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The theme of our 2023 Holiday strategy: Your Black Friday/Cyber Monday outcome depends on the foundation you set in August.

In this episode, Taylor and Richard break down the decisions you need to make right now to set yourself up for holiday success, from inventory planning to creative volume to revenue forecasting.

⁠Show Notes:
  • If you’re a 130+ GQ brand between $10-$100M, we’re so confident that we can win for you that we’re willing to give you a free month. Just click here to start the application process.
  • The Ecommerce Playbook mailbag is open — email us at to ask us any questions you might have about the world of ecomm

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Hey everyone, the time to nail down your Q4 strategy is right now, and CTC wants to help. So if your brand is doing 10-100 million in annual e-commerce revenue, and we measure its growth quotient score at 130 or more, we're so confident that we can win for you this holiday season that your first month with us be absolutely free.

So just head over to, and click the hire us button to get started. Let us know in the contact form that you wanna be evaluated and we'll be in touch.

[00:00:29] Richard Gaffin: Hey folks. Welcome to the E-Commerce Playbook Podcast. I'm your host, Richard Gaffin, director of Digital Product Strategy here at Common Thread Collective, and I'm joined today again, he's back in the office, there may still be construction, but our CEO Taylor Holiday is with me today. Taylor, how you doing?

[00:00:45] Taylor Holiday: Good. How are you Richard? I think we both got haircuts 'cause your Carmi is either it's matted down or you've cut it down, one of the two.

[00:00:52] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, no, I, decided to finally give up on it because I Googled how you get his hair. This is of course, Carmi the lead character from the show, The Bear, and it's like a 5, 6, 7 step process. And I just don't have … I say I don't have time, but really, I just don't have the talent to do it, so.

[00:01:10] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, it's funny. It's funny that we both carried the long hair through the summer and then as we head into the winter, we decided to, to shave it. We're a little off season.

[00:01:18] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, I dunno. In Portland's today it's gonna be like 110 degrees. So I dunno, the seasons are off season these days, so I might as well trim down.

But anyway, Taylor, so, today we're talking, about Q4. Of course, if you joined us last week, we, I sat down with our Director of Growth Strategy, Luke Austin, to talk through what our Q4 strategy for our clients is going to be, what it's gonna look like.

It's gonna take the same basic shape. And so that kind of raises the question as we were sort of talking before we got on the mics here. Why do we talk so much about Q4 in Q3? And I think the, the quick answer to that question is there's a number of decisions that have to be made in Q3 that'll dramatically affect the way that your Q4 plays out.

So we're gonna talk a little bit about. Not only the whys, but also the how. The strategy, or rather, I guess I would frame it as like the forecasting strategy that we put into place for our clients that we currently are putting into place with something called the growth map that is gonna prep them for Q4 and beyond.

So maybe we'll start Taylor by talking a little bit about. That first point. Why do we talk so much about Q4 in Q3 and what are the things, the reasons that you need to shift focus from the day to day of making it in August in order to think about what Q4 is gonna look like?

[00:02:33] Taylor Holiday: E-commerce moves at these different rhythms where there are certain decisions that get made on really broad time horizons. And one of those in particular is inventory purchasing. So we are now, let's see, it's August 16th as we're recording today. So September, October, November, December, five months out.

Roughly four and a half months out from peak season for everybody, and depending on your product and the time, the production timeline that you work off of, you are going to be making likely the largest inventory purchase decision of your year in this moment right now. And to do that well, you have to have a clear point of view on what you expect to happen in that moment.

To maximize it and not create real cash risk as you head into what is likely your downtime for many brands in January. So if you, if you overestimate this and you're sitting on a bunch of inventory, you could put yourself in a really difficult cash position as you head into your down period. And so making a great decision right now about what's gonna happen in Q4 is a critical moment in the year.

