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Episode 27: BFCM and beyond: Key marketing strategies to break through the noise

Sippin' & Shippin'
Sippin' & Shippin'
Episode 27: BFCM and beyond: Key marketing strategies to break through the noise
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Tanya Phipps|November 11th, 2022

Description:

As we approach the heart of this year’s peak season, what can brands do to stand out from the competition during these difficult economic times? We talked with VP of Marketing, Elana Ostrega and Director of Partner Marketing, Tori Piccin at Clearco about creative marketing strategies to do just that. They give their industry expertise on methods proven to be most impactful for e-commerce brands during the holiday season and beyond. Founders everywhere, tune in for an engaging discussion on how to drive sales year-round, maintain brand relevance and crush those revenue goals.

Timestamps:

0:59 How Elana and Tori got started in the e-commerce space

4:40 BFCM 2022: why it’s a unique time for e-commerce brands

6:24 Different times call for different measures: focus on what’s most important

8:09 The inventory bloat conundrum and what to do

11:01 How to break through the noise leading up to BFCM

12:33 Beyond BFCM: shifting to customer retention as a focus 

15:25 Utilizing the holiday momentum to boost brand relevance

16:00 Diversify efforts with a multi-channel marketing strategy

18:37 How micro spending works: optimizing what’s working vs what’s not

22:29 The power of UGC (user-generated content) as a marketing strategy

23:19 How do brands maintain their voice as they evolve and grow?

25:49 Personalized marketing: honoring brand loyalists

31:47 The significance of the customer experience: for customer retention and brand sustainability

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Transcript

Brian Weinstein: Welcome everybody to Sippin’ & Shippin’. I’m your host, Brian Weinstein. We’ll be kicking it here every other Friday, quenching your thirst for an insider’s take to enhance your customer experience. So, grab your drink of choice, kick back, it’s Sippin’ & Shippin’ time. All right, welcome everybody to another episode of Sippin’ & Shippin’. I’m your host, Brian Weinstein. And I’ve got with me, surprise, surprise, Caitlin Postel.

Caitlin Postel: Hey everybody. Caitlin Postel, co-hostess with the mostest. What’s going on, Brian? How are you?

Brian Weinstein: Self-proclaimed this week too.

Caitlin Postel: That’s right.

Brian Weinstein: That’s fantastic.

Caitlin Postel: I’m doing it. I’m feeling it this morning. Why not?

Brian Weinstein: Yes, exactly. Exactly. You’ve already had a busy morning, you’re just going to keep it going.

Caitlin Postel: That’s what I’ve heard.

Brian Weinstein: All right. So, we have special guests this week from Clearco, Elana Ostrega and Tori Piccin.

Elana Ostrega: Hello.

Brian Weinstein: How’d I do? Pronunciations were perfect. Fantastic. Like we’re long lost friends?

Elana Ostrega: It was okay.

Caitlin Postel: Yeah. You did okay. You did okay.

Tori Piccin: It was okay.

Elana Ostrega: That’s a good start.

Brian Weinstein: All right. So, give us a little bit of background, and we don’t usually do these four people format, so we’ll go in any particular order. But Elana, why don’t you start us out and tell us a little bit of background on yourself.

Elana Ostrega: I really hate talking about myself, so I’ll keep it super brief, but my name’s Elana, like banana, which is what I told Brian at the start of this. Hopefully he doesn’t mess that up.

Brian Weinstein: I probably have already, right? Like three times?

Elana Ostrega: Everyone does, it’s part of my life, so you know that about me now. But yeah, I am the VP of Marketing at Clearco. I’ve been in the digital marketing space for over 12 years now. Everything from loyalty marketing, worked in the agency space and I’ve been working in FinTech for about eight-plus years. I really love it. I’ve been through two exits, an acquisition, and at Clearco, I’m just trying to help founders seek the most out of our funding and provide as much opportunity as possible for them. Throwing it over to you, Tori.

Tori Piccin: Amazing. Yeah. So about me, I’m Tori. I have actually a pretty untraditional path into tech and finance and e-commerce, but my background’s in marketing and partnerships mainly on luxury, fashion, beauty, lifestyle brands. And then I ran the marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue in Canada and focusing on their e-commerce businesses. Took a change of direction into the tech space, and I’ve been at Clearco for almost two and a half years now, running the partner marketing, so I’m the Director of Partner Marketing here. And I work really closely with Elana, and we love working with founders, we love helping founders in e-commerce. And yeah, it’s been solid so far. A little bit on Clearco is we’re world’s largest e-commerce investors, so really just providing financial tools and the funding that online businesses need to scale and grow their business.

