ It was my risk reversal, you’re not gonna be tied up, but the problem is I’m gonna make it so good for you that you’re not gonna know what to do and you’re gonna have to admit to yourself that that was kinda fun. We would have a lot of nights where we’re running group classes where the guys would outnumber the girls because my hook for the guys was basically calling out their roadblock, anchoring. ‘Look, you come in and give me 1 hour of your time. I promise you, I guarantee you, you’re not gonna have to pay for it, that by the end of it, after 1 hour, you’re gonna be able to go anywhere you want in the city and take that girl on the dancefloor and not feel awkward.’
Ray (14:45 – 14:48) – What a good offer! That’s powerful.
Scott (14:45 – 14:52) – Yup! Yeah, you don’t wanna be the dude standing at the end of the bar, too nervous to dance.’
Steven (14:52 – 16:34) – Nope. That was it. That’s how I did it. I had so many people coming in. I had local business owners and they always said, ‘How the hell do you always have so many people in here.’ By that time, I already figured out Facebook lead ads and all these kinds of things. And so, what I did, ‘Well, we could do that for you too!’ I, kind of, accidentally started my own little mini lead gen thing with the 2 or 3 dozen business owners that I had locally ‘cause I understood local lead gen. That was my thing out of it. I said, okay, can I make enough to where I can kind of cover myself? I’m gonna have to pull back how I live quite a bit, but can I cover myself to make an exit here, and go be dad? And so I did. I let everybody know, I said, ‘Hey guys, I’m gonna shut everything down. It’s a family thing,’ but by that time, I had figured out digital marketing to the point that I was covering it. Now, my gripe was this – in those early days, I would go online and everybody’s talking about traffic, or CPAs, all the stuff we normally talk about, campaign structures, all of that business. Nobody talked about retention. I’m like, ‘cause that was my big thing, back in the Facebook Ad Buyer days, I was like, ‘Okay, guys, I get the traffic thing, I get it, I get my costs of acquisitions and I could calculate all day. I get bully bidding, blah blah blah. What are you guys doing for your retention ‘cause you guys don’t talk about it with me.’ They’re like, ‘What are you talking about?’
Ray (16:34 – 16:35) – It’s so overlooked.
Scott (16:35 – 16:53) – It went full cycle. When I started in the eCom space, back in 2011 or 2012, you had to view things from a holistic perspective and then it was the Facebook gravy train where it was just acquisition, ‘cause people could scale on a dime and they didn’t have to worry about the other stuff. Now, we’re back to where it matters.
Steven (16:53 – 19:51) – Right. So, for me, I always knew two things: I knew how to keep people, that I know how to do, I’m just gonna double down on doing that. And then, I also figured out, if I’m gonna figure out the lead gen thing or I’m gonna start a product spread or something like that, 2 things – No. 1, I have no idea where to start with that, in terms of figuring out a product, that never made sense to me. Let’s go find a product and look at the numbers of the product, spy on sales, all those kinds of things, but nobody ever talks about the audience, ever. Ever, ever, ever. My thing was always, ‘Well, if I’m gonna spend 10-20,000 dollars on an order, and I’ve not consulted the market first, had conversations with them, almost like a psychotherapist would.’ To flush that out, am I really making the most educated guess with my capital that I could? On my ads, from my ad angles, and my listing optimizations, at every single touchpoint, if I don’t understand from their shoes, as a member of the market, what their problems, their questions, their roadblocks are, and the result they’re seeking, how am I going to be able to message match which benefits I could highlight to what they’re really seeking – I never understood that. I said, ‘Okay, well, if nobody’s gonna do that, I’m gonna try it.’ That was the first thing I knew. The 2nd thing I knew, I couldn’t spend a million dollars a month like everybody else so I had to figure out a different way, right? I’ve always thought of advertising as an amplifier to a message. Most of the guys, you know, you have clients and they have enough money to test messaging and all those kinds of things, that’s great, but for those of us who didn’t, or we wanna optimize it further… Like you said, Scott, on the Facebook gravy train, they’re focused on the buying phase, the purchase phase of the buyer’s journey. We’re not talking about pre-purchase or post-purchase. Pre-purchase is actually where you have the most leverage and nobody addresses it. Post-purchase is actually where you can make the most profitability, the retention thing that we were talking about. I was like, ‘Okay, wait a minute, I gotta figure something out here.’ And so, I figured out a way to build, I always started with, okay, these are the people I’m interested in serving, these are the people whose problems I’m most interested in sorting out, how does it work, right? And so I started reading into the subject of copywriting of all things, because copywriting is not about writing. Copywriting is about understanding the underlying motivations of the market and that’s where you learn buyer psychology. I went as deep as I could go. I know some really dirty things that you can use as far as flushing people out.
Ray (19:51 – 19:53) – You’re gonna share those, right, just so we’re clear?
Steve (19:53 – 19:57) – Of course. Have you guys ever heard of a guy named Edward Bernays?
Scott (19:57 – 19:59) – I have not.
Steve (19:59 – 21:15) – Ah, okay. He’s the nephew of Sigmund Freud from over 100 years ago. He’s the guy who founded the term public relations. Yeah, wait ‘til you figure out what he’s involved with. He’s a dirty, dirty person in a wonderful way. One of his, he wrote a few books. One of them was Propaganda that was used, actually, by the Nazis, and then had to rename Propaganda in Public Relations after that. He wrote a book called The Engineering of Consent and, basically, took Sigmund Freud’s principles of psychotherapy into marketing. He traveled with President Wilson after World War I and sold democracy to Europe. He was that guy, the silver tongue that helped persuade people. He helped redefine the idea of promotion ‘cause we think promotion is just making our message known. In that realm of marketing, as outlined in the book Engineering of Consent, promotion is the making known of truths only in our advantage to make known. That’s heavy, heavy, heavy.
Scott (21:14 – 21:15) – Interesting.
Ray (21:14 – 21:15) – Yeah, it is.
21:17 – 24:47 – Facebook groups and communities
Steven (21:17 – 21:34) – So I want you to think about something. On Facebook, what is the Facebook feed optimized for now? It changed in 2019. When you look on your Facebook feed, what do you see the most of?
Scott (21:34 – 21:35) – Groups.
Ray (21:35 – 21:38) – For me, groups, community.
Steven (21:37 – 22:39) – Bingo! Exactly. So, all of the people that are participating in Facebook, this is your first big golden nugget, everybody. All of the people participating in Facebook are arranging themselves into enthusiast congregation points based around a topic or a problem they’re trying to solve, or a passion pursuit they’re trying to go further into. What does that mean? Let’s pause for a second. Let’s redefine the term Facebook group, it’s not Facebook group. It’s focus group. Whoa! Time out! That is a free archive of information I can go peel through, and index the language that people are using to describe the things that they’re having problems with, and the results that they’re seeking, and find the underserviced gaps on the market, and develop solutions for them, and be their date to the ball. That’s how I got involved in all of this. Yeah, baby!
Ray (22:39 – 22:44) – You just said something interesting, Steven. Are you a fan of Copy Hackers by any chance?
Steven (22:44 – 22:46) – I know Copy Hackers very well.
Ray (22:48 – 22:56) – ‘Cause you mentioned, I’m a huge believer in Copy Hackers. That’s what we teach our team. As soon as you mentioned group, that is like your focus, alright, this guy, that’s what he’s all about!
