Subscribe on your favorite listening app!

This week, JD interviews Brett Curry from OMG Commerce, a marketing agency that focuses on everything from SEO to YouTube. Brett explains his “fascination with what makes people respond”. Having grown into the ecommerce space in 2010, Brett and his team have a deep understanding of how to best help retailers market their stores, brands and vision to increase sales.

Brett: It’s going to be hard work to survive in the Amazon world.

Announcer: The biggest names in eCommerce. Hear tricks of the trade, from tools and software, to strategies and growth hacks. Learn from the best, and take your business to the next level.

JD: What are the actual tactical things that you’re doing to attract people?

Announcer: Now, your host, JD Crouse.

JD: Hello, and welcome back to eCommerce in the Trenches. This is JD Crouse. Today I’m excited to have Brett Curry on our podcast. Brett is with OMG Commerce. Welcome Brett.

Brett: Hey, JD. How’s it going man. Really excited to be here.

JD: It’s going great. Where you calling in from? Where are you at?

Brett: I am in Springfield, Missouri. Southwest corner of Missouri, about two and a half hours from KC. I always joke that it’s the eCommerce capital of Southwest Missouri, for whatever that’s worth. But yeah, we’re Springfield, MO.

JD: Nice. Do you have Lambert’s in Springfield?

Brett: Yes. I believe it’s the original … Maybe the original is in Sikeston. I don’t remember. It’s the home of the throwed rolls. You go to Lambert’s and there’s a guy or gal, walks around with this big cart of rolls. You hold your hand up and they’ll chuck it across the room to you. The place is packed. It holds like 200 people. You go on a Tuesday night, Wednesday night, it’s always packed. We go like once every couple of years. [crosstalk 00:01:33]

JD: Well, you’re a skinny guy. You’re too skinny to go there very often. You’re in really good shape. I just saw you a couple weeks ago in LA, at the Content of Commerce event, which I want to talk about. I love Lambert’s. I used to compete at Sikeston, Missouri, at the rodeo there. It would always be … It was like end of July, I think. Oh my God, it was hot in Sikeston. We would go to Lambert’s and there would be big old farmers in there with bib overalls, just chowing down. They totally do. You just holler, and they’ll throw a roll at you, and then they bring a big tub of molasses out, and a tub of honey, and just glop it on your wax paper, right in front of you. Then, fried potatoes with onions. You want to talk about just have a heart attack right there.

Brett: Exactly, exactly. It’s an experience, and you described it perfectly. I think holler is the right word, because that’s what people do, when they’re at Lambert’s. Everything is all you can eat. It’s just redneck insanity. Good tasting food.

JD: Good, that’s cool. I always like to get a taste of the local cuisine. I’ve definitely taken advantage of that. So, eCommerce in the Trenches, we talk about attracting, converting and retaining great customers. Tell me … I’m a client of yours. Bolder Band has been a client of OMG’s full disclosure, for I don’t know, a year, going on-

Brett: … yeah, a little more than a year. Thank you, by the way. It’s been awesome working with you guys. Love your brand.

JD: Yeah, thank you. I know a lot about what you guys do. Tell me a little bit about your origin story. How you have gotten to the place where you are today, doing what you do. Then, we’ll talk a little bit about what channels are working great right now for your different clients, attracting, converting and retaining.

Brett: I love it. Sounds good. I actually discovered a love for marketing while I was going to college. In college, got a job at a radio station with a guy that I knew from church. He put me in sales. I was like 20 years old at the time. Started selling radio ads. Fell in love with marketing. I changed my major to marketing at that point, and just kind of fell in love with the business. Did the only reasonable thing that college graduates do, I started an ad agency right out of college, with no guaranteed income. That’ll make your parents proud and scared at the same time.
Started this agency, which was craziness at 22 years old, mainly helping local businesses with TV, and radio, and print. I love marketing ideas. I loved marketing that worked. I kind of became a student of Jay Abraham, and Dan Kennedy, and some these direct response marketing experts. Really built an agency helping mainly local clients, and some outside of the area. Then in 2004, started doing some SEO, and really feel in love with search marketing, and just the impact that it had.
I guess it was about 2010, friend of mine, a guy that I’d done some business with in the past, Chris Brewer and I, we went to a Dan Kennedy conference together. We started talking about kind of spit balling ideas. We decided to launch this little project together, called Online Marketing Giant. We didn’t think very long or hard about that name. We just kind of threw it together. It took off, man. We sold like 70 people on this search optimization thing, within a few months. That’s while we were both running other companies. Then it just kind of took off. It kind of snowballed, so everybody called us OMG. Obviously much shorter, easier to say, and easy to remember.
Started doing more eCommerce work, and so launched the eCommerce division, which is OMG Commerce. We really crafted a focus on primarily search-driven advertising. SEO was kind of our first thing, but AdWords and Google Shopping, and Google Shopping has been a huge driver of business for us, but also success of our clients. That’s branched out into some other things that are related, like YouTube, and Google Display Network. That kind of combined our newer love for search over the last 10 years, or so, with some of the older stuff I was doing back in the creative days of running an agency.
Yeah, that’s kind of how it started. I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people respond. What headlines cause people to click, and buy. What ads cause people to take action. Then, I’m just kind of addicted to seeing the results. Seeing the conversions that come from a well crafted campaign. That’s kind of the quick story.

