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For ecommerce entrepreneurs and agency owners alike, creative continues to be the most important variable — and the trickiest to operationalize.

On this episode, Taylor and Richard talk about a recent breakthrough at CTC: A new framework, courtesy of CTC Director of Creative Strategy Aileen McKenna, that reliably generates good creative ideas — quickly.

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This episode of the E-Commerce Playbook Podcast is brought to you by Saral. Build your influencer marketing program on autopilot with a simple workflow. For everything from gifting to paid campaigns, try it out for free at get or with the link in the show notes.

[00:00:18] 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 joining me as he always does our C E O, Mr. Taylor Holiday. Taylor, how you doing?

[00:00:31] Taylor Holiday: I am living in a construction zone. share an office with our customer, skull candy, and they're building out a retail storefront in front, which is gonna be really cool. But for now, if you hear backing up trucks, welding, . Or sawing, I apologize. It's just the reality I currently exist

[00:00:47] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, and I was just down there. We were all kind of at an offsite together last week, so I got to see it and experience it firsthand. And the types of noises you are bound to hear will be completely unexpected if they do show up. So for our listening audience out there, our apologies in advance. But to that point, maybe I think we're gonna talk a little bit about what came out of that.

Onsite specifically around creative, which I think is, is gonna be super applicable to everybody listening. But one other thing I do wanna mention that came out of it is that our, our C O O orchid, I got to have a lot of great conversations with her, but she pointed out to me that my energy on the podcast makes it feel like I'm short.

And so I'm gonna try to figure a way to remedy that. I'm not really sure how it's gonna go, but maybe sitting up taller in the screen. I have no idea. But for the record, I am six two, just so people know. I don't know if that's relevant, but. I just, if my energy seems short, I wanna disabuse people of that notion, I guess.

[00:01:38] Taylor Holiday: Well you have the hair, you've got a little extra vibe going right

[00:01:41] Richard Gaffin: yeah, 

[00:01:42] Taylor Holiday: less short maybe. Maybe it's that you, there's a conflict here though, because you're trying to look like Carmi from Bear Carmi is short, so that may be part of it too, is you might have to rethink your, your fashion inspiration.

[00:01:54] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, . No, no, that's a good point. Yeah, I guess trying to add height via hair is, is maybe maybe not cutting it. But anyway, so beyond that one thing that was really fascinating that came out of this onsite meeting

[00:02:06] Taylor Holiday: I think there's things

[00:02:07] Richard Gaffin: what I sort of deem as, as kind a revolutionary way to approach creative and a lot of what we ended up discussing at this particular meeting.

It was around how we provide enough creative and enough good creative and enough creative that makes sense to our media buyers. 'cause I think there's a fundamental problem.

[00:02:24] Taylor Holiday: forward 

[00:02:25] Richard Gaffin: we talk a lot about, you know, media buying tactics strategies, but none of those strategies and tactics really mean anything if you don't have the proper flow of creative, enough creative coming into your ad account that you can then deploy against some of these strategies and these campaign structures.

[00:02:42] Taylor Holiday: and that's idea is 

[00:02:43] Richard Gaffin: I, I should give a shout out here, up top to our director of Creative strategy Eileen McKenna, who came up with a really fascinating way. Of creating strictures around your brainstorming that you're able to ideate a lot of good ideas very, very, very quickly. And we ran this exercise, we'll get into exactly kind of it went.

ran this exercise and in, in a, in teams of or so, covering three clients, and we were able to come with 35 basically good ad ideas. Over the course of maybe 50 minutes. So maybe before we get in into the specifics of that, maybe break down for us kind of the, the problem that we were facing that kind of Eileen brought this to bear on and how that's created a solution for us.

[00:03:26] Taylor Holiday: One of our themes for the year, and you've heard us talk about it on this podcast is the idea of organizational integrity. In other words, how consistently are, does our behavior match our ideology? And especially for our customers, how often does our behavior match what we sold 'em? C T C has a specific point of view on the world that people come to us to implement.

A lot of it has to do with helping them focus more on profitability. And a function of that is cost caps and cost controls or mineral bidding, or a way that protects downside in your spend. And what we had discovered was that organizationally, our level of integrity around that idea was actually lower than I would've liked.