Cool. So as we think about this, a lot of times there's clear things that go into understanding that, and part of it is all the strategic creative planning, all the media buying and budget allocation that, and stuff that Luke talked about last week. But there's also very, a very tactical. Financial process that has to connect between those marketing efforts and this inventory decision making.

And that's, that's where I think there's an interesting conversation to be had about CTCs growth mapping process and why right now is a really critical moment to stop and consider your forecast and how you're doing it, and to get as many eyeballs as you can. Onto this decision. You know, a lot of people think about January as the most important forecasting moment of the year, but I would actually contend that the moment before your largest inventory purchase is actually the most important forecasting moment of the year.

And I think for many people that's right now,

[00:04:32] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, no, that makes sense. And so that, that segues nicely into a, a, a quick segment of defend that tweet. So this is August 15th, so that was yesterday. As this is being recorded, recorded, you had a thread on the growth mapping process and you. Ended that thread with the idea that this growth mapping system, you say there's no better system.

I have seen for connecting the dots between marketing and finance inside a D two C business. If you're interested in leveling up your organizational planning, I would love to share the system with you. So we're gonna do a little bit of that today, sharing the system with you. But let's, let's get into that.

So if the idea is, One of the most crucial decisions you can make for Q4 now is inventory planning. Obviously, forecasting volume is gonna be the most important part of that. So how does our growth mapping system help with that? And how have we used it for real clients or how are we using it?

[00:05:23] Taylor Holiday: So in e-commerce, there's a world called ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning that sits as the systemic bridge between operations and finance. Usually it's where you're doing a, the job of reconciling the specificity of your cost of goods against the order volume. And inventory management and things like that.

But what I've seen as a major gap that we're trying to stand in is the bridge between marketing and finance. The connective tissue that ties together the marketing efforts with the financial plan. I. And that's what I think the CTC growth map does better than anything else I've seen is to be that connective tissue between those two parts of the organization that ultimately inform the operational planning side of it as well.

And it's because I believe that the leading domino actually to your forecast is not data models. It's qualitative, it's the marketing calendar. And I think this is the underappreciated part, is that everyone wants to start with the modeling trends of revenue over time, but. The reality is, is that a data model is only useful when the past is like the future or when the future is like the past.

Meaning when you replicate the same initiatives in a given period of time that you did last year, then comping those periods to each other are useful. But if you ran a big promotion last year for Labor Day and you're not this year, then those data comparisons are useless. They're useless. And so before you begin the forecast, you have to start the marketing calendar.

And this idea of tying together qualitative thought work around quantitative modeling is what I think where CTC uniquely sets. And this is where us as operators and marketers bring to bear something really unique, which is that we built a system, the growth map that starts in the marketing calendar and combines great data science around retention modeling and looking at your existing customer curves and spending CAC modeling with a consideration for the financial cost of the business.

But then layers on the activations and plans that you have as a marketing team, what the expected outcome of those are to then even future to do even more work around predicting accurately the future and then the system that comes alongside it. Because the other thing you'll hear me say often is that forecasting is an exercise in execution as much as it is in planning.

And so we have to, not only do we have to do a great job of building a plan for the future, but then we have to execute against that plan rigorously. And the way you do that is by getting clear on all of the inputs and the expectation of them every day so that the second you deviate off course, you know how to course correct.

So all of that tied together, qualitative planning, daily consideration of the inputs, understanding of all the costs tied together into a single process that allows you to best predict the future of your business is what I think we've created.

[00:08:01] Richard Gaffin: makes sense. So maybe we can take a quick peek under the hood then Let's, let's talk about.

[00:08:05] Taylor Holiday: Let's talk

[00:08:06] Richard Gaffin: You know, you mentioned qualitative and quantitative and tying those two things together, which is really difficult. So how does the growth map do that? Practically speaking?

[00:08:14] Taylor Holiday: So I'm gonna share my screen for those of you on YouTube and I'll do my best to talk through it while I'm doing that as well.