JD: Very cool. Help our listeners. Because I was thinking about this before we chatted, that in thinking, there’s a lot of talk today in the digital world online marketing, about a full funnel strategy. Top of funnel, mid funnel, bottom of funnel. Help people correlate my vernacular of attracting, converting, and retaining into kind of a full funnel language, if you will. Because I think that you’re a good one to ask about this because I think this is something that’s very top of mind, and something that you talk about a lot.

Brett: Yeah, absolutely. We love this topic. This gets me fired up. When I spoke at Content and Commerce, a few weeks ago now, that was the topic, building a full funnel dream team, as I like to call it. Campaigns that reach people at different stages of the shopping journey. Pull them through to conversion. There are different ways people define funnels. We hear funnels a lot in marketing. I’ll just talk about the way we look at it in this context.
We’re looking at shopping funnels. If you look at three main stages of the funnel, where at the top, the broadest, widest point of the funnel, that’s kind of the awareness phase. That’s when someone’s just beginning their research. Just beginning to consider, hey, what stroller do I want to buy? What iPhone case do I want to buy? What new laptop do I want to buy, whatever? They’re beginning to do their research, and just become aware of their options.
The middle stage is kind of this evaluation stage, where I’m doing some hardcore comparison. I’m maybe narrowing it down to two or three options. I’m looking at all the pros and cons, and the things like that. At the very bottom, it’s decision time. That’s where I’m going to get the wallet out, and I’m going to buy.
What we look at is, how do we effectively attract people at those different stages, with a message that resonates, and with system where we can attract people through the process. So, we look at the top of the funnel when someone’s just becoming aware, or just beginning to explore. They’re showing shopping intent, but they’re not ready to buy today. With that, we’re looking at kind of more generic search queries. We’re even looking at YouTube, and Google Display Network, where someone may be going to Google, or going into YouTube, as an example, and typing in, iPhone case reviews. I’m getting ready to buy the new iPhone. I want to see what case I want to buy. I’m just going to start watching videos. I’m going to watch the unboxing video of whatever. I’m looking to buy a mattress, and so I’m looking up best mattress for people over the age of 45, whatever. I’m starting just to research.
We want to reach someone there. Then through Google’s technology of building lists and pixeling people, we want to then follow those people. As they get more serious, we want to show them may be a YouTube ad, or something. Then as they get more serious, and now they’re typing in, well show me this particular … I’m looking for this size, and this material of mattress. Now I want to maybe show a Google Shopping ad to that person. Google Shopping does the product listing ads that has the image and price, and title. Now we’re going to show them a Google Shopping ad, and then if they visit our site, and they don’t purchase, now we’re going to re-market to them, and just try to start moving them through the funnel.
We primarily focus on Google traffic channels. We’re big believers in Facebook traffic, as well. We use a partner agency for that, but we’re looking at crafting, how do we reach people, cost effectively, at these different stages of the shopping funnel. Then continue to communicate with them until they convert. That’s kind of what we’re looking at. Then we also leer in there for repeat purchases, and for clients …
We had a big client out of Wisconsin, who sells coffee. They make amazing coffee. Then we look at, we build up these remarketing lists. People who have visited the site, and people that have purchased and things like that. We almost use that as an email list, where we say, hey okay, now the pumpkin spice coffee is being released. Let’s run ads and target all our buyers, and all our engaged visitors, and things like that. Almost use those lists in Google, almost like an email list. That’s kind of the quick rundown.

JD: Very cool. When you think about, and I think you alluded to it. First of all, for those of you who might not really clearly know the difference between PLA’s and Google Shopping, my understanding is that they are one in the same. Is that correct, Brett?

Brett: Yeah, they’re one in the same. Exactly. Google Shopping is more of the campaign type. Product Listing Ads are the ad units. Really, people use the terms interchangeable. I use the terms interchangeably because most people do. Google Shopping or Product Listing Ads are one in the same. Yeah.

JD: You’ve really become an expert in Google Shopping. That’s how I found you. You wrote a blog post that got published on Shopify, that was just a really great article explaining Google Shopping, explaining the opportunities on Google Shopping. It’s become a pretty big focus for you, hasn’t it?

Brett: Yeah. It’s been a huge focus. I was first introduced to it about 2012, right when it shifted from a free model to a pay to play model. Had a good friend of mine who sells tee-shirts. He kind of pulled me aside at an event and said, man, I’m doing the paid version of Google Shopping. I’m getting a 10X return. Anytime you hear something like that, your eyes light up, and you get really excited. After that, I dove in. I started experimenting. Started sharing with clients, like hey, let’s try this. Let’s see how it works. Then started test and learn. Yeah, we became very good at it. I found that it was one of those channels that worked pretty well if you just turned it on. Then if you really focused on it, if you looked at, how do we craft the perfect title? How do we craft the perfect segmentation in our campaigns? If we work a really good bidding strategy, then it could just blow up.
That’s when I wrote the Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping, that Shopify published, which I was super excited about. That’s been huge for our agency. We continue to focus on Google Shopping, because it’s what really converts. People that click on those Google Shopping Ads, those Product Listing Ads, they’re usually pretty serious shoppers. Doesn’t mean they’re going to buy today, but they’re pretty serious shoppers.
That’s often the core of this full frontal approach. We’re still running YouTube ads. We’re looking at text ads, and generic search, maybe even Google Display Network, but the core … Google Shopping is often what’s driving most of the conversions, at the end of the day. But, if you only focus on Google Shopping, let’s go back to that funnel analogy, you’ll have a really skinny funnel. Really skinny, not a very broad funnel. If you work in some of the other channels, you can expand that funnel. In the end, get more people converting, in total.