There were many cases where we weren't utilizing that media buying methodology, and as we began to explore the issue, I. , what it often is rooted in is the same thing that many of you experience when I know that you try and run cost controls, is that it's not malicious, it's not a attempt to undermine or subvert leadership in some way by a group of media buyers.

It's that when you launch a set of creative and it doesn't spend, and you're a media buyer who has expectations on you of delivering volume of spend and efficiency, and your only lever left to do is to change . The inputs, you don't have more creative to do. You just switch things to lowest cost 'cause it actually gets you delivery.

And the reality is, is that the enablement of organizational integrity around this idea is to have a deep alignment between the creative production and the media buying such that they, they empower one another in a way that's really, really connected and thoughtful and important. Now that's really hard to accomplish and it requires a very detailed set of systems around planning, production, delivery approval, account build adjustment, et cetera.

So this is sort of what we went after. Is that right before the, the onsite? I like that you didn't call it an offsite. That that offsite feels like we would be dispersed. We gathered people on site and literally the night before and I put a tweet out about this, saying that I had this breakthrough. I, I, I pretty fundamentally changed

The agenda because what I realized was I was sitting with one of our account executives and one of our lead salespeople, and we sort of got to this, that the core problem of C T C is not that we need some new idea, it's that we're not often enough doing the idea that we said we're going to do. And so I was like, okay, where, where is this happening?

And the root cause, and as we got to it, it, it seems to me right now, and the thing we're going after is this idea of . Creative strategy and production matching the media buying methodology in a way that actually enables and empowers each other. And so and so that's what we really focused on during this time was how could we solve this system?

And I think for many of you who have actually said, I am interested in cost controls, I understand the value proposition, but when I try, it doesn't deliver. And when I don't deliver, I don't make money. And when I don't make money, I've got a problem. So this doesn't work. I want you to know that that's, that's an experience we have too.

But there's an enablement mechanism that I think we're after.

[00:06:26] Richard Gaffin: That makes sense. And I think like one thing that . Really became clear to me, just giving me, thinking back on my experience here at C T C, I've been here for six years. I've been on a lot of different teams. I, and I've seen a lot of different team dynamics and one dynamic that always seems to sort of take place is that the media buyers tend to get praised for being scrappy.

Right. And there's sort a willing to do whatever it takes in the campaign to make sure that it spends, to make sure that we hit a ROEs targets, whatever, It sort of became clear that the reason that media buyers behave that way is that they're just out of creative. And so all of the sort of instances of scrappiness all, actually there's not there.

There aren't diverse causes for it. There's usually one cause and which is a lack of creative. And that's where you get media buyers jumping in and trying to make creative themselves and writing new copy and sort of doing whatever it takes to get something in there. And of course, that's not . That's just not acceptable because that's not the best , it's not the best way to do it.

Right. So let's, let's kind of get into some of the the scaffolding, I guess, like the pieces that go into creating a structure where you can actually produce good creative at scale. And I think like the first place to start. And, and I'm gonna, for our viewing audience, I'm gonna share my screen here real quick.

So we can kind of see a Venn diagram that we've put together that explains this a little bit. And so for those of you who are listening, this is sort of broken into three categories. One is the concept, 

one is the ad, and then the third one on the far right here, we would maybe call variation, but I think like the 

[00:07:59] Taylor Holiday: Concept ads and assets.

[00:08:01] Richard Gaffin: The first thing that we sort of identified, or it sounds like you guys identified in, in the process of constructing this is a need to create definition. So maybe talk a little bit about that Eileen's thought process, the conversations you guys had around. Creating definitions.

[00:08:17] Taylor Holiday: inside an organization, especially when you're trying to create shared language between customers, like semantics, really matter. And so these words get used interchangeably with wildly different definitions in our industry. So as an, as illustration of the point, if I were to sell you that I was going to make 75 ads on your behalf, And I came back and showed you one image with 75 different colored backgrounds.

I think there'd be an incongruence between what you thought you were getting and what I was actually delivering. And we run into this all the time, where right now our contracts. Have an obligation to a volume of creatives that we define as ads, but there's no clarity. We were constantly running into this experience of customers where they thought they, they were getting more different ideas than the ads that they were getting delivered.