Brian Weinstein: That’s awesome. We actually like working with entrepreneurs as well. It’s been an interesting transition for us and it was really sort of, I think, what was the founding thought behind the podcast. So, I had come from a 3PL industry, been around it my entire career, and we always targeted the larger brands that were out there, really shipping it to brick and mortar. And they came with procurement teams and they were really institutional companies. And then as we transitioned as an organization towards these small to midsize brands, what we were finding, especially in the e-commerce space, was so many of them came in and they were just tremendous entrepreneurs, which I sort of consider myself one as well, had a family business that I grew.

And just the mindset is completely different, and they’re so bright, they’re so knowledgeable. And what’s most impressive is they’re smart enough to know what they don’t know and step aside or raise their hand and say, “Hey, look, we want somebody that’s really a consultant to our business, someone that’s a partner that’s going to collaborate and teach us stuff.” And it becomes very creative in a space that was kind of lacking creativity as you could probably imagine fulfillment isn’t super sexy.

Caitlin Postel: Says who?

Brian Weinstein: Says who? Exactly. So, it just became an area where we can really add input and impact to their organization, so it’s kind of great to get to work in that space. So, let’s segue into talking about what’s important right now, and I know I said in our intro that is probably out on LinkedIn now that leaves are changing, that can only mean that it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday is upon us. And so tell us a little bit about what makes this season unique really to the brands.

Tori Piccin: Yeah, I can jump in on that. We’ve been talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday holiday season for months now.

Caitlin Postel: You’re in good company, Tori. Yeah.

Brian Weinstein: Yeah.

Tori Piccin: But I think the more you know, the better you’ll perform as an online brand, so just keep it short and sweet. We’ve all seen the daily headlines we’re reading, we know what the macroeconomic conditions are like. And for a lot of founders, especially in the e-commerce space, it’s very daunting this year. Return on ad spends at an all time low. We’re seeing increased shipping and manufacturing costs, and this has all led to really a decrease in the available cash flow that founders have to spend on marketing and inventory. And although we’ve seen a decline in online sales, definitely online shopping is here to stay.

But I think founders have a unique challenge now as to how can we be creative, economical with our marketing, and then also a lot of founders are how are we focusing on retention and CLTV marketing campaigns versus new customers and just acquiring new customers during these online shopping seasons. So, that’s kind of like a lay of the land and what we’re working with. And I think the silver lining is that many of the best brands and founders and innovations are developed and refined in a tough economy. So, Elana and I will jump into what some of these creative campaigns and programs that brands can be thinking about for this upcoming season.

Elana Ostrega: Yeah. And I think to Tori’s point, during these times when it feels like everything is very difficult for online businesses, it’s actually oftentimes where they thrive the most. And you can put together some really unique marketing programs and acquire your customers during this time, but also really focus on retention, like Tori said. And in some cases, this may not even be the time where you should be doing that. And I think to your point earlier around customers or founders not knowing what they don’t know, being very cognizant of that, if it’s not the right time for you to start promoting during Black Friday, that’s okay and you push it to another time, but I think being aware of those things is really important. So, we’ll touch upon some of the things that can support you, but also some of the things that you can do in future if this is not the right time to start promoting for your business.

Tori Piccin: It’s such a good point. It’s also, don’t get so overwhelmed and think too much about BFCM holidays like, “What can I do specifically now?” Your brand is the most important part of everything you’re doing and staying true to your brand is what really helps you reach the right audiences and the right people for you and your company and your products and your services. So I mean, we can talk about that a bit, but the brand piece is so, so important for online founders to not forget about.

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Caitlin Postel: I’m excited to hear some of the strategies. Let’s transition away from this doom and gloom. We had that little thing called COVID. Okay, so we got slammed with the global pandemic, economic downturn, so let’s find that silver lining. I think it is exciting and I’m anxious to hear some of those bright spots that brands can really thrive instead of getting stuck on those negative mindsets that were drilled into our brain when watching the news headlines.

