[03:04] So on the show with me today is a fellow by the name of Brian Scanlon. And I’m gonna let him introduce himself. So Brian, thank you very much for coming to make some time to be on the show. Let’s start with that. Who are you? And what do you do?
- Trent, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it. Fan of the show. So that’s pretty cool. Yes, so I am the CEO and owner of a company called Posted Social. We are basically a full service digital marketing company. Most recently, we did a merger with a direct mail business. So now we offer everything from the digital side all the way to the print and direct side. But our core focus is still digital.
And our specialty is twofold. One e-commerce sales through social media advertising, and the other is B2B lead generation. For kind of that high ticket sale, that long sales cycle, that software, the high commitment client, but mostly what we do is e-commerce sales.
[04:00] And that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about today is e-commerce using, leveraging social media to drive more e-commerce sales. And we talked about this product in our pre-interview called the Hurt Skips and you can get to that if people are curious at the hurtskurt.com. So tell us what is that product? And let’s hear some—because you got some pretty incredible results when you launched it. So tell us about that.
- Yes, so the Hurt Skurt, it’s an ice pack sleeve that has compression built into it. So if you think about icing down your knee after surgery, after working out, icing your elbow, the tennis elbow, whatever it is, the Hurt Skurt, slides onto your arm, leg, etc. and stays in place without any wrapping, pre-wrap anything like that to keep it on. It also stays colder five times longer than ice. And if you put it in the microwave and heat it up, you could also use it for heat application. So people are loving this for a variety of reasons, whether it’s the post-surgery kind of rehab, or just the everyday “Hey, my knees hurt after I’m standing on my feet all day,” or “My elbow hurts after I play tennis with my friends in the morning.”
And the Hurt Skurt is a simple item that is one of those, “Hey, why doesn’t this exist type items,” and the man who invented it and patented it kind of just said, “Hey, I stumbled across this thing. And I saw the need for it,” brought it to market, and we’ve helped him kind of from inception all the way to launch and now exponentially growing his business and hopefully having a heck of a holiday season here.
[05:36] So the product was launched—I believe, you told me on July 24th, when we did our pre-interview, the trailing 30 day sales was you told me at the time $130,000, which pretty phenomenal. Now, we did the pre-interview, I think maybe a month ago. What are the trailing 30 day sales right now?
- Yes, we’re about 20% above that. Honestly, we have seen a little slow down, which, leading into the election with a few of our products. Last couple weeks through Facebook ads have just been a little bit slower, little slight cumbersome. But we were about 20% above that, through current date going into Black Friday and the holiday season. We’re hoping to finish this year with 300 to 350,000 in revenue for these guys.
[06:26] Which I’m sure they would be very pleased with, for such a new product. So originally, let’s talk a little bit about the product and why they brought you in. When you first engaged with the client—because I know you told me that originally it was—this thing was invented not as a Hurt Skurt, but as a wine bottle cooler.
[06:43] And then, so where along the journey did they realize, “Okay, wine bottle coolers not going to work.” And where did you get involved in the project?
- Yes, so it’s an interesting story. So my partner in another business where we actually invest in consumer products, was holding a pitch event, right? Kind of like a little Shark Tank deal. And Joe, who invented Hurt Skurt came on and he pitched what he called the Hula Cula. And it was a cooler bag, similar to like a Yeti bag, right? And it stays cold like a Yeti, it had all these compartments in it, etc. And one of his other items was, “Hey, by the way, I have this thing called the the HulaSkurt, which you can put a wine bottle in, a beer can in, beer bottle and make it cold.”
And Marc Portney, he’s my partner. He said, “Forget the bag, that’s your item, that’s where it’s at. And forget the wine, and the beer, put it on people’s body”. So then the guy says, Joe, “Oh, by the way, I also have the Hurt Skurt, which is an ice pack.” And that was the kind of the golden ticket moment for all of us where we were like, “Whoa, let’s start bringing this thing to market.” So it was a long rope from that time to actually getting it live.
We did a couple months prior of running advertisements to kind of just build awareness, and traction, driving some traffic to their Amazon, seeing what kind of data we could collect. And then at the end of July, we launched their e-commerce campaign, independent of what we’ve been doing on Amazon through Facebook and Instagram ads. And about 80% of our return comes from the Facebook side. It’s a little bit of an older demographic for us. Kind of female 45 to 55 is really who’s the main purchaser right now.
And for that reason, I think naturally, we’re seeing a little bit more action on Facebook than Instagram. But yes, that’s kind of the soup to nuts of how it came about. And then they said, “Hey, we need a robust e-commerce plan.” We started off slow, groove some pretty, pretty great numbers, and then just started scaling up from there.
[08:52] So tell me about started off slow. What did that actually look like? What were the some of the first campaigns that you curated? What kind of data were you trying to acquire in that very early phase?
