Today one of our favorite ecom operators, Alex Greifeld, joins us to discuss building product-channel fit, how she would start a new product from scratch, and much much more. This episode is an absolute gold mine of actionable marketing takeaways, so be sure to stick around till the end!#ROAS
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Rabah Rahil (00:07):
All right. 3, 2, 1, ladies and gentlemen, we're back with your favorite DTC podcast and with one of your favorite DTC marketers, we have the queen of conversion, the polymath of marketing. We have Alex Grayfield Alex, how are you today?
Alex Greifeld (00:26):
I'm doing great. How are you?
Rabah Rahil (00:29):
Um, I'm doing wonderful. It is finally coming down with Cedar in Austin. So my allergies, I actually, I think I have like one I'm like one and a half nostrils right now, which has been a God sent because I've, uh, been stuffed up with all this Cedar. Where does this podcast find you today?
Alex Greifeld (00:43):
So, um, I'm in south Florida. I don't know if you can see out the window. I've got a Palm tree situation going on.
Rabah Rahil (00:51):
Oh, how cool. Because originally you're, you're on the coast, right? East coast.
Alex Greifeld (00:56):
Yeah. Um, so I, I was based out of like New York city area for, um, for a while, but I've been going back and forth, uh, to Florida since COVID started.
Rabah Rahil (01:08):
Oh, that's not a bad gig. Um, how long, because you went to school in New York as well, right? NYU.
Alex Greifeld (01:14):
Yeah. So I did both undergrad and grad school in New York. I did undergrad actually at, uh, fashion Institute of technology and okay. Then, um, MBA at, at NYU.
Rabah Rahil (01:26):
How cool, what was that experience? Like? I, I was always thinking about the MBA, but there was always that, like, I don't know. I, I never did that. Never pulled the trigger. How did you get a lot of value out of it? Did you enjoy it?
Alex Greifeld (01:38):
Yeah, I mean, I found the time incredibly valuable. It's, it's kind of like blocking off a chunk of time to learn new skills, but yeah, it's really, it it's really what you make out of it. And, and also like getting the, getting others to recognize the value of what you did is, is a challenge in itself.
Rabah Rahil (01:59):
Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely some, uh, MBA haters out there. I, I still think it's a, a fantastic, uh, line of education. And to your point, there's a lot of, um, a lot of value to get out of it. Okay. I have this little quote from you and I absolutely love it. And so I wanna read it and then I want you kind of to color in the lines there a little bit. I used to design mom genes, uh, parenthesis, really now I work in, e-commerce bringing a poly perspective to retail, digital marketing and DTC. So how did that transition from a fashion Institute to, in my opinion, your blue flame, top of the notch, pinnacle in terms of strategy tactics, like I have yet to see you stumble, which is very rare where everything you've written about has just been so ironclad in the thesis, building in the actual facts on the ground, and then wrapped in kind of just this business fundamentals. How, how does a, a mom, gene designer get to such an MBA marketing kind of level of just understanding?
Alex Greifeld (03:00):
So the, the design thing was something I, I really wanted to do ever since I was probably in sixth grade and I just got more and more into it and nothing, I never encountered anything else during my, uh, pre-college life. That seemed like a, an interesting alternative, but of course, that was in the, the nineties and early two thousands where like the internet was not as mature as it is now. And you didn't have the access to all of these different career paths and ideas. So, um, I like charged into that full force. And then I actually worked in the industry for about three years and I, I quickly realized that it just wasn't what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, uh, for a number of reasons. I think that the breaking point was working on Jessica Simpson's Deni collection. And I, I got to meet her very briefly and I just realized like, this is almost like the height of what I could be doing and I'm still not enjoying it. So, um, at that time, I think it was 2008 to 2010. There was a lot more just out there about different career paths and eCommerce and digital marketing. And I started to get into that. And, um, like I, I slowly transitioned from design into eCommerce and digital marketing.
Rabah Rahil (04:20):
How cool, what a unique, the, the creative aspect is still there. I, I see it in a lot of your, um, productions. So give me some color into, so you have this big brain, you have this big knowledge base. Now you tried designing some stuff, you hit the top there that wasn't really exciting for you. How, what does your information consumption look like? Or how, how do you kind of correlate and coalesce all of these really in a way sometimes disparate ideas, but then you bring them into this really succinct kind of singular subject. Is there anything you read on a, uh, regular basis or is there any kind of frameworks that you're really into or anything like that, do you wanna share?
Alex Greifeld (05:00):
Uh, I think this is gonna be a frustrating answer for a lot of people, but a lot of it has come through practice, um, or just like life experience. Like I've had a lot of roles in the past where, um, I mean, the reason my whole, my blog and my newsletters called no best practices is because I've been in multiple situations where, you know, we, we followed best practices and they didn't work. And then you have to start asking yourself, like, why did this happen? So it was a lot of that and a lot of, um, roles where I just had multiple responsibilities and had to synthesize a lot of information. Like, I think that helped me build the muscle. Um, but as far as what I'm consuming or thinking about now, I subscribe to a lot of different newsletters. I spend, uh, more time than I'd care to admit on Twitter. Um, I just try to read a lot of different things from a lot of different sources.
Rabah Rahil (05:56):
I love that. Yeah. And it, ironically, that's been pretty much all the high achievers that we've had on the podcast is pretty much action breeds action. And like, there's some ways that you can expedite it, but for the most part, it's really hard to read internalize theory. And then a lot of times it just doesn't net out in practice. And so it's a, that's a bit of a pushback on the MBA too, right. Where it's like, there's just, cause I went to school for economics, which is pretty much like, uh, a bunch of fancy math. People wanted a Nobel prize. People don't realize economics actually wasn't even in the original Nobel prizes. And then on top of that, uh, psychologists has wanted it before. So, um, there's just a lot of like theory versus like what actually happens. And, uh, I, I love that. And I think that that's, and the other thing too, is you don't stay on the sidelines and you can see how the actual impact of what you're doing has on the actual business. And I think that's so relevant where I think the farther you get away from that, the more you can paper over inefficiencies and kind of some misunderstandings. I love it. Love. I love it.
