Ep. #917 - How to Win in the New Normal of eCommerce
In this new episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans sits down with the CEO of Loop Club, Tim Keen. The duo talks about how you can thrive in the constantly evolving world of eCommerce. They also share the basic skills you need to make a sale.
Covered In This Episode
The pandemic upset the conventions of how eCommerce works. And with the changes in the industry comes new challenges to conquer. Is there a way to sidestep them successfully?
Listen to Andrew and Tim’s conversation about winning in the new normal of eCommerce. They also talk about emerging marketing platforms and strategies. Along the discussion, they also share their thoughts on professional curiosity, creator marketing, and emotional branding.
What are you waiting for? Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now!
- Tim Keen’s journey to entrepreneurship (02:54)
- How does it feel to come out of a failure streak? (11:00)
- The frontend of marketing platforms (11:18)
- What happened to industries when the pandemic hit? (13:47)
- A segue on Andrew’s starting point in eCommerce (16:48)
- The basics of sales (20:50)
- What is the Loop Club? (23:29)
- On building a business during a pandemic (26:07)
- A discussion on professional curiosity (28:35)
- On finding the right products and services for clients (30:24)
- On brand innovation (32:27)
- Social media platforms and targeting customers (35:01)
- How TikTok standardized creator marketing (36:00)
- The how-to on achieving emotional branding (40:50)
- What’s in store for the Loop Club’s future? (43:45)
- How to thrive in eCommerce? (45:45)
When the pandemic hit, anyone who’d ever run an ad before was suddenly massively needed. So many people were hitting me up. It felt like it was just so chaotic. Everyone needed media buys just constantly, and that was when we started.– Tim Keen
Once I found eCommerce, I got hooked because it’s like fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, and then massive success.– Andrew Morgans
It’s so hard. It takes years of experience. The best creative strategists can just come up with these ideas that are just so simple.– Tim Keen
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 00:00
Hey, what’s up, Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology and today’s host of the Startup Hustle podcast. Here to cover all things about e-commerce, startups, and entrepreneurship, you name it. Today’s episode is How to Win in the New Normal of E-commerce. I’m super excited about today’s topic because it’s something I have personally been investing a lot of time in. In order to stay ahead, you know, stay innovative, stay quick. That’s always the key to winning in e-commerce. So, before we get into today’s episode, I want to give a shoutout to our sponsor. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Tim Keen, welcome to the show.
Tim Keen 00:48
Thanks for having me, Andrew. Excited about it.
Andrew Morgans 00:50
Super excited for today’s combo. Just pick your brain. You know, hopefully, I walk away with some things. Hopefully, our listeners walk away with something as well. Based out of LA, the company is a Loop Club, but you’re in Berlin today. Is that right?
Tim Keen 01:05
Yeah, exactly. I’m coming to the tail end of a little vacation.
Andrew Morgans 01:09
Yeah, well, Berlin is one of my favorite cities in the world. I hope you’re enjoying it. And when you come back, hopefully, you’re rested and ready to go. I know LA can be draining. Kansas City can be draining. The last time I was in Berlin was around Christmas time. So we just did all the Christmas markets. And I was just like, really sharp, I think. So. Enjoy. What’s the temperature like right now?
Tim Keen 01:32
It’s hot, and it’s crazy. It’s like, I keep forgetting that it’s really hot. And I keep going outside in a long-sleeve shirt. But it’s really hot. It’s warm.
Andrew Morgans 01:41
Yeah, like 90.
Tim Keen 01:43
Close to 100. I think today is wow, I’ve gone back to my Celsius brain, so 34, You know, see in there. What is that? Yeah, 93 hours a day where it’s close to 100. The other week, people were freaking out. They don’t know what to do. They’re like, okay.
Andrew Morgans 01:58
Because I can always just picture it in coats like, you know. I just, yeah, I know. That’s not true. But that’s what I’m picturing.
Tim Keen 02:03
This is very unusual, for sure.
Andrew Morgans 02:05
Well, I love to get started with the show. And for the listeners just getting to know a little bit more about you. You know, getting to know more about my guests. Where you come from. How you got started in entrepreneurship, obviously. There’s a story before Luke Club. So as far back as you’d like to go, you know, share with us. Like, did you always know you’re gonna be an entrepreneur? Did you like to come out of school and e-commerce even go to school? Share some of your early days with us.
Tim Keen 02:33
Yeah, totally. I mean, my story’s pretty weird. I will say. So I was. I grew up in Australia. And I was always a musician who played in bands.
Andrew Morgans 02:49
Burns, Red Sox burns, red August. Check. So they’re metal, they’re metal.