- Yes, so we had no previous customer history to go off of. We couldn’t upload an email list and create a lookalike audience or anything like that. So we were really starting ground up. And coincidentally, the best performing assets for our ads are cellphone videos that are about 10 seconds long. And Joe, the owner and founder, filmed them—kind of first things he made to summarize the product. And those videos cost him whatever his cellphone bill costs, and they’re returning them quick figures a month.
But when we initially started, we were trying to get some video views together. “Hey, who’s looking at this.” We spent a small piece of art budget, running some light campaigns to see, “Hey, who would be interested in following this page.” But most of it was geared towards, we had an idea that the demographic would be people interested in physical therapy, joint therapy, therapeutic compression, ice, heat. And we built out audiences from there and we happen to get it right, like right off the bat with that being a good target for us.
So we only started off with a $1,500 a month budget for the month of July. And in the month of July, we had a 5.6 return on ad spend for that $1,500. And then from there, we said, “This is really good. We need to keep spending money.” And kind of just went from 1,500 to 3,500 to this month, we’ll spend—November will probably be in the 45 to 50,000 range, hopefully.
[10:43] So can you unpack the launch of the product in even more detail for us. For example, like you mentioned, you got lucky. So luck is hard to replicate. When you listen to a podcast a guy got lucky, you’re like, “Well, what am I supposed to do with that?” Was there a process that you followed for the creation of the campaigns and the audience targeting? Or were you just doing it all based upon gut and intuition? Give us as much detail on that as you can.
- Yes, I mean, getting lucky is probably a little modest, I think. We do know what we’re doing. So that helps. But within—we kind of specialize in helping launch products. So with that most of our clients come to us with very little data, if any sales, ground up type of product. So when we get somebody who comes to us with data, that’s a godsend for us. But with the Hurt Skurt, we stepped back and said, “Okay who was really engaging with these awareness campaigns? And how do we pull that data out?”
And then also who is it that would typically be a buyer, and we build out about a dozen different audiences from there and test them within Facebook on just the audiences we built. And then from there, we take that look alike data from purchases and really track them.
[12:02] Hang on for a second, these audiences, how big were these audiences?
- We try to get it from anywhere from kind of that 2 million to 10 million range to start, pass.
[12:15] So you built multiple audiences of 2 to 10 million that have varying attributes. And then did you run the same ad content to each of these audiences to see what impressions and cost per click and all that data look like?
- Correct. So we use the same assets. We tweaked some of the copy slightly based on the audience, but our assets were, at the time, a bit limited. So, from a video perspective, and image perspective, we didn’t have much to choose from, the alterations to the ads were more so in the copy. But what we found is the copy has kind of remained consistent for us with these ads depending on the target.
Really, our biggest change is now when we run our retargeting ads, we are offering a discount code to those retargeted customers, the abandoned carts, etc. And that’s been our highest return on ad spend is our retargeting audience. So something that—sometimes we have another product where we get nothing from retargeting. People see it—they buy it on the spot or they move on.
[13:22] How does this ad—how does the ad and the retargeting campaigns differ, if at all, from the ads—other ads that are in the cold traffic campaigns?
- Yes. So we are using different assets now. Okay, and that’s been able to catch attention in a different way. The change in the copy, the offering of discount is really the kind of the three main differences in those ads. We’re using a little bit more of a professional video in the retarget ad right now. That’s been returning, okay. But typically, for the last a couple months, those simple videos that we have, have been such a great return for these guys. So we just kind of altered that a bit. Cut it up in a different way. So people are seeing kind of the same thing, but in a little bit of a different timeline and in different order.
And the discount code, obviously that helps. Thankfully, there’s a lot of margin in this product. So, that’s a good thing for us. But yeah, just really change it up a little bit. It’s not a huge difference in what they’re seeing.
[14:36] Are you using different audiences to build funnels—top of funnel, middle funnel, bottom funnel—within your ad campaigns or for this product? Is that really not necessary? It’s kind of at a price point where they see it, and they either buy it on the cold traffic ad or they see a simple retargeting ad and they buy it then and then your if they don’t buy it, neither of those situations they’re not going to see your ads anymore, or what is that look like?
- Yes, we dabbled with it kind of having the three kind of entry points in the funnel based on, did they—was it a landing page view? Did they view content? Did they add to cart? Kind of breaking it out that way. But for the most part with this product, I mean, it’s $19.99 to $39.99, depending on the size. There will be a $49.99 soon because we needed an Excel sleeve.
But it’s not necessarily something that takes nurturing through a sales cycle in order for somebody to buy. You see it, you understand it, you want it, retargeting, the discount helps. But also it’s one of those items where I might have saw it and forgot to check out it’s not a, “I really need to think hard about this purchase type item.”
[15:47] Yes. Brian, do you use virtual assistants in your business at all?
