How to Beat the Competition with a Strategic Marketing Plan

"None of us can predict the future, I do think that would be kind of cool. It would be so much easier to put a strategy together if we had a time machine — we've got to get on that."

Beyond the Cart Lightburn Podcast - Ecommerce
Graphic illustration for building your retail brand through customer service.

PODCAST EP: 05 — When you think of marketing, do your eyes light up, or do they glaze over? Today, in episode five, we'll help you understand how to get the ball rolling with your own marketing strategy. It's a big, beefy topic and we cover a lot of ground, offering real-world advice on how to move forward without getting in your own way. 

Today’s Topics:

  • Episode Two Update: Ecommerce Platforms 
  • Goals & Objectives
  • Competitor & Marketplace Research 
  • Creating Space for Your Brand 
  • Understanding Your Customer Model 
  • Budget & Channel Planning  
  • Conversions & Returns 
  • Change & New Technology



The following is a transcript of the cross-conversation streaming in the above media: 

Welcome ecommerce aficionados. When you think of marketing, do your eyes light up, or do they glaze over? Today, in episode five, we'll help you understand how to get the ball rolling with your own marketing strategy. It's a big, beefy topic and we cover a lot of ground, offering real-world advice on how to move forward without getting in your own way. 

An update on our choice of ecommerce platform

Andy, before we get started on this episode, we have a little update from episode two, which we left as a real cliffhanger. I'm sure everyone has been on the edge of their seat wondering what platform we selected. 

Yeah. We had some conversations and ultimately, once we had the name, we had some tough conversations around what we're really going to do with the product and we ultimately decided on Shopify. I win. It's one of my favorites to work with. It is. It's great. So, we're using Shopify, just the standard not Plus. Plus is a little outside of our budget for now. For now.

And I don't think we need the additional feature set that Plus offers, which is really cool, by the way. But yeah, so it was between that, Magento and we even considered Kentico, kind of rolled out Kentico just because of the licensing fees which is unfortunate, because I do like the platform. 

One of the things that we really hadn't quite sorted out was how much we wanted this product to be configurable. And I know we're going to get into marketing strategy today, and that was absolutely ... Part of that is looking at, what's the competition doing? Where do we need to be to stand out? Or what are consumers looking for? And we ultimately decided that any level of configuration that we needed to do out of the gate, Shopify can handle for us. 

And so, we feel really good about it, it gets some decision making out of the way. We like to lean into the platforms that we use and not fight against them, so we're definitely going to use the expertise that we have from launching so many other Shopify sites to get the ball rolling, so I'm really excited.

Likewise. That's another thing done now.  Yeah. We're moving along. We're building momentum. And part of that is coming up with our digital marketing strategy. Do you like that segue?  I do like that segue. Yeah. And this was something that you had started before you even decided whether or not we're going to do this, right? Yeah. In our situation, I really put a lot of time and thought into, is there a market for these at the scale that I want to do it? So, definitely put some marketing research ahead of even, is this viable? What do we need to do to actually make this product? I want to make sure that there was an opportunity. That would be worth it for us, yeah. So, in your mind, when we say digital marketing strategy, what all goes into that?

Marketing goals and retail objectives

Yeah. I think the biggest thing that you have to look at is you got to understand your goals and objectives. So, a lot of companies, believe it or not, they want to grow. And that's their objective. And that's great, but that's not a true objective, is like, do you want to grow 1%? Do you want to grow 1,000%? So, really putting down your goals and say, "Hey, we want to grow X, Y, Z, or we want to maybe reduce our costs by so much." You got to have a number with those goals as much as possible.