Tim Keen 02:56
I mean, I’ll check it out. But yeah, so I was always playing music. But I also like, did well in school, I guess, or I did like a pre-med degree. And then I was like, Wait for a second, like, I don’t know if I want to do this right now. And I took a year off, and I moved to Montreal in Canada, and I just started playing drums. And I ended up in that band, you know, we’re just playing music in our house. And the band did like pretty well. So we got signed, we’re on a record label, and we’re touring a lot. So it’s kind of on the road all the time, like 2014, just traveling all the time. Like in Europe, like all around America, and it was, you know, it’s crazy. It’s like you’re like, quote, unquote, living the dream. But, you know, the real challenge of that is like, even like these top tier bands, like if you think of like a band that you’ve heard of, like, unless they’re like really, like really famous and also super good with money, like, chances are they don’t make any money at all. Like, like, school teachers are fewer. Yeah, absolutely. If you’re lucky, if you’re lucky, you make a school teacher’s salary. So it’s pretty hard, like it is really hard, and all your time is taken up. So I was visiting la from Montreal, like, I was like, just like figure something out. I was like, Okay, I need to figure out how to make money online. So I think like a lot of people, I just like, tried a bunch of stuff. Like the first thing that I tried was the first thing that I tried, I was doing like online surveys, you know, we’re like a brand, we’ll be like, I’ll give you $2 If you spend 30 minutes telling us about like, you know, toilet paper or whatever. And I was like, Wait a second. This is like maybe like the least efficient way of making money that I’ve ever, ever heard of, like, I have to click like 100 times, and I get $2. Like, there’s got to be like a better like, dollars per click ratio that I can find here if I can apply myself a little bit. So it started like, you know, like everyone like I literally typed in like how to make money online. And I went through all kinds of stuff and went through all kinds of stuff. And I learned a little bit about everything. I learned a little bit about SEO, I kind of like learning a little bit about how to build websites. When I started building WooCommerce stores, I was like drop shipping on WooCommerce. For whatever reason, I was like, Shopify is too easy. It seems too easy. I’m gonna do it the hard way. And eventually found a little bit of success. I actually just found my statements the other day, and I didn’t make that much money, but I dropped shipping on WooCommerce.
Andrew Morgans 05:22
Beer. Do you think that’s hilarious? Okay.
Tim Keen 05:25
I found a website, and I found a competitor that was doing 120,000 organic searches a month, the only competitor in space because no one else wanted to do it. Because you can’t run out. It’s hilarious. You can’t do ads. It’s super embarrassing. You can’t tell your friends, like, you know, just like goofy. But there were a lot of searches like, Okay, I’ll do that. And this is 2018, 2018. I was doing this. And, you know, I could run Google ads. So I taught myself how to run Google ads, and kind of got what kind of got that working and built, you know, build, like, you know, as much of a business as you can build in that way, which is like, not that much. And then I got to the point where I was like, you know, I have a skill now maybe I’ll take this skill and apply it somewhere else. And I was ready. I’ve never had health insurance in my life. I’ve never had a job in my life. So as like, you know, maybe I’ll go to the doctor. Maybe I’ll get a job. So I was lucky someone from mute six reached out to me. I’d never heard of it. Six at the time for people listening like mid-six was probably one of you know big it’s probably one of the bigger Facebook first paid social Shopify agencies in the country, you know, probably think they’re at like 500 headcounts now they got bought by Dentsu bout when I left like big, big, big success story, big la story. And they didn’t. They were really hot up for Google Ads bias. And now that I run an agency, like, it’s really hard to find Google ads, it’s really difficult. And so I went in there and I just kind of replaced the word but plugged it from my resume with like, product, I was like, learn to sell products online. And they were fine with it. And you know, after I got the job, I talked to my bosses, and they’ve all sold far more embarrassing things, like any good marketer, so it was all, you know, all good in time. And I got absolutely schooled that it was awesome. Like, I’m so grateful. I only spent nine months there. And I learned so much because I had that hustle mentality. And I’m sure this resin will resonate with a lot of people. Like it’s really hard to turn it off. So I couldn’t go in, and just kind of do an okay job. Like I was so sure I was gonna get fired or like, I wouldn’t get my check if I didn’t like scale, every single account and like, in hindsight, like, that’s insane, like, you know, like, there are people who coast at office jobs for you know, their entire careers, but like, I just didn’t know how to do it. So my boss, Alma, really showed me how to do it. Like he showed me how to run Google ads. And he was running a lot of like, really serious accounts. He was running. Yeah, a lot of him was an old-school affiliate marketer. He had done a lot of lead gen, you know, he was spending many millions of dollars a month on Google ads. And, you know, just really knew what he was doing. And what I lacked in technical sophistication or experience. I didn’t know. I hadn’t spent 10 years running ads. I didn’t know every feature of the platform. But what I did is a read of Yeah, exactly. Figure out the creative. I was like, I’ll just do something that’s interesting. And all my successes came on YouTube, and they’re all the same. All the same things every single time. I just bribed an editor to make me an ad. Because of Google ads, people, like we didn’t even get at our clients, didn’t have editing packages. So I would like to go and find an editor that I like. I’m like, give her a pizza, and she would make me an ad. And we made UGC mashups like what like, what now is like the most standard ad in the world, like, not everyone was doing that like I would download every single clip I could find from all of the customers, I would write out a script, or I would have a cut it up, turn it into an ad, you know, build a long landing page. This is just Oh, like, just it’s just, this is just how you’re on business and build a long landing page and send that traffic, and it would work. Because most people just won’t bother. Like it’s annoying. Like it’s just like a pain to do. It’s hard.
Andrew Morgans 09:25
When was I asking you how YouTube came into that, though? Like you’re using YouTube to cut stuff up?
Tim Keen 09:29
I was running ads on YouTube, and I would build these like two-and-a-half-minute long ads. And I’d run it on YouTube and YouTube at the time. It’s hotter now, but it was really scalable at the time. Like, if you got something here, it was all, or nothing like either wouldn’t convert at all. Or you just go crazy. Like it was like, you know, I took accounts. I remember taking one account from $0 and YouTube spending to like 160 grand and YouTube spending two months, just like people understand.
Andrew Morgans 09:57
How addictive that kind of thing is because actually, this is just funny, but I was born in Montreal and was in a band from 2007 to 2000, touring full time. I slayed my tour dragon. But you know what’s really addictive is e-commerce for me. Once I found the Congress, I got hooked because, yeah, you’re right. It’s like fail fail fail fail fail massive success, like you know like if you get it right if like if you tinkered it right or whatever, it was like, Oh, this is like, it’s almost like, you know, you’re like at the slot machine, and you hit it like didn’t do anything. And you’re chasing that.