JD: When you’re talking about expanding the top end of that funnel, you’re just talking about getting more prospects introduced to your brand, in that awareness phase, in that attraction phase. Correct?

Brett: Yeah, exactly. What we’ve seen is … We’ve had some clients come to us and say, hey, we just want to do Google Shopping. We hear you can get 300% return on ad spend, up to 800% return on ad spend. We just want to do Google Shopping. We say, great. You can do that, and-

JD: Let me interrupt. I think that was me. I think that was. I think that was me. I’m for sure that guy. I’m like, hey, you’re the expert. You wrote the guide, The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping. I want to do just Google Shopping. Oh, by the way, I want a 500% return on ad spends.

Brett: Exactly. We still see that. Google Shopping is becoming more competitive, just like anything else. Facebook is getting more competitive. We’re still kind of seeing some new frontierish behavior on YouTube. YouTube can be super cheap if you do it the right way. Everything else is becoming more competitive, Google Shopping included. We’re still seeing good returns. We’re still seeing people that are getting great return on ad spend with Google Shopping, but it can be too narrow in its focus. Not every search query, so not every key word someone types into Google, returns a Google Shopping result.
Google decides when they show Google Shopping results, and when they don’t. It’s not quite as clear as with text ads, where you can tell Google, hey, we want to bid on this exact key word. With Google Shopping it’s more about crafting a feed, crafting a page, where Google crawls that and says, ahhh, this product, this Bolder Band product is all about an active headband, that type of thing. It can be too narrow. We’ve seen that happen several times where Google Shopping works well. It gets conversions. You got a decent return on ad spend, but you hit a ceiling at some point, where you’re getting the impressions you’re going to get. You’re getting the conversions you’re going to get. That’s where you need to look at feeding the top of the funnel. That’s where we look at, how do we get more people looking for you, specifically?
We’ll run a YouTube ad, where then someone going to Google and just typing in, iPhone case, now they’re typing in your brand name of iPhone case, because they want to see all of what you have to offer. They saw the YouTube ad. It was enough to make them look a little bit further. That’s what we see. We actually have … I use the iPhone case example, because we have a client that sells those, and screen protectors. We found after we did a … Actually, it wasn’t a huge YouTube campaign, but we found after we ran that, their brand campaign … The amount of people searching for them by name, went up 45%. Their conversions, and their brand campaigns, which everybody knows if you run a brand campaign, where you’re targeting your own name, in search, it converts crazy high. One of their campaigns had an 86% growth in conversion, from their brand campaign.
That was all fueled by this YouTube campaign, which is very top of funnel, which didn’t get direct conversions, because that’s not necessarily what it’s about. But, it led people to say, okay. I gotta find out what Tech Armor is all about. Then they searched more, and converted later.

JD: Brett, what type of client is an ideal client for Google, for you? I know that you have clients across all different verticals, all different kinds of industries. Obviously they’re all in eCommerce, but all different products that service different verticals. What is a great client, for you, that you can just really ramp up the spend, and can continue to get a great ROI for them?

Brett: That’s a great question. I think … Let me kind of frame the answer this way, where I’ll show regardless of what you sell, you should consider Google, at least to some degree. They’re going to be some people who maybe wouldn’t be an ideal client for us, but they should still consider Google. Where your product is maybe not all that search driven. We’ve had some clients that like a boutique clothing, as an example, where maybe their selling these really hip and trendy blouses, and jeans, and stuff like that. Where it’s kind of hard to describe them in a search. How am I going to describe this blouse, if I’m the shopper? I may not even know that it exists, so it’s even harder for me to search.
When those particular cases, often it’s easier to start with Facebook, kind of an awareness campaign, maybe YouTube, or something like that. Then, someone may start to search. But in those cases, we still recommend to people that, hey, you should probably set up at least your basic branded search campaign. Get a basic Google Shopping campaign going, because there will be people that’ll look for you by name, if they see you other places. My philosophy is you want to be anywhere your shoppers are. One thing we see all the time, is if someone has a presence on Amazon, if someone has a presence on Facebook, that’s going to lead to Google searches. Someone will see your product on Amazon, and think, what else do they offer? Or, they’ll see an ad on Facebook and wonder, now how do I actually buy that? And they’ll go to Google and search.
I think everybody should have a minimal presence with search and shopping. Everybody in eCommerce. The ideal client for us is someone who is a little more search friendly. Where someone is looking for hey, I want a silicone wedding ring. We got a client that sells those, and they’re doing amazingly well. Or, I’m looking for this type of alternator for my truck. Or, I’ve got a ’67 Chevy, and I want a new bumper. It’s something where you have a need. You’re likely going to and search for it.
Those are the most ideal clients, because then we can really expand. We can really grow that account for that person, because there’s usually a ton of upside, right in the middle of the funnel. Right in that heavy evaluation stage, where I know I need a 1967 Chevy bumper, so I’m just going to look for all the options. We can really grow search and shopping right there in the middle, where it converts a lot. But then we can also go upper funnel and start to look at, okay. Where can we identify people in YouTube, as an example, that they’re searching for restoration ideas for ’67 Chevy’s.
What I love about YouTube right now, is that you can target keywords. You can look at what someone is searching for in YouTube. I’m looking for a solution. I’m looking for ideas. I’m looking for how-to’s, whatever. You can target people based on that. We have a client that sells restoration parts. They do phenomenally well with Google traffic. That’s something, if a product is search friendly, than you can usually explode the middle of the funnel, but also attract people at the top of the funnel. It usually just works really well.
We also prefer someone who is kind of growth minded. Someone who’s really looking to push and expand. Also, someone who’s got a compelling brand. I know you were talking about this in your show with Cozy Earth. Is that the bamboo bedding company?