And so we're like, okay, we have to put some clarity around these terms so that we can create a little alignment of expectations. You know, agency life is all about set expectations, meet expectations, but the words really matter. I. So to build an operational system, we had to start with saying, what are we trying to actually accomplish?

So we built three tiers to this. 'cause I think they all have an important piece. So a concept A, a, you could substitute the word idea probably there. This is really what customers most often are looking for concepts. And we would say a concept is comprised of three parts. It has an offer what you're selling.

This is what someone would add to the cart at the end of the funnel. An audience who you're selling it to. And this is not a technical audience. This isn't about what you would set up in the Facebook ad account. This is about who the ad is for, who you are advertising to, and then the angle, the value proposition, or why, or the job to be done or whatever the, the reason is that someone's gonna stop you.

People will often express this as like, what's the hook? You know, like what is the thing that's going to capture and sell the product in that? And that equals one concept and then every concept. Has three ads. So ads are different variations of that same concept. So we would define it as a creative with its own unique performance metrics.

So in Facebook it's gonna show you the actual data. In layman's terms, it is the unit that a consumer sees. As a general rule, one concept generates three unique ad creatives. So you could imagine a concept around . Whatever it might be. Having a still image variation ad, a video variation of that ad, a carousel version of that ad, those would be three separate ads.

It could be. Now this is where the three different backgrounds could apply, where you're creating the same concept told in different ways. Maybe it's three different hooks. At the start of a video. You could come up with three different ways, but all three of those ads serve that same concept, that same offer, angle, and audience.

But that's not it either, right? Because we still have to think about how to turn those ads into four assets specific formats for nine by 16 and one by one. So we have to make sure that there's a vertical for stories, and we have to make sure that there's a one by one. And so concepts, ads, and assets now allow us to think, okay, if we sell a customer 75 ads, we're also gonna deliver to them.

150 assets that get put in the ad account in 20 of 25 different concepts. And so that begins to build the, the scaffolding of what the actual execution project is, and it creates alignment between us and our customers more clearly.

[00:11:36] Richard Gaffin: Hmm. Right. Yeah. I think one of the fundamental strengths of this is that the deliverables are clear, I think, at every level. So the deliverable from strategist to designer, deliverable then from designer back to strategist, and then the deliverable to client is all clear what those things are supposed to be.

And I think that's creates

[00:11:53] Taylor Holiday: but we can keep

[00:11:54] Richard Gaffin: reduces communicative friction. I think like one thing we should dive into then . Before maybe I think getting into, maybe running a live example, let's say. But let's talk a, talk to us a little bit about, so we'll, we'll zoom in, so to speak. On, on the diagram on the left for those listening, it's a Venn diagram.

There's three circles. In the middle is the word concept, but the three circles that sort of surround it offer audience and angle. so maybe Taylor explain to us a little bit like what each of those words mean and then how they relate

[00:12:24] Taylor Holiday: Yeah. Yeah. So what, who and why? The offer is literally what you're selling. And the easiest way to think about this is it's what ends up in the customer's cart. So this can be people think, offer, they often think discount. not what I mean here. I mean, just what you are selling now, it could be a discount.

The offer might be 20% off men's shorts. That could be the offer or it could just be the new men's short that you just launched. It could be 20% off the entire site. Like I don't actually, so maybe even the cart is probably too narrow of an example. But literally it is what you are incentivizing people to purchase.

That is the what the audience then is the specific person that you have in mind. And this is where I think a lot of the, the technical media buying has harmed creative strategy. Which is because broad, and I think this is a horrific term, that really convolutes media buying, because broad became the audience definition for most ads, it drove people to think very generically about who they're speaking to, right?

But the reality is broad doesn't mean broad at all. It just means allowing Facebook to deliver the product to somebody specific based on the response to the ad. Well, the way you get a great response to an ad is you develop something that very, is very specifically for somebody. And so we try and really push more and more onto the specificity of having someone in mind when you're writing an ad.

This is the sort of old Jonah Perretti, Buzzfeed, which is that the idea of great creative is that someone can self-identify into it very quickly. So you think about all the old Buzzfeed quizzes would like be, be headlines like things only kids from the nineties would understand, right? Well, I can immediately opt out of that.