Tim Keen 10:34
Yeah, exactly. And people don’t talk about this very much. Because like, you know, the front end of these platforms is designed to be addictive, right? Like Facebook is designed to be a Facebook, Facebook’s designed to be addictive. Use all of these platforms. They build them for attention. But the back end is addictive, too. It’s like, it’s addictive to run ads, like, you know, you’re playing with numbers all day, if you have this, like a slight math brain and you like to be on the computer, like, it will suck you in. And then when you get a win, it’s just like, it’s crazy. Nothing feels like that. And everyone wins harder to come by now, which I think is what we’re going to talk about. But at the time, it was really just about like the right product, you know, the right messaging, and then just like getting out of the way of the algorithm, and I didn’t know that like no one else does that like so few people do that. And a lot of people sit in agencies for their whole career. And they think the answers are like, Oh, I’ll change the bidding strategy. Or like, I’ll change my budget from like, 150 to $200. But like, if you’re a real dopamine addict, if you’re like, that’s not enough, it doesn’t feel good enough. So I need 10x times to feel good. And so I was chasing 10x wins. And once I got a couple, then I got bored. In the addiction, more often, I wasn’t getting it. I wasn’t getting enough thrills. So I left, and I went to another agency. I was like, I want to see what it’s like to spend massive budgets, like multi-million monthly budgets. So I went to a media and entertainment agency because I thought they would have massive budgets. And I did, but the only KPI was spending the exact budget on the sand. Because there’s no conversion tracking, the budget is pre-allocated, you’re not actually driving revenue for anyone, and the person you’re reporting to is like a mid-level manager like Warner Brothers or something that one of the brothers felt like a Warner Brothers-esque company. And their KPI is doing, they manage the agency to the budget. So I’m not a detail-oriented person. I’m not like, like, getting every correct button thing. And I literally, I did it for two weeks, like I and I just got up and I just went to my boss, I was like, man, like you have hired the wrong person like I can’t do this job as you will, you’ll fail. Because I can’t, I can’t spend the budget to the limit if I’m gonna figure out a way to get double the budget because I need it. Yeah. And so then I left. I kind of tinkered around for a bit, and then the pandemic hit. And then when the pandemic hit, anyone who’d ever run an ad before it was suddenly in like, just like massively needed and just so many people with me up and just like it felt like it was just like, so chaotic. And just everyone needed media buyers just constantly. And that was when we started. We didn’t even kind of realize what we were doing. Like we just thought like, it’d be like, Oh yeah, a group of freelancers. And we’ll just take our clients and pull the clients together. And then immediately what happens is, you know, the agency logic kind of takes over, it’s like, okay, well now I have a bunch of clients, how do we share resources now? We’re all working on our clients all day, but we don’t have enough revenue. So now we need to hire someone to take care of the clients so we can go and get an offer and you become an agency like without you know, you don’t even ask for it. You’re like, well, guess I’m an agency now. Yeah. And that was two years ago. And you know, since then we’ve done a total three and a half million top line, and I mean, you know, hired and fired a lot you know, we’ve been through a lot we started you know, we started with some okay clients but like the clients that were Shopify Plus partner agency now, you know, Unilever is a client, we have some big pet mobility makes client free-fly pro. We have, you know, some really nice mid, mid-sized Roadrunner sports like, you know, midsize e-commerce brands like 100 million dollar brands, $50 million brands. And I literally feel like I haven’t stood up in two years. Like, I’ve just been, you know, just doing it and to go back to what we were saying before, like, I have no plans to do this. Absolutely no, absolutely no desire to like, quote, unquote, be an entrepreneur, but like, you know, who was uncanny right that like you and I just have the same background. Like we grew up in a weird place, we fell into bands, we were like, figured out how to live somehow, and like 80% have agency owners that I meet have that same background, as they come from something weird that at some point in time had to figure out how to make money, a lot of the time, you have like a chip on your shoulder, like you were like, bullied. Oh, as you like, you know, you have some reason why you need to prove to yourself that you can do this. And you, you know, you’ve learned to be persistent.
Andrew Morgans 15:22
Because I think it’s like, just to, like, add to that. Like, if you’re a loner, you can be very successful at this. Yeah, you know, even if you’re social, but just like being able to spend, you know, a lot of hours practicing your craft, like, musicians. I mean, I’d practice like, one year, we played like, 96 shows, while in school, while doing all these things, you know, I was getting a computer science degree, like proctoring tests on the road, like, you know, they just do crazy stuff like that, and I was chasing freedom. Well, this is freedom in a different sense. You know, for one, it’s financial freedom, but it’s also geographical freedom like you’re in Berlin right now versus like, you know, traditional job, you gotta be somewhere show up in a chair. So it has these, like, similar qualities that just like, you know, for me, it’s, I’m from the bottom, like, I’m from the dirt. So like, there’s no boys and girls club. You know, it was like, I didn’t have to be a member of something to be successful with this. If I was good, then, you know, then I could be successful. And then also, like, let’s not get it twisted, like, okay, when MySpace and Facebook first came out, it was banded. They were making those MySpace band flyers. Am I wrong? 100% Yeah, yeah, completely. Yes. Those are like some of the original, like, you know, things get shared. You know, if you create a great flyer, like, you know, that was important to get it shared, and get people at your shows, and like, you know, for me, I just kind of read three thoughts about how I was, like, you know, we were making albums, and shirts, and merch, and like, all those kinds of things. But I didn’t really apply it to like, you know, what I do now, originally, but I’m like, it really does, like we were, you know, I was working with I mean, I, the people I was working with in my band days are now a lot of them are very successful, doing all kinds of things from, you know, from music to muralist to, like, an like, there’s this muralist in LA that’s like, really popular, famous, he goes back and forth, Kansei to LA, he used to design my band tees, you know, and I’m like, Who would have known at that point when he was at Starbucks, like going to art school, that he was going to be like that successful, but like, you know, we were like, developing talent, kind of curating, like, the business aspects of planning a tour, you know, the operations of like loading and unloading out, like, you know, selling, I was getting the experience in selling and, like, buying my stuff, like, I’m not going to get to the next city, if you know, you know, and just like, it pushed you, it pushed me as an introvert into a lot of like, understanding brands, like, if you’re trying to get signed by a label, like, you definitely had to have a look and feel, you know, between your band, or at least, like, that’s what, you know, we were getting told we’re looking for a certain type of like, if you’re approaching certain labels, like we’re looking for, you know, this kind of look and sound and so you start being like, okay, let’s like craft more of our songs to be kind of universal, like that can go together and cohesive. Just like some interesting plays, I think, like, the music world in the band world, and e-commerce, and what it did for a lot of people.