Brian Weinstein: Well, so let me ask a question there too, because we do have a little bit of an economic downturn that’s coming, whether hopefully it’s shallow because that’s what I’m reading and hearing. But just curious too, I mean there are brands out there that are probably sitting on a lot of inventory, and what do you do to offload that inventory while maintaining the integrity and standards of your brand? Yeah, that’s got to be an interesting play. Right?

Elana Ostrega: Right. And your financials, right?

Brian Weinstein: Right.

Elana Ostrega: I think Tori and I were talking earlier about this time being the mindset of discounting, discounting everything, going ahead and thinking I’m just going to do 20% off, 30% off. And that’s a really easy solution when you think, “Oh, I’m holding so much inventory, I’ve got to offload it. So, let me think about discounting this 20, 30% off.” Oftentimes I think that can be a really good solution, but I think going back to the brand

Oftentimes, I think that can be a really good solution. But I think going back to the brand point, is it the right thing for your brand to start slashing those prices and to start thinking through all of those discounts. And I think it’s not always the right thing to stay true to your brand to do that. And so I think in order to think through and facilitate the best outcomes, you really have to think about the discounts alongside some of the other sort of social aspects, community aspects that you can think through.

Tori Piccin: Yeah. Totally. It’s like, especially if you’re sitting on a ton of product, there’s things like capitalize on those site traffic you’re going to be getting during BFCM in the holiday season. And I was talking to a founder the other day and what they’re doing is new product launches each day of the sale. So they’ll have discounted products, but they’re actually going to just be launching new products at full price, kind of like this incentive, the surprise and delight. And maybe the shopper will use a free shipping code or they’ll get another product at discount, but they want to try the new product too.

And they’ve had a lot of success with this. Another really, really awesome example is Solo Wave, which I don’t know if you know what Solo Wave is. Essentially it’s like red light and blue light therapy for skincare. They’re doing a buy one, get one sale right now and their average order value, it’s like $250. So it’s buy one, get one. You’re literally getting a product at $200 plus a free product at the same price point. And I’ve purchased twice now.

Brian Weinstein: Wow.

Tori Piccin: I’ve never purchased from them before.

Caitlin Postel: Are you giving these out? What’s up? How do we get on your friend list?

Elana Ostrega: I think she’s working for them on the side.

Caitlin Postel: A shameless, well it’s not a plug if it’s someone else I guess, but all right. It’s Solo Wave.

Tori Piccin: It’s my Christmas, my holiday gift for my family, my sister-in-law. Like it’s such an incredible sale and I don’t think I would’ve purchased twice now in the past month any other time of the year without this. So I think there’s some really incredible ways you can be using your products, especially if you’re sitting on a lot of it, to really drive new customers and repeat customers like me.

Elana Ostrega: Yeah. 100%. I also think you have to encourage people through your social channels right now to understand leading up to Black Friday what is actually going to happen. So speaking to the buy one, get one or the deal a day, I think people forget that Black Friday is not just one day and Cyber Monday is not-

Brian Weinstein: Right.

Elana Ostrega: Just one day. There is this full amount of time leading up to Black Friday that is super important and often will be your opportunity to break through the noise. So in the seven, 14 days leading up to Black Friday, you can tease at different promotions you’re going to have, you can talk about different products that you’re going to be launching and you got to build that momentum. People want to see what you’re about to do. They get so excited, they’re like, well, what are they launching? What’s happening? There’s 10 more days. There’s nine more days. There’s eight more days. People love the anticipation. And so I think using this time leading up to Black Friday to start those promotions via your socials, using your email marketing to the best of your abilities, trying to get more people to also subscribe during this time so that on the days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday you are actually emailing them and you’ve started to build up this acquisition list prior to. I think that’s a really big impactful thing that people don’t necessarily think about.

Because Black Friday, the day itself, it’s like the noisiest day that you can possibly imagine. So perhaps your sale happens on the Thursday or the Wednesday and it’s a pre-Black Friday sale, which we’ve noticed a ton of brands this year doing these pre-Black Friday sales. They’re super successful. And I think again, it’s less noisy. So it can be really impactful for your brand to do something like that.

Tori Piccin: Such a good call out. It’s like now it’s time to acquire customers, but how are you going to keep them past BFCM through the holiday season? And that’s just as important. Actually, almost more important, the marketing campaigns you put in place for the retention piece versus the BFCM piece.

Brian Weinstein: Yeah. And-

Caitlin Postel: We saw it. Go ahead, Brian.