- Nope, everything we do is in the house. Every single thing—I’m kind of adamant about our team touching everything. It cost a little bit more money. But we’re 100% in house, we have a team of nine here. Every single person has MBA, which is something I think separates us. We don’t have young kids posting pretty pictures on Instagram and getting likes, we’re about ROI. And for every dollar we spend, how much do we make? So everything we do we touch.
[16:27] Okay. When we come back, I’m going to ask Brian a little bit about some of scaling up the ads and whether challenges were encountered, and then what channels they have expanded into, beyond Facebook. So prior to then we’re just going to have another little word from an episode sponsor.
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[17:08] So, Brian, you mentioned that you scaled up the ads reasonably quickly. And I have heard on more than one occasion that sometimes, especially on Facebook, when you’re trying to increase budget, your campaigns can “break in that your ROI goes in the wrong direction.” Is that still the case? And if it is, what are some of the best practices for scaling up the spend on a campaign?
- Yes, so, we saw that, and we see that every once in a while, where kind of you’ll check in on an ad and you’ll say, “What’s going on?” And sometimes the answer is not necessarily anything to do with the ad, it might be within Facebook. One little trick we’ve seen is just kind of duplicating that ad and kind of starting fresh. If the information in it is performing well, or was performing well and you didn’t make any changes, and there’s no really glaring outside forces that would affect that, then start fresh. Duplicate it. Start over again. Turn the old one off.
[18:17] So okay, so wait a minute. So you’re taking—are you talking about duplicating the ad set or duplicating the ad?
[18:26] Duplicate the entire campaign and then so you’ve got your first campaign running, let’s just use an example. Let’s say you’re doing $100 a day, and you want it for $300 a day. You’re telling me you’re just going to duplicate this campaign. Start the new campaign off with a $300 a day budget and turn off the old campaign. Is that right?
- No, I’m saying if you hit that, that plateau, right? So I’m talking about after you feel like you’ve scaled this thing, and you’re scratching your head saying, “All right, we’re up to we’re spending 500-600 dollars a day on the same campaign. And we’re seeing either a slight decline or a plateau,” that’s when we would kind of start fresh, duplicate the whole thing, scaled back the other one, scale up the new campaign.
What we did with Hurt Skurt was kind of steadily increased in about a $75 to $100 a day increment. So right now we have a couple ads that are running for between $3 and $500. We have a couple ads that are running at $150 to $200 mark. But what we did with them was really just kind of steadily increased for one main reason is they were running out of inventory.
So what we’re seeing is very size based item, right? So if you’re selling shoes, or clothes, or fashion items, whatever that has a small, medium, large, they ran out of some mediums of specific designs and we started to see a little bit of a plateau in the ads when the stock came back up, or the inventory came back up, that return on ad spend increased again. So one thing we ran into there was, it wasn’t necessarily the ads, it was the offering that was hindering the performance of the advertising.
[20:11] In terms of learning opportunities that come from mistakes or assumptions that proved to be wrong, what you’ve done with this campaign so far? Have you had any great—I call them tuition moments—but have you had any great learning opportunities that you can—that you took a lesson away from that you can share with us?
- Yes, I think with this campaign, we learned kind of, it’s okay to be super focused. You say, “Well, how many 45 year old women are really going to buy this?” Well a ton in this case, right? So if that’s our demographic, we can exploit that demographic and milk it for everything it’s worth. So rather than trying to be all things to all people, it’s okay to be super focused, because there are paying customers out there, when it comes to these products. Once you’ve proven that people want it, get down and dirty into that demographic, and really milk it.
But one thing we’ve learned overall, especially dealing with new brands, startups, growing companies, is you have to spend a little money to learn. And I think a lot of people assume that these things don’t work. And I say, “Okay, well, what would you spend?” “Oh, about 100.” I’m like, “A 100 a day?” “No, a 100.” I’m like, “Well, you’re not gonna learn anything there.” You can’t go to the gym and do one curl and go, “Man, I don’t look like Arnold.” You have to work out and you have to do it. So I think that’s what we see as kind of the biggest mistake a lot of times.
And then on the other side of that is, “Oh, you spent 20 grand, and you didn’t get a sale?” Like, “What are you doing there, too?” So, you have to have people to know what they’re doing. Because the beauty of Facebook is it works. But the downside is it’s very easy to spend money. Hit it often and waste money.
[21:56] Indeed. So you expanded into some channels beyond Facebook, I think Instagram, Amazon, HSN. Tell us a little bit about that.
- Yes. So they’re going to be on HSN this month, which is hopefully going to be a great thing for them. It’s literally their pinpointing demographic.
[22:19] Let’s dive into that one a bit. How do you get on HSN? Is it a matter of just applying and you get on? I mean, is it easy? Is it hard? What’s it look like?
