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On this episode of the podcast, Taylor and Richard talk to Common Thread Collective COO Orchid Bertelsen about breaking through the pre-Holiday doldrums, how to build a revenue peak that works for your brand unique needs, and why even us aging millennials should be on TikTok.

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[00:00:18] Richard Gaffin: Hey folks. Welcome to the E-Commerce Playbook podcast. I'm your host, Richard Gaffen, director of Digital Product Strategy here at Common Thread Collective. And I'm joined today, as always, I'm joined by Taylor Holiday, CEO, here at Common Thread. Taylor, how you doing?

[00:00:30] Taylor Holiday: Doing great.

[00:00:32] Richard Gaffin: Great. Awesome. And we're also joined very excitingly by our COO Orchid Burleson here at Common Thread Co.

Orchid, how you're doing?

[00:00:41] Orchid Bertelsen: Hi guys. I just wanted to see how you spend your days. So , this is really exciting to be here with you.

[00:00:47] Taylor Holiday: Checking on our usage and our, you know, make our utilization rates as employees 

[00:00:51] Orchid Bertelsen: About 48 minutes. We have 48 minutes, folks.

[00:00:54] Taylor Holiday: Yeah.

[00:00:54] Richard Gaffin: That's right. Yeah. Good operation. That's COO stuff right there. Making sure we're using our time wisely, that kind of thing.

[00:01:00] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah, I mean, it's an expensive meeting.

[00:01:02] Taylor Holiday: I am just, I'm just glad that we were able to get you know, the co-host of a separate podcast to join us on our, on our podcast here.

[00:01:10] Orchid Bertelsen: You're so salty. You're so salty about that. I I have to do things that, you know, are really exciting too. And I get, I get the opportunity to talk to you every day,

[00:01:18] Taylor Holiday: I know, I know. That's 

[00:01:19] Orchid Bertelsen: You know?

[00:01:20] Richard Gaffin: So well actually do we wanna plug Orchid’s podcast.

[00:01:24] Taylor Holiday: I think we can do it once. Let's get it outta the way. Let's get it outta the way up front.

[00:01:28] Richard Gaffin: It's like, you know, we've mentioned it. We have to let the cat out the bag here.

[00:01:31] Orchid Bertelsen: Well, I am the co-host of season three of Infinite Shelf, which is a Future Commerce podcast where my, me and my co-host Ingrid, who is of noon fame, really just talk about all things e-commerce. So join us. It's like talking to friends. We don't take ourselves too seriously. And it's a good time.

[00:01:50] Richard Gaffin: Great.

Well, so it sounds like you got the credentials then to talk to us a little bit about our topic today, which is, so we've discussed a couple of weeks ago I talked to Luke and Steve who are sort of the, the I suppose behind our Q three Q four strategy for our clients. A little bit about the fourth, the four peaks of the fourth peak, which is the idea that there are four mini peaks that happen within the Black Friday Cyber Monday cycle.

But I wanna kind of want to kick this off talking about, we've talked about this before in the podcast a little bit, but I wanna get orchid's specific perspective on this, which is the idea of creating a marketing peak in general. So we've talked often about the idea that you need to find revenue valleys and turn them into revenue peaks by finding.

Spots throughout the year where you can take advantage of sales moments that already exist. Jump on board them and create revenue moments for yourself. But orchid, I want to get a little bit of your perspective on this idea of peak creation. So why don't we start there?

[00:02:46] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah, sure. I think, you know, and just by nature of my experience and my background in creative agency world and also on the brand side, I think it's very tempting to just pull up the calendar of National Holidays and say,

okay, ,all right, let's map out Labor Day. Let's map out Memorial Day, 4th of July.

Now, why we offer promotions on national holidays? I don't know. But we've done it for a very long time. And I think when you're a beginning business, when you're trying to find those opportunities, then you know, you just simply look at the calendar. And then if you get a little more granular, you say, okay, well we sell. Chocolate chip cookie. So what about chocolate National Chocolate chip cookie day? Now there's National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, and then there's National Cookie Day. So you have to be very specific

about that. But I think that as you become more developed as a brand, you not only look at, start at the calendar, but you actually look at your business performance. So you say, okay, well if I look at, you know, my revenue trendline over the last year, we know that a lot of businesses make a lot of their revenue during Black Friday, Cyber Monday. That's just the reality of our world, and it has. Been for a very long time. We've also seen that, you know, usually around July, so pre back to school, depending on your category tends to be a bit slow as well. We see this in terms of our business with our clients, you know, going into a slow period of time. And I think Taylor's done a wonderful job in talking about the implications of that implications of being cash strapped right before the holidays because you need to free up that money in order to, you know, bulk up your inventory.

you know, you can't, you can't sell a product if you don't have it. And so businesses get into this really challenging period of time, and so the question becomes, all right, well if you can't find a holiday that aligns with where you wanna turn a revenue value into a revenue peak that makes sense for you to talk to your customers, then what? And I think a lot of people don't realize that you can just make it up. It could be anything. And so, Richard, the last time we had this conversation when we were at In-N-Out 

where I think I accidentally had Cory's burger that he ordered, which was excellent by the way. But, you know, Amazon, like Prime Day is such a great example. Now I'm very hesitant to use examples from well-known brands like Apple or Nike or Amazon in this case. Because they're so well established. And of course they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing. And so small brands, whenever you use those big brands as an example, they're like, okay, great, good, great.

I don't have all that money. What can I learn from that? But I think we use those brand names as examples because everybody's familiar with them because they spend so much money on their marketing. And so when we look at prime days, It's like in the middle of July. I mean, this past year was July 11th and 12th and it just, they just made it up. And they've been doing this for such a long time that even brands who weren't selling their product on Amazon, they had prime day deals. Now you can't really say Prime Day. It's kind of like the Super Bowl now, and you have to say the big game, although I'm sure they'll trademark the big game at some point, but I'm sure Amazon looked at Their overall revenue trend line and they're like, Hey, July tends to be really slow. Like, what can we do here? And so they made a prime day. Taylor, anything you wanna add?