JD: Yes.

Brett: Love that interview, by the way, and phenomenal product. Building a brand and building something longterm, I think that is the key to longterm success in eCommerce. We had a group come to us one time who was just selling stuff they found on AliExpress. Finding something on AliExpress, throwing up a Shopify Store, and reselling it for … Marking it up 20 times, or something crazy. That’s not really … I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it. That’s not really sustainable. It doesn’t build a brand.
Someone who has a brand, has a compelling story. What’s your reason for existing? Why would I buy this bamboo bedding over just the stuff I could buy at the store? But then something that’s search friendly. Kind of that marrying of search friendliness with compelling brand and offer. That to me is a super winning combination for an eCommerce store. We can usually just blow those up.

JD: That’s awesome. Because of your background in SEO, and because we just got back. You spoke on stage at Content and Commerce, which you did a great job, by the way.

Brett: Thanks, man.

JD: Yeah, had a great crowd there, listening in and taking notes feverishly. I just can’t fully wrap my brain around the convergence. It’s getting through my thick skull, let me just put it that way. Being able to use content effectively, and that could be white papers, it could be tips, exercise tips, diet tips, sharing other blog posts that add value. It’s a plethora of things that we can do. Are you seeing clients that are able in that awareness phase, using key word laden posts, whether it be organically, or driving people via paid traffic, to a downloadable report, or tips, or even to a YouTube video, that adds a ton of value, that then you can re-target and get back in front of those people? Who’s doing the best? I know you might not be able to share the client name. But, are there best practices? Are there people in your client mix that is really doing a great job? If so, are there any tips that you could share with us, in that area?

Brett: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a great question. I love the convergence of Content in Commerce. It’s kind of the whole theme of that conference. I thought Russ Henneberry Team did a great job putting that together. I think you kind of have to look at who you are at your core. What business are you in? It’s one of those things where we’ve read articles. I think you and I even talked about it, several months ago. Some people that are doing content marketing, they’re doing multiple blog posts, a day. If you’re the Washington Post, or something, you’re doing hundreds of posts a day. You even hear some other people that are trying to monetize via physical products. They’re doing multiple posts a day.
We talk about man, is that what I need to do? Here I am. I’m selling these really awesome headbands for active women primarily. Or I’m selling these really affordable, functional, but really good screen protectors. Do I need to write a blog post, a day? And the answer is not necessarily right. It’s one of the ways that Russ Henneberry frames it, and I think it’s awesome, from Digital Marketer. Is that, are you a content first company? Or, are you a commerce first company? As an example, Digital Marketer owns Survival Life, which is primarily a content play first. They write all kinds of articles about, for prep er’s and survivalist’s and people like that, and then occasionally they’ll throw out, here, buy this cool knife, or buy this cool whatever, this cool flashlight, tactile flashlight. They’re really … All they’re traffic is based on the content first. Good content drives traffic, builds an audience, and then we sell them something.
There are other people, and I’ll use another good friend of mine, Ezra Firestone, as kind of an example. He and I are working on some training materials together. We run their YouTube Ads and Google Shopping Ads. But, he has some great content. Cindy Joseph who is kind of the face of Boom, which is a skincare line, for those that don’t know. She creates great video content. They’re active on social media. So, they’re doing content, for sure. One of the things they do is, they use what’s called a pre-sell engagement page. They’ve got this five makeup tips for older women. Then they target people over the age of 50. They send them to this pre-sell engagement page. Really just walks through five tips, and it talks about the materials, or the ingredients used in skincare. It’s very educational. It’s very helpful. It’s the ads, they get people to click initially, are really compelling.
The whole idea of that pre-sell engagement page, it isn’t that … Not that many people are going to click on that and buy immediately, but they get to that page. You can now pixel them. You can re-market to them through YouTube. Re-market to them on Facebook. Then get them to convert. You can look at it this way, where you can say, okay, I can’t be the company that creates a post a day. That’s going to kill me, and that sounds like torture, and I never want to do that. But, I can create one killer piece. One piece that would really set my brand apart. It would be educational. It would be something that people want to read. It’s addressing something that the market is hungry for. Like five tips, as you begin to age, and your skin changes. What should you do about makeup?
Then, focus on that. But then kind of tie things together. This goes back to the full funnel, where okay, if that’s at the top of the funnel, then we need to get targeted clicks. We need to get cheap clicks, at the top. We need to get some inexpensive, but yet targeted exposure. Get people to that page. Now we pixel them. We put them on re marketing lists, and we begin to show them ads as now they begin to shop in more earnest. That’s kind of the way I would look at it. Are you a commerce company first? Is it more about, we’ve got great products, and we’re a product company? Yes, we also want to educate and create a good experience. Or, are we kind of a publisher, kind of a media company that also sells products? My guess is probably most of the people listening to this are product companies first. They’re commerce first. I would focus more on, hey, let’s create some great pieces. You don’t need a ton of them, but what are some foundational pieces that set you apart, that you can drive traffic to? That people will link to and share, that also have some SEO benefit to them. Let’s focus on quality instead of quantity, and then we’ll grow from there.
One other quick thing I’ll share. Hopefully I’m not getting too long winded here. One of the things we did as we launch OMG Commerce, so our eCommerce division of OMG, I wanted to grow SEO as quick as I could. I knew that I could create our own blog, and write on omgcommerce.com, but man, that takes so much effort to get people to show up. When I first turned the site on we had exactly zero visitors. I had to grow that. I thought, man, why don’t I just partner with everybody that has the ear of my clients? So, Search Engine Journal, SEMrush, and ultimately Shopify. Shopify took a little bit longer.
I just worked on, let me create a handful of really good pieces, that these groups will publish. Then when they publish it, they promote it, they’ve got the audience, and it links back to our site. We went from a zero domaine authority to really pretty high. It’s kind of fun to watch. Just because we created great content, shared it with the right people that had the ear and the attention of our audience. Then started to grow that way. Now we’re beginning to … We got the podcast. We’re also going to start launching our own articles on own site, because now we’ve got built-in traffic. I think it’s identifying who you are, and then what are your goals with the content. Does that make sense?