Brian Weinstein: You brought up an interesting point. So when you get to buy one, get one and things like that, I mean there’s got to be such a delicate balance though of not making that what’s expected from your repeat customers. So all of a sudden they’re like, well this is what I know I can get this stuff on sale or I can get a buy one, get one free. And then maybe they don’t go to you if you’re not offering those. How do you manage to balance that?

Caitlin Postel: That’s kind of where I was going with it. It’s like I heard a lot of repeat engagement and creating a buzz, but is it for everyone or how do folks determine, is this for me? I understand it sounds like a lot of creating community as well, but what extent do you go, how do brands determine if they should be taking these measures during this time?

Tori Piccin: There’s a lot that you can do post purchase also. So to reward customers post purchase, you provide them with discount, a promo code or something or even just an exclusive access to an upcoming launch ahead of the holidays. Because obviously, yeah, we want our customers to be purchasing at full price as well as discounted or on promotions, but the promotion you use to bring those new customers in and then how do we keep them there can be through exclusive product launches or events and programming.

Elana Ostrega: Exclusive offers definitely work. I think a lot of brands will do VIP sales, things that are early access for some people versus others. And I think keeping customers, again, going back to that brand point. If you build a loyalty in a following in a community around your brand, people will be loyal to you irrespective if you’re doing the buy one, get one, they want to purchase from your brand. I mean, Tori gave a perfect example of something. I think there are people who are going to be repeat customers because they believe in what you do, the authenticity of your brand and they appreciate that.

So I think focusing on your brand is exceedingly important, focusing on your creative, focusing on how you communicate with customers. And then the post Black Friday emails, events, networking opportunities that you can provide for your customers, I think that’s ultimately almost like Tori said more important than acquiring them in the first place. Because acquiring customers, you’re going to pay a lot more money during Black Friday to acquire these customers and you have to be very cautious around the acquisition costs and the lifetime value that is reliant upon your success. So I think that’s something that people don’t always think about, but I think acquiring customers at this cost, you have to think through what is your post event, post campaign strategy so that you can make it worth your while.

Tori Piccin: To your point, Elana, I love that because it also opens up conversation of expanding the channels you’re promoting your product and services on, and then using. Right now, I mean, performances, budgets have been reduced significantly for a lot of brands. So how can we still reach broad audiences and drive awareness of your product. They might not be purchasing today, but just that awareness, that thought getting in their heads about what your brand is just expanding the amount of channels you’re on. And right now there’s so much that founders can be doing. Little efforts across multiple channels is one strategy. And I think that’s actually the new strategy that a lot of brands are leaning into.

Brian Weinstein: Tori, can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Tori Piccin: Yeah. Totally. So a lot of brands, I think in the past, and Elana’s the expert on performance here for sure, is funneling that ad spend into the channels that work for them and they know work. And a lot of time that was Facebook and Instagram. Today, you have so many other channels that you can be at, where you can not even be advertising on just posting on and hitting audiences like TikTok, like Snapchat, even just leveraging some of the Google changes that you can put into place. But I think a part of it is that that’s where brand partnerships can really become a thing for your brand.

If you’re active and have a presence on other channels, you can kind of partner up or collaborate with other brands who are also trying to grow their organic following. And on TikTok, we’re seeing that a lot. I don’t know. I think that’s something really worth, if you’re sitting on samples and products, let’s find another brand that has the same audience as you, but a different product or service and how can you cross promote with each other going into the holidays to try and hit new audiences that way. I think there’s a lot of things that founders can be thinking about outside of just paid and performance on the most popular channels. There’s a lot of other ways to hit audiences and reach new customers.

Brian Weinstein: Yeah. That’s actually kind of cool because we talk about, Caitlin and I have had a few podcasts where we’ve talked about community. We’ve never actually touched on this concept of finding synergies with people with other brands that kind of live in your community’s like ecosystem and they’re part of that, but yet not obviously competitors necessarily, but just other people that are in that same community as you to sort of leverage the synergies.

Caitlin Postel: I love the collab concept. There’s nothing I get more amped about than seeing two brands that I love get together and it makes sense for me as a consumer. So I think I buy into that a lot.

Tori Piccin: Totally, and that could be a way that you offer a special promotion or discount during holiday season without actually putting anything on discount or offering a promotion. It could be a free gift. If that free gift comes from another brand that wants to get a tap into your audience and then they also pay the favor back by providing your product to their audience, that’s a really cool offering that people will sign up for and get excited about that doesn’t really cost you, the founder, much dollars.