Alex Greifeld (07:04):
Rabah Rahil (07:06):
What's the nicest thing someone's done for you?
Alex Greifeld (07:11):
Oh man. I mean, honestly, I'll, I'll give a shout out to my in-laws because they're, they're just outside of like my parents and my immediate family. I think they're just the polar opposite of, um, what you would read on Reddit. Like, am I the asshole they're like really great. So they do, they constantly think of, of nice things to do. Um, I that's, that's what I'd say. <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (07:40):
I love that. That's fantastic. Um, let's wrap up the main segment with one last question. Excuse me. What would be one piece of advice you would give someone that is say, you know, kind of a junior level marketer that's trying to skill up and get to, um, kind of closer to where you're at in terms of understanding, in terms of tactics, strategies, uh, customer life cycle, customer LTV, that kind of thing. What would be, uh, one tip that you could give them?
Alex Greifeld (08:08):
Um, I would say read my newsletter, subscribe to my,
Rabah Rahil (08:12):
Alex Greifeld (08:13):
Um, yeah, not, not to be like totally conceited, but at a high level kind of start to try to find ways to learn about some of those higher level concepts. Like there's some, there are some other sources I think that are really good. Like I, um, there's this, uh, analyst, his name is Kevin Holstrom. He goes like really in depth into a lot of these concepts. I think this, the material on like conversion XL is really good. Um, but start reading sources like that, where the, where the, the authors are like actually trying to attack best practices and get beneath the surface of what's going on, uh, with a lot of these topics. Like if, if you limit your consumption to, you know, mainstream conferences or some of the other kind of more, uh, tactics focus sources on marketing, it's easy to just get kind of like caught in that loop of like, we must, you know, SMS campaign abandoned Cardi now, like that, that kind of thing.
Rabah Rahil (09:18):
<laugh> yeah. I love that. Yeah. I think that's one thing that's really always caught me with the no best practices is it feels a bit like a analog or spinoff of beginner's mind, which is ultimately just, um, Azaz like a, a Buddhist concept of always approaching things with this beginner's mindset, because as you acquire all these expertise, you can start to forget and, uh, in a weird way to lose empathy for the thing you're actually trying to solve. And I've found that having that can be really helpful because, um, as helpful as expertise can be, um, to your point, you can fall into this, no be or best practices, dogma where, oh, this worked out like this for the past. So it's obviously gonna work like this for the future. And sometimes that works, but a lot of times, um, it's not the case in having more of that thesis driven, no best practices framework, I think is just such a good name, such so jealous. So jealous, fantastic name. Um, wow. We flew through the main segment. I love it. Okay. So let's get to the value add segment. This is why people want to hear you. So there's kind of three big buckets that we're gonna go through. So starting first let's color in kind of the bifurcation between building a brand and what we would call either product market fit or product channel product slash channel fit. What's the difference? Um, what do you have to do now post iOS 14 kind of team it up for you there?
Alex Greifeld (10:46):
Yeah, so I think this is a really interesting one for me, because it's something that I saw working in the fashion industry and then kind of saw reemerge recently after the iOS disruption. So product channel fit is, you know, that you can profitably sell something in a specific marketing channel to a specific audience. And, um, you that evolves into a brand when you're able to sell whatever it is, kind of channel agnostic. And I think the, the litmus test for what is a brand is if I told you that this, that this brand had their own content newsletter, you could think in less than five seconds, what it would be about like a newsletter that had nothing to do with selling a product, what would their perspective on some subject matter be? And like what, what would they focus on?
Rabah Rahil (11:44):
That's a really fascinating, I've never heard that before. Interesting. So when you are, what would you say? So outside of, is it pretty much just that economic indicator of that I can acquire people efficiently and at scale ultimately on this channel, and that would be the signifier that you have hit kind of product channel fit
Alex Greifeld (12:06):
Yeah. That you're able to sell. I, I mean, Facebook, Instagram ads is a great example because that's been like the big source of, uh, DTC go to market in the past, really like five to seven years. So it's like you can sell a product on Facebook and make money at the end of the month that's product channel fit. Um, what happens though is if you're something, when something works, it's like, you really try to optimize it. So you can get into this situation where you're optimizing your product and your business into Facebook, to the extent where then you turn around and try to sell another channels, be it like TikTok, Pinterest, or even wholesale. And you, your offering is so architected into what works for Facebook, that it, it doesn't have, um, as much of a fighting chance outside that ecosystem.
Rabah Rahil (13:01):
Oh, I love that. And I think you're seeing a lot of that right now, right. Where there's just a big challenge of, um, and we've talked about this on previous podcasts, but I mean before, I mean, there's just such a bull market in ads where it's like, you, you would just, if you had, and, and not to say best practices, but if you had any semblance of kind of what was working at of the, at the time, man, you were just printing money. You really didn't need to have efficiencies. That's why I find it funny now that people are kind of thinking of profit now is because they really didn't have to when rev, the top line was so big, you could be so inefficient and everybody still gets paid, just cuz you're just printing, you're putting money. Like the, the drug kingpins, just trying to find places to stash it in their house, cuz you're printing all this money. And then all of a sudden you're not, I, I also find it interesting cuz something like MBM T watches or um, these kind of right before the, the big tsunami hit, how I wonder how they would build that brand today because there's no way the arbitrage on Facebook is just gone or, or not gone, but it's taken a huge hit. And so, uh, I guess I would ask you that question, if you were gonna start a brand today kind of what would that marketing mix look like?