So a growth map inside of CTC is a, basically a giant spreadsheet that combines data connection into the stats database, automatic scripting, and a bunch of really cool stuff to ultimately get down to a p and l level forecast.

For our business where you can see your anticipated profit. This is Bambu Earth. We're very transparent with the business. This is the anticipated financial outcome for our business for this year all the way through every month. And what's beautiful about this is that it's a combination of actualized data.

So every day we port in what's actually occurred and it updates the model as we go. So this is, this is never gonna be a fixed thing. This is not a budget. This is a real time expectation of the performance of your business against targets and. Those targets get locked at various points, but what's really important is that this combines multiple layers, like I mentioned.

So you have data science that's informing a prediction of future customer cohorts. So you have a cohort specific L T V model that's allowing us to make predictions about the future of your existing customer revenue, which is the foundation. Of the brand. So we look at every cohort curve, so this is Bambu Earth's cohort level data.

You can see every month how many purchases have those customers have made over the subsequent lifetime of their brand. We look at the curve of each of those cohorts, and then we do a regression analysis to build a predictive model of the future of your cohorts, okay? That show up in these gray numbers here, so that black is actualized and gray is predicted.

To predict your existing customer revenue. Okay, so that's the first part. Then on the new customer acquisition side, we have an anticipated budget and anticipated financial efficiency of acquisition for new customer revenue. You can see a MER here, weighted CAC here, channel specific expectations on all these things that's built from a spending CAC model that informs those expectations at the different volumes that we have.

So all of that is great data science around what we should expect in the event that the past is like the future. Now we start from that baseline assumption. It's an important place to get to, but every month our team is coming in and doing a qualitative level of work based on what they know to be true about the marketing calendar.

The marketing calendar allows us to ask questions about what is going to occur in the business in that period of time and how it changes the expectations, and then we can make manual adjustments. So I'll give you an example of how this happens. Okay, so I know there's a lot here on the spreadsheet, but if you look in August of last year, August is generally a down month for Bambu Earth, and one of the ways that we offset that seasonally is it's one of the only times we run one of our sales.

So we create one of our peaks in a naturally depressed moment. We're trying to offset that depressed environment. And so you'll look and if you look at August of 2022, you'll see that returning orders for Bambu Earth. They go like this, 2,400 in January, 2,700 in February, 3000 in March, 3000 in April, 3,400 in May, 3,500 in July 30 or June 3,800 in July. Then 4,700 in August.

A big bump. The cohort seems to outperform every other month, but it's because we run a big sale on our core product. It's a 20% off I H C C and it, it creates that big jump in the performance of our existing customers. So, The model may or may not account for that. In this case, we do consider seasonality.

So as long as I'm going to replicate that expectation. I can assume that this big jump in returning orders is gonna be true, that it's gonna go from 58 to 7,200 in my returning customer revenue, but if I wasn't running that sale, I would have to make that manual adjustment down 'cause that seasonality is no longer the case.

And sales for Bambu Earth are sort of planned relative to our new customer acquisition. If we're really killing it on new customer acquisition, we might decide not to do it. But for now, it's still in there. So we leave that number. But the point is, is that I could override that. Let's say I wasn't doing it, and this is where the qualitative planning comes in.

I could say, you know what? I actually think this is gonna be closer to a normal month, which is gonna be closer to 5,900, and it's going to adjust all the inputs according. Okay? So that's where your qualitative planning related to the marketing calendar informs the expectation of the inputs. And so our growth strategists every month are coming in and layering in.

That level of expectation based on what they're seeing. We might even, like if DTCCI was like really bad, we might depress the efficiency of acquisition. Like there's lots of considerations for the environment, for other things that the model may or may not have as an input. So that's the qualitative piece that I think I'm just gonna stop there and, and consider.