I'm from the eighties, but if it said eighties, I go, oh, this ad is for me. So even though it represents. Tens of millions of people, hundreds of millions of people, I still self-identify into that creative very quickly. And that's what the audience has intended to force you to think about is how do you help help somebody self-identify into this creative such that they would wanna click on it very quickly?

[00:14:27] Richard Gaffin: Right, and so I think like maybe, I don't know if ironically is the word, but I think

[00:14:32] Taylor Holiday: That's,

[00:14:33] Richard Gaffin: despite the fact that what we're talking about is speaking specifically to an audience and being very sort of precise with their messaging, one advantage of this is that the three elements are also interchangeable.

With each other, which is to say an offer can be paired with different angles. An offer, an audience combo could have several different angles attached to it. And then the angle, an audience could have several different offers attached to it. And then likewise, the offer an angle together, maybe the same offer and angles before can have different audiences that it speaks through.

And then that overall changes the, the messaging or like that. The, let's say the piece of copy that comes out of that that guides the rest of the design. And so I think like one, one, great illustration. There they go. Okay. One great illustration of this is like I can, without going into these any specifics, I can talk a little bit about the exercise that we ran on.

One of our clients and this client creates, or, or rather their, their bestselling product is a dress shirt that essentially wicks away moisture. It's, it's comfortable to wear in terms of the stretchiness of the fabric, but also in terms of the, the temperature control. And so, So let's say that's the offer.

And I think you made a good point that one way I like to think of it is the offer is just to, if you give me this, I will give you that. And that's a good way to think about it. Right? And so for their best seller, this shirt, let's say it costs $58. The, the fundamental offer here is if you give us $58, give you a shirt that's comfortable to wear, right?

And then that can be massaged to say like, if you give us , $48, but it's normally 58. We'll give you that same shirt, right? It's just like, if, if we give you this, then we'll give you that. So that's the fundamental offer that we started with, right? This is their best selling shirt. It's a short sleeved.

White button down shirt that's stretchy and comfortable, right? So then you go into who has to wear a dress shirt, right? So that becomes your audience. And there's a lot of different answers to that question, right? So it would be, might be waiters it might be just people who work in finance or something that have to dress up to go to the office.

But one that we hit on that, that is actually an audience for this particular brand is Mormon Missionaries. They have to wear a white short sleeve button down. And then on top of that, to get kind of into the angle a little bit, they also have to be outside all the time, right? So the comfort, and particularly the temperature control piece.

And, and this, this also gets into the marketing calendar piece, which we'll talk about in a while, but seasonally, it's summer right now, so it's really, really hot. And these people have to be outside and they have to be wearing this specific outfit. And so you can kind of see how all of a sudden the three things coherent to this idea around sending a message specifically to this one very niche group of people, which is Mormon missionaries.

But then if you think about the offer is this shirt and the angle as it's hot outside, then the audience can also switch to a finance guy. And then you can sort of picture like, okay, we changed the guy who's in. The the creative, for instance, we changed the copy to be more about, you know, like trying to, I dunno, move

[00:17:33] Taylor Holiday: Bike to work, whatever. Yeah.

[00:17:34] Richard Gaffin: exactly. And so the, the offer an angle can stay the same, right? The offer being the shirt, the angle being it's hot, and then the audience can just flip through. And all of a sudden, if you think about it, you have like, that's six or seven concepts right there. And then another thing that we did, to, and I'll wrap it up with this, is that the angle.

On on it being hot outside, right? There's a couple of different ways you can think about that in terms of like, we, we thought of dry heat versus humidity, right? Florida's humid, Texas is hot, or, or Texas is dry rather. Right? And then think about the audience becoming a. People who work in finance in Texas, the creative shows almost like the American Southwest, or a guy in finance who works in Miami.

The creative show something different, A tropical environment or something like that, right? And then all of a sudden, again, you have extra variations of the the ad concept. And all of a sudden, like in, in the space of, you know, the three minutes I've been talking, we have, you know, about 10 or 11 different concepts that we can work from.

So yeah, I don't know. Maybe speak to a little bit of like what your experience has been with, like, running the exercise and, and what, what examples of each might come up.

[00:18:37] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, so what I love about this is it creates different doorways to walk through that then create this potential for pivot. So you just described . And it's funny, when I watch people go into this, by default, everybody naturally sort of gravitates towards one of these doors more often than the other. Like my brain, the way it works is tell me what I'm selling offer, and then let me think about the other things.