So, I think that definitely is a key to making a digital marketing strategy, is having your goals and objectives that are outlined, that are agreed upon in the organization, and then you should- And measurable, right? Measurable. And measurable, as much as possible measurable, yeah. And then, from there ... So, that's a key ingredient in a marketing strategy, but also positioning and messaging. So, the beauty with advertising and marketing is that you can position and change your messaging to cater to different audiences. I think you have to understand what your positioning is and what the messaging around that is going to be. You don't have to have it all fleshed out to build your strategy, but you certainly have to understand your audiences and how you're going to position what it is that you're doing. There's tactics, and analytics, and competitor insights, all that stuff goes into a strategy. And ultimately, I think there's a lot of confusion and a lot of debate, I think it's heavily debated like, "Well, you don't have a strategy, you have a plan." "Well, I have a plan, but not a strategy," It doesn't really matter. You do need a plan. If you want to call that your plan, if you want to call that your strategy, call it whatever, it's how you're going to get from A to B. And that's all that matters. And I think also accepting the fact that your plan, your strategy should and will evolve is part of the plan.

There's a lot of that here, is embracing a little bit of mess. And not thinking ... Maybe this is, you've got 80% other the way. And that is the right place to start. If you wait until it's 100% figured out, you're waiting too long, and you're going to be wrong, especially doing something brand new.

Yeah. And you read all these case studies and success stories like, "This company went from zero to $100 million, they had the most brilliant strategy." I guarantee, they had some ideas, but they were working that strategy and that plan all along, and learning, and things fell into place, or they had to adjust. So, I'm not a fan, personally, I advocate for having a 10-year goal, right? I think you have to have a vision for 10 years out. You're not going to put a 10-year plan together, it's just in any great detail, so you got to build momentum, especially for a company like this. It's all about, how do we get the engine going and start building some momentum?

So, that's really what we help a lot of our clients with on the digital marketing strategy, it's like, "Okay, again, what are your goals and objectives? And then, let's back into that a plan that will help you get there." So, obviously, we typically don't operate as a one-man band, but if you were doing this all by yourself, how would you get started putting together a digital marketing strategy that's made up of these goals and objectives, positioning, tactics, and insights from the competition?

Conducting competitor and market research 

Yeah. I think the first step for anyone putting a digital marketing strategy together is to really take a step back and look at what the marketplace is telling them. So, if you're rolling out a new product that's going to be a disruptor, it's going to change something. The marketplace isn't necessarily going to tell you a whole lot, because they don't know what they don't know. It's never been done, yeah.

Yeah. But oftentimes, more often than not, you're not a disrupter. You have "a me-too product" meaning you have competitors, obviously there's features and benefits and all that stuff. So, the marketplace will tell you a lot. And I think it's important to really take a look at what the marketplace is telling you, and I think that goes a long way in putting together a strategy, and positioning, and messaging.

So, for Bilberry West, what I did was, and we did this very early on and then we came back and put the rest of the plan together, is we looked at are our competitors having success? Is there one competitor that seems to be more successful than the other? And again, we're making some assumptions, right? But we took it to the point where like, we Google Map their facility, do they have a large facility? "Okay, well, they're obviously keeping the lights on in that large facility, because they're doing something right."

Again, those are assumptions. But then we also use tools like SEMrush, we used Adwords, we use Built. With and we kind of picked apart everything our competitors were doing that we could get access to, so there's still lots of things that we don't know. But that was one of our first places, we started to kind of figure out, "Okay, let's not reinvent the wheel, if a competitor is having some success, maybe we can leverage some of that." Get a little piece of that, yeah.

Yeah. Gaining market shares is part of our plan, we have to, because this is established market, this product has been around for 100 years, people have been making and selling these, so we're entering a somewhat saturated market. So, for us looking at what the marketplace is telling us, not only informed some product decisions, but it also helped us paint a picture on how we might want to go about getting this thing launched.

Yeah. And that ties a little bit into the branding too, because that's also going to affect that, the positioning. We're learning at the same time alongside this more analytical market research of how they're positioning themselves, so these are happening in tandem. And we'll get to that at a future episode, what we did with that information.

I put together an actual document, a PowerPoint presentation. And I literally have all of what I believe are our real competitors once we launch. Kind of documented on who they are, where they're located, how they position themselves, what kind of ... A good review of their product and a bad review of their product. And that really helped me understand what we had to do and where our strategy and plan could fall in place. 

