- Seth Godin
- What are you really selling?
- Tires = safety
- Who is the spokesperson for your brand
- Answer as that character
- Spoke at ECF Live
- Tell too many stories
- Tell 1 store
- Find out who your customer issue
- Drip – Get a free demo of Drip using this coupon code!
- Spark Shipping – Dropshipping Automation Software
For the past 25 years, Michael has been a professional TV writer/showrunner. His many writing credits include King of the Hill, Maron, Wilfred, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Beavis & Butthead, Tacoma FD, and more. By applying his knowledge of storytelling to his wife’s clothing brand, he helped grow TwirlyGirl into a multi-million dollar brand.
In this episode of a business e-commerce I talked with Michael Jamin about how to tell your brand’s story. This is a Business e-commerce Episode, 137.
Welcome to the Business or eCommerce. The show that helps eCommerce retailers start launch and grow their eCommerce business. I’m your host, Charles Palleschi and I’m here with Michael Jamin. Michael is a director of communications and marketing at twirly girl. We’re using his knowledge of storytelling to his wife’s clothing brand. He helped grow trolley, grow into a multimillion dollar brand. I asked Michael on the show today to talk about how to tell your brand story. So, Hey, Michael, how are you doing today? So, Hey, Michael, how are you doing today? I’m good. Thank you for having me. Yeah. Awesome. To have you on the show. I love talking about brand and kind of, this is a little more like higher level with some of the topics I feel like sometimes folks are very, you know, tactical in the weeds, like SEO content, like that sort of thing, but it’s always nice to kind of zoom up a little bit and think kind of a little bit higher level from a strategy perspective.
That’s the difference between selling a product and selling your brand, the product at first, you know, you style it, you have to sell a product, right. To get something off the ground. But at some point you might have competitors come into the space you might have, you know, and even if you don’t have a direct competitor, you’re always competing against something else. Right. They could always just go and spend their money on another type of product. Right. So it might not be exactly your product, but it could be something in that space. So first actually real quick about your product. So you guys it’s twirly girl it’s, is it dresses themselves or kind of, could you describe the product for people kind of listening? Yeah. They’re they’re poorly dresses for girls. So there are, many of them are reversible. They’re very high quality they’re made in America.
So our price point is a little higher and we focus on quality, not we’re gonna talk cheap kind of disposable clothing. So that was kind of the obstacle we had to get over. When we first got into the business, how do we, how do we show people that these dresses, because they cost more and why, why they’re worth more, what’s the price point that you guys sell at? Our lowest dress is non-reversible and it’s it’s actually usually around $48, but our reversible dresses can be 80 or $85. It depends on the dress, but there, cause they’re twice as many choices. So 80, 85. And this is before what age? They started 12 months. And they go up to a six, you know, young teenagers this 12 months, year old twirling around swirling at that age. Yeah. Okay. So yeah, so I mean, that’s definitely a high price point, right? If you are. Yeah. You know, I’m thinking of, I have a two and a half year old at home and she goes through clothes, like, you know, rips falls down that sort of thing. So these are like older. It makes more sense. Yeah. Yeah. So what are the competitors kind of selling it? Well, it depends mean you can go to Walmart
And you can get something and that’ll fall apart in 10 minutes and you could spend $15 on it. And so some people are like, well, why, why would I get this dress when I can get, you know, four of them Walmart it’s like, but yeah, but the quality you can’t compare the quality. So that’s, that’s what hangs people up. So that was how he, the messaging is important and that’s comes with, you know, creating your brand is like, is what are you really selling? So we’re not really selling dresses or selling them. You know,
You’re not competing with Walmart. It’s not the person that deciding I’m going to drive into Walmart and buy, you know, 10 for a hundred bucks or one of the like, you’re not that no, one’s making that decision in their head.
Yeah. I mean, some people get hung up on price. It’s like, well, okay, you’re not our customer. So you’ve got to speak to who your fund. You have to figure out who your customer is and speak to them and not worry about speaking to everybody because everyone’s not your customer.
So how do you start this process? So when you first realized that, right, you realized, okay, we want to sell at high price point. We’re not competing on price, but how do you start even positioning yourself to even understand the brand? Like, or does it go the other way? You start with the brand and go down.