But you did the thing with the and caller, which was start with the audience and then figure out what to offer them. There's a big difference between someone who wears a white dress shirt once a month, right? Versus somebody who one wears one every single day. And so a five pack or a bundle offer for that audience might make more sense, right? But the point is that you can start with any. As the constraint, start with a value proposition, moisture wicking and go, okay, who is moisture wicking Good for?

Who does it help? Right? And then you can go, okay, then what's the offer? Or you could do it the other way. Let's start with a five pack bundle. Who would want to buy a bundle of shirts? What kind of person, what would the value proposition be? How could we, is it about saving money? And so it's somebody who's thrifty, what, whatever, right?

So each of them provides you a set of doors to walk through. On which you can pivot and exponentially increase the creative output. And I think that that's what we've found is that starting with a really blank slate in creative is really hard to do. It's almost like the parameters are too wide. There's too many things you could say.

And so part of what we do here is that we actually can create even tighter boundaries, right? Even tighter boundaries to help enable this process, which is that the growth strategist can come in and say, okay, this month, Here are the products we're focusing on. So now offer even has boundaries, right? Or the client really wants to focus on these angles. It's really important to them to test these ideas.

Great. So you can define, you can use one, the marketing calendar. So the marketing calendar can form a constraint. 'cause you have a set of promotions and products that, let's say you have four key moments in the coming month. There's a new product release. Okay? So now in that ideation of concepting offer is fixed, we know what it is, and now we go to the other two and then, Let's say that, you know, we have a brand and they have a launch related to the start of the N F L season.

Well, now we have a, maybe the audience that's fixed on the last week of the year, right? We go, okay, we know it's N F L fans. I. Now what are we offering them and what's the angle? Right? And so the marketing calendar is the starting point for a set of parameters that form even tighter constraints. And it's, so the weird thing here is it's not intuitive to say that the way to get to exponential creative production is to create more and more constraints and structures, but it actually is, that's the key to solving this production ideation volume issue in my experience.

[00:21:20] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, and I think like one of the issues that we found with sort of unrestricted creative ideation, because that was kind of our original approach back when I was a creative strategist, is just like, let your mind go wild. Like, what can you, what can you talk about? You know, or, or rather like what? Like how, how far can you go to think outside of the box to tell this story in an interesting way?

And what happens is when that becomes unrestricted, you just end up kind of putting out the craziest ideas, which, you know, I, there's a certain like strain of thought that would say that like, wow, you know, safe is actually dangerous. Dangerous is, is actually safe or whatever. But really, like if you're doing something that's so unrelated to the product or doesn't really send a message about the product, then, then you got a problem, right?

And so I think like building that creative constraint. Is fundamentally important to actually freeing your mind to be more genuinely creative. I think because you have more building blocks to pull from, then all of a sudden, like your ability to come up with ideas becomes pretty unhindered.

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[00:23:02] Taylor Holiday: There's still, so we've solved sort of, okay, how do we get to the process of ideating? But the other thing we would always run into in this system is a question of how many ideas. Do you need. Right. And so you, this was the other problem is that even in the event that we came up with a certain number of ideas, you have to then do two really complicated things.

One is you have to determine is that enough? Which is a really hard question to answer. And then second, you have to plot them actually into a timeline sequence in order to build production delivery to ultimately end up in the ad account. And so there's a couple, there's one last part of this process that, that is on this slide that would be like the next set of slides in a, in a normal sales presentation for us, which is that every concept is a campaign.

So in C T C Universe, the end result of a concept is a Facebook ad campaign, literally that you can see in the account. So if we tell you we're gonna build 25 campaigns, that means we're gonna, or 25 concepts, that means we're gonna launch 25 Facebook campaigns. And that is another thing. So then we have to turn that into, okay, what day and how much budget is each of those campaigns going to take?

And how does that relate to the overall budget plan that we have for the company? So to do this, we have this whole Facebook spend tracker media planning tool that allows us to take and at the start of any given month. And so we're doing this, like right now, we try and do it by like the third week of every month, look into our ad accounts and go, okay, what spend am I taking with me from July to August on August 1st?