Alex Greifeld (14:13):
So I would start with a really strong product and um, ideally trying to build like an organic community around it. Like I would almost start a newsletter, a separate newsletter. I would think about I'd start. Yeah. I'd start with the, the end product. I'd do some market research, make sure there was something about it that was differentiated. And then I would really think about the psychology of my target customer and like if she was going, if he or she was gonna subscribe to a content newsletter, like what values would they rally around? What, what would they find valuable and try to build up an audience that way and then get that first run of the product created and almost test the viability within the newsletter before I scaled it out to paid. I think there's still though there's something to be said for taking that approach, but just going directly into page channels. Because if you know, you can get something to work economically on Facebook or TikTok, like that's a good platform to kind of iterate into the deeper brand stuff.
Rabah Rahil (15:23):
I love that. Do you ever find, so we had a, a discussion on kind of brand, I, I have this like love, hate relationship with the word brand because I feel like it's kind of almost like God, it means so many different things to so many people that is almost like a useless term, if that makes sense. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and so I had always, or I guess my thesis is that absolutely a brand is important, but a lot of times brand is a function of the customer touch points. Right? And so in DTC, you don't have a lot of really intimate customer touchpoints outside of say customer success. Um, which in my opinion is just super, super important, cuz I always say, this is the only place that you can either make somebody hate you or become an evangelist. That's the only part of the marketing ecosystem.
Rabah Rahil (16:11):
You can't do that with an ad. You can't do that with an email. You can't do that with the SMS. You can only do it when somebody's in that vulnerable state and then you either delight them or they hate you forever. But where I'm kind of going with this is that the, the brand for DTC is so encapsulated in the product because that's the really, the first intimate interaction that you have. It's not like you go into an apple store and you have this intimate interaction with this real time store. You don't have that on DTC. And so let me lay on the plane here. Have you ever encountered a really great brand brand with bad products? Does that exist
Alex Greifeld (16:48):
A great brand with bad products? Um, that, you know what, honestly, in my personal experience, you know, you know where I'd say I've encountered it the most is in the, the fashion sphere, because when you say you have a love, hate relationship with brand, I'm like 500% with you because in that, in that industry, especially in some of my earlier roles with independent companies brand, there's a different understanding of brand like brand is aesthetics first. Whereas in DTC, I think a lot of the time it's narrative first and, and kind of driven by a founder's story or pain points. And so, um, sometimes you get in these situations where, uh, brand invests a lot in their image and campaign photography and, and all of this. And then you actually try on the product and it's like a, it doesn't look as good as it did in the pictures. And you're like, okay, this is a $500, but it's like a polyester shirt. So like you're, there's a big Gulf between expectations and kind of this visual image.
Rabah Rahil (18:02):
I love that. Yeah. And that's so fasting too, because I think the fashion industry and we won't touch too much on it, but it's just so, um, challenging because there aren't really any value vectors that you can iterate on. And not only that, like, so for example, what I mean by that is like you take triple whale, like we can add more features to literally make the product different and more valuable. Like at the end of the day with fashion, you literally have pretty much access to the same materials ish and you really it's, it's the emotional connection. It's the signaling power that this conveys, it's all these kind of very hard to quantify putting a spreadsheet tangibles. Um, and that's so cuz for like a AMA Birken bag, like at a certain point, like a handbag caps out in terms of utility, like there's no way that the utility of this handbag is better than, you know, say a 2000 or $5,000 coach bag. Like this is the, the, the materials can be really, really similar. But, um, it, it's just fascinating to me because that is the place where I get what you're saying about the brand aesthetics. But it also is if there was one place I would try and make a big brand bet it is fashion because how else do you differentiate the product besides having this, this very coveted brand. Right.
Alex Greifeld (19:17):
Yeah. And I think there's honestly so much I could say on that and I'm, I'm probably gonna write about it relatively soon, but I think that's, that's why studying like the LVMH and carings of the world is so interesting because they've kind of pivoted away from the, what a luxury brand means as far as like what the product assortment is, what the codes are, what we will and won't do. They're actually a lot more risk taking than maybe a lot of like traditional New York based, uh, brands that do a runway show. So the, the signaling aspect of it is evolving. And then you, you kind of wind up in this middle space where you're like trying to balance utility versus signaling value. And you know, you're, you're focused on aesthetics, so you're kind of like half, one foot and one bucket, one foot in the other, um, a lot, a lot going on there, but I don't wanna go off topic
Rabah Rahil (20:17):
<laugh> yeah, no, no, totally. But I, I love that about the brand. I mean, ultimately for me, the way I look at it is brand is a function to facilitate an emotional connection with the customer user. And the more tightly you can, couple to that emotion or that need, or that job to be done, the higher probability a that customer will spend more money with you and B the less probability they're gonna churn because you can kind of become either part of them or there's something that is aspirational. That's where, uh, pins, even though they're getting just crushed in their stock was always an interesting platform for me because it's aspirational. Like you don't really go to Pinterest to buy stuff. You go to Pinterest, cuz I wanna make a vision board. I, I want to, and it kind of is these aspirational things versus, um, kind of what you have in front of you. So I, I love it. I love it. I love it. Okay. Let's switch gears into. So we already talked about kind of a little bit of acquisition, um, a little bit of brand product channel fit. Now we've acquired the customer. What are your thoughts and kind of, how do you think about retention for a, a brand or a business?