So totally grow started in 2007. My wife wanted to make our daughters just a special gift cause she didn’t have a happy childhood. So she just wanted to have them to have something big to remember, you know, I have just a great memory. So she took some sewing classes and she came up with a design for versatile dresses and she spared no expense because why would she, it was a, it was a gift. And so the girls loved it and they wore it to school. Then soon other kids wanted the same thing. And the parents were like, well, you know, when you make one for my daughter and my wife’s like, yeah, but it’s going to cost money because I don’t, I’m not skimping. I’m trying to make something special here and no, no, no, we get it. We see it. And so that’s how kind of tour legal started.
And, and then stores found local stores found one, well, one of the local store found them and they ordered a bunch. And the next thing you know, the orders are so high. We had to hire contractors downtown LA to so enforced cause you couldn’t do it all. And so, and then we put up a website and then that’s, it kind of just grew organically, but it was about how to get out. It was how to explain to people why you know, why they’re worth so much. And at first I was doing it wrong. I have no background at the time in eCommerce or sales or marketing or retail or fashion, I knew nothing. I was just just wanted to help her. And so I was focusing on kind of the features of the address as well, how it’s made the stitching it’s made in America.
And I was just telling all of that and no one really cared, but I started listening to our customers and listening to my wife really. And it was about people would say, Oh yeah, this, my, my daughter loves this. She’s gonna remember this dress forever. Or I remember my childhood dress and it’s a special, it was a special dress like this. And I was like, Oh, it kind of occurred to me after a couple of years that we weren’t selling dresses. We were selling happy childhood memories. And that changed the marketing entirely. So I even, I even run some ads on Facebook. I don’t even show the dresses because I’m selling, I’m not selling dresses. I’m so I’m happy childhood memories and they convert. And so that changes in terms of our email marketing, our ads, how we talk to our customers on the website, order, confirmation pages, everything.
And that’s why, so when you start talking about selling a memory, the price is a whole different, like price is almost not a factor. Yeah. Right. Yeah.
And he’s a big shot marketer. He always talks about the reason why your customer only cares about price is because you’re not giving them anything else to care about. Yes, that’s exactly right. So we don’t compete on price and I don’t have to. I’m the only one selling these dresses. No one comes even close to us and we’re not selling dresses anywhere. We’re selling happy childhood memories. No.
How do you get that across to a, to in marketing copy? Like how do you get the brand to actually say a childhood memory? Is it all kind of imagery of like, I’m picturing like a girl in the park, you know, kind of that sort of thing.
I have a bunch of ads and you’re welcome. I may have sent you with links. Maybe, maybe you’ll post them, but G people can watch their videos and I write them in my shoot him and you’ll see, I, so I associate totally go with all your happy childhood memories. So cardboard, rocket ships, birthday parties fairies magic. And so I bring up all of these other memories and we’re just, I lump them in. And so when we talk about the Brooklyn, when we do our advertising, we really kind of speak to the customer or the voice that we speak to the customers, basically Willy Wonka, selling dresses. So it’s a little crazy, it’s a little naughty. It’s very, it’s a, it’s a little magical and nuts and people totally respond to that. So even on, on Facebook where you do a lot of ads, everyone loves it. You know, our commercials get shared a lot. That’s so we get a lot of work in organic traffic. And I got a comment often get a comment is like Oh, I wish I had a daughter and I don’t respond. You know, I think other brands would respond with, Oh, thank you. That’s very kind of you. But I don’t my response to, when I say, I wish I had, my daughter was I’m sorry, we don’t accept wishes here. All your wishes must be submitted in writing to the department of branding, which is
And people love that because they laugh and they write back to me on that because like, I’m just giving it to them a little bit. I’m talking to the way gene Wilder didn’t in Willy Wonka, which was, you know, he was a little nuts and that’s why it was so great. That’s why it was such a great movie. And they love that. So if you talk to them in that voice, they talk back. If you talk to Menard in a regular voice, it’s just this boring. Yeah.