Tim Keen 18:17
100% absolutely. All of that makes complete, perfect sense to me. And you know, what’s funny is like, there are actually two things. The first thing is like, I think that one thing that you learn from being in a band is that stuff just kind of happens to you. And it’s very different stuff. And it escalates really quickly, and you have to kind of roll with the punches. You have to be like, okay, yeah, now, I guess I know how to, you know, show up in all these different cities and do that, and it’s just like, it just happens to you. And when we would, you know, first scaling, when we really started scaling. It was my musician friends who could tolerate that because it’s just like, random stuff starts happening to you. I actually had a couple of my musician friends working in the business because they didn’t have anything to do during COVID. And they were just like, oh, yeah, okay, I guess I’ll do this now. Like, you become very flexible. And then I think the introvert thing really resonates because like to get good at e-commerce, you have to have that practice mentality, like, I’m just going to sit in a room, keep doing it over and over and over again. But then to get good at running an agency, you have to become very practiced, you have to be an extrovert, but you have to be very good at being social and reading people. Because you’re gonna make a lot of deals. I think all the time. I talk about this all the time. The thing that stays with me the most from the tour is that every night, you get out of the van and into a different city. And you meet immediately a stage manager, a sound engineer, you know, venue manager, like all these people, and your entire night and your whole experience are contingent on them liking you. If they don’t like you like you’re gonna have a terrible time like they’re not going to help you out, like they’re not going to do you any favors. Are you like, I can help you lift the ban, like, it’s gonna be super annoying. So you have to like really quickly, like, figure out what kind of person they are, get on their level, and make that conversation enjoyable for them. And like that sales, like once you can do that, like, you can close any deal. And if you can get on a call and like, match that person’s energy right away, like, you can build an agency, because you’ll just take 20 calls, and you’ll have 20 clients by the end because people want to work with you, because they like you. And I think introverts love that.
Andrew Morgans 20:31
Love that comparison. Like I didn’t think of that as far as like, you know, the throwing, you know, throwing you for a loop with all the changes, you know, but like, you’re so right, you know, and it’s like, okay, the van breaks down, or you’re sleeping in, like, you’re sleeping in some people’s mansion for the night, or, like, you’re sleeping in the venue, or, like, you know, there’s three people at the show, and you’re playing for the other bands. And you’re still like, trying to, like, you know, well, those other bands might be the ones to take you on the next tour, like, you know, the venue might have you back, and there’s something had happened, there are only three people there that night, who knows, but it was just like, you know, rather it was rejection or like always that always on mentality when it’s time to go and be like, you know, we were like, throwing guitars and like, show and like, you know, pretty produced and like, played with tracks and like, we’d still go hard if there are four people there, you know, like, because we’re just like, all these four people paid. So, you know, I think having that that mindset to like, with customers and just being like, well, they’ve paid like, I’m gonna deliver, I’m gonna deliver great results, like, you know, they’ve, they’re here to show up, they’ve chosen me to work with, like, I’m gonna deliver that. And, and also that practice mentality, like, I truly am an Amazon expert. And I say that confidently, like, I’ve spent 11 plus years doing it. 20 30,000 hours minimum, probably, like, you know, and that’s like, you know, that’s where you get true expertise. The same thing with musicians, like, you know, they spend so many hours, and then also the crafting, like, you know, a song as a story, a good song, good song as a story. And I think like, whenever we’re working with brands, we’re trying to bring out that story, like, what do you think he meant with this, like, you know, in pulling in all the different parts to like, work together seamlessly. So I know, we’ve made it like a comparison thing, but it’s just I honestly, like, if people listened to my 100 Plus episodes, there’s probably been 10 Plus that, like, you know, their background started in music, and not all my interviews are agencies, you know, so it’s something very common that I didn’t really understand the why, but I think it was just to a certain level, you just get tired of being poor. And you’re like, yes. I want to make some money. You know, I want to have a girlfriend or like, you know, and I want to take her on a date, or I want to be able to, like, you know, fix the tire. And so, yeah, let’s talk. Let’s talk about Luke club. Okay, so guys are crushing it, by the way. Love the website. I definitely took a deep dive before I got on the show. We became an Amazon agency partner in 2019, which was in their first round of agency partners. We’re pretty proud of that. Tell me about whether Shopify A plus partner means and like, you know what, you guys specialize there?