[00:13:01] Richard Gaffin: No, and I, and I think that this is also like a, a good example you mentioned the the August cohort cohorts, relatively large size is of course, just because you're running a sale in August, and I think it's like a good reminder that. Forecasting or I think the danger people fall into with forecasting is thinking that it's like forecasting the weather or forecasting some sort of like force of nature or thinking of market forces that way.

When in fact it's like, no, this thing happened because you made it happen and this is, and to you. You know, whether or not you do it

[00:13:32] Taylor Holiday: to recreate Yeah. You have to, you have to go recreate it again. Or if you don't, you have to make an adjustment to the expectation of the model. Right. And that's, that's really, when I talk about the qualitative piece, this is exactly what I mean is that you.

Have an input here as a, that is behavior. And the behavior, how many emails you send, how good your ads are. They all have some impact on the outcome. And that's why, again, this is what, what I get to, once I even have the general parameters, is now I get to a set of daily input. That like if I go back and look at June for, for Bambu or July, sorry for Bambu Earth, I'm now looking in stat list.

Okay, so now you can see stat lists. So what happens is once I get to those levels of expectation, We're able to create a daily expectation of revenue, spend, contribution, margin, et cetera.

That allows us to track how we're progressing across all 27 of these metrics. So everything from contribution margin, revenue, ad spend, aMER, returning customer revenue, new customer revenue, organic revenue, paid channel, specific performance. Every one of these metrics has have an expectation every day.

We can see that expectation in this graph that allows us to get sort of a visual of the spend expectation over time and how it actually comes out. So that we know exactly where we're off course and when we're off course, what we can do about it. Because the key to this process, to your point, is that I have behavioral inputs every day that can alter the course of where we're headed, sometimes for the worst and sometimes for the better.

But the quicker I can identify that I'm either ahead or behind of my expectation, I can change my behavior to meet it. And what I'll say is that like oftentimes what I see is like, and this, this happens to us in Bambu Earth regularly. In fact, this month I'll even. Look, I'll go full kimono here this month.

We are behind meaningfully to our expectation because we are not getting the volume that we anticipated on Facebook early on, and I've been pressing Dave and team about this is that like we are not reacting fast enough early in the months to these deficits, right? And when that happens, you have to respond quickly, otherwise you get into a hole that you can't recover from.

So you have a set of actions to take to make the forecast, right? Right.

You have to work to make it work. And I think this process of like, okay, really good qualitative planning that sets up a general direction into a set of daily inputs, into a set of corresponding behaviors is really what we have to get to.

Now, along this we gotta make a purchase decision. So I think step one is like, You, how much do you believe in your model and how helpful would it be to get another point of view with great data science to accurately forecast your revenue going into Q4? That's what we can help with, and we can do this in a way that I, I wanna be clear too that c D C is really trying to continue to position itself where we don't just have to be the doer, like we want to come alongside in-house teams and people that have no interest in outsourcing the actual work to a partner.

No problem. But let us leverage what we have, which is great data and context and tooling to support you in the process in your in-house team and say, Hey, this is what we see happening in your Q4. Here are the inputs that we see, and if you disagree or we have discrepancies, it creates a great opportunity to come together and discuss the delta between what you think is gonna happen and what we do to help you get a better set of expectations.

And then we can build the system to say, Hey, now you have, here's all the daily inputs. Go and go forth and make it happen. But I think that's where I would encourage people to really go gut check and go, the number I have written down, how much do I believe in it? Why or why not? How much could I defend it?

And would it, would an additional point of view be useful?

[00:17:04] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. So maybe to that point then let's talk about some maybe more specific or as specific as we can get examples of how we're putting this into place for people in, in that way.

[00:17:14] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, great question. So the process begins with data absorption, right? So we absorb the data into stats. We are then able to build the model to forecast accurately and what we'll get out of the box. So we have like an out of the box model. So, Which will take your data and apply a sort of templated version of the cohort model and the spending CAC model based on your data itself.