Yeah. So did you, you have a writing background though, right? Like this, this is something that I feel like doesn’t come natural to most people like finding that, like just finding that unique voice. Like, Hey, most people we received your inquiry. We’ll go back to you in three to six months. Like yeah,
Exactly. Right. So my background is, I’ve been a TV writer for 25 years. So I’ve written on shows just shoot me King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead out of practice is that rules of engagement, Marin Wilford. Like I got a long resume. And so that’s my, and that’s how I could help. My wife was basically I could tell stories. That’s the only thing I know how to do. Nope. I had no other training. So I think, well, let’s just tell stories everywhere I can go and see what kind of response we get. And it turns out that’s called marketing. I just didn’t know it at the time.
I like that. Yeah. I think most people it’s makes me think back to that original iPod ad, right. Where everyone else at the time was selling, the iPod was against like, like mini discs and all these MP3 players. And they would debate on how many gigs of storage, that sort of thing. And it was just like war I’m like, you know, pay this price for, you know, 200, two gigs of storage or whatever it was back in the day. And Apple came out with this ad showing like a girl just running down the street, listening to music, basically didn’t talk about no SATs, nothing, no price, like literally nothing. But you just kind of got that like fail of like, Oh, I wanna, I want to do that. I want to like be there, like carefree riding down the streets, right? Yeah. I mean, no one does marketing better than Apple. Yeah. And you make them, and that’s kinda, that’s kind of this brand, right. So you’re just, you’re, you’re showing the person how they’re gonna use the product, how they’re going to, or even higher level, how they going to feel when they use the product.
It’s about creating an emotional connection. So that’s exact right word. Yeah.
How do you do this though? So I feel like this is a product that is perfect us, right? Like, you know, like you can hit your, how it’s used in this way,
But I didn’t know that when I started, I’m telling you, when I started off, I thought we were doomed was expensive and our customers, not our end user, so little girls don’t carry credit cards. So how am I going to, how do I advertise to little girls? And you know, so even if a mom or a grandmother wants to buy it, they’re not going to buy it today. They got to figure out what the girl’s size is, what her favorite color is. So it’s a longer cycle. So I thought all those reasons that you think is art brand is perfect for VR, I thought were just the obstacles. We’re going to keep us from ever being successful.
So you were looking at exactly the opposite way of these instead of these being all like good things. These are all hurdles.
Yeah. And everyone, I think everyone who’s in business feels the same way, which is like, ah, yeah, but my business is different and it’s like, yes, your business is different. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. You know, today’s episode is sponsored by drip, drip it’s of world’s first e-commerce CRM and a tool that I personally use for email marketing and automation. Now, if you’re running an eCommerce store, you need to have drip a try. And here’s why drip offers one-click integrations with Shopify and Magento. There’s robust segmentation, personalization in revenue dashboards to give you an overview of how your automation emails are performing. One of my favorite features of drip is the visual workflow builder. It gives you a super easy way to build out your automation world visually and see the entire process. It lets you get started quickly, but also build very complex automation rules. It’s powerful, but also easy to learn. Unlike a lot of email tools that offer the same type of automation to get a demo of drip today, you can go head over to drip.com/boe. That’s drip.com/b O E. Now onto the show,
Let’s say someone’s selling a boring product or products. That’s more commoditized, right? What would you say to that sort of person on maybe they are cheaper or just boring? You know, that’s a great question.
I always think about like, okay, what are you selling? And then what are you really selling? So totally grocery sales dresses. What are we really selling? Happy time now they’re memories. But take, take like tires, autumn. The tires are pretty boring. You put them on a car and you talk about the specs of the tire or the width, the tread or whatever. But a good tire company is not selling tires. They’re selling safety because that car will break. If your car, you know, you could stop on a dime in the rain or whatever. That’s what the that’s, what car comes. That’s what tire companies sell usually is safety, unless it’s an Ohio end thing. And then it’s like a performance, right? But if our, you know, for a family station wagon and whatever, you’re selling safety, because you’ll spend it doesn’t matter if that, if that tire cost $25 more than a regular tire or competing tire, but you have a family you’ll spend the money to protect your kids. It’s like money is no issue. You will spend, you’ll find the extra $25, you know?
Yeah. And that, and that’s true, right? When you have a family, you start caring about those things. Versus back in college, I drove around on tires that were, you know, completely smooth and Lorraine, you would just like slide out, but like you’re a family, you actually go out and like, Oh, I’m gonna buy actual real tires every, you know how many years.