[00:05:53] Taylor Holiday: Yeah. Well I think, so there's a couple of things that are really good points. One is You have to first sort of look yourself in the mirror and say, do we move the cultural zeitgeist or do we need to ride the wave? And like Amazon can move the zeitgeist, right? Like they have the distribution power to create a cultural moment nationwide.

So I. There's an opportunity for all of us to ride that wave, which is they are going to drive increased consumer intent for shopping. So we should all put Prime Day one and now the new announcement, prime day two coming in October onto our calendar. And I do think it is very four Peaks theory for them to introduce those two date ranges where They know they have natural demand and lots of points of the calendar, but July and October are really shitty months generally for e-comm. And we are sort of entering right now. What is the sort of the trough of sorrow here between, from post Labor Day to Black Friday? Cyber Monday tends to be when, all the moment when you're gonna read a bunch of articles about how the revenue's not gonna come, it's not gonna come for whatever reason, and that we're gonna have this depressed moment.

It all starts now because there is really softened consumer demand. Even today we're sitting on A D T C C I print. So our direct to Consumer Confidence index that Steve publishes in partnership with no Commerce had the lowest or the biggest drop week over week that we've seen since measuring it back in March. It's almost a 13% decline week over week. And we also saw. Labor Day have a higher discount rate this year than any other year before. And so there are, there are some signs that brands are a little bit desperate for revenue right now and that consumer sentiment is gonna soften. So the next 45 days are rough.

They tend to be difficult, but Amazon's helping us out with the second prime day. So with that, if you don't have the capacity to create the cultural zeitgeist, which most so small brands, you need to, you need to acknowledge, just 'cause you say it's an important day doesn't make it so for most of the world. And so I think the question is to like outside of the national holiday calendar that most people don't really have any idea exists. What are the underlying cultural trends that exist? Like one we were talking about for one of our brands is back to school, is like a general trend line of an example where you can tap into it, but even More specific than that Orchid. I know you're big on TikTok, so I'm sure that you've come across, some of this is rush week in sororities. Okay.

[00:08:05] Orchid Bertelsen: I love it. 

[00:08:06] Taylor Holiday: Okay. Right?

Yes. Okay. So that is a cultural zeitgeist that takes over social media that you'll see every sorority on earth doing their crazy dances to whatever the latest hit is.

But the point is that there's outfits, there's styles, there's parties, there's all sorts of things that if that's your demo, That's a zeitgeist moment that I would prepare and start to speak into. Now, that's not every brand, right? There's a subset of brands who that makes sense for, but the point is, what is it for you? I know that we have brands that, like hunting season is a thing, like it's duck hunting season starts this week, and it's like, well, that becomes a really important thing where people invest money and they plan trips and they do X, Y, and Z and dah, dah, dah. So the question is like, outside of the national calendar, what is the cultural zeitgeist that your customers participating in, and how do you jam yourself right into the middle of it?

[00:08:49] Orchid Bertelsen: Can we talk about Bamba Rush Week? I'm sorry, we have to go back. We moved on too quickly. I think what's really fascinating about that phenomenon, and if you haven't come across TikTok, I kind of question what your algorithm is. But the whole premise is that, you know, they highlight different sororities and then every year there are some sorority breakout stars these women are rushing. And there are a couple of them that create a lot of the Get Ready With Me videos, and they will actually take the time, their entire video is where they break down their fit. And they'll say, you know, the, the very, they'll say like, okay, well my jewelry is, you know, Kendra Scott or whatever. My Cartier, I've got some Louis Vuitton sneakers, golden Goose. I mean, they will name Drop Repeatedly, and it's fascinating because now there's a second wave of creators who have actually said, okay, let's break down this. Get ready with me fit, and I'm actually gonna price out how much that was. And so it is absolutely fascinating.

I think to Taylor's point, it's like, yes, okay. There's, what you're doing is you're, you're narrowing down the focus, right? You're starting from like national broad base, like doesn't matter your category. And then you're getting down to like Category specific moments and seeing where you can tap into culture.

Because when you're a part of big brands, and I was part of some of the largest brands, like you get a little you have the hubris to think that you can actually create culture, but there are very, very few brands and you can count them on one hand and I've already named them that it can actually move the needle and create. Culture. What you're trying to do is you're trying to tap into it in a way that feels very genuine and authentic to your brand. Because

I think like millennials, like our bullshit meeting meter's not that good, but Gen Z I mean, they'll call it out for days, right? And so if you are simply doing something for a community and putting that in air quotes that is self-serving, and really just to put more money in your pocket, like. You're gonna get called out for that. And so it really means you need to be very focused and have your finger on the pulse of culture. Now, how do you do that? I think Taylor and I are probably just on TikTok way

[00:10:52] Taylor Holiday: You just scroll. You just scroll. TikTok 12 hours a day, and you're there. You're. Uh, But I, I, I think this is, right now, what's hard about this right, is that we're trying to talk about this in the context of marketing calendaring, right? And planning. And so how do you tie these things together so that you know when these moments are gonna exist?

That's, that's difficult. But I do think it is important to become acutely aware of what happens repeatedly every year. In the seasons that you generally don't have natural demand for your brand.

So like if you're a swimsuit brand, you don't gotta go solve for the cultural zeitgeist in July. Like the sun did that for you.

You know? So you, the question though is like, what the heck are you gonna do in October? What are you gonna do? Well, you have to find every pocket of available opportunity. Where there's something to be said about what you're doing, and this is where like so many, like the warehouse sale premise came from, from, you know, Macy's or these off-season things that get created, the semi-annual sale, all that that was, was just an attempt to generate an off-season peak, right?

Like that's what these things are. And so I think it's really important for all of us to, to really prep ahead of this, to think about this now, and we're really even in this moment, outside the four peaks of the fourth peak, because those are sort of natural rhythms of shopping that we're seeing. And we're saying like, Ooh, October. Or even late December as you like, what do we do here? 'cause it gets really bleak

in the valley. 