And so what we'll see outta the box is like how predictable your data is of itself. And some brands, it's, their data is consistent, it's co consistently the same in a way that's got a high R square value in the regression analysis. And we go, your cohorts perform pretty much the same over time. We've got a really strong prediction about the future.

Other people's data is all over the place. I'll give you an example. We're doing this right now for a business that a couple of years ago had to literally shut their store down for four months because they were out of inventory. Well, that makes your cohort curves look really wacky, right? So it makes the out of the box model harder to do.

So now we have to do a little bit more custom data science. We have to insert some manual consideration for these different periods, tie out some gaps and things like that. And that's just. We have a good data science team led by Steve Re Cook, who you guys all know. And we come in and we do that support and work to help them get a really great view of where they're at.

And the signal to me there is like out of inventory, if you're constantly short or overstocked, that's a signal to me that the forecasting process needs some improvement. And so that's a good example of, of a way that we can come in and be useful. And then it's not just the modeling side, then it's like, okay, now what is the actual execution plan?

And this is where we could get into that, what I posted today on Twitter about the Facebook creative concepting backlog and how much, how many ads you need and that sort of thing.

[00:18:49] Richard Gaffin: yeah. No, let's, I, I think that would be useful. Like, I, so I think for instance, connecting the dots for our listeners and who, whoever's watching from. Okay, so we hand you this. Daily forecast with specific daily targets based on, you know, the data science combined with qualitative thinking, whatever. And so what do you, what do you do then once, once that's in your hands?

Like, so we have, we pass it on to somebody. What, what's sort of the onus on them to start executing against?

[00:19:18] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, so the beauty is they now have visibility every day, how they're performing against the expectation. So they get stat lists plus the maps. So the beautiful thing about our maps is like the, the spreadsheet is literally connected into stat lists in the way that pulls the targets from the forecast into your data.

And so you have context, right? You can see how you're performing against the expectation that you set. And so we give them technical support so they have access to anybody if there's any issues or ongoing. And then monthly or quarterly, depending on how they wanna do it, they have a growth strategist that comes in and says, Hey, here's where you missed.

Here's the key things that I'm se seeing, like I'll give you an example of one way that it goes off course a lot is that AOV is an input. AOV has a lot to do with which products and offers you're running and selling, and that has to do with being able to accurately predict which campaign is gonna work the best inside of meta.

So if you have, especially if you have a broad range of of SKUs, it's really easy for the CAM one campaign that has an AOV of a hundred dollars and another one that has an AOV of $50 to get a different allocation of the spend than you anticipated. And so now all of a sudden your AOV input is off dramatically.

And so we can help to highlight, hey, The product mix of what you sold was different than anticipated, and we really need to make sure that we're focusing on this item versus that item in order to maintain this goal. Or we should adjust the AOV forecast going forward. And so that sort of every month, where were we, right or wrong?

Therefore, what should we change going forward in our behavior or should we change the model to match this new behavior? That's gotta happen every single month. We reforecast every customer every month to continue to get up to date as close as we can.

[00:20:50] Richard Gaffin: Okay, so mentioned them before. On the execution side of this this would probably have been two or three weeks ago now. We talked a little bit about the creative, the new creative ideation generation strategy that we've put into place, and how that connects specifically to questions of particularly volume on Facebook, like how much spend you can get through, and obviously that plays a significant role.

In your success, both now and in Q4, but it also ties directly into this growth mapping process, which we touched on a little bit, but we didn't necessarily get into. So maybe we could talk about a little bit of the connection between this forecasting qualitative, quantitative process you're talking about and then actually executing against it on the creative side.


[00:21:30] Taylor Holiday: yeah, so there's a, if I set a budget for my ad spend, a really important corresponding question is how many ads will I need to spend that much money? And especially, especially if you're running cost controls, which again, we believe is great. We don't need to rehash that reality.

That's, but, but that's what, that's what we advocate for. And so in order to enable that, You need to be able to answer this question of how many ads you're gonna need to pull it off. And really the question is how many campaigns you're gonna need. And in CTC world, one concept equals one campaign equals three ads.