Tim Keen 23:13
Yeah, for sure. This was a pretty big win for us. So for those who maybe don’t have a knot in the ecosystem, that you know, the Shopify and the Shopify Plus in Shopify Plus is the, you know, the most expensive Shopify plan. And it really doesn’t make economic sense until you’re doing like, you know, 100 grand a month in revenue. But it does come with a bunch of advantages. Like it’s fast, you know, you can customize the checkout. You know you get better rates on your credit card processing, you can do like international stores, it’s like the premium set enterprise product. And they are most agencies, most Shopify agencies, or Shopify Plus partners, but not that many shoppers know. Most agencies are Shopify partners, but not very many Shopify Plus partners. Turns out I didn’t know this, but there are only 22 Shopify Plus partner marketing agencies in the country. It’s a lot of DEV agencies, but not that many agencies. So this kind of like, I mean, the real reason why I came up, comes back to what you’re talking about before is like, a lot of friends in the ecosystem, like, I’ve been working on Shopify, since I started that made six and I like it like, and I got to know one of the ways that I realized I could add value to my clients was okay, what can I do outside the attic? And a lot of what you do outside the ad account is like, oh, have you thought about this plugin? Or have you thought about this app, like this way of doing, you know, this pop-up is really going to help you a store? Like, have you thought about making post-purchase upsells in this way, like are you financing in this way? And you end up like networking with a lot of sass companies, essentially, who are all you know, apps that plug into the Shopify universe and we just do have, you know, we’re very opinionated, I have a lot of opinions about what the best Shopify Plus apps, best Shopify apps are. Right. And, you know, I’m just not sure of how to build this tech stack and can do it quickly and can give performance advice from that very like Shopify first viewpoint. So I think that’s one thing that kind of helped us there. And then the second thing was like, building our business during the pandemic. And during the iOS 14 change meant that the business that we built looks really different to a lot of agencies that were built prior to that because you build a business, pre-iOS 14, like, it was a lot easier to run ads, like I literally just was, it was way easier to do a lot of the stuff. So you, your expertise didn’t necessarily need to be as sharp and as multifaceted as it is now. And cuz, you know, as we talked about before, like, it’s very hard for me to just sit there and do a job. So just obsess about these accounts and be like, okay, like, how am I going to do it? That obsession, that’s baseline now, like, you will not scale an account unless you can get that crazy about it. And so, we’re just so lucky that we had all these, you know, we’re already thinking about the end-to-end e-commerce experience. Because I can’t even hire a media buyer who trained before iOS 14 Now, like it’s a red flag in an interview, because do you have too many blind spots? So that’s what they saw in us. And, you know, it’s been really great. Like the Shopify Plus brand profile is a really ideal client for us, you know, you typically at some scale, you have product market fit, you have a marketing team, you a lot of the time you’re spending, you know, we have clients who spend anywhere between 50 grand a month and million dollars a month on ads, like you’re under your well-established business, and you still have blind spots, right? Like every business has blind spots. And if you know the whole ecosystem, well, it’s very easy for us to be like, Oh, you haven’t tried this? Haven’t you tried it? Yeah, we’ve got a big catalog of things we can do. So it’s pretty easy for us to move the needle for this business, I want to say easy, but like, it’s not a lot of the time for a plus brand or for brands at some scale, it’s not that the solution is technically challenging. It’s just something they haven’t thought of, something that they didn’t prioritize, or something that was hard to get everyone on the same page about. And we can just do that quickly, sir. It’s been really cool. It’s a really nice market segment to service.
Andrew Morgans 27:31
I love it. And I’m resonating with everything you’re saying, in the same way too, like I definitely have been. Martin, ology turns eight in August. So we’ve added a minute. But the Amazon industry as a whole and brands and, you know, manufacturers, companies coming to Amazon weren’t really treating it like a true channel that needed optimize, optimize. They’re just putting the product up and kind of letting it happen. But as someone you know, I think the word we’re looking for is his professional curiosity, and it’s something that can’t be taught. And if you like, you know, yourself, just the way you describe your curiosity for well, how can I be better? How can I win? How can I innovate? How can I, you know, I’m a small bootstrapped entrepreneur. For me, it was speed and, you know, creativity and innovation, like that, I’m just faster and faster than the big boats, you know, so to speak, and like, can move super quickly. And I spent 1000s and 1000s of dollars each year on r&d, I would say testing, like what you would call apps on the Shopify side. Like software that’s coming out on the Amazon side, how does it integrate here? How does this, oh, this connects with Google and TikTok and Facebook ads, and it tracks attribution directly to my Amazon pages, like I need to know everything about it, you know, okay, there’s a program just for like crowdfunded brands that they can get access to Amazon’s Launchpad program, I need to know everything about it. So I interviewed a guy that had his doctorate in crowdfunding here, like you locally, you know, like, that’s my true, like, my obsession is like that. It’s true that I, there’s not one thing I want someone to bring up in a room and may not know, or have heard about it, you know, and it’s not going to be I can’t be humble and be like, I don’t know, it’s just that it’s an opportunity for a brand and I don’t know if it that’s, you know, they’re paying me to know, they’re paying me to be their, their, their strategist, you know, as a company. Right. And so that’s something that I like, I definitely resonate with. And I think that if you’re going to win, like a post, you know, Amazon agencies are popping up everywhere. We are also one of two that are service-based on Amazon advertising. So wow. So