Creating market space for your brand

Yeah. And I think ... You used the phrase, a me-too product. I think people see that as a negative. It isn't, and I think there's space for building something new. I think there's a way to build a brand and a product in an existing market without having to be some sort of revolutionary. And that's something important here too, and I think that may be something that scares away, especially manufacturers who haven't ever dipped into direct to consumer, that it feels like there's no space for you. And that's really not true. There is opportunity there, and there are methods that you can go through in a marketing strategy to wedge yourself into that existing market. 

Yeah. Well, and for us, that really helped solidify how important our brand, and our messaging, and positioning is. So, we're going to have a really great product, it's going to be on par if not better than our biggest competitors. I have no doubts about that. But if they're standing next to each other at a store, what's going to really make- Or on Google Shopping.

Yeah. Or on Google Shopping. And they're the same price or really close, why is somebody going to pick ours over the competitors? And that's where that light bulb went on and said, "It's all about brand." So, we're in a saturated market, there's plenty of other sources to buy these chairs from, what's really going to make the difference is brand. Brand, brand and messaging. So, we got to get people to fall in love with us as a company and our product. 

Which I think for us is a little more fun than just we can slap a site together. And that's how I thought we were going to go into this before you shared all of this research, was that we could get a site together rather quickly, that brand was going to be secondary. And once you shared where we can fit in, the branding is a really fun opportunity for us to do and get more of the team involved in the process as well. So, I'm excited that that ... We would not have spent as much time on the brand if that wouldn't have been as important. Like, we're really trying to be conscious of where we're spending our energy and it's worth it this time.

Yeah. So again, the marketplace kind of turned that light bulb on for us. Because again, it's not like, "Hey, we can worry less about the brand because it's a blue ocean." It's really a red ocean at this point. So, brand is going to be that differentiator. Wait, red in the water. Is that what red ocean is? Saturated market. I don't know. I know. So, next, okay. So, you've understood the marketplace, you're stalking the competition which sounds creepy. I'm kindly taking interest in their organizations, yes. 

Yes. And I mean, also, we're investing energy, and time, and money into this, are we going to be able to sell these things? Building the ecommerce site and building these chairs is a passion project. But putting this level of effort into it, we absolutely needed to make sure that there was space for us. And just finding out how much is getting manufactured by some of these competitors, and how much volume there is in keywords around this, is comforting to me that this is worth our energy.  

Understanding your customer model 

Yeah. So, I kind of threw all that on the table, and then I'm kind of sorting through it. But once I have that, I need to then take a step back and make sure I understand our customer model, which I think is a huge factor in a digital marketing strategies. And oftentimes, people don't understand what I call a customer model. So, if you have a one-time product, which we sort of do, because these things were built to last. Yeah. It's not disposable. Yeah, this is not a consumable.

This is not a consumable product. We kind of pride in ourselves on, this thing should last 20 years. So, if we sell you a chair, in theory, we shouldn't have to sell you another one for 10 plus years, unless you need more of them. But you're not going to replace it, right?  Yeah. 

So, that's super important in this whole strategy development, because we essentially have a one-time customer, sort of. So, that also informed some product strategy, so okay, ideally, our average customer orders two, or three, or four of these chairs, bringing up the average order value, which is important to know for digital marketing strategies, but it also sort of informed our company strategy meaning, "Okay, chances are some of these ... What else are we going to sell to this customer?" We're going to go through this effort and acquire a customer, is that as far as we want to take it? Or do we want to be able to ultimately offer them additional product extensions, and accessories, and things like that, that we can then get them back to the customer? Bring them back into the fold.

Yeah. So, understanding that day one, we're very much going to have a one-time purchase, you're not going to ... Chances are you're going to order a chair or two, you're going to get them delivered, you're going to enjoy them for the season and maybe you'll order some more down   the road.  

So, if you're selling a consumable product like a cringle, you're going to order a cringle potentially multiple times a year for years.  we had a more consumable product, we can look at customer acquisition costs a little bit differently, whereas with Bilberry West, we have to look at customer acquisition costs as very likely going to be a one-time purchase.