So every time we launch a campaign in Facebook, we have three corresponding ad units that go into that campaign. So if we are gonna make 75 ads, it's gotta be 25 concepts. And so what we're gonna look at for the client is looking forward at the amount of money we need to spend in the next. Subsequent month, subsequent quarter, how many, how many dollars do we anticipate the current foundation of campaigns to carry forward into that next period?

So if it's August 16th and I look in Bambu Earth and I'm spending $8,000 a day how many of those campaigns do I believe we'll be spending on September 1st if I think it's gonna be 60% of them based on their trending up? They're very consistent. Some of them are more volatile. And again, this is, this is art and science here, there's no right answer to this, but you have to make an estimation of how many of those things, and let's say it's half, let's say you think you're gonna get, have $4,000 of base foundation of spend to start the month of September from the stuff that you currently have and the stuff that you're launching between now and then.

You want to get to $10,000 a day in spend, you have a delta. The delta is $6,000 a day, $4,000 foundation, $6,000 unassigned amount of spend that you want to get to. Well now you've gotta start building concepts to launch into that gap. And you have to have a point of view about how much you think that campaign is gonna spend.

So we built a way to do this. It's, this is media planning, right? This is literally. Planning for your media.

So right here, column L shows me how much my target spend is for the month. So $271,000, that's what I have to spend, right? And then right here in blue is my projected spend based on what I have live, what I'm going to do. And so this is how I build a media plan, and I do that through two tools.

One is what we call the the current concepts or previous concepts. This shows me. Every campaign that I have live in the month of August, how much I've spent so far, what the conversion value is, what the ROAS is. And so now I get to do that thing I described, which is, which of these are coming with me when I start August?

Which campaigns am I getting? So if I see that my retinol sales skin quiz, which is like sort of our core campaign for Bambu Earth. I know that's coming with me so I can select from this dropdown any of the existing campaigns. In this case, I pick the Retinol sales funnel. I, it's gonna run from nine one through nine 30.

It automatically shows me what my daily spend was last month and what my daily row assets. And now I can decide, okay, I think I'm gonna keep getting 1900. That's what I'm gonna get. I'm gonna get it at a 1.3. Right. So now this campaign is coming with me. It's showing up in this camp in my planner here, retinol 1900 a day at 1.3.

That's 57,000 for the month. That starts to populate my total, right? So I can see that I've gotta get to $9,000 a day to hit this spend budget. Now, it might not be perfectly allocated. I might go in and change the pacing of this, and for BA Worth, I would, I would actually have it be less on some days and more on the weekends.

But, but, But let's just assume it's linear for the month, even though it won't be. Now I can begin to plan this out and I go, okay, I have a gap of $5,000. Okay? Between what I am currently planned to spend and the campaigns that I have live. Well, that means I need new campaigns. Okay? The new campaigns come out of the concept log.

I build an idea, I assign it a daily budget expected, and this new campaign, I'm gonna do it right now, shows up in my media plan over here in these new campaigns. And I just keep building concepts until I get to the budget that I need to be successful. And I make sure that I don't want to project to spend $114,000.

I gotta get this to spending $271,000. And the number one issue I see people make is they start the month with a media plan and a certain amount of campaigns planned. That's never gonna get them to the budget that they have planned. It's never gonna happen.

And so this planning process is the connective tissue that tells me how much creative I need to actually get to where I'm going.

And then that helps me solve for, do I have enough creative resource, do I have enough designers, et cetera, et cetera, to actually accomplish it. And this is, this is just what I knew I know does not exist inside of any other systems. It's why people abort cost caps. It's what ha. When we abort cost caps, it's because we don't have the creative.

And so what does a media buyer do when they don't have creative? They turn on lowest cost because what else are they gonna do? They fire up an A S C and they take a bunch of historical performing ads and they drop 'em all in there. 'cause they're like, I gotta get my volume. I'm being pressured to get to my volume.