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Brian Weinstein: Right.

Elana Ostrega: Well, yeah, and-

Brian Weinstein: I’m sorry, go ahead.

Elana Ostrega: We’re all wanting to talk at the same time because there’s just so-

Caitlin Postel: We’re excited.

Brian Weinstein: We’re excited.

Elana Ostrega: Yeah, this is good. You can feel it. You can feel it, but I was just going to go back to Tori’s point for a second on the spend and how people’s budgets have gone down significantly over the course of the past 12 months. I think, working with founders, we’ve seen that people’s budgets have gone down by 40 to 60%, so they have less money to play with and the marketplace has gotten more expensive. That puts people in a bit of a predicament, given that now I have less budget to play with. Everything is more expensive. What am I supposed to do? These micro spends that Tori was talking about, which is like, “Put a bit of my budget in TikTok, put a bit of my budget in Facebook, a little bit in Instagram, maybe a little bit in Pinterest, little bit in Google, display some of my products when people search.” I think that is a different strategy, to diversify that far, than what had been the case with I have Facebook and I have Google.

I think that’s the right way for customers to go. It might seem like you’re skimming the surface of every single one of these channels, but actually TikTok is quite a cost-effective channel for the E-commerce space. I think that’s something that, if a lot of people have not entertained, you can go super far with a couple hundred dollars a day, a couple thousand dollars a day. I think that it feels really scary during Black Friday to say, “I’m going to attempt to spend a bunch of my money on something that I’m just not used to. I’ve never done it before,” but might actually be the best thing for your organization to do, to break through, is to focus on some of these channels and we’ve seen that work really successfully.

The other side is organic. Organic on TikTok, put together a video, put together some content, drop it into Instagram, drop it into TikTok, get some influencer marketing going. You can pay micro influencers a very small amount of money to do things during this time. I think people build evangelists this way. You can actually go to your customers and your customers will turn into your micro influencers essentially. You don’t know if one of your best customers actually has 50,000 followers on TikTok, and so I think starting to investigate that lens, those are really, really good … I hate the term low hanging fruit. I’m going to use it, but those are [inaudible 00:20:47] opportunities-

Caitlin Postel: Go ahead, Elana banana. You use that fruit.

Elana Ostrega: Thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Yeah, I think those are really good things to do and I think my best advice to people would be don’t be afraid. I would say just try it. Take the opportunity and just try it out. There’s no time like the present and, if you don’t do it, you’re going to look back and think, “Why the hell didn’t I do this?”

Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Elana, that’s sort of a breakthrough strategy, right? This skimming across all these platforms. Do you start to refine that, where you start to see where the business is coming from and then start diverting money away from the under-performers at some point? Is that the way it evolves?

Elana Ostrega: Yeah. You want to optimize what is working versus what’s not, and you’re going to start to see that really fast. If TikTok is doing really well for you versus another channel that you’ve started to pour money into, well, let’s put all of our money into TikTok for the moment. I think that’s where, again, it’s that lead up. Start to test these channels a couple weeks leading up to Black Friday, really understand what is working for me, what’s most cost effective. Look at your ROAS, really start to understand where your revenue is coming from and really play that up during that time. Again, I think just overall, TikTok has been a more lucrative channel and a more cost-effective channel for a lot of people like, “Hey, TikTok.”

Tori Piccin: It totally is. The algorithm works right now and the ad spend hasn’t increased as much as other platforms. Elana, back to your point on the social and micro influencers, UGC or user-generated content right now is so valuable to brands. When you think about how important UGC is, and if you can acquire customers or get people interested about your product on some of these social channels without spending money on ads or performance, it goes such a long way. I think brands and founders should be thinking, “How can I push my customers to promote us on social this year? What are ways that we can incentivize our customers to actually share their products that they’ve purchased on socials and actually help us build that awareness?”

One founder I spoke to, what they’re doing starting November 25th, so on Black Friday, everyone who purchases will get a prompt that says, “You will be entered into a contest to win $500 from us if you post and share about us on Instagram,” so that could be story or a post, but you tag the brand and then they’re automatically entered into this contest. It’s like this small cost-friendly way to drive more awareness to your brand using your customers themselves, and there’s a lot of value in that this holiday season for sure.