that’s kind of interesting. Like you’re talking about the devs. Right, so the first group of 6058 were Dev, and two were service base. We’re one of the service-based that talked about just some similarities. Yeah. Between the two, but it’s like um, you know, I What took me so long was because the in the Amazon space the brands weren’t, it was so easy at the beginning that they didn’t own was like, think about how to like, do these things to be better because they were just like winning in other ways. And I only wish that I knew more about creative and like the impact of like, really good, creative and really emotionally connecting, like messaging in that creative, like from images or ads or whatever the case is. Because once I started working with brands that could invest there and do like, and then I also developed my own internal team that can deliver on what we’re trying to do. It was just like magic for us. And it’s like, you know, it’s really the step above whoever else is out there. I’ll be honest, like, they just haven’t done it yet. I’m not saying they won’t. But they haven’t done it yet. And it’s like because it’s a hard thing to do yet, right? It’s a hard thing to do. And so it really is the differences in like all these things, it’s like, it’s very, very, very rare, that we come across a brand, that’s of a certain level that’s trying to do certain things that we’re not like, we can provide this level of like, improvement to whatever they’re doing. You know, it’s just like, even if it looks beautiful like there’s probably something on the upside, there’s always things that you can do that they haven’t thought of. And unless they have a team that’s been obsessing for years, and years and years, which they usually have at most companies, those people have a lot of responsibilities. And Amazon is just like a small piece, or like, you know, Shopify, or whatever is a small piece. There’s no way they can learn about all of these things. So, you know, I have a couple more questions. I want to get one more shoutout to our sponsor. Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io. We can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Let’s talk about some of the like. I’m spending a ton of time on TikTok. Okay. Just because as Amazon gets harder, there’s a whole bunch of aggregators that have popped up buying brands selling brands, iOS 14, push a lot of advertising spend to Amazon, for anyone that was doing both, and they’re like, oh, we can’t figure out Facebook, let’s dump our money into Amazon PPC, it’s made my life a lot harder. It’s filtered out the ones that were just kind of like, okay, and like the best agencies will be the ones standing for sure. But in that time, it’s like also like, okay, like, let’s say a competitor comes in, because it’s direct, direct response marketing on Amazon, where it’s like, you know, type in a search term, and then it brings you the product or not, it’s not like Facebook or TikTok, where it’s like, customer segments, right? And so because of that completely different strategy, and if you’re going against a big heavy hitter, like a big heavy hitter, like let’s say, I don’t know, a massive brand, we’ll just say that a massive brand manscaped or something, and you’re like a small one trying to come up with a product. They could blanket you out on this product on the search terms, right? If they had the budget, they could just cover them all. And so then you’re like, Well, how do I get visibility on my products if I’m Native to Amazon, and a lot of that what comes in is great having a great DTC site as well and strategy if your website’s doing well, they grow together. And so, like, whether you’re using Facebook ads or TikTok ads, you can use these to gain momentum on your Amazon products. And these are strategies that they use. And so, for me, Facebook and TikTok are top of mind, and I always spend a lot of time on TikTok now. Talk to me about what’s like, you know, what’s new, what new strategies like I know you guys have you guys offer TikTok services and Facebook services and all those things as well. Talk to me just maybe a few examples about what you’re doing with brands, like how you’re working with some brands and some innovative ways to like, you know, continue to win as things change. Yeah.
Tim Keen 33:34
So TikTok is, obviously, like the next frontier. And I think everyone, there’s been a lot of like, oh, you know, kind of flashy, you know, everyone’s like, making a lot of noise about it. But it’s still hard, you know, it’s still a difficult channel, and everything’s difficult right now. But what’s cool about TikTok is that you can really get it to work. We’ve been running this year, and it is fun, like, it’s fun because you because the aesthetics are quite different because the pace is quite different. What you need to do with your customer, like the customer journey, is quite different. And the expectations that they enter they’re all different. But if you can dial everything in as you can, you can move the needle really quickly, in ways that are difficult to do on Facebook these days.
Andrew Morgans 34:23
So, you know, the customers have moved, and like you know, there are a lot more older customers on Facebook I think then, you know, years pass and then like the younger generation has moved on and like Instagram kind of seems like it’s almost like the band crowd like not really but like the artists creatives a little bit older mature and there’s not bullying there are not these things like you know, it’s really kind of like at first it was just social media, and now I feel like there are some very clear differences like as you move through them so for me it’s like paid on TikTok. It’s like, you know, influencer marketing on TikTok, or it’s like organically like posting as the brand and using some variations of those three. Is there anything outside of that, that you’re like, you know when you work with a brand? Are you working with influencers? Are you creating content for them? Like, how does that look?
Tim Keen 35:06
Yeah, exactly. So I think what you have to do, TikTok is really solidified and made completely standard, this concept of like, create marketing. So it used to be that when we started doing this at meet six, then when they started doing a couple years before I got there, you know, there was some of the first people to make Facebook ads where it was just like, Oh, my god, just a regular person was saying this to the camera. And it wasn’t a regular person. I’ve never been a regular person.
Andrew Morgans 35:38
It was. It was someone who wasn’t into it cost a lot.