Alex Greifeld (21:26):
Okay. This is another topic that gets me fired up. Um, so <laugh> a lot of recently there's been a lot of talk about retention and I think there was even an essay, uh, published by one of the, the venture firms that was like your cost of acquisition doesn't matter. Um, which is of course it doesn't matter when you're you're venture funded and you don't have to be profitable. But, um, for, for the, those of us that do have to be profitable, um, this, this narrative that retention is kind of going to save the day and like take the burden off. The shoulders of acquisition is a bit of a misleading one and it's, and it's actually a narrative that's been PO that, that I've heard a lot before working more with brands who are like, okay, we started in wholesale, we're trying to, to launch and mature DTC.
Alex Greifeld (22:22):
Like the, the reason that Sears and J JC Penney's have gone out of business, uh, not well or are on their way. It's not part of it is because they're pursuing this kind of like retention will save us from the need to acquire customers narrative. So I, I always say that, um, acquisition is retention fuel. You can't, uh, thanks. It's like you, if you're, if you're improving your retention rate on an audience of zero, it's like zero times two is still zero. Um, so you can't, it, you can't use retention to solve like a fundamental financial issue with your acquisition strategy. You can't use it to solve a lack of product market fit.
Rabah Rahil (23:09):
I, I love that. And the, excuse me, the way I almost see it is, uh, almost like a potentiality, right? Like the people that you've acquired have a certain potential and the only really way, like there's one point you have this great line. I didn't actually put it in here, but, uh, I'm paraphrasing, so you'll have to correct me. But ultimately the too long didn't read is 75% of the customers you acquire their LTV ceiling has already been set. Like there's gonna be nothing you can do to move that ceiling where it's like, I'm gonna spend X amount of dollars with you, no matter how good the branding and is no matter how good the product offering, it's just, this is my economic life. And maybe we can get you to spend more and be creepy, like goop or something like that, where you can do some really, you know, gray market, dark market kind of stuff.
Rabah Rahil (23:52):
But for the most part, you're gonna bump into some kind of structural economic impediments that are personal to that person. So I think that's, and the other thing is for retention. I always just find it like really perplexing when you're just like, okay. And then you look at kind of just the brand they have. And you're like, okay, cool. Well, you sell really awesome leather wallets. Like what is somebody gonna do buy another really awesome leather wallet? Like what do you mean by retention? You know what I mean? Like your product offering just don't make sense. The sales cycle for these things are 10 years, five years, like, well, how are you gonna like maybe a gifting angle or something, but in that's again, not really necessarily the retention it'd be more so like a reactivation to get somebody else. But that's kind of the big thing that I've also encountered is just the, the way to your point.
Rabah Rahil (24:37):
It's like, oh, well we have these people on the list, quote, unquote, we should be able to get more money out of them. I think that kind of, yeah. Mentality is just so, um, pernicious and not really quite frankly productive because it's not representative of really the people that you have in your, your marketing ecosystem. I do think there is something to be said about segmentation. If you're in about this, where there are some people that are willing to like that 25% that isn't capped, there are some people that are, um, able to kind of push up those LTVs. But for the most part, if you can kind of really hone in on acquiring higher value customers or solving that job to be done for that customer, it's gonna be make your retention strategy way easier and way more effective than you literally like your little sassy email. I loved it where like, oh yeah, let's just email everybody three times a day. That's definitely gonna work. It's just like, it, it feels very pound the pavement versus, um, big brain energy.
Alex Greifeld (25:36):
Yeah. I mean, I, I, I think retention is the job of the entire organization because there's a lot that happens upstream of the purchase that influences your, your baseline ability to retain customers. There's like, there's the product assortment there's is the product actually good? There's um, the pricing and the promotional strategy. There's what type of customers you're acquiring and all of that kind of happens upstream of marketing. And then there's, every customer kind of has like a baked in lifetime value that you can, you can kind of like get at, but it's impossible to completely predict. So where a lot of, uh, retention strategies hit road bumps is they assume that the entire customer files a monolith, the entire customer file has like a gold mine of equal opportunity. That's just like waiting to be on tap. Um, you, you have to kind of look at what the baseline retention rate is for different segments before you even apply marketing, because you know, your marketing's effective when you push the baseline up. So if you're not even looking at that, then you can't even really gauge how effective you're being.
Rabah Rahil (26:50):
Yeah. I, I mean, that's so spot on. The other thing too, that I've seen around retention is, um, you reactivate people at a loss, which makes no sense to me. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> where you're just like, oh, let's do a loyalty. So I took out when I had my agency, I took on a client and they had, uh, an affiliate program. Um, and that affiliate program was two-sided. So the affiliate would get 20% of the sale. And then the coupon code was for 20%. And so I'm going to the gun. I'm like, dude, you're giving up 40% of your sale right off the gun. And this is a $50 AOB kind of business. It's like, what, how does this work? Like, I always find it kind of to your like little litmus test. I'll still that like, for me, a marketing initiative, if it succeeds and it's net negative to the business, that to me is like an instant red flag of like, dude, we probably shouldn't be doing this.
Rabah Rahil (27:41):
Like if this does run away train and everybody starts using it and now we're selling $20 bills for $10. Like, I don't think that's kind of where we wanna be. And so that, that was one of the things that I had found very pervasive is that, oh, we have to have a loyalty program. We have to have this and we have to have that. And I'm like, yes, I agree. But what's the point. What's the goal of that? The goal of that is to drive more revenue, right? So why are we taking these diminishing economics versus to your point, let's go concentrate on acquiring better people and then segment these people into tier. And then the people that we actually have a chance to sell with, let's figure out some offers that would resonate with them and then go from there versus just giving up all of your money at the beginning.