[00:12:12] Richard Gaffin: So I was gonna say like, I think there's, there's two things. I wanna stay on the off season peak thing for a little bit. So two things are simultaneously true here. Like according to the, the strategy that we're presenting Q three is absolutely crucial to building up that new customer file for Black Friday, cyber Monday, right?

At the same time. Q three is also the doldrums for most brands. Like this is a problem area for revenue. So what we're saying is like now is the time where you really have to start acquiring new customers. Also, it's gonna be the most difficult time to acquire new customers in some ways. So maybe we can talk through a little bit, and I can start with you Orchid.

Let's get into some examples about of how you would maybe in your sort of wide experience, how would you turn this. Moment or, or rather turn this valley into a peak for smaller brands that don't have the cultural heft, let's say, of an apple or a Nike.

[00:13:01] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah. I think, you know, one example that I shared with a colleague, we had a whole conversation about this months ago where they were working for a brand and they just decided to create dress month They

were just like, you know what? We saw dresses we're just gonna do dress month. And so what they did was they actually featured, you know, a different dress every day. Right. And they're like, you know, you can tie your promotion to that, right? You, it becomes time bound and people love something where not everybody gets access to it, right?

And so when we're talking about, you know, creating these moments and going into these promotions, what you want to do is you wanna both acquire new customers, but you also wanna leverage your existing customers. right? Because like at the end of the day when we talk about consumer confidence, it's not just new customer confidence. If it was, we'd talk about it that way, but it is total macro customer confidence. So I think a lot of brands are also seeing that their previous, you know, whales of clients or people who, you know, had very high buy rates or, you know, very high repeat, they're not coming back as much. And I think part of it, there's a couple of different dynamics as to why that is. I think one is that competition is fiercer than ever before. I'll give one personal example. So my kid, Nico just turned one last week and I got him a Nugget, a nugget couch. They're fairly expensive. They're about, I don't know, $270. They were on Shark Tank. They've been around like parents love it. And so I have always been, you know, I love the founder, so I was like, okay, like this is it. We're gonna buy this. Now. Did I have a moment where I went on Amazon and I was like, oh, let me search Nugget. Like I wonder, wonder if they sell this on Amazon and they don't.

But what I found was a lot of competition. Right. Things that like generally look the same. I mean, I think they probably look exactly the same. And I think that a lot of brands are seeing that as well, is that when you don't have a defensible design, when you don't have something truly unique about your product, then it's really easy to be copied and the speed at which those things get copied and commoditized and like, you know, there's a million opportunities from other sellers on Amazon, like that's crushing them too. And

so I would say like, you know, absolutely look at your existing customers. You know, again, present the brand story. You know, talk about why your brand is unique. Like every brand is a unique snowflake, right? So how do you win those customers back? In addition to acquiring new customers.

[00:15:15] Richard Gaffin: Gotcha. And for for those of us who don't know, the Nugget Couch is 

[00:15:19] Orchid Bertelsen: Oh, 

[00:15:20] Richard Gaffin: for kids

[00:15:21] Orchid Bertelsen: It's, it's, it's a

fu top for kids. Maybe that's their new tagline. But yeah, they have they have a couple of couch cushions and it's really fascinating because, you know, I think they, you know, broke out on the scene quite a few years ago. And then now there are different companies that have cropped up that create accessories for the Nugget, but it's actually not the same company.

[00:15:39] Richard Gaffin: Gotcha. 

[00:15:40] Orchid Bertelsen: Taylor, do you have a nugget? 

I think your kids are aging out of the nugget.

[00:15:44] Taylor Holiday: No, I don't. Not that, not that I'm aware of though. But there's, there's a lot of stuff in my house. It could be, I could have one.

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[00:16:34] Richard Gaffin: So let's hear from you then Taylor, about how do you think about creating off season peaks? Let's, let's say for instance, bamboo Earth. I 

don't know exactly what you guys are doing, but let's say for the sake of argument that this is a down period for them as well. I mean, it probably is.

What, what's the approach there for a cosmetics brand, for instance?

[00:16:51] Orchid Bertelsen: Well, 

they've got a seasonal change in skin

[00:16:55] Taylor Holiday: yeah, so that's another, that's another issue, right? Is that like the winter and summer pre present, fundamentally different skin concerns. And our product, which is a moisturizer to my surprise, is actually better served for the cold and windy season than it is for the summer. Right? Like, I get it.


[00:17:11] Orchid Bertelsen: because.

[00:17:12] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, yeah. It's

just 70 every day. I was like, I don't know what the difference is. So yes, the, the concern changes, but that's actually the season moving towards us. But let me, let me give you a very practical example. So Bamboo Earth runs one major sale a year. And you know what it is, it was August 30th and we did, I think, our largest single revenue day ever. We do a gift with purchase of our best product for orders over a certain value. Do you know why we do it in August? Because you know what our biggest seasons are November through January and you know, when we have to make the biggest cash purchase right? Coming up now. And so it's all coordinated, right?

It's like, well, August is a down month. We struggle kind of through July. It's like a grind. We're trying to figure out more opportunities. So we have to create. An opportunity for all these new customers that we have acquired over a period of time, and we do squeeze the sponge a little. Now. It's also a pretty good new customer acquisition driver.

This is the thing about like those promotions, they tend to actually be good ways for the customers that have been on the fence to sort of cross over in a way that they see the value in. It also does drive a meaningful amount of that, but we, we get a lot of cash. We put a lot of cash in our pocket ahead of what we know is gonna be a, a buildup to our key moments of the year.

So that, that, that's one way. Right. And I, I hate to just say, oh, run a sale. Like, okay, thanks, Taylor's super helpful in terms of idea, but

[00:18:30] Orchid Bertelsen: you said, but Taylor, really quick. You said that that's your one sale

[00:18:33] Taylor Holiday: yeah.

[00:18:33] Orchid Bertelsen: And I would, I would argue that there's a lot of discipline

involved and training your customers on knowing that they can only expect one sale a year.