JD: Yeah, it makes total sense. I love it. How long did it take for you to get published on SEMrush and some of those other sites that ended up driving traffic back to your site?

Brett: It’s a great questions. You know what’s really interesting, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this too? Even the online community, even the eCommerce community is still driven by relationships to a certain degree. You notice, every single one of those started with some kind of relationship. The Search Engine Journal, I knew another guy who was published, and he kind of put in a good word for me. Then I worked really hard, and created a compelling, pretty good piece. Submitted it to them, they loved it. With Shopify, that actually, I was on a good friend of mine’s podcast, Austin Brawner and Chad Vanags, the eCommerce Influence Podcast. This was like two years ago, maybe. Was on their podcast, and one of the directors of marketing for Shopify was listening, and they reached out to me. They said, hey, we’ve been thinking about Google Shopping. Been thinking about a guy, you mentioned you’re working on one. Let’s collaborate.
That was pretty cool. That ended up then taking a year, from there, from that initial contact to get it done. But, that’s the way it goes in bigger companies. I think it is about relationships. It’s about being strategic. It’s about putting in the work, too. It’s about grinding. I did an interview with a friend of mine, Steven Sashen from Xero Shoes. He talked about when he was trying to get on Shark Tank and they did successfully get on Shark Tank. He sent emails, and he created a video. He was just like relentless in trying to get the ear of the people who chose who goes on that shoe. I think that’s part of it too. You gotta hustle, and build real relationships, too.

JD: It’s funny. When I was interviewing Halfdan Hansen of Jens Hansen, earlier in the week. He’s out of New Zealand. Yens Hansen, his father actually made with his hands, in 1999, he got commissioned to make the one ring of the Lord of the Rings.

Brett: No way.

JD: Yeah. They’re a jeweler, and they have a physical store. They’ve been in business … I think the store’s been open since ’77, but his father was making jewelry since 1960. Got a scholarship from the Queen of New Zealand. He was very acclaimed, very talented jeweler. Halfdan and I were talking. Often times, people want to get into eCommerce to get away from employees, and coworkers, and bosses. Often times they think that they can get away from customers. We were just talking that the most successful eCommerce brands are those that don’t hide behind a monitor. That actually pick up the phone. That have real people on live chat, on their store. That genuinely want to resolve issues. Because, I don’t care how good you are, there’s always going to be issues, whether you messed up, or the post office messed up, or UPS messed up, or your supplier messed up. We’re always apologizing and trying to make things right, if you care.
Not to go off on a big rant, but it’s one of my frustrations with Amazon. And I do want to talk to you about running Amazon ads. Amazon has positioned itself to be the company for the consumer. Although in a lot of ways they are, the reality is, for the merchant that is trying to sell on Amazon, they actually make it very difficult to be about the consumer. They just handle the customer support piece and they don’t allow merchants really to engage with the consumer, and truly make sure that they’re happy, especially in the physical product space, which is all they really sell other than digital downloads and videos.
To be good at eCommerce, you really need to stand behind your brand. You actually need to work with people. If you’re going to get any size, have any size of revenue, you’re going to have employees. Shocker. You want employees. You don’t want to do all this stuff yourself.