Steven (22:56 – 23:59) – Yeah, absolutely. That brings up the other part that I was saying – I don’t have a million dollars to spend so I had to figure out a way to make people to chase me. This is where I mentioned the pre-purchase phase, okay? If I’m selling, say, a photography accessory for scuba equipment or something like that, I can advertise that with interest, with lookalikes, I can do some different, fun things, it’s pretty straightforward. But how do I become a trusted member of the market when people see my product offers, it comes across as a referral as opposed to an offer? Because if we see so many advertisements, when somebody pushes something at us, it’s in our human nature to be able to push away, ‘hey, no, thank you.’ Think about going into a car lot, right? I heard a funny joke about that, by the way, as far as marketing offers go. If men wanna feel what it feels like to be a beautiful woman, walk into a car lot, ‘cause it’s a bunch of desperate men coming and trying to howl at you for attention.
Ray (24:00 – 24:01) – Pretty accurate.
Steven (24:01 – 24:47) – But that’s basically cold offers too – ‘I don’t know you. Hey, come buy this!’ Alright? Your offers, I figured it out, are only able to capitalize on the subgroup of people based on the amount of people that you’ve reached that are in that buying phase, as a moment of intent, when they see the ad. I’m like, that’s not everybody, how do I get everybody else? Okay, can I figure out what questions they’re asking elsewhere? Instead of running ads and offers, can I become my own version of a niche servicing digital magazine to service those people, and answer their questions, and be that squeaky wheel that gets the grease?
24:49 – 31:08 – Identifying audiences and who you’re going to talk to
Scott (24:49 – 25:25) – I think this is where, especially for, agencies, right, or someone running ads, and they’re marked on ROAS, MER, ROI, whatever metric you wanna put to it – it’s all short-game, immediate, short-term thinking. And then we start thinking about, exactly, how do we tap into that broader half, you know, maybe, not really the buy now, but we wanna start pushing them down. How do we measure that? How do we justify that cost? How do we determine whether it’s effective or not?
Steven (25:26 – 28:18) – What I would do, I have a system that I set up with all the spaces that I service. I’m in multiple spaces, but all of them are the exact same – it’s like a doctor servicing different patients. It’s kind of the same specialty. When you sort out your content that you wanna put in front of people, the problem people have with content is, number 1, I’m not an expert in the space, what am I gonna do with that? I can’t make a lot of content. Number 2, I can’t make all that content. That’s the wrong perspective. If you’re an agency and you’re tapped out on ROAS, or you’re tapped out on whatever you could be doing, you’ve optimized your conversion rate, you’ve done all your split testing, all these kinds of things, okay, gents, how do we tell our clients we really need to start leveraging the pre-purchase phase, right, because the buyer journey is so fluid? Okay, well, instead of talking at them, with long-form lecture material, make conversation starters, talk with them. As an example, in the scuba space, if I’m servicing scuba divers, I am not going to lecture them on some scuba topic. I’m gonna go in there and say, hey gents, it’s November, it’s a little cold over here in the States. I need to travel, I’m looking to go, you know, maybe to Kosomo, or something like that? Should I go local or should I go liveaboard? What do you guys think? Done, that’s it, leave it alone. It’s that simple. All I’m doing, right, is saying, what questions would they ask? You know where I found that question ‘cause I had no idea what they’re gonna ask for? Quora or another dive group, somebody talked about it. That’ll be a good conversation starter. Let me go over here, let me get people talking at me, because if they talk at me, two things happen – Number 1, I can help move people to where they view me as a trusted source of information, okay, right? Before long, people friend request you, they follow. After a 100 of those, start your own page, run a topic, and use all the stuff that you’ve indexed in your Facebook Creator Studio, have a VA post it all for you, and now all you have to do is respond to comments. Invite everybody who followed you from one, invite them to the other. Go back to the other page and anybody who’s a major contributor, compliment them and poach them. Say, ‘Hey, I saw you talk about this. I have this space over here. Would you mind if I shared this over here? ‘Cause I think my people would really like to know that too. Could you come and talk about it?’ And now you have mega contributors who need that outlet for their own personality building your audience for you.
Scott (28:18 – 28:23) – How do you leverage that from a scalable standpoint?
Steven (28:23 – 31:08) – Are you ready? Okay. Well, people think organic is dead. I can send you a dozen screenshots, right now, where it’s not, where you have a page of, say, 900 likes or follows doing over a million in reach and getting somewhere around 100,000 engagements for the month. That’s crazy. When you can do that, if I had 100,000 engagements on a page per month, and I came to you guys as an agency, here’s my ongoing engagement rates, let’s make custom audiences out of that. Okay. Normally, because of what you’ve been conditioned to do for your clients, you’re thinking offers. What if I said time out? I have key content that’s either ‘they need more content’ or ‘they’ve hit a piece of tripwire content, my key content, that says they’re ready for an offer.’ Can I not make custom audiences based on a custom single Google tag, on those buckets, and say send them out that way, or say they’ve engaged with this content, they need the next piece of content to move them further into the bucket. That’s an automated thing. Okay, what about, now they viewed this piece of content, they clicked through this page, they need another offer – they’re hotter. That’s an easy way to do that, but people don’t put in the effort to do that. Does it take a little longer? Yeah, it takes a little longer, of course, but it’s not hard to build a big audience. It really, really isn’t. The thing is, if you pay attention to the things that people are searching for, the questions they’re asking on Facebook pages and Facebook groups or the comments they’re making, you can mirror that back to the readers. Earlier in the conversation, Ray, you mentioned I anchored something pretty well by destroying a roadblock out of the gate. These are like even-if statements. What if I’m looking at a Facebook group and, on my product page that I want to bring people to, my new lander, I want to address that because it’s my major roadblock and it’s killing my conversions, how do I get around that instead of sounding slick? You can do blah blah blah, even if you mirror that statement back to them, something simple you can use right now for that, right? Now, that’s all great for people who have a clearly-defined problem or clearly-defined passion or niche or that kind of thing. How do we get a little deeper into the intangible? Let’s go into that. I think that’s what we’re originally going to talk about, right, Scott?
31:08 – 43:59 – How to find key differentiator for highly competitive verticals (e.g. fashion, jewelry)
Scott (31:08 – 31:56) – Yeah, I think, when we speak to a lot of people and the biggest struggle, let’s just say, for brands who’ve got a little bit of traction in a fairly commoditized space, but their differentiator at this stage, what got them to this point, might be their designs. Let’s just say it’s women’s fashion, or jewelry, or something along those lines where there’s a lot of competition. It’s not like the messaging is tapping into a pain point, we’re gonna solve it – peak pain, peak pleasure. Where do they start from here? ‘Cause they just don’t know where to start. Where do I start content production, the research? How am I different when, basically, how they’re different is often visual?
Steven (31:56 – 34:03) – Yeah, right. Okay, so, when we buy a piece of clothing, a piece of jewelry, when we buy something that we’re going to have on our person that speaks to the type of person that we want to project that we are or lifestyle that we participate within, what are we really trying to say? What we’re really trying to say is, hey, here’s something I identify with, or here’s a cause I champion, or here is a lifestyle – here’s something that I think really makes me great that I have built a life around and have changed how I do things. I want people to know about that. I want it to be both a source of compliments, a source of prestige, maybe, and I want people whom also identify with that, whom also share that lifestyle to be able to say, ‘Oh, you like that? Hey, I like that! We can be friends! This is great!’ What you’re doing is you’re filling the emotional holes that people have of feeling lonesome, feeling outcast, feeling misunderstood, and feeling like a dork. You’re saying, no, wait a minute, there is something here I can buy into that is my way of articulating what I find as cool into the world, and go me! Here’s an extreme example. Think about people who like vampires and goth stuff. That’s not mainstream, but there’s tens and hundreds of thousands of them, and they buy all kinds of stuff, all kinds of goth jewelry and makeup and dresses and all kinds of other essentials. That’s a lifestyle, that’s a fashion thing – they buy T-shirts and hoodies and those kinds of other stuff. Why? Because they feel misunderstood otherwise, and they want people… Go ahead.