[00:18:43] Taylor Holiday: That's right. And it's, to me, this is less like, this is really a holistic exercise that involves marketing, accounting for your entire year and really going like, what is the design of every peak and every moment. I would just say that like I think about I. The opportunity to do product releases, to build months around a charitable partnership to do licensing.

There's all sorts of things that you can look at September and October and figure out this narrative that you could create for your brand. Now, it's really hard if we're sitting here on s September 6th and then it doesn't exist yet because

that that execution can be pretty challenging to accomplish.

And now we're really talking more about like. Add angles to come up with for your evergreen concepts in this moment than we are about a true marketing initiative that

I think makes a fundamental difference. But, but I do think that there's these ways where I've seen brands do this in lots of different fashion, like, and one of the classic examples that is sort of a more reactive opportunity is, is what foreign primitive did back in the day as it relates to Their gym partnership where they found a way in a moment to decide to partner with a bunch of local gyms where for a month all of the revenue was shared with the local gym.

And so it was like a gym give back moment. And so you take your community, You say, all right, for this period of time, and this could be every year, it's sort of like the fundraiser at school where you're gonna say, like, every year there's this donation mechanism that says like, for this 30 days, we're gonna go hard after creating value for our community.

Well, that amplifies your brand presence, drives a bunch of people into spreading the word about you in a way that's more effective. And so I think coming up with that is a, is is an opportunity to say, okay. October, and this is part of why like Breast Cancer Awareness month became so big in that period, which is October, is because it's off calendar.

It's like a weird thing that like, oh, the N F L grabs it and everybody grabs it, and for an entire month everybody's like Susan g Komen. We're all in, we're selling a bunch of pink stuff. And so it becomes a way that like, okay, what is the the calendar do for me? What can I grab onto to bring customers in that maybe normally wouldn't look at me, maybe don't normally participate with me? And so I think that can be an interesting one is to say, for this month, we're gonna really drive community value somehow together. I know like we have another brand, heart and soil that. One of the things that they do in their off season is they have like a community health initiative that they track and keep up with members and they give out rewards and they say, okay, it's sort of like a 75 hard for your community.

It's like, all of us are gonna do this this month that we're gonna highlight members or we're gonna show off who's succeeding and we're just gonna create a surrounding narrative that may not even be about like Selling a specific thing, but it's about broadening the story into a new group of people through this focused community effort. I think sometimes that can be really a really interesting way to, to drive a peak in an unexpected time.

[00:21:24] Orchid Bertelsen: I think community's really fascinating and I think that's for a different time. But like one of the communities that I love that also help with new user acquisition or new customer acquisition is Harley Davidson, right? So when you were talking about born primitive and heart and soil, like, it really reminded me that the local Harley dealerships all have a very full events calendar where they bring in their members like every weekend during the summer because they know that by bringing in foot traffic during that time, People will upgrade and they'll be surrounded by other people who have bought a long time ago, but are really ready to upgrade. And so I think community is like an entirely separate thing, but you can certainly, it can merge, right? It can be this Venn diagram that merges when you're cr trying to create peaks in your, in your revenue curve.

[00:22:08] Richard Gaffin: So if I were to, I'm doing a little pre-work here, let's say for my peak builders guide or whatever the next product I put out. So what, how would you guys summarize, or maybe if you could summarize for us, like what are the categories of peak that you can sort of think through creating? So like for instance, we have Seasonal drop is a classic only sale of the calendar year or Obviously there's like, you know, watching TikTok and jumping on whatever trend there is, but like how, like what other categories would you say there are?

If you could kind of summarize them.

[00:22:37] Orchid Bertelsen: Well, I think if I were to try to create a framework for it, I would say that you start. Really broad with things that, you know, again, like the national calendar or national holiday calendar, 

and then like the next category that you dive into is like category specific. So whether you're in like athletic wear, you know, just apparel, supplements, whatever is relevant for your category. And so, like even to Taylor's point with skincare, you know, okay. Like what are those moments where it's like maybe people are transitioning their skincare. Right. Like I go from a lightweight moisturizer to something that's quite heavy. Ursa major, one of our brands is, is is my top candidate there. It's really nice that they sell both. And so it's like, okay, then it's like, what's category specific? And then I would go to, alright, brand specific, like that's where like kind of communities, things like that come in you know, seasonal drops, whatever. And then I would get Really focused on just creating those moments. But yeah, I think you talk like in terms of like how you can think about those different type events, definitely seasonal drops.

I think creating like a limited edition, anything is interesting because it's not only about selling out of that limited edition product, but it's about just getting people to the site. Right. Because even, and we've seen this in, in certain like Of our brands as well, where it's like, okay, someone comes in for the limited edition sneaker, let's say, but it sells out.

Like they're not leaving without something else as well.

So it's really interesting that, you know, by allowing those people to come in for a specific reason, like you still make that sale even if it's not for that individual product. And then like, you know, To my point, like that last layer I would say would be like cultural relevance, because I don't think that's so much that you can plan, but it's about creating like the operational mechanism so that you can act very quickly and hop on that train by, you know, making your adjustments to your media, making your adjustments to your, you know, whatever email you're sending out, you know, changes the landing pages.

That's more about agility rather than pre-planning and creating, creating a marketing

calendar for that. 

[00:24:37] Taylor Holiday: Oh Yeah, I like the, I like the idea of like increasing the the surface area for luck that you're gonna like hit a cultural relevance thing. So I'll give you a great example of one that like happened to me last night. So right now is the US open for tennis. Okay. So it's the, this happens every year at the same time. And there's this new kid, his name's Ben Shelton. Okay. So Ben Shelton is 20 years old. He is the youngest American to make the US open semifinals since 1992. Like huge star serves faster than everybody else. And I've seen him like 