Brett: Absolutely not. Yeah, you want that scale. You want to find people that are better than you, at certain tasks, to take care of customers. I’m always amazed. I don’t know why because it happens so much. I shouldn’t be shocked or amazed anymore. People that approach eCommerce as if it’s not a real business, or as if real business principles don’t apply. I can take short cuts. I can work really short hours. I don’t have to answer emails. Really it all comes down to customer service and relationships, and doing the right thing, and being available. Even for products that are not huge ticket items. Like skincare as an example. If you can offer chat. If you offer phone support. If you connect with your customers, you can sell so much more.
That’s why I think in the future, it’s going to be brands. It’s going to be people that build a community. It’s going to be hard work to survive in the Amazon world, if you want to have some channels outside of Amazon. You’re going to have to work and be really customer centric and customer focused. Create these great experiences, both from an educational standpoint and a shopping experience. You’re not going to be able to compete with Amazon based on low prices, or faster delivery, but you can create better content, and curation of really unique products, and education. Really connecting with the customer through chat and phone, and all the ways. It’s harder to connect with Amazon through some of those channels. Got a treat it like a real business, no doubt.

JD: Something I want to just touch on because I think it’s applicable. I’m starting to read a book called, Deep Work, by Cal Newport. He actually had a TedX talk. If anybody hasn’t watched it, you ought to. Are you familiar with this book or this author?

Brett: I’m not. You said, Deep Work?

JD: It’s called Deep Work. When you wrote The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping, and when you said that you just hunkered down, and really did a good job writing for SEMrush and Search Engine Journal, and then ultimately Shopify … I’m sure you’re continuing to publish articles and things.

Brett: I am.

JD: Talk to me about your process, because the … I think I know. I’m kind of leading you a little bit. Just tell me about how you produced that content, and really come up with a well written, in depth, researched piece.

Brett: Yeah, that’s great. I enjoy writing so that helps. Now, because I’m so busy, because I’m the COO of the company, and running the company, and working on staffing decisions, and training, and speaking, and all kinds of stuff, I get crunched for time. That makes it harder because writing man, it’s creative work. You gotta be focused. It does take some energy and some attention. I like to often start with a headline first. The reason I do that is because I want to be able to say, what problem am I answering? What solution am I presenting? What’s this burning need or desire? What’s a question someone’s got in their mind that they’re either actively asking, or that they don’t even know that they’re asking, but as soon as they hear it, it’s going to resonate?
That’s kind of like with the full funnel approach and how last click attribute is all wrong, which we can get into later if we have time. That stuff really resonates with people. Even if they weren’t maybe consciously asking the question. Often, I like to start with a headline, because that’s going help shape and focus everything else. Then from there, it’s more about an outline for me. I think about, okay, I’m talking about Google Shopping. Should I create a list, because people like lists? People like five tips, five problems, five things to avoid, whatever. Can I create a list of really compelling items? I go from headline to outline, and kind of filling that out. I’ll just begin to work my way through it.
Then as I’ve got the outline, I start banging out the content. I think, for me what works well is, I’ll go almost stream of consciousness, where if I’ve got bullet point one for, what are some Amazon Ad mistakes people make. First one is they’re lazy keyword strategies. Write that sub headline, then I’ll start cranking out the content. Just stream of consciousness. Then, I’ll go back and edit and make it shorter, clearer, punchier, easy to digest. I think that process works pretty well. I go from headline to outline, to content, and usually I have a few people in the office read it. I say, hey read this for content. Don’t read it for grammar yet. We’ll do that later. Read for content. Does this put you to sleep? Does this excite you? Is it clear? Is it compelling?
I get that feedback and then after that’s kind of cleared up, we got a couple of people that are gifted at editing, will find all my mini, mini grammar mistakes, which I’m terrible at. I don’t see them either. I have someone edit from there, and that’s kind of what that looks like. Also, then in the outlines stage, when I’m doing the outline stage, that’s when I’m also going to be looking for, okay, what quotes can I use from people? What tidbits from other articles? What screenshots can I put in there? With the outline, I start to assemble what’s this other data that I need to put in there? I don’t want it to just be my opinion. I want to have some other hard data in there, then I go through the rest of that process.

JD: It’s hard work though, right? You being bombarded. People trying to come in your office. They’re trying to text you. They’re trying to Tweet you. They’re trying to Facebook message you. Try to call you. Just shutting off all that, even to get a couple hours of dedicated focus, it’s hard work.

Brett: It’s really hard. You have to fight for it. For me anyway, it’s pretty rewarding. I just created a piece about Amazon Ads. When I got done, I was pretty fired up. I was like, hey, I think this piece is going to do all right. I was going back and forth with my Amazon specialist. He’s loving it. I got kind of charge out of that. Yeah, fighting for the time. If you don’t fight for the time, it’s not going to happen. Skype’s blowing up all the time. Emails are coming in constantly. For me, it’s a couple of hours. It takes a couple hours of focused energy. Or with the Guide, that took a couple of months. Just focused time.
Following a process, I think beginning to trust the process. I think one thing that’s intimidating about writing is people go from, they try to go from blank page to finished work in one step. That doesn’t happen. Trust the process. Take the steps. Eventually, you’ll have a pretty solid piece.