- Yes. So, it’s hard. It’s not snapping your fingers and getting on. But we happen to have a little bit of an in. My partner, Marc Portney is an all-star entrepreneur for HSN. Along with Daymond John and guys like that. So we have a little bit of an in. So when we have a product that we’re working with, that’s a good fit for the HSN crowd, which is 58 year old female, empty nester, then he can get it on air and this happens to be spot on for that.
So the normal way of getting on HSN. There’s a ton of—just the same way, there’s a ton of agencies, there’s a ton of people that will say, “Hey, give me a cut, and I’ll get you on HSN.” So we have a little bit of a different approach, just kind of a by nature of the beast with our connections with Marc. But yes, that’s how we got on.
We’ve had other products on there, we’re bringing on some others over the holiday season. We’ve expanded. After with Facebook, we’re doing Instagram, but the return is just not quite as fruitful for us. So again, we’re really focusing on Facebook, where we’ve kind of built in now a little bit of a marketing campaign. So we’re going that route, especially through the holiday season, now that they have thousands of customers, it’s allowing us to go back and have people gift the item for the holidays, etc.
So those are kind of our main channels along with Amazon. And the one thing we’ve seen is the Amazon page, or the Amazon account for Hurt Skurt was running for about three months prior to us launching our ads on Facebook. And when we did that, the lift on Amazon was glaring. I mean, very obvious. And what we’ve seen with other items is people see the ad on Facebook, then they Google Hurt Skurt. They go to Amazon because they can get it today from a drone on their front step.
So rather than buying through the website, they might go to Amazon. Luckily, they’re collecting all of that revenue, obviously once of a margin on Amazon. But we did see just kind of that lift on Amazon that, the ACOS, the cost of advertising on Amazon was decreasing. And their sales overall were increasing. And the guys running the Amazon think they’re geniuses but I think we have a little bit to do with that too.
[24:47] And to be clear, you’re not running Facebook ads that when you click through, they’re taking them to the Amazon listing. These folks are seeing the ad. They might not even be clicking the ad which would be great because then you don’t have to spend any money and they’re going to Amazon to search for the product. Checking out on Amazon.
So from an attribution perspective, that makes it really, really hard for you to accurately calculate ROAS on your Facebook campaigns, as well as accurately calculate ACOS on your ad campaigns. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with ROAS, Return On Ads Spend, ACOS, Advertising Cost Of Sales.
So have you figured out a way to get accurate attribution so you can really calculate the proper ROAS and ACOS? Or you just kind of like, well, that’s the nature of the beast? And we kind of, we have to deal with it.
- If anybody has figured it out, I will pay for that solution. Because I think we’re—until Amazon allows you to put that pixel in there and track directly, it’s very hard to equate. Aunt Suzy seeing this ad and then going on Amazon and buying it.
Let me correct, we are not driving ads towards Amazon, our job is to drive to their e-commerce storefront. And we, my, Posted Social is running the Amazon side of things as well. So we’re happy that Amazon is doing better. And as long as the top of this funnel is doing well, everybody’s doing good on the bottom.
But yes, that’s a conundrum, man. I mean, that’s a tough one is how do you really attribute this stuff? How do you measure that? And we haven’t been able to do that. But luckily, usually we’re managing both platforms. So we’re being rewarded on one side or the other, or both.
[26:33] So I don’t know if I have a solution to your problem. But I do have the tool that we are investigating because this is for running ads for our software company, Flowster. We are super anal about figuring it making sure that we have our attribution figured out.
And we’ve looked at a number of different solutions. from having a custom attribution dashboard built to something called Wicked Reports. And then more recently, and I thought we’re gonna go with him is a company called Sigmetrics. So if you haven’t heard of Sigmetrics, go, I would suggest you check them out. I don’t know if they solve this exact problem But attribution technologies have evolved quite a bit in the last few years. And it was surprising to me how especially cross platform or cross URL, even if clicks didn’t occur, how they were able to reasonably track, accurately track attribution. So you may want to check that out.
- Yes, thank you. That’s great.
[27:32] So before we wrap up today, in case there’s anyone listening who would actually like to buy this product, I know, I asked you to come equipped with a coupon code. So do you have a coupon code that we can put in our show notes?
- Yes, we will use “bright10,” “bright10” for 10% off. That’ll get you…
[27:51] Is that case sensitive or it doesn’t matter?
- Doesn’t matter. We’ll leave that running kind of indefinitely. No timeframe on that. Anybody listens now to hopefully eternity when this thing keeps running. They can go on there and buy that, “bright10”.
[28:04] All right. Well, Brian, thank you so much for being on the show. If anyone would like to get in touch with you. I guess the website is postedsocial.com Is that correct?
[28:26] All right. Well, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much for being here.
- Thank you, Trent. I appreciate it. And best of luck with everything.