[00:25:05] Orchid Bertelsen: he born? He was born in ninety two,

[00:25:08] Taylor Holiday: yeah, exactly. Yeah. So like I've seen him showing up everywhere. All of a sudden he's the hot new thing and I was watching his match last night and he's head to toe on running. Okay. I hate on running. I don't get it. I think it's the ugliest. Brand I've ever seen in my life. Like I do not understand it at at all, but it's exploded. And I was like, this kid is head to, this is the hottest new athlete and he is head to toe in a brand that I just, I cannot believe that they have. But, but let's imagine you wanted to create peak opportunity for an off period of time. If you're on running in September and October, well what matters in the sports calendar at that time? You have the start of the college football season. You start of N F L, you have the O US open of tennis, you have the writer cup coming up. And so by creating sponsorship in those categories, you create the opportunity. Now Ben has to win. He had to create this moment. So there's no guarantee but the surface area or opportunity for it. Now we're talking about bigger brands here. This is not a play that a startup's gonna make. But at the same time really understanding like what, and one of the good habits to do, I think for, for marketers is like Just go spend some time, sign up for like the Google Trends email alert to see like search volume every week to understand like what is driving culture, what really actually creates moments and like, you'll be shocked how much of it is like Timothy Chalamet is the number one search term right now because he's dating Kylie 

[00:26:25] Orchid Bertelsen: dating Kylie Jenner. 

[00:26:27] Taylor Holiday: Exactly right. So it's like, oh, okay. This is the, the most of what the internet talks about is a really important thing to understand. Because I think one of the, like I, I used to, like, when I talked to our creative strategist, to me, most people should start with like like go to, you wanna understand the internet, you. Go to Imer and understand the trending memes and gifts of the internet. Like, because most brands have no idea how to speak and tap into what is the massive wave of conversation around anything in the world. And we're out here just like yelling a bunch of nonsense that no one gives a shit about. Right?

but but if you just start to like hone in on, in each given period of time sort of mapping, what are people talking about? And this is like a fascinating time to bring up breaking tea. So we have a C client called Breaking Tea that actually built a social listening tool that informs their product development.

So they built this tool that quantifies the amount of conversation in the sports world relative to different topics. And then they design their product in accordance to that volume and they actually like make the print order based on the amount of social conversation about a topic. So Colorado wins and Dion Sanders explodes.

They're gonna make a bunch of prints about that because the amount of social conversation increases. And so that's like a very real time example of what we're talking about, but you can begin to train yourself in different periods of time to understand what drives the conversation. That I think will help you think better about this idea.

[00:27:50] Orchid Bertelsen: and I think to your point about breaking teas, like the example I have, because I'm trying to bring some diversity in here. So this is a Vanderpump Rules example.

Ample . But, but Lala, one of the stars, like when Scanable happened at the beginning of the summer, you know, she was doing, it was in her Instagram stories where she was talking about a cease and desist letter that she received, and she was talking about like, Hey, you don't send that directly to me.

I have legal counsel. You send it to my legal counsel. She's like, his name is Darrell. Send it to Darrell. And so she took that phrase and had hoodies on her site within 24 hours. So again, when we're talking about like the cultural zeitgeist and how you tap into culture, for me it's about, and I think Taylor did a really great job in highlighting for breaking tease.

Yes. It's a social listening, like you have to know, understand the, the speed of culture and what you're trying to avoid is that Steve Buscemi meme of him, like

in the high school hallway, like carrying the skateboard, which is like, How I feel every time I talk to some of our Gen Z 

employees, .But what you're trying to do is both social listing, but again, it's the operational agility to be able to act very quickly on that.

And I'll give one more example that's like a very dated, like marketer example, but you remember during the Super Bowl when I think Beyonce performed, this had to be back in 2000. I was living in New York at the time, so this must have been around like two, between 2010 and 2013. And there was a blackout.

Right. All the

lights went out. And everybody was just like, you know, Oreo at the time had put out an ad on meta Facebook at the time that said you can still dunk in the dark. And they did it while the lights were still out. And everybody was like, oh my gosh, how did they do that? That's amazing. How did they get it through?

Legal approval, all those things. But what people don't talk about is that Oreo actually had a campaign running that year where they had a new ad every day. That was. And so for them, they had spent the year leading up to that moment building the operational prowess and getting their operations dialed so that they could launch something that quickly. So again, that's, I think that's, I mean, I'm biased, but I think that that's the key to, you know, really leaning into culture and making it work for you and

really gaining your unfair share there.

[00:30:03] Richard Gaffin: I was gonna say, speaking of being with the zeitgeist and feeling old, I did wanna note for the record that Ben Shelton being 20 years old, means he was born in 2003, not 1993.

[00:30:13] Orchid Bertelsen: wow, my math. Yeah. Oh, that's such a millennial

thing where you're like, 

[00:30:18] Richard Gaffin: pill to swallow. 2003 was, was last year. You know, it's, 

[00:30:22] Orchid Bertelsen: well I graduated college in 2005, so there, there we are. There we are.

[00:30:27] Richard Gaffin: Madness. Crazy. All right, well, so speaking of other sobering news, Q four is right around the corner folks, and so we've talked a little bit about the, the kind of prep that you need to make in Q three, taking advantage or rather turning this value into a peak. So let's talk a little bit about then, about what we're saying about Q four in terms of.

Peaks and the, the cadence there. So a quick reminder for our listeners. We talked about this again a couple of weeks ago, but our premise is that there's four mini peaks within the fourth peak. The fourth peak being the Black Friday, cyber Monday cycle Peak number one is early access, November 1st through 15th.

Peak number two is Black Friday itself, November 22nd through 26th. Then Cyber Monday is the third peak, and then finally, . The holiday gifting period, which is post Black Friday, cyber Monday through about maybe December 17th. So let's talk orchid maybe a little bit about the conversations that you've been having around how to approach this period.

[00:31:22] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah, absolutely.

And obviously we know that we start talking about Q four, what back in, back in June. But when we talk about the four mini peaks of the fourth peak, this is something that we've been bringing into all of our client engagements, planning for the fourth quarter. And so, to your point, you know, when we look at, it's not just about Black Friday. So I, I'll actually list. To the mini peaks in order of like how big they are. 