Now, we're going to work our asses often to hopefully have that not be the case, but that's how we're planning for at least day one. So, knowing our product margins and what our profit margins are, factor into our digital marketing strategy, because we know, "Hey, for every $100 we generate, there's 30 or $40 in profit there." Well, we can make some assumptions and say, "Okay, on average we hope we're going to plan for two chairs and we know that there's X amount of profit."

So, then we can go back and we can look at the marketing and digital tactics that are available to us and say, "Okay, which of those tactics not only puts us in front of our audience, but also will convert at a rate that is at or below that profit?" Because we don't want to spend more to acquire a customer than we're generating, especially important for us. Let me ask you something, this is where you're in the world of spreadsheets, right? Like you can do all these models and tweak some numbers and percentages and really get in your head, I think. How much time do you spend? How valuable is it to keep tweaking these? And when do you let go and decide, "Yes, this is good enough?" 

Yeah. So, for us, we have a model, we know roughly what the chair is going to cost f rom start to finish, including labor, we have a model there. If you had an existing product, you should definitely know your margins. So, we spend a few hours only, actually, because we don't have that many products, putting this together in Excel and be like, "Okay, this is our profit margin, this is what we can spend, this is what's left over." 

So for us, we're okay by running a breakeven point for the foreseeable future, so that's kind of our business model, because we want to gain some critical mass, the more volume that we can generate, even if it's at a breakeven, ultimately, long-term will pay dividends because we'll be able to buy more material in bulk, and we'll get more out of the labor that we have to spend. It's just more efficient.

You gain efficiencies, yeah. Yeah. So, that's factoring into our digital marketing strategies, knowing that, "Hey, we're willing to run at breakeven because we want to hit critical mass as quickly as possible." So, we have a good idea of what that number is going to be. Spend some serious money for each order, essentially. Yeah. We're going to be buying our way to ... We're buying growth, I mean, that's just what our strategy and our plan is. Yeah. Absolutely.

So, now, we have a budget in place. So, we've decided on a per order what we can spend, now we have to kind of factor, "Okay, what is realistic and what are a couple different models?" In terms of, "Well, what if we sell one, get one order a day or two orders a day?"

And we've been very ... I think, people, and I'm guilty of this in the past like, "Well, yeah, we could sell 200 a day, that's not that many." And then, you look at the numbers and you're like, "Holy, that's not realistic at all."

I think we've seen like when you're, like you put it, buying your way in to the market in the first place, be cause we're not going to have any organic traffic, right? This is coming out of nowhere. So, you have to face that every single order for a while is you're going to have to pay for and I think that's hard to swallow sometimes when you're starting to sell direct to consumer for the first time and how expensive it can be to get started.

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And I think we're hanging our hat on, success is growth, right? So, we're defining success, not on how much profit is left at the end of the year. Short-term, we're defining success, and our goals, and objectives as, we want to grow, because growth to a certain point, ultimately will pay off long-term. More efficient, so on and so forth.

That goes back to those goals and objectives like making sure you have those down on paper, so you can point back to why you're doing any of this. And I think you can't stress it enough, because it's really easy once you get further down the process, to lose sight of it, and then you're just trying to cut the cost per click costs or whatever, and you lose sight of the bigger objective and you might be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

So, I would argue, when you're reviewing, as you're moving forward and looking at your budgets and actual numbers, once things get going, bring back up those goals and objectives every time you're meeting to talk about it, to remind yourself of why you're doing it, so you don't lose sight of those kind of bigger ideas when you're getting in the weeds.

Budget and channel planning

And then, I get a lot of questions from first time digital marketers, they're like, "Hey, what should we have as a budget?" I mean, ultimately, we want our budget to be as big as possible, right? We'll spend a million dollars a month, a day, a minute, ultimately, if it provides a return. So, the budget is as big as humanly possible. No. It should be a percentage, essentially.