Rabah Rahil (28:21):
And I don't know, it was just, it was kind of triggered me with when I saw the retention and I had that like PTSD of going through that loyalty program. I was like, dude, you are just giving up all this money for what, and people forget too, guess what this guy has to pay for the shipping and handling. And so you just constantly just taking money while you work down that P and L, which is pretty incredible. While I say that. Have you seen anything that excites you in retention or have you seen any kind of strategies or tactics that you're like, Hey, that's actually pretty clever.
Alex Greifeld (28:56):
Hmm. This, you know, what's so tricky about this is you don't get exposed to a lot of retention tactics unless you buy something fair point. Um, I'm, I'm trying to think if I, I I've, you know, honestly, I'm, I'm like struggling to come up with something. Um, I, I did purchase some, some product from, uh, Jones road recently, shout
Rabah Rahil (29:23):
Alex Greifeld (29:23):
And yeah. Shout shadow to Cody. I mean, I thought that their, um, their unboxing experience and the post-purchase, uh, some of the post-purchase emails that they sent were really good. Like they stood out in my inbox. Um, and I think some, some brands do really good, uh, reorder experiences. Yeah. Yeah. Um, like if, if you're able to reorder like through a text message or an email or something, or sign up to like a subscription program that is not invasive, like I know I was subscribed to house for a long time. Um, but it, I was basically, I was getting so many of them that I couldn't finish them and I had to put it on pause. Um, but like their, their whole subscription experience was really good.
Rabah Rahil (30:15):
Yeah. I love that. I think that's actually a really great point that we didn't even touch on is, um, retention can also mean getting people into these, um, subscription style products where ultimately that's just a whole different ballgame where now you have, um, pretty much a contractual relationship and you, instead of having to convince somebody to buy, buy, buy, which you do in terms of the acquisition world, basically all you have to do is convince them not to churn. And I, it sounds like same, same, but it's totally different, man. Like it's just a totally different having getting somebody in and then making sure they don't churn versus consistently and perpetually having to close that person time in and time again, to make a sale, um, can be quite cumbersome. So cuz I, um, and I'll quit my rambling here, but I had a really good experience with athletic greens and I thought they did a really good job of really pushing you in, into a, um, economic incentive to kind of B buy these bigger things, you know, uh, prof Galloway, he's a professor has this great line where it's like, if you have the ability to do it, you wanna make offers into, um, IQ test where it's like, I'm dumb if I don't buy this, right.
Rabah Rahil (31:22):
Like it's such a good deal. I should buy it. And sometimes the economics, right, it has to net out, but um, athletic greens did a really good job of that. And the other thing that they did a really good job is they gave me the capability to build a behavior loop. So you can buy this little package. And for people that know athletic greens is like just this little fancy greens powder, I'm trying to be healthy. You know, I got the executive 15 on, so I'm trying to cut it off. But the, uh, it just greens powder and they, they sell you a little shaker. So now you have everything to really complete the circle, um, with that. And to your point, the unboxing was also a really incredible experience. So I think there's some things there that people can work on cuz you're right. The, the unboxing in that post-purchase is such a vibrant time to connect with that person cuz they're still on that honeymoon high.
Alex Greifeld (32:07):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Rabah Rahil (32:10):
Okay. Let's get into the third bucket. Okay. Making moves today to set yourself up for success. Can you tell me why my sales of today are a function of my acquisition for the last six months?
Alex Greifeld (32:26):
Yeah. So, um, if you, if you look at where your sales are coming from on any given day it's, they're coming from two places, it's new customers and people who have already purchased with you. And if, if you're growing, uh, at least half of that is gonna be new customers. When you look at the returning customers and you look at when they last shopped, you're likely to find that the majority have shopped with you in the past six months. And it's even more heavily weighted towards those who shop with you in the past three. So what you're doing in the three to six months leading up to any given day is either gonna make it easier or harder for you to hit your financial goals on that day. And, and that becomes more real when you're heading into like a very high stakes period, like a, like a holiday or whatever your other tent pole events might be.
Rabah Rahil (33:23):
Yeah. It's it's so on the nose. So we had, um, uh, um, at my previous agency we did a lot of mobile apps, um, installs. And that's what you would see a lot of, especially when you're at, um, very high spends is there's just kind of a, uh, a momentum that you build up that'll trickle through. And if you can get that to snowball, it's fantastic. But if not, we would have to just cut off the spend and you would just see like these ghost conversions, but they're still coming in and then they just slowly start to just fall off a cliff and then ultimately just kind of grind to a halt. But that, uh, I love that mental model because ultimately that's exactly what you're doing. And if you can just keep that rolling six month, three month window, and if you can win every quarter, you know, by definition, you're gonna win the the year because you're just gonna keep perpetuating success.
Rabah Rahil (34:10):
And the other thing is you're gonna have more understanding in terms of how much these people are worth to you. And so that can better inform your acquisition efforts cuz that's another thing that I see a lot of times is there's people that don't have the balance sheet for a growth only <laugh> strategy where it's like you. Yeah, I, I get you wanna go there, but unless you're really trying to get acquired or some sort of exit where you just want that hockey stick of orders or what have you and the underlying economics are irrelevant, a growth at all cost strategies. Uh, I have very rarely seen it work for people again that aren't pursuing, um, different basically they don't care about profit. They just care about, um, making the, the numbers look good and the deck look great for the, the VCs. Okay. And then let's roll out with one more practical tip and then let's get to some listener questions. How, when you think of acquisition, when do you really, what do you look for when you want to turn up the heat or scale?