So number one is, of course, black Friday. I would say number two is going to be Cyber Monday. Number three is holiday gifting. And then number one, which we also, so early access, but we also call early Bird, is probably the smallest one. And so when we talk about those things specifically, we'll, like how do we plan for it? How do we think about it? So there are different strategies for each one. So there's the offer strategy, there's the retention strategy, the media strategy, and the creative strategy. And, you know, as, as you guys know better than anybody else, when we talk about marketing and especially across these different disciplines, it's about orchestration and it's about breaking down silos when you're communicating and planning for these things. None of these things can exist in a . Silo because when they do, that means you're missing opportunities right now when we think about early, early, bird access. Right. You know, I, I have some questions for Taylor as well, like speaking specifically about this, you know, yes. You're giving you're probably reaching out to customers that you've already acquired right through your email list or you know, someone who's like shown, demonstrated some interest in your product even though they've been on the fence. Now. How do you think about the size of the offer? Relative to what you're planning for Black Friday because you wanna make it appealing, you want them to buy. But I feel like there's also this like psychological behavior where we're like, I don't know, like Black Friday, like that deal must get better.


[00:33:09] Taylor Holiday: I think the best way to do this is for the deal to get different. I. Think novelty is the key here. Is that I think that there are lots of ways to say very similar things that feel different and special, that give me a reason to keep checking back. Now it's more work and there's sort of a relationship here between the amount of effort and value creation, I think is definitely worth considering. With your existing customers, though, your key special people, I would be cautious to make the, the value proposition of what you're giving them a deeper discount. I don't think you need to do that. You wanna find a way to give them more stuff rather than deeper discounts. So thinking about gift with purchase, thinking about exclusive bundles, thinking about ways in which they get access to maybe certain products at a discount that others don't.

But I don't think it's like, give your existing customers 40% off and everybody else 25. I would be leery of doing things like that. And then I think there's an opportunity to like just frame it from going from discount to G W P to buy, get to tiered discounts and playing with the novelty of the offer. The reality is each sort of taps into a different type of person for whatever reason in different ways. And so I think you're sort of covering a larger, I'm gonna use this phrase twice here, surface area of your customer base with different offer types. But I do think that there is a novelty importance 'cause otherwise you're just spamming the same message for 17 straight days and it'll fatigue pretty quickly.

[00:34:33] Richard Gaffin: mm-hmm. , and 

[00:34:34] Orchid Bertelsen: I think that's totally fair. 

[00:34:36] Richard Gaffin: I was gonna say like the the advantage of that novelty as well is that people can't like compare it directly as either. So I think like one thing that we talked a little bit about with Luke is this idea that if you give somebody a deep discount, an early access, and then give them a slightly deeper discount on Black Friday, or the same discount or whatever, people can directly one-to-one compare.

Or just sort of like create an expectation that it's going to get better. So they might as well not buy right now. So if each offer is something, provides something fundamentally different, then there's a reason to shop on all four peaks, you know, possibly. What were you gonna say? Or,

[00:35:10] Orchid Bertelsen: Oh, I was gonna say, you know, I think gift with purchase is something that I don't see enough of. I think that's a huge opportunity. So, that happened with me, I wanna say earlier this year. It's a makeup brand that has come on the scene the past couple of years called Merit merit Beauty. And I remember growing up in the Clinique days, right, whereas like my mom would take me to the Clinique counter, they would give me blue eyeshadow.

I'd be very upset about this. And I would always tease my mom because, you know, she would leave the makeup counter with, you know, a couple of bottles. But then also with like, you know, this like Goodie bag filled with little samples. And it's interesting that, that really, I mean, you still see that I think with large department stores, but you don't see that as much with smaller brands and especially in their D two C sites. So with Merit, what they did was they offered a cute little canvas tote bag with purchase, and it was really well made. It was like a very minimalist design. And I actually found myself. Buying for the first time their product. 'cause I was like, just really wanted this bag for, for some reason.

And there were so many, you know, unused canvas, branded canvas bags that I already have. And so I think this idea of, you know, gift with purchase or you know, first access, right? Because like if you've shopped enough sales, you know that by the time you get around to, you know, Getting the best offer, like they're probably out of the colors and sizes that you like. And so I think this idea of like teeing it up that it's not actually, when we talk about, you know, customer incentives, I think your mind always goes to promotions and like the steeper the discount the better. But the problem with that is that there's always so much of it you can do. I mean, you're just giving money away. And then part of it is that you end up creating this consumer behavior that you really don't want. So I love this idea of like incentive and offer planning that is like far beyond promotions.

[00:36:53] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, I think like the, the advantage of the early access offer too is to your point earlier, orchid availability. That's one thing that we talked a little bit a couple of weeks ago as well, this idea that your favorite like colors and styles and whatever are still gonna be in stock. So pair that messaging with some kind of discount or gift with purchase or whatever, and that's gonna be more effective than just sort of apropos of nothing, giving a huge discount early on.

So let's continue moving through the the sort of the peaks here. So we talked a little bit about early access. Let's talk about approaching Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What's, what is the strategy there? How are we thinking about it?

[00:37:30] Orchid Bertelsen: I mean,

[00:37:31] Taylor Holiday: I mean, that's a big question. Wow. 

[00:37:33] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah. 

[00:37:33] Taylor Holiday: Well, so yeah, I, I think the, the premise of the Four Peaks of the Four Peaks, right, is that there's a season, there's a set of behaviors in all of the, the, the lead up periods where we call it Early Bird, and then Black Friday, cyber Monday, holiday gifting. So the four of these, right?

So on Black Friday itself, what you're now doing is you are now trying to Take advantage of the largest volume of consumer demand that exists. And so this is the moment to ensure that we are squeezing every bit out of every drop of everything we've led up to this moment. So you are going to ramp your remarketing volume, you're gonna increase your retention volume, you're gonna make sure that volume, the number of emails sends, are all set to be multiple times throughout the day.

You're resending on, opens to the list. You're just using every bit of that existing demand to make sure that you're, it's fully satiated. You don't leave any meat on the bone in that period of time. And so I think that that is alternatively to this buildup period where you're really trying to fill the funnel.