Brian Weinstein: You talked about that breakthrough and that you’re skimming, but then you’re learning and you’re evolving. The question that I have then is is that helping the brands? Should the brands be paying attention … I guess they should be. I’m asking the question, but I sort of know the answer … to help find their voice and refine their voice? If they’re refining their channels, are they also refining their voice, right? Because I think that’s an important part of a brand’s evolution.

Tori Piccin: The voice comes first, I would say. Everything that they’re putting out into the world that needs to be defined before they’re doing that, which goes back to our original point that know your brand. Know your brand before you promote your brand. Elana had a conversation with, I believe, the founders of Bathorium all about this, that eating, living, breathing your product right now, more than ever, is so important. Your customers, your followers pick up on that. I think everything you put out onto social channels and ads and emails should be a depiction of your mission and your brand through and through. If you don’t know that, as a founder, you’ve got a lot of work to do to really nail down what is your brand mission and product meant to-

Elana Ostrega: Yeah, I think it’s all about authentic storytelling and I think if this approach does not feel authentic to your brand, don’t do it. I think during Black Friday, if it doesn’t feel authentic to do discounts, well, don’t go ahead and do discounts. If it feels authentic to do that, go ahead and do it. I think you can give it a shot, see how your community responds to it. I don’t think there’s ever a bad way to approach things, but I definitely think that you know what your brand is. You know how your brand is going to stand out, because you live and breathe your brand all the time.

I think you need to invest and understand what that is leading up to these times, and I’m hoping that most brands have an understanding of what their unique identifiers are, how they’re differentiated from other brands. I think you just really lean into that. You lean into that as much as possible and you do things that feel like you are actually able to have these really good, again, authentic conversations with your audiences, your really devoted customers. That’s what you need to do to create that connection with people.

Tori Piccin: Yeah.

Caitlin Postel: I love the concept of community. I say it probably every other podcast, and we did a specific show on the power of the micro influencer. I think all of that feeds into the for-you page works. The algorithm works because you’re looking at stuff like this. People seek out things that they like and it’s being pushed to them. Why not capitalize on that? I think a point that you both had brought up, which I found super interesting and I loved on our pre-call, was about honoring your loyalists. Maybe Black Friday … If you could talk about that a little bit, I think it’s a fantastic idea and I’d love to just hear it again, just as far as maybe you don’t give the random person who clicked on it the 50% off, but let’s comp up our community. Who’s been helping us out all year long?

Elana Ostrega: Yeah, you can do that. I feel like Tori has something to say because I can see she has something to say but I feel like, from my perspective, I think there’s a couple different ways to do this. I think if people are following you on socials and they’re evangelists of your brand and you really feel like you’re having a direct one-to-one conversation with them, I think you have that trust and so these are your devoted customers. There is something to be said about providing those customers, the ones who you email regularly, the ones who listen to your news, the ones who are really devoted fans, developing something more intimate for them.

I coded fans developing something more intimate for them. And so I think having a specific… It could be a discount, it could be a unique code of some sort for them, but it could also be a product that is exclusive to them, or it could be a gift with purchase. I think gifts with purchase are really wonderful for that inventory conversation we were having earlier. If you’re trying to unload something in terms of your inventory, adding this gift with purchase associated with it, as opposed to offering a discount, that means you’re killing two birds with one stone. You’re literally getting rid of the piece of inventory that you have too much of, and at the same time, you’re offering something in addition to the purchase that you’re providing.

My expectation as from a customer lens is that I am going to be treated better because I am loyal to your brand. People expect that level of personalization. And so I want you to know who I am and what my last purchase was. And so I think the personalization aspect alongside offering something very unique, that is an extremely important part of this.

Tori Piccin: Yeah, you’ve nailed it. That’s exactly it. I’m just going to offer two examples to compliment that. And Sephora does an incredible job of getting very custom based on their customers and what they’ve purchased, where they purchased, how much they purchase. Their most recent offering was they had their insider sale, but based on the tier of insider that you are, which is based on how much you’ve purchased or spent on purchases that year, your discount change, your percent off change. And when you could start purchasing those products, the higher the tier, the earlier you had access. I mean, we know Sephora product sell… I mean, when there’s a sale, they’re gone within a day. So you want that early access and they know that their customers want that.