Alex Greifeld (35:12):
So I think when you can take that principle of like setting yourself up for success and use it to think strategically about how you're budgeting, like um, what a lot of what happens in a lot of organizations is it's like, okay, March is 10% of all of our sales, so it should be 10% of all of our budget, but there are shifts in like how efficient your spend is in certain periods. And um, there's also like there, there are events that happen in the business where you're just gonna, you're gonna convert more of your, your new and returning customers. So a tangible example of this is, and I think this is kind of like old hat advice by now, but like heavying up on, on customer acquisition in the six months leading up to holiday so that you like, you know, holiday is one of your most popular shopping periods or offers of the year.
Alex Greifeld (36:07):
So it's like if you build up this momentum, this big pool of new customers, you know, you're gonna convert a bunch of them in holiday and that will help, um, get you where you wanna go sales wise, but you can use that, that principle throughout the year. If you know that there's an event that you run that's really popular, um, you can plan more acquisition leading up to it. Or if you experience, um, a boost in acquisition that you either planned or not, like let's say, you know, Bella had is spotted, like using your product and you get a, a ton of new customers then plan an event. Um, after that, like if there's a, an offer lever that, you know, is really effective and it's not on the calendar, like just throw it on there the, the month after you car those people, because you're gonna lock more of them into a second purchase. And then like getting over that hurdle between the first and second purchase is one of the hardest things you can do. So like just kind of thinking strategically about those trade offs.
Rabah Rahil (37:11):
Yeah. I love that. And just been, having gone through a just myriad data sets, um, that is, and it again, to your point old hat advice, but moving somebody from a second or from a first to a second purchase or two plus purchases. Oh my gosh, it is, uh, I mean mind blowing what you can do there. And there's, there's kind of, um, we joke about it a little bit internally, but if somebody buys your product, once you're kind of dating, if somebody buys your products twice, you're engaged. And if somebody buys your product three times, you're married and you're in this kind of monogamous, uh, relationship, which is exactly what you want because there is again, hopefully, uh, in marriage, but there's that emotional connection that is really gonna drive a lot of the, um, for lack of a better term, you know, illogical, um, rationalizations of why.
Rabah Rahil (37:57):
I mean, that's literally where we make our money is giving people stories to tell their significant others why they're so smart because they bought triple oil or why they're making so much money and their clients love them because triple oil is giving them like people need like I, my personal thesis is that people buy off a no regret strategy. And so if you overwhelm them with choice, they're gonna say no, because they don't wanna make the bad choice. Um, but if you can arm them with a way to evangelize why this product is amazing, like one of the best ways to get what people care about your products is listen to them, talk to their friends about what your product is and the things that they talk about are the things that they care about and that's what they're gonna brag about. And so, um, I love that, how fun, so heavy up on the acquisition, another cool thing you can do kind of taking it to another extreme is, um, looking at cohort data where people that you acquire during your Bella Hadid, and then you can see how much they're actually worth. And then that way you can know, well, maybe I can kind of spend into the future a little bit because in six months or three months, this is gonna net out to be, um, X, Y, or Z. So I love all that. Amazing. Okay. Let's jump into listener questions where this is our second round of listener questions, how exciting. Okay. So we are talking about a hypothetical beauty brand. Um, what
Alex Greifeld (39:13):
I know exactly
Rabah Rahil (39:14):
What you're. Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course we love you, Cody. Um, what would, what are top two, three things that you would do to, uh, improve either retention and or loyalty?
Alex Greifeld (39:28):
Hmm. Um, so on the retention side, I think like, if I was to basically, if I wanted to answer the question, I'd wanna dig into, um, what products and categories were like the real heroes of the business. Yep. Um, and then understanding the, for the people who purchased those and were, are, did become very loyal. Like, did they mostly repurchase those products? Did they cross up other categories? Um, I, and then I try to do some additional research and just learn more about those people and like what brought them into the brand and, and what they like about it. Um, because then you can start to design programs around basically like getting those people to buy more. So, you know, do you, do you give them gift with purchase in another category? You want them to sample, do you develop content that's like really specifically around their focal points, like some of that kind of stuff. And then, um, it was, what was it was acquisition or no, it was retention. And then what was the other one?
Rabah Rahil (40:38):
Alex Greifeld (40:39):
Loyalty. Um, I think there's a lot that you can do with the founder. Um, because I know that like, that's, uh, how a lot of people came into the brand. Like I just think there are a lot of creative things you could do there, not to say too much to reveal. <laugh> what that brand is.
Rabah Rahil (40:59):
This strategy. Um, yeah. I love that. I think you're spot on there. There's um, I don't know. I just think people experience the world in stories and the better stories you can give them and the more, um, or not more, you don't wanna overwhelm them, but the more impactful stories that you can make available to them, um, to tell either themselves or the people around them, why they're so awesome. I think that's really it. And furthermore, with the beauty brand, like how more intimate does it get than wearing something, right? Like that's why beauty and jewelry is such a intimate category because this is, this is who this person is, right? Like you've taken the step to put this on your face. You've taken the step to where there's necklace around your neck. You've taken the step to actually put this t-shirt on. Like, it's a much more intimate brand than say, like the, you know, software as a service or something that is hidden, right.
Rabah Rahil (41:45):
Like a wallet is cool, but at the same time, like a men's wallet, when do you see it? Unless you're like the guy like me that I hate having in my pocket. So I put on my table, but it's, it's a, douchy move. It's just a habit. But outside of that, you don't see that. And so I think for me, I would, to your point really figure out how can you get maybe some, uh, people in the educational vector to show them how to use this product at a more proficient way or different ways. And then that inherently will, um, or it should, uh, increase consumption because they need more of it to do the cool thing or the tutorial that they like, or here's a new way to put eyelash on or whatever.