You're trying to really drive as much new net new traffic as you can. You're trying to find new customer acquisition. You're trying to increase your capture rate on your email popups like this is the moment to eliminate the email popups and capture all of the demand. We're not trying. To, to do any future demand capture here.

We were trying to realize all the, all of the value in that moment. And you really don't wanna leave any bit, any dollar unspent, any email unsent in that moment if you can.

[00:38:55] Richard Gaffin: Okay. So then, yeah, , the approach is pretty straightforward there. Black Friday, cyber Monday are the biggest days. Make them the biggest days. So then for the hol holiday gifting period, that sort of 

[00:39:04] Taylor Holiday: But I do think like, like, sorry, last thing. 'cause

you said that like, it's frivolous every, every year. Somebody is going to try and tell you that Black Friday has moved earlier, that it's the week before now, or, and, and while there is movement in those dark those days, black Friday and Cyber Monday, those two days still massively, massively outperform volume of every other day.

[00:39:29] Richard Gaffin: mm-hmm.

[00:39:30] Taylor Holiday: get caught. Don't start worrying. Oh, I like, what about this brand's doing a sale at the beginning of the month, or they're doing it two weeks before? There are ways, but like, look at the calendar. When we talk about the four peaks of the fourth peak, it's like there's like Little Hills, but the Friday and Monday are still so disproportionately where the volume exists.

So it's really important to, 'cause they're, you're gonna read something, you're gonna hear something about that being different or it moving earlier or blah, blah, blah. Every year I hear this, but no, no, no. Those two days are so deeply culturally ingrained that it's just different.

[00:39:59] Orchid Bertelsen: so curious as to like the DTC I like what it's going to look like for Black Friday, CI Cyber Monday this year, because even with a lot of Steve's reporting this past year, you know, I had questions around promotions, like, yeah, we're seeing revenue pop up and confidence higher, but the, you know, to your point earlier, Taylor, like we're also seeing a higher. Discount rates. And so I'm really curious, like if there are some things, some cultural moments like Black Friday, cyber Monday, that's so ingrained in the American psyche that it actually like trumps all of it.

[00:40:32] Taylor Holiday: It's funny you, you brought up earlier this idea of like, for some reason, you know, buying's attached to holidays, like there is a deeply ingrained, capitalistic behavior that's . When we celebrate, part of the way that we celebrate is to spend money. Like, it's like really?

[00:40:46] Orchid Bertelsen: like, why are we buying on Memorial Day ? Like What 

[00:40:49] Taylor Holiday: does Labor Day ha? Like? You labored and so you're gonna give away all your money. Like it, but it is, it's just celebration involves consumption. It's like, that's part of it in, in a very, very real way.

[00:41:00] Richard Gaffin: And, and I may, I think it's like, and this particular holiday is all about gift giving too. I mean, that's sort of the fundamental cultural movement around Black Friday. So, I mean, that is is a good point to make a distinction between, yes, there are certain brands who are maybe trying to expand their Black Friday earlier or whatever, but the reality is that all of the

People in the United States, let's say nobody's thinking about marketing calendars. All they know is that the day after Thanksgiving, they go and camp outside of Best Buy so they can get a tv. You know what I mean?

[00:41:28] Orchid Bertelsen: Well, do you try not to get trampled is actually what

[00:41:31] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, that's right. They go fight it out for here's, here's a dated reference.

You go fight it out for Tickle me Elmo. There you go. There's there's an 

[00:41:38] Orchid Bertelsen: Patch dolls, cabbage Patch dolls. No, but okay, so this is, this is one thing. So Black Friday, so I, if I remember correctly, cyber Monday was created for digital

and technology products when it was created, right? ' cause it came up

within our lifetime, of course. But I think, I think that was the delineation.

And now it doesn't matter obviously, but.

[00:42:01] Taylor Holiday: So according to the internet which the source of all truth the.

The NRF coined the name Cyber Monday in 2005, introducing it in a press release that described a new trend. The group began noticing a few years prior without fail online revenue traffic spike the Monday following. So what is the NRF?

What the hell is that?

[00:42:21] Orchid Bertelsen: National Retailer Federation, retail 

[00:42:24] Richard Gaffin: Correct. Wow. 

[00:42:25] Orchid Bertelsen: Is that right? 

[00:42:25] Taylor Holiday: go. So they coined 

[00:42:27] Orchid Bertelsen: I was voted, voted most likely to win jeopardy in high school. I will have, you know,

[00:42:31] Taylor Holiday: in two, so 2005. Yeah, there you go.

[00:42:35] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah.

So when I graduated college, so for some reason, I had also paired the narrative that, so Black Friday was, obviously traditional has been here since the dawn of time. Right. The pilgrims probably actually first celebrated it in order to get rid of excess corn or something. And then you had like, You know, cyber Monday I thought was for like digital and technology products.

And so it's really interesting that, you know, it was this like juxtaposition between the different categories and then over time it's just like, okay, there's Black Friday, but like, why does Cyber Monday exist?

Right? Like it, it's very odd 

[00:43:06] Richard Gaffin: yeah, 

it's, it's interesting 'cause like I think it's easy to think about Cyber Monday as being sort of manufactured, but again, looking at the Wikipedia article and you know, fingers crossed that it's right. But the idea here is that like . They, they were simply noticing a trend. And the trend was that, you know, back in 2005, a lot of people were still doing brick and mortar, or most people were doing brick and mortar Black Friday shopping, so you'd shop on Black Friday.

Camp out all weekend, do your shopping. Come Monday, you had to go back to work, but you're still in a shopping mindset. So people started buying stuff online on Monday specifically because they had to be at work. And so all of a sudden it creates this moment where there's this clear movement towards digital products on Mondays.

And then that just becomes, yeah, well,

[00:43:49] Orchid Bertelsen: And I think it's really interesting too, right, when you think about like the consumer mindset, like you're back to work on Monday.

[00:43:55] Richard Gaffin: mm-hmm.

[00:43:56] Orchid Bertelsen: okay. You don't have all of the mind space, right, to spend on shopping for the best deals. 

[00:44:02] Taylor Holiday: do it. 