Ray (34:02 – 34:47) – Steven, when you’re working with this, and I’m really happy you bring this up because, for example, going off Scott’s example – I’d love to hear an insight from your mind about your process about how you go about… for example, a dress. The real reason why is, she wants it to look flattering while she’s going on a date to impress that guy sitting across the table from her so she can get a second date, right? That’s going deeper. But then, if you ‘Copy Hack’ for example, or go deep into why the review is like, ‘I just love how it makes me feel,’ right? How do you find that connection by going real deep to the real reason and do you call that out in your messaging? What’s your thought process?
Steven (34:45 – 36:55) – I call it out. I go 3 WHYs deep – W-H-Y, okay. ‘I’m buying the dress because it looks flattering on me.’ Okay, why is that important to you? ‘Because I want to look attractive for the date I’m going on.’ Okay, why do you think you need to do that? There’s the 3rd why. Well, because I need him to be attracted to me, because I’m uncomfortable going deeper into the conversation right out of the gate. Okay, cool, that’s just fine. So what do we really have? We have somebody who’s dressing to their shape because she’s insecure about, maybe, upsetting the guy or talking about something and looking dumb, or not being able to articulate how she really feels, or maybe, depending on the cut, or depending on which market they’re targeting, maybe competition’s just a little too high on the dating market. Maybe she feels overlooked, and this is her chance – she feels a little lonesome. Yeah. How would I address that in copy? I call it out. You can say something, maybe along the lines of ‘The dress is built for those of you that maybe walk a little taller and have a little more shape on your lower half – you need to be able to say what he needs to know without him needing to say a word.’ Something clever like that, a play on words, but the dress is going to articulate how beautiful she is, and it’s gonna wanna make him look a little deeper.
Scott (36:56 – 37:04) – I think Ray’s got an awesome example of this, actually, from a few years ago with a client.
Ray (37:02 – 37:06) – Oh, yeah, you wanna hear this Steven? You’re gonna love this.
Scott (37:06 – 37:08) – This is a killer.
Ray (37:08 – 37:24) – I’m a firm believer in what you just said. I think… I’d love to ask you before I tell this story. Do you think even a discretionary product that’s an impulse buy, do you think if you go deep enough in the reason why, you can turn it into a problem-solving product? I wanna ask that question first.
Steven (37:24 – 38:10) – Yeah, absolutely. The proof of it is that therapist is an occupation. We all have untold problems that aren’t tangible. The sink is screwed up, gotta go buy a new part for it. The car is busted, I gotta go buy a new part for it. These are all tangible things that we’re trying to address. Yes, always, always, always, always. For crying out loud, if I can sell dance lessons on the premise, I would have a guy calling, ‘Okay dude, tell me about dance lessons.’ Look, here’s what you need to know. You give me an hour of your time, I’m not gonna make you look like a dork in front of your date at all. I wouldn’t do that to you.’ ‘Okay, all I need to know.’ So yes, always!
Ray (38:10 – 38:26) – I love that. I believe that if you can’t articulate that, or you can’t find the solution that your product solves, even if it’s just an impulse buy, you haven’t dug deep enough. I’m really happy that you’re doing that. Now, for the story…
Steven (38:25 – 40:14) – Hold on, before you go on, I wanna make it really, really clear. On impulse buys, my criteria for it to be a good thing to make an impulse buy – you have to find something people either identify with, right, like here’s my identity that I want people to know, or it’s a cause that they want to champion, one of the two. Those are usually temporary ‘cause people are pretty fluid with their life. The other one is something they’re incredibly passionate about, that they would wear something to display, or lifestyle – they make a collection and an entire life out of. Like gymnast is a lifestyle, that’s an entirely different thing that they have trophies for, makes them feel special, there’s a talent that they had to acquire. If you can connect on one of those 3, that’s an impulse niche, pretty straightforward. I don’t need a lot of explanation because when people see offers for stuff like that, you’re not trying to get them to think about why it’s good for them. You need it to be the dress in the window where they say, ‘Oh my God, that speaks to me.’ You absolutely should call out that root cause because now you’re not having them think. Here’s the reaction – when I see something that I know is good for me, we all have had this, it’s 2 + 2 = 4. If I have to think about it, it’s what’s 17 x 38.6?’ You go, ow, what was that? How’s that work? Don’t make them do that, you’re gonna kill your conversions. If you know whom you’re targeting because you’ve defined whom you’re aiming to serve, those are the tigers that you’re hunting. You should be an expert on those. Can’t hunt tigers with birdseed, you’re gonna hunt tigers with tiger bait so you better know what the tigers want. Anyway, go on. Tell me about this story.
Scott (40:14 – 40:20) – There’s not many, there’s a lot of founders out there that don’t know their customers nearly well enough.
Steven (40:20 – 40:22) – We’ll talk about that next, we’ll talk about that next.
Scott (40:23 – 40:25) – We keep cutting Ray’s story!
Ray (40:25 – 41:20) – No, this is probably better than my story. Yes, the example Scott was referencing is, so we had a brand we worked with, they sold shoes and boots for women, but a particular niche they had was they sold extra-wide, so for bigger women. Yeah, it’s a good niche, right? It was so interesting, I was Copy Hacking so you would be proud of me. I was Copy Hacking, and they had a Facebook group and just looked at all the comments on all their posts. At the time, they posted just a picture and it was around the time the first Wonder Woman movie came out. A lady mentioned, was talking about how the boots, ‘it almost reminds me of Wonder Woman, I totally idolize her and her great legs.’ What we did was we Copy Hacked it and turned into a phrase. It said, ‘We’re pretty sure Wonder Woman will be wearing these on her days off.’ It was something simple, it kind of made a connection to what they wanted. It made… for that one ad, probably, for the next 5 – 6 months. So, that was the great story.
Steven (41:20 – 43:58) – That’s absolutely fantastic. Here’s the thing. When you look at a page, when you’re looking at the actual writing, the message the people are getting, ‘cause you can only do so much selling from the ad, but the ad is to sell the click. You have to get them through to where they can pay. A lot of people miss that. When you get them through, you can tell them about the features of your product, which is what you see on the Amazon FBA space a lot, it’s rough. But what you’ve done is you’ve taken the feature, but you’ve explained the meaning behind it, why it’s important to the customers, and you did it in a language that they’re already using and they understand. Here’s the thing, especially if you’re targeting the American market, not to speak bad about it but it’s just a statistic. Less than half of American adults read above an eighth grade level so mirror the reader back to themselves. If I can go into a group and I know that the group is using a certain language to describe things, I’m absolutely gonna use that in my copy. I want them to recognize that this is someone who understands the market, or at least has listened to it enough, and gives the impression. If I buy from them, I have a better chance of not receiving something completely mismatched or under-engineered or terrible or of poor quality because they get me, and that’s what we want. Whenever we want to go buy something, who do we first ask? Everybody that we think has an opinion similar enough to us, or at least lives close enough to us within that space that we can trust their call on, instead of doing our own first-party research on, it saves time like that. So we go and get those referrals, that’s where we look first. By going into your group, and using that Wonder Woman analogy that you saw, yeah. What do all of the women that they’re catering to in the plus-size market want? They want to feel like that superhero, they want to feel great. Okay, cool. Here’s the thing that a lot of people miss. If your market is here, here’s where your product can take them. That’s the aspirational endpoint – your product should be a bridge. But if you make it over complicated for them to understand that, you’re in big trouble. Nobody cares about the blue pajamas and red cape if it weren’t Superman.