Tim Keen 35:41
Yeah. Yeah, it’s hard. It costs a lot. It was, you know, sometimes it was like us, it was like people in the office who would like make quote, unquote, user-generated content, like, but sometimes it would be, you know, a real shoot, you know, sometimes it would be your customers, and we still use real customer stuff all the time. But this, you know, a real person showing off the product aesthetic, that is TikTok, that is what the channel is, you cannot be branded there, you cannot be you know, beautiful like it has to look 100% real. That’s the first challenge. People have to think that someone just made it. The second challenge is that the platform does not care at all how many followers you have or how many you know. It just doesn’t care. It’s not relevant. What is relevant is that every single piece of content is judged on how well this content keeps you on the platform, watch time is the single metric that matters to TikTok as an entity, and it will judge a piece of Con. Every single piece of content is judged equally based on watch time. So you could have zero followers and put up something, and it could go massively viral the next day because a certain percentage of people watch it all the way through. So you’re in, it’s a difficult situation for a large advertiser, right? If you’re Dunkin Donuts like you are used to the idea that everyone’s gonna watch what you do because they already understand who you are, you have a certain brand, you have a certain, you know, affinity, people, watch the ad because they know who you are. But now, like, all your brand has gone down, branded elements are taken away. And watch time is the only important thing. So if you have your million followers, no one cares at all. It doesn’t matter. So you have to make like the most engaging, like the funniest, the loudest, the sharpest, the most immediate, like the most engaging content possible. Otherwise, there’s no chance.
Andrew Morgans 37:38
The second long, long gone are the days I’m sorry, like the Cialis ad, like you know, on TV that’s like, oh my god in the last 30 seconds or like all the side effects.
Tim Keen 37:49
Exactly. Like that stuff. It’s just, yeah, it’s not gonna happen anymore. And what’s crazy about the second piece is that TikTok is also obsessed with newness. They aggressively prioritize newness, so they want you to be uploading more and more and more content all the time. So you now have to be making high quality funny, and engaging great content. And if you’re lucky, you can run it as an ad for a week before the credit fatigue is and it doesn’t perform anymore. So the volume of creativity that an average brand needs to make has gone from like, Okay, I need one new piece of content a month, one great new ad a month to like, I need 10 new ads a week.
Andrew Morgans 38:34
And I need them. It’d be kind of shitty, like, yeah, yeah. But it’s hard for me, like, I talked to people like you all day, like on the podcast, or like, you know, in sales calls, or like talking to CEOs VPS like, and something that’s been difficult for me is I tried to like plan out our channel or plan out some stuff for brands or like, I feel like to get involved in some of the creative ideas like you on the team. And like, if we’re working with a brand, we’re stuck with, like, I want to get in there. And you know, it’s really hard for me, so I don’t want to say this in a bad way. But like, think simple things like simple like, just, like, you know, this is your normal way. Like you think like, you know, you’re trying to keep up with some like a 100 million dollar thinker, sometimes on the phone or like, you’re just like, you know, you’re trying to keep up. And then it’s like, for TikTok, I need you to like, go exactly the opposite direction. Yeah. And slow your brain down and like, be funny or be entertaining or like, you know, because it’s still just as creative to get that, don’t get me wrong. It’s just like Gen Z. And like, you know, one you talked about, like creative enough to bring them through the length of the video, like to the end, but then also like, think, like a lowest common denominator.
Tim Keen 39:43
Yep. Yep, exactly.
Andrew Morgans 39:48
Simple, and it’s so great a level or something hot it takes years of experience.
Tim Keen 39:51
The best creative strategists can just come up with these ideas that are just so simple. And it has to be like because the first frame of that is the most important, right? Like someone’s going to make a decision with their subconscious is going to make a decision about whether they want to watch it before they even think to themselves.
Andrew Morgans 40:09
If this emotionally, is because it’s an emotional connection, first, the emotional brain, then the logic brain get like, and so you’re trying to connect to that emotional brain, like whether they’re afraid or laughing are turned on or like, whatever it is, is like you’re trying to, like, get them with that.
Tim Keen 40:22
Yep. And it has to make sense. Like, it has to make sense within, like, a fraction of a second. And so, you know, it takes a lot of work. And we’ve had to build a number of systems around how to do this, like we’ve built a platform where we can very, very quickly, like recruit new creators and train them up and show them like the back and forth, we’ve had to build, like, so many different creative, brief templates, like so many different systems, so many example decks, because like, yes, if you have all day, you can make one really, really good ad. But you don’t have all day. You need 10 times as much as you did four months ago. And you need them at scale, and you need them across your whole portfolio. So making engaging content at scale is the challenge right now.
Andrew Morgans 41:14
It’s the hottest thing to do. I mean, talking about Andrew Tate, not to give him more attention than he already has. But all he did was like, you know, recruit an army of creators to like edit up his content. And like, you know, spread it all over TikTok. You know you had years of content out there on YouTube, podcasts, or whatever. And he’s like, you know, he’s recruited a whole bunch of these, like, young creators to edit up his content so that he can make that much video at mass. Which, as ridiculous as it is, like, it’s still like, kind of brilliant, in a way. And like, that’s what you’re trying to recreate. At the same time, Gary Vee kind did the same thing. He’s like, how do you take a pillar piece of content and make 20 pieces? You know, and that’s you. You’re repurposing that for whatever channel you’re on. But the principle still applies, just like, how do you create content in mass? For these platforms, it’s not about perfection anymore. It’s about, you know, quantity.
Tim Keen 42:10
Absolutely. It is a volume game. And I mean, you said it, right? For when you’re building your agency, being fast is the most important thing, like, being fast is the most important thing. It’s always been the most important thing. And, you know, how about but now it’s like, how do you do it fast, and at massive, massive volume. So, you know, we use tech solutions to do it that will, like, help us slice up our content. So we can then, like, you know, recut it automatically. And like 10 new ads, we use, you know, platform solutions, we use database solutions, we use templates and briefs. But, you know, it’s really hard. And like most brands, like, if you start an e-commerce brand, you don’t start it thinking to yourself, like, okay, like, how do I get, you know, 100 videos? In a three-week, you know, time period? Like, that’s just like not, it’s not on your mind, sir. Yeah, it’s a really new challenge.