Right. So, that's exactly what we do, especially for our first-time digital marketing clients, is we say, "Hey," especially ecommerce, direct to consumer, we say, "What do you want to spend as a percentage of the overall revenue? Can you spend 2%, 5%? Do you have high margins? Maybe you can spend 30% if the lifetime value is big to acquire that customer the first time and then it pays off the second order, third order, and so on." Especially as a new advertiser in digital, you have to set aside some money that you're willing to essentially lose. So, obviously, you got to trust the people who are managing that money and demand that they deploy those resources as efficiently as possible, but there's going to be a lot of a waste there.

It feels like waste, but you are going to spend money to make money, there's a reason that that's said, you have to get into the market, you have to show up first, and it takes time. It can take a couple of years sometimes to really get a foothold and it's so exciting to see.   And this is where all of this planning it's complicated, you got to start factoring in shipping, and anything else that you haven't had to budget for before. I think that gets lost a lot in this process when you're figuring out profit margins. And we have a whole other conversation about shipping coming up, but that's part of this modeling, right?

Yeah, absolutely. So, that all goes into digital marketing strategy, if you Google that, people will be like, "You need a content strategy." It's like, yeah, that could be part of the plan. You need a page search plan strategy. Yeah, it's kind of wrapping that all together, and for us as a startup too, a little bit different than a more established business.  

So, we decided we want to acquire those customers using different digital marketing tactics, paid search, organic, so on and so forth, and sell to them directly, boom. That's phase one of this company. Phase two then, as part of our strategy plan is, then we're going to start selling through marketplaces. So, we want to get our product on Wayfair, and we want to get our product listed on Home Depot and a number of other marketplaces. And then, we'd essentially become a drop shipper.

And then third, the third leg in this race is going to be wholesale. So, we know there's an opportunity, there's lots of Home and Garden stores, there's some furniture stores that we could ultimately offer wholesale. So, that's our long-term plan, strategy, so track the consumer first, build as much momentum there, once we're comfortable, that's firing on all cylinders, move to marketplaces, then move to wholesale.

And then, we backed into our digital strategy based on that, So, "Okay, how are we going to reach new customers using digital?" And that became our plan. And we know, we're going to start with Google smart shopping campaigns, it's the most cost-effective digital advertising for ecommerce, it's relatively easy to get set up. We know that customers who are using Google Shopping are well on their way, they've gone beyond- They are going to convert, yeah.

Yeah. They're going to convert whether it's with us or maybe one of our competitors, it's very likely, if you're looking at Google Shopping results, you've made the decision to make a purchase. So, we're hoping we're going to be aggressive there first and then we're going to build on that.  And the key though, is having analytics in place, having metrics in place, so that we can track our progress. We're making a big assumption on conversion rates, which were, I have a conversion rate in my model, and then I actually cut that in half.  "Just to play it safe, I'm going to cut that in half again."  

Sales conversions and product returns 

Andy, would you say that in general, our approach, is a more conservative approach when it comes to that kind of thing, that we skew more conservatively in conversion rates, or marketing budget as a whole? For planning purposes, yes. So, if we sit down with a client, they're like, "Hey, what can we expect?" And we put models together. As a team we'll say, "Hey, this is what. It's an existing site, and they're getting a 5% conversion rate." We'll look at the new tactics and say, "Okay, typically, you get X percentage conversion rate, let's cut that by at least a factor of 25%." Because we'd rather essentially plan for the worst and hope for the best than plan for the best and reality is always different. And I think that's important.

Well, especially since we're doing this for our clients, and they're really trusting us, like you said earlier to be, it's their money that we're spending and so I think we're bringing ... Usually, our clients are coming to us really excited, and they see opportunity, and we do too. And we want to serve them well and be mindful of the fact that we're spending on their behalf, essentially. 

Yeah. And we've seen a lot of organizations that say, "Hey, we have a marketing strategy, a digital marketing strategies to get as much traffic as possible." And my philosophy is ... And we've seen that in practice where we'll have clients that are like, "Yeah, we're not really growing as fast as we want, could you take a look at our digital marketing?" And they're spending 10s or 1000s of dollars buying a traffic, and it's just like ... Because they're reporting back that, "Hey, our web traffic growth is 30%." It's a win it's like, "Who cares?" If it's not converting, I'd rather have 10 visitors and have eight of them convert than to have 10,000 visitors and have eight of them convert, especially if I'm paying for it.