Ray (43:58 – 43:59) – Totally.
44:00 – 48:00 – Pinpointing the intangible value & USP of your product
Ray (44:00 – 44:24) – Steven, I have a question for you. With… I have a belief and I wanna see if you line up with it. I believe that if you can pinpoint that well enough, you’ll drastically find that even the price of your product, even if it’s a high-priced product, you’ll find that people will buy it faster. If it’s a longer purchase period, it’s because you haven’t quite pinpointed that yet. What are your thoughts on that?
Steven (44:24 – 46:24) – Well, I think there’s two parts to that. Number 1, you absolutely will get people to buy things that they understand and things that they can identify with, even if it’s a higher price point. If you can help them understand that it fits their needs way better, and it’s gonna save them all the time of looking for a separate solution or an accessory piece to provide the result that they’re looking for, you’re gonna win and you’re gonna do it a lot faster, at a much higher margin. Especially if you have really gone into the trouble of making sure that you have a solidly-engineered product or really incredible user experience on your service, right? ‘Cause people wanna pay for that. Here’s what you have to understand. What I’m getting, this next part, there is a book, I forget the name of it, but it’s a pricing psychology book and it’s all these 100 case studies, and it’s written by the guy who’s in charge of pricing strategy for Amazon Europe, he’s like some doctor guy. I’m a dork and I found all this. Have you guys ever heard of the Goldilocks heuristic, where you buy the medium popcorn, the middle one… 10% of your market wants a discount, those are your bottom feeders, 10% of the people want the bottom. They’re the loudest. The majority of people want above-middle. Another 10% want the highest because they just want the highest. But the majority of them want just above the middle because they feel like they’re not overpaying, but they’re not running out on quality either.
Scott (46:24 – 46:44) – That’s my concern when I think about when I’m going through the process and, especially, this may be my bias because I understand the space and how much crap is being sold. As soon as I see low prices, I immediately think poor quality, and I’m automatically looking for the more expensive options just because I don’t wanna buy something that’s rubbish.
Steven (46:45 – 48:00) – It costs twice as much to buy it twice. Here’s another thing I want you guys to think about. How do we get to knowing all this? How can we boil it down? If you have an intangible product, it applies the same as well, we just have to take an extra step. We only go online for 4 things, that’s the only reason we use the Internet, 4 things, okay? We all have problems, questions, or roadblocks we’re trying to resolve, we’re trying to find answers to. We have a resolution we have in mind, a result we’re seeking, we’re just not sure how to get there yet. That’s what we’re researching. Your pre-purchase phase, what you make your pre-purchase content out of, are addressing the problems, questions, and roadblocks that people have – you can walk them through. You’re wondering about this? I found this great answer over here, here you go, what do you think about that? I tried it, I thought about this, blah blah blah. Oh okay, cool. Now, if it’s a lifestyle thing, great. The problem, Scott, you said earlier, especially with the bigger, scaled-up lifestyle brands…
48:01 – 56:25 – Finding your brand’s niche & subsegment
Steven (48:01 – 48:14) – I’m going to pick on a niche here specifically because it’s my one that I love to hate the most, and we’ll tie it back to jewelry because it’s an easy parallel – skincare.
Scott (48:15 – 48:16) – Love it.
Ray (48:15 – 48:22) – It’s a tough niche, man. You don’t think so?
Steven (48:18 – 50:06) – No, it’s not. No, it’s not. Stop, everybody just does it dead wrong! Let me tell you why. There’s a simple answer. We agree that if you want to optimize for conversions, which is where the profit is, that’s what makes our ads profitable. Conversion is just simply about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Now, if I’m selling a skincare product, we’ll just say it’s for girls. Here’s a question that’s not obvious, whom am I trying to sell my skincare product to? Most skincare companies are going to say women, and they say, hey guys, target women for my skincare brand. Okay, you’ve got clients, I’ve got a skincare brand, I wanna scale my skincare brand. Who do we target? Well, it’s for girls. Okay, great, thanks a lot, make our lives harder. Let me ask you something, let’s go a little deeper, because girls are too big a market to service. Are we targeting brides, or are we targeting female athletes, or are we targeting women who live in dry climates, or are we targeting women who live in humid climates because all of the messaging, all of the creative, all of the ads, all of the touchpoints, all of the landing pages, all of the emails post-purchase, all of the content – if I wanted to build an ecosystem and a customer experience – are going to be wildly different depending on the sub-segment of the market I’m targeting. My packaging is going to be different. The linguistics in my messaging is going to be different. So few people define that.
Ray (50:06 – 50:35) – That’s the problem right there. The clarity needed of knowing your customer, of knowing who you’re gonna target, also… I agree with you. I think picking the niche and driving down. You can charge more ‘cause now you’re solving a specific problem for that person. I wanna ask you. The people you work with, when they’re lacking the clarity of lacking the USP, the value proposition of the brand, what’s the thought process of framework that you help them go through to discover because that’s the big problem right there is not knowing.
Steven (50:36 – 54:52) – Trade secret, here we go. Alright, I give them a piece of candy, here we go, I call it the lollipop market, okay? When I have someone that comes to me, and they say we’re selling women’s fashion, okay, to whom? And I draw it, I give them a visual. Here’s women on the big pie that’s too gigantic, hopefully, you guys can still hear me. If I put a little stick and a little bubble up here, who is this type of woman? What attribute can we give her? Here’s another little stick and another little marker? Who’s that type of woman? Okay, time out. Now we have 4, 5, or 10, depending on how big the space is. Maybe women is the niche; maybe senior women is my sub-niche or micro-niche, or maybe I go one more layer because it’s just still too big to optimize my messaging. Because what you’re thinking about is, I need something to really help me optimize my messaging. I think about it kind of like hunting. This is an easy way of thinking, or dating, one of the two, okay? If I am trying to go after a certain animal, let’s say I want to photograph hawks, a certain type of hawk. That’s different than birds, right? Seabird vs. hawk, way different, versus parrot, way different, okay? Because now, what I’ve done is I’ve at least made them commit to an aiming point that I can then start strategizing how to optimize around. Okay, cool. Once we tackle one little lollipop market, we can tackle another one because that’s just increasing our market share with a system that we’ve already cut our teeth on. We’ve already defined one, we’ve already gone after a subsegment of one market, we figured out how to find who they are, we figured out what they talk about with each other, we figured out what’s important to them, what they really want from the experience of maybe dressing up or a wearing a piece of jewelry, what are they really trying to get out of it, right? Who are they wearing in front of their girls? What do girls tell girls about things? If they’re wearing it in front of guys, okay, what kind of guys are they seeing? What is it really about, what are we optimizing for? What they’re trying to buy for an intangible benefit is trying to convey a message. As a seller, if we don’t pick our submarket as our first place to go after, we cannot figure out how we’re gonna optimize how many creatives we need. We can’t figure out how we’re gonna optimize our copy. We can’t figure out how we’re gonna optimize our product pages to where, when those girls arrive on the page, they go, ‘Oh, God, yeah, that has my name all over it.’ Great, and you know what we do? We cut our teeth on that and we get an efficient process. Let’s go back to that drawing. Who are these other people over here? Huh? Let’s check them out. Can we do the same process? By the time we go around 2 or 3 of them, you’ve got a bigger chunk of this bigger market down here. Because you’ve attacked a complex problem through indirect action. You guys, specialization is the key. We know that, the service providers, sure, we specialize in one area or another. I’m a writer, I am not taking product photographs, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing graphic design, it’s not gonna happen. I will write my face off, I can do some serious stuff for that, I specialize in that, great. Make your brand owners, or if you’re a brand owner listening to this, specialize. Everyone wants the next Blue Ocean. If you’re trying to date all women, so to speak, with your product, no!