JD: Very cool. This could be applicable for a blog post, for a white paper, for all of these things that we’ve talked about. It could even be the script or the outline for an educational video, depending on what your niche is. It seems like you’ve got this nailed. I know that you been in the GKIC Dan Kennedy world, and Jay Abraham. Are there any particular resources that you have run across that have just really solidified this process that you can trust now, for creating this great content?

Brett: Man, that’s a good question. I did some copywriting courses back in the day. To be totally transparent, I don’t consume a lot of how to content, how to create content. I don’t really consume that much anymore. I kind of know the process pretty well. I know my voice that I want to use. Now, it’s more about listening. Listening to the customer and what’s interesting, what’s pressing. Like with the full funnel idea, how do we create these full funnel resources for people to consume?
For someone getting started, I know Copy Blogger is really good. If you study direct response marketing, where the whole goal of the ad is to get somebody to take response, I love that angle, because I think it teaches you about the emotion that’s evoked as you’re writing. How to tap into that. I think for the most part, if you can write more like you’re writing a sales page, rather than just an educational piece. Don’t get the term paper language. This is just my opinion. Don’t write like you’re writing a term paper for school, because that usually going to feel and sound boring. Even if your goal is not to close, or make a hard sale right now, still use some of those principles of evoking emotion, and speaking to benefit, getting to the core of an issue with your writing. That’s really important.
There’s a Dan Kennedy book, it’s dated now, but still good. It’s called, The Ultimate Sales Letter. That really goes through some really good writing principles. There’s a great old book. I was just talking to somebody else about this the other day, and I don’t remember why. Scientific Advertising Methods, I believe, by John Caples.

JD: Yeah, that’s old time.

Brett: Old book, fascinating. This is one of the books, I fell in love with marketing because I read this book. He would test headlines. He would show, this is back in the coupon days, where they had to just measure the number of coupons that came into the store. Changing one headline versus another headline, and getting like a 1900% increase in response. Rest of the ad was identical, just a different headline, 19 times the response. Stuff like that, that made my head explode. I was just fascinated by good marketing.
I would look at some of those pieces. Then also to kind of maybe take the edge off a little bit, you don’t have to be that good of a writer, right. I still click on articles that are posted on Ink, or they’re posted on Fast Company. I think to myself, this isn’t that great of a piece. It’s not like this masterful, I’m feeling all these emotions and I’m super excited, but it was educational. The five bullet points were good, and I walked away, and I enjoyed it. Learn some of these writing principles, but you don’t have to become … Not every piece has to be a masterpiece.

JD: That’s good. Brett, what’s the worst mistake you’ve made in business?

Brett: That’s a good one. That’s a good one. You mentioned that you were going to ask that. I was hoping you were going to ask me that. Really great question. I think the thing that we did a decent amount in the beginning, and this was a big mistake, is we tried to do too much. I enjoy chaos, a little bit. Maybe that’s why I have so many children.

JD: Yeah, how many kids do you have, like eight?

Brett: We do. My wife and I have eight kids. Eight kids.

JD: That’s awesome.

Brett: Was not necessarily the goal. We were always thinking four or five. We were thinking pretty big family, and then we just overachieved, man. We have eight kids, so it’s chaos at home, and I run a business. That can be chaotic. I do like being busy. If things are slow, and I get bored, I’m not at my best. I don’t function well there. In the beginning, my business partner and I, we thought, we’re smart marketing guys. We can figure out anything. You need landing page copy? We’ll write your landing page copy. You need a new website design? We’ll design the whole thing. We’ll find developers. We’ll pull them in, and develop. You need, whatever. Anything marketing related, we’ll do it all.
We really started to find that man, we’re being pulled in a million different directions. We’re not able to be great at all of this. We found that we’re really good at search. Search and driving targeted traffic, we can crush that. So we started to get rid of some of those other things. We stopped website design. We even stopped copywriting. I enjoyed writing copy, but I really only write copy for me. I don’t do well writing for other people. We really just started focusing on, this is what we’re really good at, and we’re going to grow it. We’re going to build a team around it. And then the team is going to be focused.
I think you also have to be open to what’s next and how is your industry evolving. Man, the agency world is really evolving. But, I still think you have to focus. There’s power in focusing. I think if you look at eCommerce brand, you see the same thing. Bonobos started with just really great khakis. We’re going to make these awesome khakis that men love, and then we’ll expand from there. For us, it was let’s cut all this other stuff that we’re really, to be honest, pretty mediocre at.
Let’s do the things that we can be world class at. Then, as our agency was growing, now we’re able to add more capability. We so great at search and shopping, and then we were like hey, because of our background, we know video pretty well. If we bring in some good video creative people, then we can crush these video campaigns as well. Then it makes sense. You can go to your core. Go to what you’re really good, and then look at expanding when you’re healthy enough to expand. When you got the team to expand, and look at it that way. For us, it was really a focus issue. That was our biggest mistake in the early days.

JD: Nice, very good. We’re not going to have time to talk about your Amazon footprint, and what you guys do there, but for our benefit, do you have the Amazon piece published yet, on your site?