Right. Yeah. And so it doesn’t matter whether the tire works better or not. If they tell you today for you’re going to buy it. Yeah.
Yeah. That’s a good point. But so you would just start looking down and even let’s say you’re selling like fluorescent lighting, ballasts, like some like real nerdy thing you sat just looking on. Okay. Who’s that person buying it for instance. And maybe this balance, they don’t have to change them as often. And so that like facilities manager, isn’t coming in this off, you know, I had to get one change. Isn’t coming in here and having to change it out every six months. Are you more relaxed? A facilities manager because you don’t have to go around like changing, broken lighting.
Yes. Right. Concentrate on your work instead of the light bulbs office. I mean, so that, okay. That maybe you’re selling productivity, you’re selling, you know, because you shouldn’t spend your time changing light bulbs in your office. You have bigger problems than that.
Yeah. So then what’s the next step. Once you kind of establish, okay, here’s what we’re really selling. How do you start kind of code, like getting that into the DNA of all the different from the ads to the marketing, to even support requests. Like how do you, it’s one thing, it’s you doing it, right. You clearly have a writing background, have a voice. How do you get everyone else to do that? Same thing and get on the same page as you,
One of the things. Yeah. So I created a whole process. Like I get it, that’s asked a lot. So I created a whole kind of course to kind of walk people through all this. And we’ll talk about that later. But, but basically the first thing that you want to do is figure out if you have, could hire a spokesperson for your brand, who would that person be? And it could be living dead, fictional, whatever. So I talk about twirly girl, what we wanted it to be Willy Wonka. But if you had another brand, maybe you decide if you’re selling cowboy boots, maybe you decide you want it to be Matthew McConaughey. You know, even though you’re never going to hire him, you’re never going to use his likeness or his image. That’s how you want to talk to your customer. And that kind of cool laid back vibe, Hey man, it’s gonna be all right. I mean, he’s like he can’t be shaken. And so that’s how you’d want to talk. You figure out who your spokesperson is. Like I said, you’re not going to use his likeness or anything. You’re not going to reference them at all. But when you talk to them, you’re gonna imagine talking to your customer in that voice.
Okay. So that’s how, when you say, if you’re helping us and so is our off social media posts answer like basically the way Willy Walker would and not the way you would as an actual human. So answer like use a character like that. Like you become that character.
Yeah, exactly. You put that everywhere. You put that one. One thing is once you have your branding, you just have what you’re really selling. You have to put it everywhere. And it has to be that one. You have to sell one thing. It has to be everywhere because no one’s paying attention to your marketing the way you are. And so they can have to hear it over and over before it finally lands and registers with them, they have, you have to figure out what it is and repeated everywhere. Yeah.
I think most people, they think like every word in this site is red. Like from top to bottom, like it’s like this book and like people just literally, if you watch ’em, what are some of those songs? Like Hotjar or one of those where you can kind of watch people scroll through the site, they re they pretty much read the top, like three words and then just scroll it looks and pitches go up and down real quick. And then back, you know, next page, click the link. It’s
Yeah, because they’re not, no one cares about your company the way you do.
Yeah. So you basically have that kind of sewn through the fabric of the company so that it’s everywhere. So when you go in from you seeing a Facebook ad, and then three days later, you’re actually clicking on a Facebook ad and then you’re hitting a landing page and then every, so it has to be everywhere.
So cheaper packaging on your order, confirmations everywhere. Yeah.
Yeah. So, Oh, so you’re going all the way through. So it’s actual emails.
We get our, cause we get our confirmations shared with people they share like imagine buying a product. And you’re saying that you’d like it so much that you share that your order confirmation with a friend. I mean, yeah. I mean, that’s what you should do. Cause that’s free advertising. You have to invest a little bit upfront, but after that you’re not paying for it.
Well, you think everyone, when they buy a, when they buy a Tesla that like there’s a little confirmation email and it’s like a gopher or something like some little creature and everyone shares that on the web and you see people screenshot, like I bought mine and like, that’s like, it’s like a badge of honor screenshot in your Tesla confirmation email.
Yeah. I bet. Right. I mean they’re smart, right? Yeah.