Scott (54:52 – 55:00) – That’s often the pushback and the fear that they, excluding people in there, deteriorating their market size…
Steven (55:00 – 56:25) – No, instead, if you can double down and you can be the person to go to for that underserved segment of the market, great! Scale on them. When you hit audience fatigue or ad fatigue, pivot your process to the next segment and go around the wheel that I just described – simple as that. That’s how you can take a product and say, hey, we’ve got this page for these type of people. We’ve got this ad campaign running for these type of people. Now, we’re gonna have this other line, maybe it’s extremely similar, but you’re packaging it differently for these other segments over here, or here’s a complementary product. As an example, beauty product, we’re gonna target women who live in humid climates. Cool, we’ll come up with a line of products that work for them, it’s gonna make their skin okay for that. Great. Am I excluding all these other people though? Yeah, for right now. It’s a for right now thing, you’re not doomed for that. Guess what? When you start getting to where you’ve scaled on that one, you’re not sure what else to do, can you not come up with a complimentary product for the women that live in dry climates? Duplicate your process over to serve that market. Guess what you do? You cross-sell that to your first market, say, hey, when you travel, you’re gonna wanna use this one. Now we can sell it as a bundle to boost our AOV.
56:30 – 1:05:51 – Sub-segmentation case studies
Ray (56:30 – 57:00) – I love that example and I wanna ask you a few rounds of quick questions, the first one piggybacking off what you just mentioned. I think you got some amazing stories to tell. Okay, based off that, pivoting from segment to subsegment, what’s the best story of a brand, one of your brands or one you worked with or heard about, doing that? Do you have any specific use case you can share with our audience, your favorite use case of that?
Steven (57:00 – 1:00:01) – Oh, gosh. There are quite a few of them. My favorite stories, I’ll just give a hypothetical, not a hypothetical, but an example I’ve done countless times – I get people that come to me that are much smaller, that want my help, that are much smaller. Single-product, single-store kind of thing, they’re just starting out, don’t really know much, don’t really need some gigantic spread of an ad campaign – they’re just trying to figure out their way. OK, cool. I started there. Single-product, single-store, and I built my content process around it – here’s a Facebook page, here’s a Facebook group, here’s a topic, work that group. Okay, who’s related to that, that I can duplicate the process over? Boom! Who’s related to that, that I can duplicate the process over? Boom! Let’s think about this. Big market, ready? People who like to do outdoor things, okay, that’s a huge vague market. Now, what are the submarkets? There’s camping. Is that still overly vague? How many things can go around camping? We have over landing, which is the 4×4 truck thing, when people go and do all of that. We have fishing. We have hunting. We have outdoor photography. We have hiking, mountain climbing. What makes you think, like a doctor’s office, I can’t start with one of those, or haven’t started with one of those ‘cause I have. I’m in a dozen different spaces, by the way, and they all operate the exact same. I start with one of them and say, okay, I’m just gonna start here. They’re all the same, they all like the same outdoor stuff, just different variety of outdoor stuff under camping. Niche, sub-niche, micro-niche – outdoor stuff can also be water sports, outdoor stuff can also be outdoor sports, outdoor stuff can also be, you know, just whatever else — people who like outdoor stuff. Camping, what’s the micro-niche there? Kinda like what we do with micro-influencers. There’s like giant influencers then the micro-influencers. Same thing but in reverse for your audience. Okay, I’m gonna service the 4×4 guys. Let me learn everything I can, set up a content bank for a year of content that I can deploy on rotation, and just run that and have them come and talk to me about it. All I’m really doing is I’m making a magazine. I’m not an expert on the subject, I’m the editor of the magazine. The editor curates the content to sell ad space, that’s what a magazine is built around. You sell the ad space, and the more valuable your subscribers are, the more you charge for your ad space. Just happens that all the ad spaces are for my products.
Ray (1:00:01 – 1:00:03) – Yeah, I love that.
Steven (1:00:03 – 1:02:02) – Hold on! And so, once you get that process sorted and efficient, can I now open a second magazine running the same routine in a different space, and a third, and a fourth? Yeah! Now, like a doctor, I service knee pain, people come in with a bad knee. I’m gonna do pretty much the same thing for all the people with a bad knee, and all of my staff, now, even the people that I’ve outsourced too, they know, Steven runs things this way. It’s kind of like pulling a patient file off the shelf. The person behind the desk is gonna do XYZ. The next person’s gonna do blah blah blah. I’m gonna do blah blah blah. Now, it’s a self-serving agency and it only operates one way. Everyday, we continually hone the same efficiency and process. When an opportunity comes our way, if we can’t do it like that, we can say no to the opportunity. If it’s a good opportunity that fits our mode of getting things done, we say yes to the opportunity because it’s easy to pick up, we’ve already got the bones of it. Think about that, I’m gonna say it all again – instead of just running offers, that’s you saying, ‘Hey, Facebook, can I buy a bit of ad space in your gigantic digital magazine?’ ‘Okay, sure.’ Well, if you run content, based on what people are looking for in their research phase to answering their problems, go to AnswerThePublic(dot)com with your keywords to find out what those questions are. Go to Quora with your keywords to find out what those questions are. For crying out loud, curate and repost over there in front of those people. You’re building yourself your own ongoing digital magazine and you’re the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Now they’re gonna follow you, when you make your product recommendations, or if you have your own store that you’re gonna lead them to, as process. You’re just building your own little thing so that you can dominate your own ad spaces.
Scott (1:02:02 – 1:02:07) – So you’re just posting those questions, not the answers to them, or content for it?
Steven (1:02:07 – 1:03:08) – It depends on what’s going on. I rotate different kinds of content. It’s not all just theoreticals and open questions. Sometimes, I‘ll have a top ten, like scuba diving spaces, one of the spaces I service. One of people’s bucket list dives is going great white shark diving on Guadalupe Island, west coast of Mexico. Okay, cool, what did I do? There’s so many articles about going shark diving off Guadalupe Island. Okay, that’s great. You know what I did? I went a step further. I contacted the 5 dive masters of the biggest liveaboards that go out to Guadalupe island. I didn’t say, ‘Tell me about Guadalupe Island shark diving’ I said, ‘What is it that you see people not being prepared for out there? What do they need to know that they’re not asking?’ Whoa! I did an expert round-up like that. I posted it and it went [viral], it got reposted on a bunch of different groups and off I went!
Scott (1:03:08 – 1:03:18) – It’s almost like Mike Koenig’s 10x10x4, right? What are the questions, frequently asked questions? What are the questions they aren’t asking that should be?