But yeah, I mean, there's so many tactics right now too, I think that is probably one of the hardest parts of putting a digital marketing strategy together is that there's so many tactics. It can be overwhelming. We can run ads now on Hulu for our clients, we can take a small business and put them on Hulu, which is mind blowing to me, like nobody ... It's like only the big dogs could afford TV, right? Back in the day, yeah. 

Back in the day, especially on a national buy. But now, with Hulu and the metrics they have, we could actually run a video ad targeting certain demographics right on Hulu. And it is so exciting that a small business can compete at the same level in a lot of ways as the big guys. But that's also, it's very easy to get lost in the weeds there, because there are so many tactics. We can be on the digital radio, we can be on digital television, their search, their social, it seems like every day there's a new tactic, it's like TikTok is obviously exploded, should we be there? 

And it really, all those tactics come down to putting together models on a per tactic basis of, have we ever used it before? What conversion rates have we seen in other industries? Is it the right audience? If your audience is there, but then the cost is too high, maybe you have to make some adjustments, or put that on the back burner. Or if the cost is right, and we've seen this a lot with clients that come to us who are struggling is, "We're using this, and we're getting lots of traffic, and we're spending money, but we're not getting any conversions." It's like, "Well, that's because your audience isn't there." 

Impressions don't matter, conversion rates matter, making sure you're in front of your audience at the right time matters. And I think you have to experiment, right? So, part of our strategy is we know we're going to dabble in ... We have our main tactic first, and then we're going to dip our toe into a couple other tactics, and then continue to ramp those up. But also, we have the abort button, we have this big abort button on our desk, it's like, regardless of what we think, how we think paid search should perform, the data is going to tell us whether or not it's actually performing. And we're very good as an organization to say, "Hey, we went into this, our plan, our strategy was to dominate search marketing, guess what? It's not working. So, let's-"

Yeah. All our conversions are coming through Instagram, so we're going to move a bunch of the money over there.  Yeah. And we literally allocate ... Initially, beginning of the month, beginning of a plan, a program will allocate money to each of the tactics. But we'll move that money around and chase conversions.  Do you have a rule of thumb on how frequently you should be reallocating, especially when getting started? 

Yeah. No more than once a month. So, once a month ... So, we always look at our data on a daily basis, we report on it to the team on a weekly basis, meaning we have analysts looking at campaigns and how they're converting every single day for a client. And we'll be doing the same for Bilberry West. Then on a weekly basis, we roll that up and say, "Here's the summary of what happened last week," we have a quick conversation, usually 10 to 15 minutes and say, "Hey, everything is working," or "Yeah, this campaign is kind of struggling, but we still don't have enough data to declare it a win or a loss, so we're going to keep going."

So, we make quick decisions on a weekly basis, and then on a monthly basis, we take a step back and look at a whole month's worth of data and say, "Where do we need to change?" And oftentimes, it's, "Hey, next month, it's going to be the same ol' same ol' and that's fine." It's a conscious decision to do that. Or we may say, "You know what? Instagram is totally bombing on us, let's cut that." Pull the plug, yeah. So, to me, that's part of the digital marketing strategy, is change. So, I think again, to kind of summarize, you need to know what the marketplace is telling you, where are your competitors? Facebook has a tool, for example, where we can go on, I can put a competitor in, and it'll show me all the ads that they're running on Facebook. They won't tell me who they're showing them to, how much they're spending. But I can take a look at just about any competitor of ours and figure out, A, if they're marketing on Facebook, B, what's their messaging?

So, that's part of our strategy, is to learn from the mistakes of our competitors and I recommend that from everybody, rather. So, understanding the marketplace huge, understanding your customer product model, is this a one-time purchase, where it needs to be profitable every time you get an order? Or can your first order be a little less profitable, because you're going to make it up with a long average lifetime value that goes into your strategy? Deciding on a budget, first and foremost, knowing that, again, the goal is to increase your budget as much as you can, as long as you're getting your return.