Brett: It is not published yet, but it will be coming soon. It’s going to be something along the lines of three biggest Amazon sponsored product ad mistakes to avoid. That’s a super long title, so we’re still working on that. It’s basically the three biggest mistakes we see over and over again, with sponsor product ads. Yeah, be looking for that. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s live. I’ll Tweet it out and share, and stuff like that. It will be forth coming in the next few weeks, probably.

JD: Okay, great. I want to ask you a couple more questions, but before we do, where can people learn more about you? Where can they connect with you?

Brett: Best place is to go to OMGcommerce.com. You can kind of check everything out there. I am on Linkedin, of course. Somewhat active on Twitter. I’m getting better there. I kind of took a hiatus for about a year and a half, or so, but I’m back on Twitter. That’s @brettcurry on Twitter. OMGcommerce.com is the best place to go.

JD: And there’s two t’s in Brett. If you could give somebody, an entrepreneur advice on the one thing … I think I might know where you’re going to go with it, but one thing that would increase your likelihood of probability of longterm success, what would that be?

Brett: I love this question, too. I don’t want to give the exact same answer that I gave before. I do think that focus is a big part of it. You’ve got to focus on what you can be world class at. I think the other thing, and this is something that as entrepreneurs, we’re often bad at. I think you have to enjoy the journey. You have to enjoy the climb. I was listening to Gary Vee, who I really respect. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I like his energy and some of his perspective. But he talked about, he loves the climb. He loves the challenge, the day in, day in challenge of, how do I grow this company? How do I grow this brand? I think in business and in life, you have to enjoy the process. You have to enjoy the journey, so to speak. I like the climb better, because I think that more accurately describes it. It’s work, man. It’s work. You gotta put your heart and soul into it. It takes energy. It takes effort and focus, or else you’re going fall, to use this climbing metaphor.
I have to remind myself of that pretty frequently. I think as business owners we get so focused on, here’s where I’m trying to get, so this is my end goal. I want to be at five million or 10 million, or 20 million in revenue, what ever the case may be. That that’s all we think about. I’m a huge believer in goals. I’m a huge believer in stretch goals. We have to do it. But, I think we also have to enjoy the grind. We have to enjoy today. How am I’m going to … I’m going to get up. I’m going to go through my writing process, and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to work with my team, and I’m going to enjoy that.
I think this sometimes happens with parents, as well. I do this. I’ve had some older and wiser people counsel me here. We think sometimes, man, if I could just get through the diaper stage, which we’ve been changing diapers for 15 years. If I could just get through the diaper stage, and it will all be okay. Then we realize, well actually teenagers are maybe even a little bit harder, than kiddos that are in diapers. Beginning to enjoy today, right. Have these goals. Be relentless about those goals, but also enjoy the process, and enjoy the climb. What we get to do as entrepreneurs, it’s pretty cool. It’s hard work. It takes all of us. It takes everything we’ve got, but it’s also pretty fun. The challenge, we should get excited about the challenge. I think in addition to focus, its you’ve got to enjoy the climb and the process.

JD: I just had a conversation with my uncle today. He’s like an older brother, or another father. He’s just somebody that I so respect. When I got off the call, he’s going through some health challenges right now. I told my wife, I said, you know what? It’s … So, the couple things that has come out of our conversation today Brett, that makes me reflect on my call with my uncle, and it’s just how important relationships are. Not only do we have to enjoy the climb, which I love that analogy, because yeah, it’s a journey. But, a journey feels like I’m just wandering in the wilderness, which sometimes in business, that’s what it feels like. But the climb, I love that. It is much better, so thank you for sharing that with me. Enjoy the people you’re with. Like, really be present. That’s your kids, in every stage, because we got three kids, not eight.

Brett: Three’s a lot. It’s busy, it’s still busy.

JD: Enjoy the relationships. Enjoy … And I have a hard time being present. I think about the future a lot. I’m always fighting with myself to get back and enjoy today. Just be in the moment. Be present, and enjoy the climb. Man, thank you so much for imparting these nuggets of wisdom. I will tell you, there’s a lot of people that I’ve talked to. There’s actually a lot of people that are very talented in managing Google campaigns and things. If you like to work with good people that are good Midwestern, salt of the earth type of people, I would just encourage you listening, to just connect with Brett and his team. Whether they can help you or not, they’ll tell you. I appreciate that. I really enjoyed our conversation. We could talk a lot about Amazon. We could talk a lot about Google Display, GDN, but I think this has been just a good comprehensive conversation just about all the different stages of the funnel. Attracting, converting and retaining, remarketing, and all these different things. Check out Brett, OMGcommerce. That’s O-M as in Mary-G commerce.com. Brett man, I appreciate you. Thanks for being on today.

Brett: Yeah, JD. Awesome job as host. This was a ton of fun, man. We covered some traffic stuff, some business philosophy stuff. I had a blast. It was a good time.

JD: Very cool. All right. Share and Like rate our podcast, if you would please. Until next time, again, JD Crouse, eCommerce in the Trenches. Thanks Brett.

Brett: Thanks, JD.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to eCommerce in the Trenches. Brought to you by Unific. Visit unific.com to start turning your receipts into revenue through highly segmented order campaigns and more.