Steven (1:03:18 – 1:05:51) – Yeah, so you can say, okay, I’m not an expert. I’m the editor of the magazine. I know where to find the expertise. Let me put that in front of the audience I seek so that they’re spending their time to buy my digital magazine, so to speak, and they’re gonna start following me on my page. Yeah! Because I’m a member of the market. Here’s the thing, here’s what the psychological thing you’re playing on – when you answer their questions in a repeatable way, and you bring them content to engage with, you’re helping them not waste time looking elsewhere and you’re building on the law of reciprocity – if you continually give to them, when you make an offer, they’re going to want to give back to you, and they’re going to trust you because you’re an ongoing member of the market. All those conversations are not just to make sales. That’s not it. What you have to understand is, the power of content and the power of having those frequent conversations is that everyone who’s considering buying something in the market from anyone gets to see what it’s like doing business with you and how you treat people. That’s huge leverage! That’s actually what reviews are for. It’s not how good is the product, it’s if the product sucks, how terrible are they to deal with? When you know that, okay, wait a minute, I can use this as part of my pre-purchase phase. They’re gonna ask me what I think ‘cause it looks like I know everything, because I’m curating so much content for them. Okay, great, great. Now, Steven, what do you think about this? I think that’s great, have you also considered this over here? I’m just mirroring some of their questions back to them. Guys, we’re digital advertisers. This is a new language we all learned at some point. What is stopping you from reading from your Facebook groups that people frequent as target audience members, or target prospects, or whatever? What’s stopping you from learning their language? How the hell do you think I learned so much about scuba and overlanding? It’s like when we were kids, we didn’t have the Internet, ‘cause I’m that old, I would go to the bookstore and if I want to learn something new, I would go there and I’d open up a couple of the hobbyist magazines and I’d read it until I understand what they’re talking about. It’s the same stupid thing online, and the whole Blue Ocean opportunity is actually paying attention to people because they want to be paid attention to. If you really want leverage, as I go on my little rant here, the more personalized you make the deliverable experience, the higher your retention rate.
1:05:53 – 1:14:32 – Personalization and specializing content for your audience
Steven (1:05:53 – 1:06:41) – Here’s an upsell secret, most of us are set up on Shopify, usually. We have a few newcomers and that’s great, but for a lot of people set up on Shopify, why do I like Shopify? It’s not that I’m partial to Shopify for Shopify itself. There’s a couple of apps that they don’t offer anywhere else. One of the apps that I will not open a store without is Bonjoro. Do you guys know about that? Christmas come early! Okay, here we go. Bonjoro is an app that every single purchase I get, I get a collective email at the end of the day and they just keep adding to the total. It says, you know, Scott bought this from your store. It says, would you like to send a thank you video?
Ray (1:06:41 – 1:06:42) – Oh, nice, yeah!
Steven (1:06:43 – 1:07:06) – And I click and I can say, hey, Scott, Steven here from Steven’s Dog Store. I saw that big green collar that you bought, we’re gonna send that out to you tomorrow. The order got to us a little bit late, the crew was out walking the dogs. You’re gonna see that one tomorrow. In the meantime, click below, join our Facebook group of all the other fur baby owners, and hang out with all of us there, please show us pictures of your dog, we can’t wait to see you in there. Done, next!
Scott (1:07:06 – 1:07:07) – That’s awesome!
Steven (1:07:07 – 1:07:42) – Now here’s the thing. That’s a personalized experience – I used your name and you’re either gonna think one of 2 things: you’re either gonna think this guy’s full of crap, or you’re gonna think what just happened, that’s amazing, I love this! And you’re gonna research either way, is he really in the group, and if you see me and the staff and we’re talking to everyone, you go, whoa! You’re blown away! You’re blown away! I’ve gone over your satisfaction or what you’re expecting rather. Here’s the thing – based on the content I’ve been running, I can see my page insights and I know what my best hits content is. What do you think my post-purchase email flow is?
Scott (1:07:44 – 1:07:46) – From your group, beautiful.
Steven (1:07:46 – 1:07:59) – Right. My best hits content and then 10 – 14 days later, I hit you with that upsell, after the first touchpoint was a personalized thank you video. And that’s how you get north of 40% conversions on your upsell offer.
Scott (1:07:59 – 1:08:00) – Nice.
Steven (1:08:00 – 1:08:01) – With a stupid thank you video.
Scott (1:08:01 – 1:08:09) – That’s amazing. We’re gonna have to do a part 2 to this.
Steven (1:08:10 – 1:11:36) – But that’s things that nobody thinks about, that are huge profit drivers, you know? If I know that I’m gonna retain a majority of my people because I built an ecosystem around what they wanna talk about, ‘cause they’re just sharing that insight with me, I’m just arranging it and giving it back to them and enhancing the content. Okay, great. What if you did that for a year? And what if you found out that after a year, you got to a point where the lifetime value of your customer is at 10x their initial transaction value, and you have all that on-page engagement. And you’re paying a lot less on your CPMs than everybody else. I don’t care how much money you’re spending, there’s nothing you can do with that. If I’m the go-to in that market, I win. It’s as simple as that. There’s actually a really, really great book that people can get that puts an easy language to understand as far as defining a subsegment. It’s called The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz – it’s really, really great. If you have no idea how to specialize and niche down, that’s great. And I want you guys to not be afraid. When you niche down, you’re not niching down into a corner. You’re saying, I’m gonna focus on this for right now and I’m gonna get really, really good at what these people want because I think they’re the first domino to the rest of the market. If I can get down with these guys, I can see what they respond to in ads, I can see what we can do with creative, I can give my guys to give a little more leeway to specialize because we’re asking specific questions now. We’re giving them specific things to give feedback on that we think are a little closer to home, right? Then, once we get that moving, okay, cool. What if our profitability at scale? We can also plug in risk mitigation and we can have a win-win for client and media buyer. So, okay, gents, we’re doing well on this leg over here, and we’re profitable and scaling, but let’s not blast it out the doors. Let’s peel some of it off and open up to this segment over here. Now, instead of just scaling vertically, we’re scaling exponentially. That’s what I always think about. When I get to a certain level of profitability and scale, do I have another leg I can add to the table? Because if one of these accounts or one of these campaigns have a bad day, and these other ones are doing fine… now, I have gone deeper and getting more granular on message matching, what benefits I want to convey to the right people in the subsegments of the market. If I have trouble figuring that out, which is intra-space stuff and lookalike audiences and all that kind of thing, this is where having content on your site with very different messaging and solving different problems, you can pull people into different buckets and say, ah, you like this over here, you guys like this other one, got it. Instead of just making a regular middle of the funnel custom audience – people that have engaged with the site, landing page views, or view content last 30 days – if I put a unique Google tag on it, I can make, on just a single piece of content, I can make a unique audience out of each of those and say those are my separator. Cool, now I can actually see what’s going on over here. That’s right!
Scott (1:11:34 – 1:11:36) – Different messaging flows to your funnel, right?
Steven (1:11:36 – 1:13:04) – And now, you can range it from all the touchpoints. You can specialize it. Okay, this first avatar, how are we doing it from our ads with the content, with the product page, with the email experience, with the content in the email, post-purchase, how is all of that congruent? If they’re all fiction fans, the people that like Harry Potter, I want them to read Harry Potter all the way through. The people that like Star Wars, they better get Star Wars all the way through. But if you’re just targeting fiction fans, and they go from Harry Potter to Star Wars to Lord of the Rings, you go, uhm, I get it, but I don’t feel like it’s personal enough for me, I wanna go out with someone who cares about me, which is really what they’re saying with their dollars. That’s why I try to specialize and say, it’s too much for me to know everybody. Let me start, here’s the big pie, let me get the little lollipop on the end of that, here’s a smaller bubble, let me attack that, let me know about them first. Can I go and learn about hawks and take pictures of them, as an analogy, and then can I go over and learn about parrots, then can I go over and learn about flamingos, then can I go over and learn about seabirds? You guys get the point, because, I mean, otherwise, how am I ever going to optimize things? What are we gonna do, pay to get more creatives and copy written in a vague way, with different hooks and all these other devices that we know?