So, I think they did a really good job there. And then on the flip side, another brand, Mala the Brand they’re a candle company based out of Vancouver, they started building a wait list at the beginning of November with past purchasers. So their email campaign… So they’re like, If you want access to our sale… And they have capsule collections, so they have holiday scents that only come out during the holidays. So if you are a loyal customer and you want the pumpkin spice or I don’t know, the Winter angel, I don’t know… I

Caitlin Postel: I was hoping you were going to come out with something to replace the pumpkin spice. I thought it was going to be groundbreaking, something new for this holiday season.

Elana Ostrega: So disappointing for it.

Tori Piccin: If you want those scents and you wait all year for them, you do want that first access and you do want to be on that wait list. In order to get on the wait list, you got to reply to the email.

Elana Ostrega: So that’s a hype.

Tori Piccin: That’s a great example.

Elana Ostrega: To that point, Tori, I think I had another conversation with the founder a couple weeks ago and we were playing around with different ideas of what they can do for Black Friday. And the things that kept popping up were the very traditional, again, discount stuff like that. But I think we can’t shy away from the fact that customers really want other things as well. They want free shipping, they want easy refunds, they want really high-touch customer support. There are things that you can play around with during Black Friday that don’t necessarily mean that you have to discount or offer something.

With your best customers, you should be affording them this opportunity to, instead of returning in 30 days, maybe I have 60 days to return because it’s this time period where it’s really busy. And so those things are actually extremely beneficial. As a mom, I have to say, I am really busy and half the time, I’m just running around not knowing what the hell I’m going to do. I’ve forgotten to [inaudible 00:30:40] things countless times and then I’m like, “Oh God, what do I do? I have this thing now that I don’t need.”

And so I think offering customers these very unique, personalized things where it’s like they might need a refund and you only offer exchanges, so during this time, offer them a refund. And I think for your very good customers, they will so appreciate that and remember it and remember that customer support more than anything.

Caitlin Postel: Sweeten the deal because I was going to buy this from you anyway.

Elana Ostrega: Exactly.

Brian Weinstein: It’s so important. And I know the marketing team’s going to ring my neck for even bring this up because it’s coming out on a blog, but the cost of acquisition and that first purchase is such a loss for a brand that it’s critical that not only do they have a customer that comes back a second time, but that they just keep coming back. And anything that you can do to make that experience better. And to your point, it just doesn’t even have to be about something for free or something discounted, it could just be about the experience. I think that’s a fantastic piece of advice.

Elana Ostrega: Yeah, it’s just the experience. Keep them coming back. Everybody wants repeat business. It’s really easy as everybody says to acquire a customer, but it’s really difficult to keep them. And I think the same goes for the spend. And so I think focus on acquiring the customers, but you should spend even more time thinking about how you can keep them happy and satisfied and giving them the most customer-centric experience, so they keep coming back for more and so that they tell their friends and their family and post it on their socials.

Tori Piccin: And keep that experience consistent too. Once the bar has been set, you’ve got to hit that bar and only go up from there. And it actually leans into, look at your tech stack and how can you optimize your tech stack. We already touched on this a bit, but your customer service, what can you do to enhance that customer service always. I mean, are there any other channels? Do you want integrate or bring in SMS to your marketing campaigns and how will that experience affect those loyal customers? But consistency is so key and critical to keep retaining those customers long-term.

Brian Weinstein: Yeah, absolutely. No, listen, this has been great and super informative. Really appreciate you coming on. Elana, Banana and Tori from Clearco, this has been fantastic. Anything you want to mention on kind of parting on the way out? Any final words of advice for brands?

Tori Piccin: I would say the FCM, you can acquire new customers, but don’t lose sight of how to keep those customers coming back to your brand. It’s so important, especially going into the holiday season.

Elana Ostrega: And I would say just remain authentic as you would remain authentic to yourself, remain authentic to your brand and remember that your customers come first during this time, and the experience is what will keep them coming back for more.

Brian Weinstein: Awesome. Thank you so much to the two of you for coming on. This has been great. Appreciate it. It’s been a long time coming, and I know we had a few cancellations along the way, but I’m glad we were able to get this done and we’ll be able to get this out before Black Friday, Cyber Monday, which is really, really fantastic. Caitlin, you want to walk us out?

Caitlin Postel: Sure. Thank you, Elana. Thank you, Tori. Thank you everyone for listening. Tune in every other week on your favorite podcast platform. We’ll see you soon guys. Thanks.

Tori Piccin: Thanks so much.

Brian Weinstein: Appreciate it.

Caitlin Postel: Bye.

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