Return on it. Yeah. Yep. And then, putting that all together and knowing most organizations, especially smaller businesses, they don't have ... Nike can go and put a billion dollars now into all kinds of different ... That's not the average small business, so you got to start ... Our general philosophy is, start with one tactic, master it, especially if you have a small budget- Start a little safe. Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative). And then, build momentum and then add on to that. 

None of us can predict the future, I don't think that would be kind of cool. But it would be so much easier putting pressure together if we had a time machine. We are going to get on that. But we don't and nobody has a time machine that I know of or they're not telling me. So, you got to make some assumptions and kind of wrap your business model in with the tactics. And ultimately, the other big advice I get for people, do not fall in love with a tactic. People won't ride or die like-

Yeah. You do, because you're kind of imagining what it's going to look like, especially if it's a tactic that you're familiar with, it's worked in the past for something else. It's easy to do, but the numbers don't lie.

Yeah. Because one thing we have learned, especially in the last 22 years of doing this. It's 23, almost Andy. 23 years.  You got to start getting used it's 23. I hate to admit that. I don't know why, I think it's good.  Because I wasn't five when we started the agency, that's why I hate it. 

Considering the challenges of your audience 

But the biggest takeaway is digital marketing, for anyone that is listening, is that attention will go somewhere else. Just plan on people's attention going somewhere else. So, it was Instagram and now Instagram attention is shifting to TikTok a little bit and Facebook is sort of kind of, obviously not going away, but it's faded a little bit, right? Yeah. And that's one thing that we can plan on, for sure. Is that- Is change. 

Yeah. In a year from now, TikTok might be the most lame thing ever, it's a ghost town, blah. Well, I think we're not considering Snapchat. I think there was a point where people thought that Snapchat was going to be the way, the future for marketing and that really hasn't panned out. Yeah. And Snapchat is still big, but ... Yeah.

But not for something like us. I think those are going to be much more branding campaigns for larger organizations. And we're really in the world of converting for purchasing a product on a different level. Well, the other thing I do too, I recommend it to anyone who is trying to grow a business is talk to a bunch of different ... Like, I love just talking to my teenage kids about what apps they're using, and where their attention is going. When Twitch-

Get to know some teenagers. Yeah. When Twitch first came out, I was like, "That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of in my life. Why would I want to sit and watch people play video games?" And my kids were like, "This is the most amazing thing ever." I'm like, "Okay," I just have to accept that. But then, I also do the same on the other end of the spectrum, is I look at where my parents attention is going.  They got money to spend.

On what websites they're [crosstalk 00:46:18]. Yeah. And it's interesting, and I think you have to constantly be keeping a finger on that and just accepting it for what it is. Like, I have to accept the Twitch is this big thing. I just do, I can't get around it. Whether I use or want to use it, is up to me but- That has nothing to do with here marketing approach. 

Right. And the other challenge too facing digital marketers is that, in some ways, it's becoming easier and easier to ramp up platforms. So, there's more ... Now we have Clubhouse coming out and that seems to be exploding. So, I don't see a slowdown in new tactics, and new platforms anytime soon. Which makes our job as digital marketers really freaking exciting and difficult, because it's like, "We have to have a conversation now about Clubhouse. Is that going to be the right platform for our clients? What audience is there? How much does it cost? What are the formats, blah-blah-blah?"

Managing change and new technologies 

So, that's why you just got to be open-minded and go with the flow, in a lot of ways. Yeah. Embrace change. Embrace change. I think that's the name of the game. There's your takeaway, embrace change. Are you on Clubhouse, by the way? Me? No. I'm very old. I don't have things ... I can barely, like, ... I can kind of look at TikTok, but I saw this meme that said something along the lines of, "I'm in my late 30s, can I just get a newsletter of all the best TikTok sent to me?" And that's how I feel. I don't understand how to get through it, people send them to me, and I like them. I don't understand how to participate. And I'm okay with it. I'll let my kids have that, they can have it.