Alex Greifeld (42:25):
Rabah Rahil (42:26):
I love it. Okay. How do you get better at strategy, big picture stuff? Does it only come with experience or can you actively train yourself? So I know we kind of touched on this where it is definitely action breeds action, but I love Jess. This is a higher fire team. Um, do you want to color in anything like, so definitely actively train yourself. Is there any, like, do you think of like the 10,000 hour kind of thing or is it just more so the more exposure the, the more absorption or,
Alex Greifeld (42:55):
Yeah, actually there are a few things I would add. I think it's worth reading about traditional strategic frameworks that like were developed by consulting firms. Like the five forces that book is so dense, but if you can find like a, an article summary of what the five forces model is like, that's the, it helps it. It's not, it really does underpin a lot, even if it's not like a, a blanket solution for every problem. I think learning more about finance and like how the, the P and L of your brand works will help you think, like, it will help you think more about other stakeholders. Like you make a lot of decisions as a marketer, a lot of proposals, and sometimes you get pushback from different people and like, you don't really understand why, but that, that helps kind a lot of the why.
Rabah Rahil (43:52):
Oh, I love that. Yeah. I mean, I think that's what we're gonna see is people are gonna get a lot more, um, savvy to kind of the economics of the business and understanding how things move through that P and L because you're right. Especially if you're partnering that, that net profit level with the, the client, it can be, um, a, a really value add, right. Where you're, you're really, I mean, almost like a mini CMO for them. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative> okay. Last listener question. She is very big on no best practices. Yes, absolutely. And a fantastic name. I went again, go sign up. Um, maybe ask her, what are the common best practices that won't work for DTC brands still under 500 K run rate? That's a weird question. What
Alex Greifeld (44:34):
Rabah Rahil (44:35):
Alex Greifeld (44:35):
I think that was, I think that was kinda like a reverse psychology question. Yeah.
Rabah Rahil (44:40):
It's like the double negative, right? I'm like, how does I don't get it? What are the common, what are common best practices that won't. So instead of common, best practices, lets say what are strategies that won't work for? DTC brands still under 500 K a year. That makes more sense, right? Yeah. What are strategy and tactics that won't work for? DTC brands under 500 K a year.
Alex Greifeld (45:04):
Yeah. So there web Smith had a really good tweet where he kind of called out some revenue benchmarks where your business is evolving from one stage to another and like what you should be focusing on or the essential problem you're trying to solve at each stage is different. Um, before you get to a million annual sales, you're really still in like the product market channel fit stage where you're, I mean, what you should really be focusing on at that point is, um, is profitably scaling your main acquisition channel and then like are the fundamental unit economics of the business sound and like, can it, is it flexible enough to work in other channels as you grow?
Rabah Rahil (45:55):
I love that. What a, what a great way to wrap up the value add segment da da. Okay. Alex, you made it to the third and final segment. Rapid fire. Ready to get started.
Alex Greifeld (46:06):
Rabah Rahil (46:08):
All right. Getting an MBA, overrated, underrated.
Alex Greifeld (46:12):
Um, it depends. I'm gonna have to answer some of these if it depends.
Rabah Rahil (46:18):
<laugh> okay. It could be correct. Re it could be correctly rated.
Alex Greifeld (46:22):
Yeah, actually. Yeah. I'd say it's, it's accurate.
Rabah Rahil (46:25):
Alex Greifeld (46:26):
Accurately rated rated. Yeah.
Rabah Rahil (46:28):
Boom, um, profits overrated, underrated.
Alex Greifeld (46:34):
Rabah Rahil (46:34):
Ooh, I love it. Uh, brand awareness spend or brand awareness marketing overrated, underrated,
Alex Greifeld (46:42):
Accurately rated on a weighted average basis. <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (46:48):
Oh man. I, I, I have to bound down. That is probably the best rapid fire answer I've ever received so far. Um, I know you're out on or down south, but central park overrated, underrated.
Alex Greifeld (47:02):
Uh, I'm going to catch heat and say that it's overrated <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (47:06):
Oh, no. I'm such a central park maxi. We have like a little baby one here called zer park. I mean, it's tiny compared to that, but I, I will say there is something to be said to have green space in a city. It really, it really can change things. Yeah. Um, subways slash trains cuz the east, the Eastern corridor Northeastern corridor has actually a pretty good subway system slash trains. Um, overrated, underrated,
Alex Greifeld (47:29):
Uh, at, well, I I've been in New York for like more than 10 years before I, I moved out and I would say it really did get worse over time. So now it's overrated.
Rabah Rahil (47:38):
Oh, okay. Overrated. I'll take it. Um, loyalty programs, overrated, underrated,
Alex Greifeld (47:44):
Rabah Rahil (47:46):
<laugh> same, um, favorite activity to do in the city, in the city being, uh, NYC.
Alex Greifeld (47:54):
Um, I think meeting up with different people because every, even if it's not those who live there, there's so many people traveling in and out.
Rabah Rahil (48:01):
Yeah. Is there a favorite part of the city that you like, like in terms of one of the boroughs or any specific areas?
Alex Greifeld (48:10):
Yeah. I mean, I have a lot of nostalgia for what's now like called dime square slash Chinatown. I think it's like the one part of Manhattan, uh, below 90th street that still is kind of like a little bit authentic where, uh, hasn't been totally commercialized. So it's kind of cool to walk around there.
Rabah Rahil (48:31):
I love that. Um, favorite meal and why?
Alex Greifeld (48:36):
Ooh, this is a tricky one. Um, oh God, I think probably a home cooked meal with friends and family because I'm old enough now to get food hangovers where I'm like, I'll eat a burger and fries and feel like hungover the next day, even if I didn't drink anything. So <laugh> you kinda like that with home food?