And so if you don't have the creative output, you will abort the campaign. You'll miss your spend target and you'll be sitting on too much inventory and like these things are all. Intimately and deeply connected to one

[00:26:46] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, no, I mean, it's just like, yeah, watching all the threads come together. It's sort of like, when Neo sees the Matrix for the first time or whatever, I feel like, 'cause there's a real like, Yeah. I, I think the beauty of, of going from what you showed us at first, which is the, the cohort specific forecast, right?

And then understanding that there's a qualitative element to it, which is the marketing calendar, which is like, we can make behavioral decisions in these, this, this, and this month that are going to change the way that the forecast looks. And then going to the marketing calendar, and then one thing, We maybe mentioned, I don't remember, is that the creative ideation is then built on the anticipation of what's in the marketing calendar.

So a lot of those campaigns that you saw in the creative sheet, Are going to be based on yes, we're planning to have a sale that we, that we think is going to result in this revenue. And that's why we're building a campaign off of it. And this is the amount of spend we'll need to get through it. And so everything like to, you know, when you're a graphic designer is slapping text on an image.

The reason they're doing that is because of this sort of like sequence decisions based on data, both qualitative and quantitative. So, Obviously I'm biased. I work at CTC, but seems like, it seems pretty good to me.

[00:27:55] Taylor Holiday: And, and my thing is like, set aside for a second, this is a hard sales pitch for our process. What I want for people, what I want for the, for you is this, is that if you want to leverage cost controls, which I think people have a genuine aspiration to say like, yeah, downside protection sounds awesome. I'd love to, it will not work.

It will not work without a corresponding creative strategy that has a real clear point of view. On how often you're gonna, your campaigns are gonna fail. Like the most campaigns don't reach target, most ads don't work. Even for great creative strategists and great designers, you're still gonna see maybe 30% of your ads perform at Target.

So you have to have a plan for failure, which means that, and what I've seen too, is that if you work in a process that's like, turn it on and then find out the, the engine of. See what happens. Oh crap, it's failing. Start the ideation process, then start the production process, then get it creates a gap that you won't get out of.

Your media buyer needs to be able to turn on the next campaign, the second, the other one stops spending because it's already built and ready to go. It's the only way that this is gonna work. Otherwise, you're just gonna default back to lowest cost and you're gonna spend money

[00:29:12] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. I, I feel like that is a fundamental issue with creative strategy. Like even our creative strategy a few years ago was this idea that like, creative testing is king, and that was kind of the, that was kind of the watch word on Twitter and everything else too, which was like, yeah, we just, we ab test everything.

We shave down the variables and there's obviously like, Value to running creative and then doing a postmortem on why you think it did, did or didn't work. Like, I'm not saying that that's not valuable in some way, but the idea was like you put a ad into the account, you wait to see if it fails. Then you said like, Hmm, I wonder why it failed.

Maybe it wasn't loud enough at the beginning. Then you tweak that variable and you throw it back in. But the reality is like you don't, you don't have that amount of time. You

[00:29:53] Taylor Holiday: well in that gap are days where you're underspending like, and, and you're missing your volume. And so what I would say is I'm all for iteration on an existing campaign, becoming part of that backlog, but it just, there has to be something that goes live. In the meantime, like so when one stops and you go to go iterate, there has to be a new idea that comes into its place.

Every time something goes off, something must come on. There is no sacrificing the expected volume of the day. Like you just can't. You can never give it up. And the second you start conceding what you committed to spending on any given day, you start creating a hole that actually creates obligation to do more later.

So if I have to spend a hundred thousand dollars and it's equates to $3,000 a day, and I spend $2,000 for a week, I've just now created bigger obligation for ads that I don't have planned for in the back of the month. Like if anything, you wanna overspend early in the month and be pulling back into expectation.