So, my question to you. Yes. Is where do you think people should go to learn about their audience? Go to learn about their audience? Yeah. Let's take Bilberry West, for example. We know you have to have a little bit of disposable income, because you're not going to buy a $200 chair for your patio when you could buy a $15 fold up one, right? So, it is a bit of a premium product, you have to have a little bit of disposable, we're not selling for hours, but at the same time it's- Yeah. It's not bargain basement, it's ... Yeah. Yeah. It's not bargain basement. It's not a need.

So, we started putting this profile together, we know that most likely they have to own a home to be our customer, probably less likely to buy one of these for your apartment than if you're a homeowner. Well, it's an outdoor space situation. It's somebody who has outdoor space. So, whether or not you're renting or own, you've got to be invested in making your outdoor space nice.  Yeah. So, where do you think, with all the tactics out there? How would you recommend to somebody to figure out if the are audiences there? Is it a try it? Is it a go use the app?

I think, yeah, spending time on an app to see if the audience is there, to see how other peo ple are talking about something similar. I think you have to look at the edges of your product, so what are similar products? And whether or not they're spending time there is a great way to understand it. And then, there's tons of tools to use too. I think that they can't be overstated, that we use a lot of tools that help us narrow this down and look at the cold hard numbers.

Yeah, agreed. And the one thing I do, I think anyone in the digital marketing field has to do and whether you're in-house and you're hiring an agency to help you or doing it in-house. I think you have to spend time on these platforms, you just do.

There's some easy tricks, like if you find ... And this is not following any sort of methodology. There's methodology out there that we use, but if you're just trying to kind of dip into it, follow some hashtags around, find a competitor, what are they doing in a particular platform. And then, they probably are using hashtags, follow those, use the Discover. I don't use that very much for my own, like personal. But any sort of, I'm thinking Instagram, there's a whole discover area search. And you can really find some interesting stuff that way.

And then, you definitely look at volumes too. But then, watching other people, I think it's easy for us to get in our heads, and for our customers, or our clients to follow their own assumptions. But actually watching how people interact with, whether or not how they're searching, or how they're interacting with social media, or your site itself. There's lots of great tools out there for understanding how people behave when they're scrolling through a site or a platform. And it tells you a lot, it's that objective versus subjective approach.

Connecting the dots

I don't know. Some of it comes down to, "I'm not the person who's putting the spreadsheet models together." I'm more living in, what's the site going to be shaped like? Based on that, do we need that content strategy to complement whatever we're doing on the digital marketing side? 

So, connecting the dots of, who's our customer? Are they male or female? How old are they? What is their disposable income? What are their other interests? And then, looking for opportunities to create content that's going to be relevant to them. I don't know if that's going to be worth our time, this time, or for phase one. But that's kind of where I come in, is starting to look at those like, what do we do with the keyword research on the site itself?

Which I think might lead into one of our next topics, which is, how important is content going to be on this site? Are we going to have a 10-page site or a 100-page site? 

Yeah. And that's something we're still working on, because looking at the data and putting our marketing plan together and strategy, there's some real interesting things there that we have to decide if they'll pay off or not.

- - - - - - 

Be sure to tune in next time for episode six of Beyond the Cart, now that we've disussed a marketing strategy we'll disuss different marketplaces for our business. 

Beyond the Cart is produced by Lightburn. Our episode today was edited by Ryan Dembroski. Our music is the song, Let's Go Go Go by Tigerblood Jewel.

Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you consume your audio. You can always learn more about ecommerce at

We'll see you next time on Beyond the Cart

Related Insights

Illustration representing marketing trends for 2022.

TLDR; We Read The 2022 Digital Marketing Trend Reports So You Don't Have To!

We tapped into the incredible resources of some of our top platform partners to offer you a collective overview of the marketing landscape.

read more
Graphic illustration of the power of personalized content with marketing automation.

Marketing Automation: The Power of Personalized Web Content

Marketing automation is a surefire way to take your digital marketing strategy to the next level.

read more
Graphic representation of a Kentico email marketing quick guide.

Kentico Email Marketing Quick Guide

With its lead scoring, contact management, personalization, and workflow tools Kentico will simplify your marketing efforts.

read more