Scott (1:13:04 – 1:13:07) – And it’s usually… let’s create as much as we can.
Steven (1:13:07 – 1:14:00) – And then, we’re at the mercy of our luck with the auctions. I don’t wanna deal with that. I would rather, especially working with an agency, let’s say, if I came to you and said, look, I have my page, here’s the messaging, I can show you the page insights, this is what’s working, here’s my content train, here’s what I’ve identified as the things that they value – what do you guys need out of this? These posters are doing well, you can use those as tripwire, however we need to set it up, you guys be geniuses, off you go. How much easier would that be for you guys to make a whole lot more money? That’s an entirely different setup. So many people are so product-focused that they try to say, our product is this when you’re focused on selling the product, numbers this and inventory that and scale this. That’s great, but you haven’t helped people figure out the product is for them because you don’t know them.
Ray (1:14:02 – 1:14:27) – Our best successes have been brands that were so crystal clear that they can articulate down to a fine point not only know who they are, but just only one sub-segment. Our biggest successes have been that. Steven, dude, you’ve blown our minds, man. Thank you so much. This has been so much fun! We’re gonna have to do a Part 2 for sure. I love geeking out about this, I feel like we’re gonna kindred spirits in this topic.
Steven (1:14:27 – 1:14:31) – Start of something beautiful.
1:14:32 – 1:31:17 – 3 key takeaways
Scott (1:14:32 – 1:14:45) – Let’s just wrap it up, like 3 things that brand owners can take away. Let’s summarize what we’ve got there, they can go away tomorrow, and start figuring this out. Over the Christmas holidays is the perfect time, crazy season’s gone away?
Steven (1:14:46 – 1:21:36) – The 3 steps you can do right now: Number 1 – define whom you are trying to serve. Even if you’re selling an intangible item, or an item that serves an intangible need, like dresses or lifestyle wear or jewelry or something like that, you’re servicing the emotional holes of a certain group of people. That’s fine. You don’t have to know what those are, you don’t have to realize all the psychology underneath that – I’m not asking you for that, I’m asking you to pick a date. You got a blonde, you got a brunette, you got a redhead – you gotta pick one. Start there. Date her for a while and then when you get good at it, you can go back and date the other two. That’s the first thing. Without an aiming point, we cannot optimize and your media buyers will love you, they will love you, and if you wanna see bigger numbers and more money in your bank account for profitability, specialization is key. This is why you have someone who does the copywriting, that’s different from the graphic designer, that’s different from the media buyer – it’s a specialization thing. As a seller, you are the same, alright? And that’s also how you get a reputation when people talk to each other and say where’d you get that, go talk to these people, they take care of people like us. That’s number 1. Number 2 – find the Facebook groups where your people hang out. Instagram is okay too, right? If you need to go to YouTube, you can. I wouldn’t go other than those 3 though. Let’s start with Facebook and Instagram, why? Because that’s where people have conversations. That’s where they’re talking amongst each other, trying to solve their problems amongst like-minded people that they identified are like-minded. I want you to just think about this. What are their problems, their questions, and their roadblocks in relation to something they desire? If it’s an underlying intangible, emotional thing, okay, maybe it’s status, maybe it’s significance amongst their peers? Maybe it’s a sense of belonging, right? Maybe it’s finally being recognized as something bigger than what they’ve existed as already? Maybe they come from a more mundane background and they’re trying to level themselves up. Sure, it’s pretty easy to see that in the way people talk about themselves and the things they share. So problems, questions, and roadblocks – that’s on one side of the gap. The results they seek is on the other – when you can identify all 4 pieces, your messaging is the bridge that delivers them from what they’re seeking to what they want and that’s your products. You can’t do that without Step 1 that we talked about – defining an audience first. Those are the two things. Number 3 – oh my God, make thank you videos. Make a personalized deliverable experience because, here’s the thing, if they buy it from you and I’m in the same space, and they buy next from me and I keep them, you paid more than I did for getting them into the space, and I’m going to win. If we’re in the same space, just to be very, very clear, I want to take your head off. I’ll buy you a beer afterward, but I’m not playing games. I want to keep them and I will do everything I can. While you’re thinking about getting new people, you’re paying about 6-7x what it takes for me to keep them. A metric we think about, we think about ROAS, MER, we’re thinking about all these kinds of other stuff. What about retention rate? What about RPR (Repeat Purchase rate)? What about costs to keep? Whoa, whoa! And think about it, what are your mediums of advertisements? You use text, images, video, sometimes you use livestreams. What is stopping you from using the main keywords around your space, or the main phrases that people have, and going to places like AnswerThePublic or Quora and inventory-ing what those phrases are that people are asking ‘cause that’s pre-purchase. And then putting that back in front of them by participating as a member of the market in the group? I mean, talk about a pied piper where people start following you pretty straightforward, because guess how many people are doing it that you compete against, almost none. Talk about a blue ocean opportunity. My God! That’s the idea behind it. Instead of you always using money to chase the market, if you simply will talk to them a little bit, they will chase you and love you for it. Guys, I have multiple pages with over a million engagements per month. What do you think that does for customer audiences and my ad costs coming down? You think you’re gonna compete with that? Come on! That’s silly business. I’m not worried about anybody that comes into my space because I have defined and my people who come on to those pages or those groups know whether this is for me or is it not. And that’s also important, I should say that too. By defining your audience, by defining their problems, questions, and roadblocks and solutions they’re seeking, and figuring all that out… you mentioned earlier, Scott, people have a fear of missing out. If I pay attention to these, I’m gonna miss out over here. What people don’t realize is part of their elevation and ad costs is that their messaging, at first glance, within one second, doesn’t say, is this for me or is this not? The people that it’s not for are why your ad costs are so high. I need them to keep scrolling, don’t count as an impression. Get past me. Because if more people are coming in where they know this is for them, and more people are going by that they know it’s not for them, well, now what happens? My audiences get more optimized. I’m gonna get more people on my page that qualify for a good conversion. As I make my lookalike audiences to go back to the well as I recycle everything, now my audiences are gonna be higher quality because I’ve helped them identify, am I for them or am I not?
Scott (1:21:36 – 1:21:39) – Yeah, got that positive feedback loop just fueling that engine there.
Steven (1:21:39 – 1:22:20) – Yeah, and it’s self servicing when you do it like that, but you have to define whom you are serving first, inventory those things about them, and if you really want, go on Quora or AnswerThePublic and take the top questions from there, and get your VA to take those from your spreadsheet and put them in Facebook Creator Studio with maybe a photo or a little video with it, or just a simple question or statement, ‘Hey guys, I’ve tried this, looking for expertise about this’ If you’re nervous about getting feedback, always claim that you’re new because nobody likes crapping on the new guy and everyone likes shouting their opinion on the new guy.
Scott (1:22:20 – 1:22:27) – You’re not on the Australian Barbeque Forum. They are ruthless to newbies.
Steven (1:22:28 – 1:22:48) – But here’s the thing, if you are in that group, and you specialize in that, if that’s your niche, that is predominantly a group of macho men and that’s just how we talk to each other. That’s actually a term of camaraderie, welcome to the group, we’re gonna rib you a bunch.