So you said you have a kit where you kind of train people to do this or what’s that look like
That happened? I was asked to speak at an eCommerce conference and that was I’m a member of the group. And so okay. I talk about, you know, branding and how, what I kind of learned and how I brought screenwriting into, into branding. Yeah. ECF live. Okay. Yup. And I spoke to her a couple of times and then afterwards people came up to me like I want to learn more and I’m like, well, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m busy, but they’re like, course. And so that took about a year to make a course. And so I created a, kind of a little offshoot brand called cardboard, rocket ships. And it’s based on the kind of the brand this, one of our first commercials that went kind of viral. But like we, like, I think about 10 million people, 10 million people have seen it. So the course is that if you go to cardboard, rocket ships.com and you sign up email, I’ll send you a little mini course on branding. And then if you like that, you maybe you’ll you’ll buy in, you know, you’ll buy the complete course.
Okay. So you got a free, but basically kind of a free like, okay, so the
Three led mini lesson and then we go deep and that’s really for people who have like, are creative or, and want to do it themselves or learn how to do all this, or you’re hiring somebody and you want to know what to look for. And when you’re hiring a writer, because I don’t think it’s obvious. A lot of people are interested in writing, but they don’t really know where they say they’re writers. But like I am working in the industry. A lot of people say, you’re not a writer, dude, you know?
Yeah. Not, not all, not all created equal when it comes to that.
Yeah. So some people can do it or somebody will want to learn it. That’s great. It’s not, we need to hire. And this would help you hire it as well.
Yeah. Writing is like one of those things like, like I can paint like my wall, but like you watch a professional painter and they, it’s just a different level of like, you know, what would take me the whole day. They can do an half an hour and they do a part and sit down with a writer, you watch a professional writer for the professional content writer and what it would literally take me like three days to do, they can do in 45 minutes. And then it comes out better, which is impressive.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What are some of the mistakes
You see when people are trying to find this voice and get this brand and actually go through this process? What are kind of some things, some issues you see people running?
I think that one of the biggest things is people try to tell too many stories. They don’t know what they’re selling to. They have, I want to sell all of this. This is all, you know, everyone to sell everything. And so they don’t know what you have to focus on. One story to tell that over, you don’t want to tell five stories over and over because then you’re, you’re not, you’re not, you’re not clear on your messaging and you also have to figure out who your customers and speak to that customer. And it’s okay if you’re not speaking to everyone, not everyone’s your people. I think people got afraid, but what about that person over there? It’s like, forget them. That’s not your, that’s not your customer. We’re going to talk to you. You have to find a, my, for example, my, my wife on two drives a mini Cooper.
And so she takes it to, you know, she, when she has to service it, we haven’t got it done. And we have a guy down the street. She could take it too, but she would much rather pay a little extra money and drive 10 miles away to the mechanic that only services mini Coopers. He’s a specialist in mini Cooper. Now we know this guy could do any car. Obviously you could do an Audi B and he can do any car, but he’s positioned as the expert in mini Cooper. And my wife wants to, she wants the expert. And so by doing that, he’s only taught his ass when his advertising, he’s only to mini Cooper owners. That’s fine. He’s getting a much, a larger percentage of a, of a smaller pie, as opposed to talking to Honda owners
Tricks on what I feel like happens. Right? Cause you hear that repeated. You should find your niche talk directly those people. But I think most people when they’re starting off, the biggest thing is they just don’t have order flow. They just don’t have enough volume. Right. So they think, okay, if I cut off anyone, basically my business is gonna like crash and burn overnight. So like the fare of losing that, like whatever that percent is, is greater than the the want to gaining that. You know, Marcus,
I still, I think if you, if you talk to no, if you, if you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one. Yeah. I mean, that’s just the way it is. You have to decide who it is. Take a guess and you could always change it. You know, if you’re wrong, you could always change it. But if you don’t, you’re dead in the water. Is there a way to,
You have to go all in on the brand and say, this is, this is the person we’re talking to. Or is there a ways of doing it channel by channel? Like people that are nervous about this?