[00:44:02] Orchid Bertelsen: And so when you're planning

to say, okay, I'm gonna spend my lunch hour,

or like, I'm gonna take an afternoon break and shop the best deals, I would say that whatever you're trying

to connote to the customer has to be really clear. And you also have the

opportunity to kind of tee it up a little early too. Obviously it presses into Black Friday, but it's like to help your customers, maybe even the night before, like understand what they're

gonna get, get the next day so that they can start planning for it. And then like I have a question too around, you know, black Friday, a lot of the shopping behavior there is that you're trying to get an early start 

on shopping for Christmas presents or

shopping for, you know, end of year holiday presents. How do you delineate that between Between that and holiday gifting one and then two. I, I love an opportunity in Black Friday if it's like almost a you know, you buy something now and you get a discount at a

future date to get someone else something. Or you buy a gift for someone and then you get something like, people love that I love that

[00:44:57] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, give, get, and that's where the gift, the gwp like, and some of these things can be technically some challenging to build, like bundled mechanism bundle builders, right? But that kind of stuff, it is really, really well done. If you can gif frame it in that way with a clear consideration for them and you, or there's lots, there's just so many different ways to do it that the more Novel. You make it the more exciting or interesting. I think there's really ways to stand out too. And the, the risk reward there, I, I think for brands is to, I, and I think Saturday and Sunday are interesting days to play with this, where I would not mess around with Friday and Monday. Friday and Monday.

I would keep it clean. This is your 20% offsite wide. This is, but Saturday try the like We built a gift bundler, and here's the thing, and your risk is less, right? Like there's less, less variable risk, and you can always sort of lean back to those days. But it gives you good feedback into how your customers respond to different type types of, off types of offers. Try the mystery bundle. Try the, you know, the, the box with excess inventory in it that you wanna liquidate, that you're just trying to dump on people, you know, whatever it's, but I think 

[00:46:01] Orchid Bertelsen: That's a very bad marketing headline, by the

[00:46:04] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would, I wouldn't lead with that

box full of our excess stuff. But I do think that like bundling a bestselling SKU with something you need to get rid of in a way is is important too. So I think the more that you can do that it can be helpful way to, to rightsize the balance sheet.

[00:46:20] Orchid Bertelsen: In terms of testing things too, I love gap cash. Like as a marketer, I love the idea of gap cash because you're buying something and they're like, Hey, you get $5 off, but like, you have to use this like two weeks from now. 

Like, you don't get to, you don't get to use that right now. You don't get to use that five minutes from now.

Like you gotta come back.

[00:46:40] Taylor Holiday: I think it's really,

really smart to, to especially matching that like we get give for them, get for yourself. Like there's a great way to use that. I like that a lot.

[00:46:47] Orchid Bertelsen: Yep. Exactly. And you know what, if that customer doesn't come back, you don't, you're not out any money, but like they will come back and when they come back, like I'm sure if you give them like a $5 discount or something, I'm sure like you can create the testing mechanism or look at the data and say, actually for every $5 offer, you know, someone spend has an a O V of like

$40 and so it's like more than like worth your while in order to do that.

[00:47:13] Taylor Holiday: And I'm pretty sure too, if you do it as like a, you have $20 off your next purchase and it's good for two weeks, like

alternative to giving them a gift card, you don't have to carry that as a balance, like a liability, right? So that's another important thing. Whereas if you're like, get a hundred dollars gift card with a purchase of a hundred dollars, you have a hundred dollars of outstanding liability that you have to carry around.

It's not good. But if you say like, here's a coupon for $20 off your next purchase, functionally the same thing. It expires on this date. And we can constantly remind you about it. So now there's a prompt for continual email conversation,

and it's not a, it's not a liability. So I think that's a, that's a good way to handle it.

[00:47:49] Richard Gaffin: Cool. All right. So we're we're running up on time here, so let's let's, let's leave the folks with one final observation. What, how would you summarize Orchid? What's the most important thing to think about as we go through this period approaching Black Friday?

[00:48:02] Orchid Bertelsen: Yeah, again, that's a really big question. The thing that always comes to mind that it's like, kind of like my mantra is like When your unfair share

[00:48:11] Richard Gaffin: Mm-hmm.

[00:48:12] Orchid Bertelsen: And so, so I think, I think, I think generally when it comes to marketing calendars, creating marketing peaks that are relevant and make sense for your brand means that, and let's say it pops off like, you know, you can get your, your media's just gonna be more efficient.

Right. Like, because it's very expensive during Black Friday, cyber Monday. But my one takeaway, especially through our conversation about Black Friday Cyber Monday and how to think about the four mini peaks is just novelty. I love that idea, is that it's not just a straight promotion. It doesn't have to be progressively deeper discount like people just like newness, right?

And now that TikTok has diagnosed us all with a D H D, like, you know,

you love a little novelty.

[00:48:54] Richard Gaffin: makes sense. Taylor.

[00:48:56] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, I love that. Get, get more than your share. There's gonna be so many things that are going to tempt you to think that you should hold back on this moment. Somehow you're gonna hear stuff about the customers that you acquire in this time are less valuable or the discount and like You know, every year, Dr.

Sunki, who I love, who is the c e O Post pilot, does this thread about how they lost a bunch of money on Black Friday Cyber Monday by offering too big of a discount and not doing the math on whether or not the CAC was right. And so prerequisite is do the math on your offer and how much money you're making. But sail with the wind. This is a cultural moment that will disappear very quickly, and it is the, like every graph we have says it is the best time of the entire year to acquire new customers along with acquiring existing, or getting revenue and value from your existing customers. So any trope about, oh, these are bad customers, or It's only a time to realize value from your existing customers. Ignore it. Take as much of your share as you can get. Be compelling. Be creative. Sail with the wind.

[00:50:01] Richard Gaffin: All right folks. Okay. Embrace novelty, go all out and remember, get on TikTok and os. Also, 20 year olds. Were born in 2003. That's, those are my takeaways from this session. All right, folks. Thanks for joining us. We will see you all next week. Bye-bye.

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