Andrew Morgans 43:04
Um, alright, so as we close up a little, a couple of minutes here. Like, what’s next for the Loop Club? You know, I know you guys just like, I think you just published a new website, a new refresh, at least on the site, like, it looks sharp. That’s always a project. I know that, you know, what, what, what’s your focus as, as an agency? One is like, you know, what is something you guys are working on? You know, that’s exciting for you. And then too, like, you know, what’s something that you would leave either with some young agency owners that are tuning in, or just some young e-commerce brands that are like, you know, trying to win in 2022 and beyond. So one, what’s exciting and new that you guys do something you guys are working on and then do something to leave with our listeners?
Tim Keen 43:45
Totally. So I mean, the thing I’m most excited about, we actually spun out all this, like user-generated content creation stuff and doing different business, because it’s so important. We build a platform around it. So you know, we built a no-code platform where you can go in and like, assign briefs to content creators and go back and forth on content and pay them, and it’s working. And it’s working across multiple brands. So now, the next step is to open that up to other agencies and brand owners and build a two-sided content marketplace.
Andrew Morgans 44:15
Pick me. Pick me. Yeah, yeah.
Tim Keen 44:16
I mean, everyone, as I posted, I posted, I was like, hey, like, who wants to be part of, you know, user-generated content marketplace, and I just got, like, hundreds of people, because it’s really hard. Like, there’s not that much. There are a lot of marketplaces out there. But the quality is very, very, very low, super low. So we figured out how to set we, you know, we kind of cracked the code on sourcing creators. So we can then filter them. We can source infinite creators and filter the top 1%. So I can’t wait to launch. Wanting to be on the platform is something I’ve always wanted to do. I think it’s a cool business model. I think it’s nice and scalable, and interesting. It has a little bit of tech involved in it. So stoked about that.
Andrew Morgans 45:00
And yeah, new agency. You, gorgeous e-commerce brand owners that are trying to win you know? Okay.
Tim Keen 45:05
Yeah, stop. Like, if you’re an e-commerce brand owner, it’s more important than ever right now to remember the difference between who you are and who you want to be. I think a lot of brand owners get stuck on who they want to be wearing in an aspirational brand or lifestyle brand. No, we would never do that. We would never say that this is not how we represent ourselves. Our ads need to look like this. Our pages need to look like this blank needs to look like this. And you can get pretty far with that. And you have been able to get pretty far, but most businesses that really scale Don’t think like that. Most businesses that scale, especially, you know, from coming from the b2b world, it’s like, I will find a problem, and then I present the solution to you, and the solution looks however it looks but does it solve the problem. And so, if you want to win on TikTok, it needs to look like a TikTok. If you want to win on Facebook, you have to look like there’s a reason why those crummy little Facebook ads are like big black bars on top. And like, you know, there’s a reason why it works is that because it is what people looking at on Facebook, like, there’s not much time left to be precious and be like, Oh, well, we don’t want to be like this, like you need to operate in the present. And be honest about the numbers that you’re seeing on the page. If an ad is doing better than another ad, and you think it’s worse, you don’t like it as much. You’re wrong. Because it’s doing worse.
Andrew Morgans 46:28
It doesn’t like, yeah.
Tim Keen 46:30
So just it’s the heart. It’s one of the hardest things in the world because you get into entrepreneurship because you have an opinion about who you are and where you can go. And opinions, opinions not that helpful in this business. So it’s like, you know, just look at the numbers with open eyes and go where they tell you to go. And you may end up somewhere where you don’t expect or where you didn’t plan on being. But you will almost certainly be somewhere that is more successful and enjoyable.
Andrew Morgans 47:00
And then what you where you are now, so good. Honestly, it’s a great way to close out the episode. You know, you just go into something with an open mind, without expectation, and let the data speak. That’s why I love Amazon. I love e-commerce in general. Because it’s not guessing, right? I get to make educated decisions like I get to make data-driven decisions. This creative, this keyword, this ad type, like let’s run, let’s test, let’s just like let the data help us get better and better businesses. What I love about businesses is that businesses will always evolve and continue to get better and better. Like when you’re in business, it’s always getting better and better and better. And when you get stuck, or you get stuck in your ways, or you get stuck in your mindset, this is the way it’s always been when you get left behind. And for me, I’m the other kind of way. So I like it because of that because it’s constantly changing. And it’s like a new city every night, right? You’re kind of getting that like this new brand that I’m not selling but plugs anymore, like adult diapers or something, you know, but it’s always changing. And it’s like, okay, this is a little bit different. I got to do it a little bit. Differently, you know, figure it out. But that’s where the reward is. And that’s the difference between being the very best and being average at what you do. So thanks so much for being on the show, Tim.
Pleasure. Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
Of course. And once again, shoutout to our sponsor, FullScale.io. Do you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders? Let Full Scale help. They have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions and let the platform match you up with a fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. To learn more, visit FullScale.io. Tim, you’re talking about building a platform. My mentor, Matt DeCoursey, and other hosts on the show have obviously built FullScale.io. Talent is pretty impressive. It’s pretty incredible. And as you’re building a platform now to find creators, it might be something that I just want to look around the site. The way that he’s done it with the avatars and the team is like really cool and really efficient. But anyway, shoutout to FullScale.io. They’re making this episode possible, Tim. I don’t think it’d be the last time we connect. I obviously got to check out the platform as well. So thanks for being on the show. And we’ll see you next time, Hustlers. Thanks.