Rabah Rahil (49:01):
I love it. The indiscretions of youth and the, when you're young, everything just, just goes away. I'm I'm with you. If I look at a beer I'm like hungover for three weeks, uh, favorite place travel to and why?
Alex Greifeld (49:14):
Um, right before the summer before COVID I went to Porto in Portugal and I really, really enjoyed it. And I've, I want to go back at some point, uh, when things kind of calmed down,
Rabah Rahil (49:29):
Lisbon's supposed to be pretty as well, right?
Alex Greifeld (49:32):
Yeah, we did. I, we, I only had a week off, so I'm like, I'm going to go all in on Porto instead of trying to do both. But I think a lot of different places in Portugal are supposed to be really cool.
Rabah Rahil (49:44):
Yeah. That's that's uh, Portuguese. Yeah. Cuz it's basically Portugal and Brazil are the only people that speak Portuguese.
Alex Greifeld (49:52):
Rabah Rahil (49:52):
Yeah. How odd, um, favorite way to spend your time?
Alex Greifeld (49:58):
Um, I would say like walking, reading, spending time with friends, thinking about blog posts <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (50:08):
Oh, I love that. Are you reading anything fun right now?
Alex Greifeld (50:12):
Um, I just finished my reading is like all over the place, so it's not like I read marketing books all day, but I just finished a book called hidden valley road, which is about, um, it, it basically tackles the history of schizophrenia research and treatment through the lens of a family who had, I think like 10 or 12 kids and half of them came down with the, with schizophrenia. So it like inter it's a, it goes back and forth between the family narrative and like the, the scientific narrative is really good.
Rabah Rahil (50:46):
Oh that is fascinating. Uh, favorite newsletter.
Alex Greifeld (50:50):
Oh God. Don't make me answer this question. <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (50:55):
You have web Smith. We could throw 2:00 PM out there. There's so many great. You can plug your own. There's so many. Yeah, I can,
Alex Greifeld (51:01):
I can give you a bunch. I mean, I, I love, uh, 2:00 PM. I love lean lock. Um, Cody's newsletter's really good. Well mail, um, there, and those are like the, the ones I've been subscribed to for a minute. I think honestly, I think mine is great as well.
Rabah Rahil (51:21):
<laugh> it really is. It honestly is people. We we'll plug it some more, but uh, it is phenomenal. Okay. Favorite follow on Twitter.
Alex Greifeld (51:29):
Oh God. <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (51:31):
Talk about on the spot. Huh? Both of em. I told a rapid fire. You got a strap. You oh gosh. Dirty pool, dirty pool. Thank you for the compliment Alex. It's great. Okay. Last one of the rapid fire. And then we'll close out the show. If you could have dinner with three people dead or live fictional non-fictional who would it be? So this is a table for four and you'll be there and then you'll have, you'll get to invite on these three people. So you're dining, um, in unison at the same time.
Alex Greifeld (51:59):
Hmm. That's another, this is like one of those questions that people that I never have an answer for. Um, probably my husband would be one of 'em because he is a great conversationalist. Um, and then the other two, like it would really depend on what my, my interests area was at the time. Like I think, um, sometimes I think I would wanna have dinner with a lot of me Putin, just to understand like what, like what is driving him? Um, were I, but I don't know, like that's a really hard question to answer because they real, it, my interests are just kind of like all over the place.
Rabah Rahil (52:47):
I, I love it. So Vladimir Putin, the husband and a plus one, uh, we can dig that. And to your point about the Vladi Putin stuff I watched, uh, Oliver stone did like a documentary on him and like, you know, this guy's like a horrible human and in the documentary, like he's just this most affable, like likable guy, like it's so odd to have this like really dichotomous kind of like, wait a second. Um, but you get, you get that a lot actually out of these politicians where supposedly they're when you're in the room with them, they're really great people. But then anyways, we digress Alex, you made it to them, this show. Oh my God. I'm so glad you made it. Um, this time is yours. You unplug your newsletter, plug. Anything you want, the stage is yours.
Alex Greifeld (53:27):
Yeah. Thanks. So, um, if you want to sign up to my newsletter or read more of my writing, um, my website is no breast practices.co that's, co um, there's a link to subscribe to the newsletter in the footer. Apparently the popup doesn't always work. And, um, I love if you would follow me on Twitter. Uh, my handle is, Hey, it's Alex P as in Peter. Uh, because I claimed my Twitter name a long time before I got married and then my, my married name was taken by the time <laugh> I needed to change it. So, um, yeah, Twitter and no best practices doco.
Rabah Rahil (54:12):
Oh, that's so funny. I always wondered about your handle because your, uh, surname and your handle is match. That's funny. Okay. Look at that. Breaking news here, people. I love it. Um, Alex, again, thank you so much for your time, your knowledge, your eloquent pros that I have been gobbling up. Um, if you folks want to get more involved with triple well, just go to tri triple well.com. We're also on the bird app at tri triple. Well, and then on that profile page on Twitter is our subscription to the highly coveted DTC newsletter. Well mail that Alex has actually guest posted in a few times. She's uh, again, wonderful essays there. Go follow Alex on the Twitters. Go sign up for no best practices. We'll put show no link. Sh uh, excuse me, links in the show notes and yeah, Alex, you made it through the whole episode. Enjoy Florida, get some sunshine and we'll see out on the Twitters. Thanks so much again for, uh, taking the time. You're you're just such an awesome human and it's been really great to connect.
Alex Greifeld (55:08):
Yeah. Thank you.
Rabah Rahil (55:10):
All right, everybody. That's all we got. We'll see you on the flip.
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