I know I was just talking to
Well, he has this and they don’t want it. They don’t want to jump in the pool head first. Everyone’s like, but can I just like put a leg in, let it go slowly in the pool. And you’re like,
I think it’s smart to test. I was talking to consulting for a brand. They sell she, she sung masks and, and you know, for, you know, for the pandemic gynecomastia and hers are funny and they have funny things they say on it, but they’re very high quality. And so she came up with a brand and she’s just testing the waters. And she said, right now she’s getting feedback. And I’m like, well, what’s the kind of feedback are people loving? The funny jokes that you’re putting in the mask or are they loving the quality behind the mask? It’s just goes people that, to be honest, people are alive being the quality, the fabric that I use more so than the funny jokes. I’m like, well, that’s, you’re going to have to pivot probably. So she’s going to probably have to change the name of her brand and change how she talks to people. Because at first it was just about, it was kind of like a novelty thing and you’re going to have, you know, so yeah, she invested some money in a logo and that’s fine. You’re going to have to do that, but be willing to accept the fact that you may want to pivot because that’s, maybe your customers don’t want the funny jokes. They want the quality of the fabric of use and
Right with basically like ripping out that foundation that you poured in and start up. So you’re going to start a new logo, possibly new like name, New York. Like you would go all the way down to that.
Yeah. So she, but she didn’t invest that much to begin, you know, that’s it, it’s the cost of doing business, but it’s better to pivot now than to wait in the three years from now or whenever, you know, whenever it’s too late, it never gets easier. Right. Yeah. I mean, and every, every brand has pride. I mean, you have the same food. Every, every brand has difficulties. So there’s nothing unique about it, but entrepreneurs are, you know, a special blend of people. I mean, that’s, what’s so great about it. People just want to try and they’re willing to grow and test.
Yeah. I like that. Any last, not easy, but it’s good. Yeah. Well, and that’s scary, right? That’s it’s like burning the boats and you’re saying we have this, you know, we have these masks and they’re funny. And do we like keep doing a few funny masks? And we like split, like everyone kind of wants to like split their attention. Cause they don’t. I feel like everyone has such a hard time doing exactly that piece right there. Yeah. You can. It takes a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And we don’t, there’s certain channels for twirly girl. We don’t even try. I don’t put any energy because I don’t get enough of a return. That’s okay. I can focus on the stuff that I know what I’m doing, but it works. Yeah. So you’ve just kind of tested over time and realize like LinkedIn probably is not your go to LinkedIn.
Pinterest didn’t work and yeah. Certain, yeah. Don’t bother insurance. Even Amazon doesn’t work that well for us. So, you know? Yeah. Well you can see that, right. Cause people on Amazon, like you sort by lowest price it’s price point. Yeah. And like, if you already have the brand, sometimes they’ll go into search on Amazon. But if you don’t have that brand, then you know, like maybe I’ll buy my GoPro on Amazon because I know GoPro. And I just want like do like one day shipping, but like GoPro built their brand off Amazon and now they just fulfill it through Amazon. That’s just one of these want to be on that sales channel. But if you were just competing against other video cameras, if you were just like, you know, Michael’s video, like on Amazon, that’d be a tough way to build the brand. It sounds like.
Yeah. I think most of the people who order us on Amazon are our own customers anyway. And so we’re always toying with, well, is it time to get rid of Amazon? Is, is it worth it? And right now it’s fine. Right? At this point we could keep it. It doesn’t hurt us, but you know, if it went away, I’d be fine because, well, cause you lose margin there. Right. So that’s the other, but it’s also our customers. And so we even charge a little more of the same exact dress on Amazon. We have to cause Amazon takes a big cut. So, but some people feel more comfortable buying it on Amazon, even though it costs more money. And that’s why a lot of brands, that’s why like GoPro, for example, they have to like everyone has to sell on there. So just because people look on Amazon for products.
Yeah. All right. Any last words of wisdom before I let you go? No. I mean, if anybody’s interested in learning more, the free mini course sign up, it’s free. It can’t hurt. I’ll definitely link to the show notes and appreciate everything. I’ll put a link to grow you’re on there and thanks lots. Come on today. Yeah. Thank you. Charlie girls, shop.com and if they want to follow me as a writer, I’m on Facebook as Michael Jammin writer. And I often, you know, I also have a screenwriting course I can get into if they want whatever they want. Awesome. Alright. I will only tell that.com. Thank you. Alright. Thank you for having me, man.