This is another thing that I see all the time, is that underspending the beginning of the month under overestimating how well you thought your things were gonna do, and it's just get in the habit of assuming failure, assuming things will not work, and you will build a system to support that reality.

[00:31:03] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, I, I, I actually had a similar thought pass through my head when you were showing what Bambu Earth's performance looks like this month because there's something interesting too about not only with creative, but also forecasting in general, where if on day one of the month I. Things go downhill or things are already starting to look off.

It's really tempting to say to yourself, well, it just ha the thing that I expect to happen just hasn't kicked in yet. We know that August always looks this way, and so even if day one's off, eventually the money's gonna come in. Eventually the creative will start working, whatever. But the reality is like, if day one looks bad, that means you have, you still have 29 days.

To like, or you have still have 29 cracks on making it better rather than, you know, if you wait until the end of the month and you only have like a week left. And so I think the idea is like if you're, if you're seeing signs that there's a problem on August the first, that means August the second has to look very different, right?

[00:31:56] Taylor Holiday: Right. Or you better have like, so, we just got out of one of my Wayfinder Wednesday meetings for one of my clients, and there was a campaign that they were behind on, but it was progressively improving. you saw the optimization happening, and so you had a case that you could make to yourself logically about why tomorrow actually will be better.

But, but if you look and you're like, We just don't even have the, a number of campaigns that we need live, and there's not even budget set to get to the volume that I need. Well, now you're just deceiving yourself. You have to be able to logically defend the idea that tomorrow I will reach my expectation and I'm open to all sorts of reasons why a campaign might be getting better or why this new thing that I like, fine.

But you just have to have a plan. You have to be, it has to be defensible. And so often I just see like. This ad account underspent by 30%. Yesterday, we made no changes and there was no viable reason why I would believe it would be any different Tomorrow. That can't happen. You have to, you have to interject If there's no way that it's gonna improve,

[00:32:55] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. Whatever. Whatever the reason is, the reason can't be because, because the forecast says so. Right? It's like, you know, is there, is there a

[00:33:02] Taylor Holiday: that's right.

[00:33:02] Richard Gaffin: that it will change or is there something can to make it better? Okay, well, I'll say I'm satisfied that there's no better system that exists for connecting the docs between marketing and finance inside a DTC business to revisit that tweet.

But is there anything else you wanna hit on this? Anything else you wanna call out or highlight with the growth map process?

[00:33:18] Taylor Holiday: One of the other things we can do is we can turn a volume revenue number into a SKU based forecast of unit sales. So if you want to actually turn a bulk number, like $900,000 in revenue into a per unit volume, Over a given period of time where we can actually give you a map of units sold by day for a period of time to help you make a better inventory purchase decision.

No problem. That's another way. And then what we can do is now that unit volume map actually becomes the obligation for the media team that we'll track towards as well. Where it's not just about generating any kind of revenue, it's about selling the inventory we have. And connecting that piece of it is another one that like, especially for brands.

Where you have a very wide set of units. A lot of times media buyers will just follow efficiency and they don't have the input of the balance sheet, really the inventory volume driving their decision making. And so that can be another way that we can support that as well. But the point is, this is the moment to be thoughtful.

I think this is the most important forecasting moment of the whole year, not January. It's today. And January's for boardrooms today is for bank accounts. That's what I would

[00:34:26] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. There you go. Yeah. So if, if this is something that you wanna work with us on, now is the time to talk to us. As, as I think we kind of said at the top, like, we know that it's easy to get caught up in making August's numbers work, you hitting your revenue numbers for the month, but that, that's always gonna be the issue.

And, and now's the time to start thinking about what decisions you can make now to make Q4 the most important time of the month. The best that it can possibly be. So, yeah, Hey, give us a call, hit us up at and we'd love to chat with you. Yep, let's do it. All right folks. Thanks.

Thanks for listening and take care and we will see you next week.