Scott (1:22:48 – 1:22:49) – Absolutely.
Steven (1:22:49 – 1:23:10) – That’s our vetting, can you handle this? When you know that, you can put that in your messaging. If you wanna see a brand that actually caters to that kind of crowd, Go and look up the underwear group Shinesty. They’re a multi 7-figure…
Scott (1:23:09 – 1:23:10) – How do you spell that one?
Steven (1:23:10 – 1:23:36) – Let me pull it up on Facebook. SHINESTY. You know what their USP is in their underwear? Ball hammock.
Ray (1:23:36 – 1:23:38) – Oh, no way!
Steven (1:23:38 – 1:24:01) – I swear. They run ads all the time and they’re a multi 7-figure brand and it’s outrageous. They’re preposterous! Their copy is insane, catered to that group. When you see the ads, it is that group of people. You can tell if this is for me or if it’s not. It’s bonkers! Their creative is amazing!
Ray (1:24:02 – 1:24:04) – I’ve never seen this guys before.
Steven (1:24:04 – 1:28:18) – All of their ad copy, all of their creatives, all of their product pages, down to the scholarships that they offer are worded because they understand how their audience talks, thinks, and identifies with. They offer their products and benefits and features in a language that their audience can easily say, this is for me or this is not. This is not something that I need as, you know, my car is broken, I need to go buy the thing and solve it. It’s, I identify as this. There’s your intangible example. Here’s another tangible example – go to the Facebook page Zero FoxTrot – that’s a military brand with multiple seven figures, and all their content is military stories. That’s it. They’re servicing veterans who say this is what I’m about, this is my lifestyle. Why? Because they’re showing we appreciate the space, we’re for the space. We think that you’re special because you think that you’re special because of this. Here’s another one, you ready? This is a print-on-demand brand – ValHyr – it’s a print-on-demand brand and this guy’s an artist, you can look him up on Instagram too! Huge devoted following, people who are enthusiasts and identify with Nordic mythology. It is bonkers. His apparel is fantastic, he has a huge AOV, a very dedicated following. Why? Because people of that descent or who are into that kind of thing identify with that, and buys his apparel, and he cleans house. Because he has identified a target market. You know, money is money, we all want the money – the fastest way to the money is specialization. 3 things, like we talked about – define whom you’re trying to serve, pick the blonde, the brunette, or the redhead. Pick one of them and go all in. Be the master of that domain. You can go back and get the other ones later. Then, go to their Facebook groups – problems, questions, roadblocks, and the result that they’re looking for. That’s how you’re gonna optimize your copy, that’s how you’re gonna be able to convey the benefits in a way that they say, ‘Ooh, I want that.’ It gets it done for me. The last thing, go to AnswerThePublic and Quora, figure out the things that they’re really talking about. It’s gonna give you some insight – you can put that in an index, copy and paste it, put it in Creator Studio, rotate in different types of media and creative, different photos that you can get from different places. Curate articles from blogs even if they’re expert roundups or listicles, sure. Easy stuff, now you’re a topic hub, people can come to you. Can you not make custom audiences out of that? Can you not make offers to those people? Can you not build it pretty well? Is that not stuff people like to share because people are gonna find things online to answer their questions, why aren’t they finding it from you? So instead of running things as, well, we have to have enough money in the bank or business that doesn’t exist because we can’t get new customers unless we spend, what if I have millions of people running toward me every month? When I feel like I’ve hit a little bit of a limit on that, or I feel like I wanna do a little risk mitigation, I open up the same model in a different space I’ve identified. I’m a publishing house with multiple magazines and multiple spaces, but now all of those people are telling me how I should optimize my copy, how I should optimize my creative, what direction I should give to my artistic team, what product features they really wanna see, and here’s the key, here’s the bonus tip: if I have that group of people that I can talk to, and I have a single product, you know how to make a really profitable second product? Involve them in the development. That’s how I scaled the whole thing. Hey guys, we’re gonna do this, what do you think about this? Oh this other company does this, it’s really great, you should check them out. Glad I didn’t do that!
Scott (1:28:20 – 1:28:24) – Let them choose it, have the focus group…
Steven (1:28:24 – 1:28:59) – Exactly! That’s right! Now they know that you’re for them, and they’re gonna tell everybody else about it because they feel special. That’s a hidden addiction we all have. There’s some things we can chew on. The book I mentioned, again, was The Pumpkin Plan. The pages I mentioned, the checkout, specialization, are Shinesty, Zero Fox Trot, and ValHyr. They’re all of different sizes – first two are multi 7-figure brands, I think Shinesty is an 8-figure brand…
Scott (1:29:00 – 1:29:04) – What was the app? Bonjoro, that was the app?
Steven (1:29:04 – 1:30:38) – Bonjoro was the app for thank you messages. It’s absolutely fantastic. I won’t run a store without that, won’t do it, no, because out of that, I get such massive retention rates because it’s a personalized thing and it’s very easy for me to get photo reviews posted on my product pages in an automated way from that. It’s a no brainer for being able to boost my AOV, get higher conversion rates, all that kind of stuff. Easy, easy, easy to do. Easy to set up. But people aren’t thinking about it, they’re trying to win in Ads Manager, but you have to understand, you win outside of Ads Manager. Here’s a different way to think about it. All of us that sell products, whether they’re a service product or a physical product or whatever it is, what we really are are middlemen in a supply chain. We’re connecting someone who’s an end user seeking a result with a solution we have found for them. If we don’t understand the end user, how the hell are we supposed to match the thing that we found. I don’t get it otherwise. You’re gonna source from this place over here, and you’re gonna scan or shot it. No, you don’t know where to find the solution to your problem, I found it, I’m gonna sell it to you, but I have to understand really what you want so I can pick the right solution out of my index over here.
Scott (1:30:39 – 1:30:45) – I think that’s it. I think that’s the takeaway for people to go and ponder. You gotta understand your user.
Steven (1:30:45 – 1:30:48) – I can go on and on. This is my favorite thing in the whole world.
Scott (1:30:48 – 1:31:06) – I can definitely see a Part 2 coming here. There’s so much to dive into. I don’t usually take show notes myself, but I’ve got a helluva lot written down here. I’ve got a bit of digging and research to go away on my own accord so I’m pumped! I’m pumped! Steven, thank you so much!
Steven (1:31:06 – 1:31:09) – You’re very, very welcome!
Scott (1:31:08 – 1:31:14) – Man, that was an amazing call! Very, very insightful – so many takeaways. Let’s do it again soon!
Steven (1:31:14 – 1:31:16) – Sounds good. Thank you!
Scott (1:31:15 – 1:31:16) – Thanks, guys!
1:31:17 – 1:32:13 – Episode outro
Scott (1:31:17 – 1:32:13) – Thanks again for tuning to this episode of the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast. I hope you got a ton of value out of this episode and if you did, we’d love for you to leave us a review on your platform of choice and help us reach as many people as we can. Now, if you’re a brand founder, an eCommerce entrepreneur, or an in-house marketing manager looking to accelerate your growth this year, reach out to us at Right Hook Digital. We’re a performance branding agency and we specialize in partnering with eCommerce brands to help them hit their growth goals with maximum ROI. Now, if this sounds like a solution that you need, then check us out at righthookdigital.com and schedule a call with our client partnerships team. They’d love to have a chat with you and see how we can help you grow in 2021.