How many of my current campaigns are gonna be spending and how much? So let's just use some easy numbers. Let's say I have to spend a hundred thousand dollars and I go in and I look and I go, okay, I am currently spending. $1,500 a day for campaigns that I know are gonna be live on August 1st. Okay? So that gets me to about $45,000 in spend.

So now I look at my thing and I go, okay, my gap is about $55,000 or $2,000 a day roughly in spend. Okay, well now I've got sort of the amount construct starting to form, but just dollars per day doesn't lead to number of concepts. I now have to go and look at . A metric we started to value, which is on average when a brand launches an ad, how much volume does it get?

And you could do this at the con concept level, or you could do this at the A level. So revenue per ad, or revenue per concept begins to then give you a metric for how much anticipated spend is gonna get through this campaign. 'cause when you're running cost controls, just simply setting the budget does not equate to spend.

So we have seen that, you know, the best, the best brands in the world can get upwards of a thousand to $2,000. Two th $2,000 of spend. Prat, I said revenue prout. I meant spend prat. apologize because most ads work from, for the really high performing brands, the reality is most of their creative exists in an environment where the demand for the product is such that creative is almost like secondary to just showing people the product , because so much of the branding work has and marketing work has been done.

but for a lot of brands that's not the case. And so their reality is actually that most ads don't work, and so the volume requirements to get through the spend are actually much greater. But somewhere in there between the, the amount of spend that you need to get and the amount of spend that you get per concept is then a framework for thinking about how many concepts you need and when you need them live by, in order to enable the spend volume at the efficiency target that you want.

[00:26:24] Richard Gaffin: So talk a little bit about the what, what's, what's the phrase you use? $2 of ideas for every dollar of spend. Talk about that maybe as a framework for thinking through, like how, how much you would actually need.

[00:26:33] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, so this was a, again, it's sort of like four quarter accounting where the specifics of it are less important than the idea of it. And the idea of it is just to illustrate that most ads don't work, that you need more ideas for the amount of spend than you think when you're running cost controls.

What I've found is that practically, it's actually closer to $3 of ads. About 30% of ads will get to spend a meaningful amount of spend at their target. Like that's, that's a rough number, right? So it's actually closer to, to $3 of ideas. So the point is just if I'm gonna launch a Facebook campaign budget at a thousand dollars a, I'm going to assume closer to $300 of actual spend.

Right. A third of that is actually gonna flow through against the budget that I have set. Now, sometimes I overperform that and sometimes I underperform that. So the average only directionally useful against the reality of what occurs. But if you get more spend when you're running on a cost cap, that's great.

And now you have a backlog of excess campaigns that allow you to go somewhere next. And now you're, you're in a good place. Now. You're starting to build stuff that you're waiting to turn on. Because you, until that other one dies out, and so you get these winners that sort of scale disproportionately to the rest.

So that's where what I want to teach people to think and creatives, we, they, my experience of them is that they tend to be very precious about the idea and it working or not working is a very deeply connected evaluation of them. And so I want to give them, I wanna free them up. To understand the game that they're playing is that they will lose often.

And so the amount of ideas they need is not some reflection of them doing a poor job. It's that the reality is the great creatives, you know, and this is something that people would argue with me about a lot, but I, I've seen a lot of people make ads , and there's no such thing as like the king maker that every ad that they make works, they don't exist in the world.

I'd say that the difference is somewhere between like 20 and 40% success rates is like the actual band of of success that I see for people, but. But the point is to free you up to go, Hey, most of your stuff's not gonna work. So we're gonna do more than we think we need in order to protect against that reality.

[00:28:37] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. And I think that there's a way too that this speaking about like creative restrictions, that this process sort of depersonalizes the ad or the creative from the actual creation of the ad. Because if what you're given is like, Hey, you have these three restraints, right? The offer, the angle, and the audience, I.

You just have to come up with different combinations of them and, and sort of see how they all meet. And maybe the creativity comes in writing the line that speaks specifically to Mormon missionaries in a humid climate or whatever. Like there's some, obviously there's some creativity to that, but I just think like the, the volume that you're producing and then the fact that.

You are able to disconnect yourself from like, everything having to have, have come from within I think creates a scenario where like it just emotionally becomes a lot easier, which with which frankly for creatives is, can become a huge issue. So anyway, I mean, I thought, yeah, going through this process I felt.

I felt a strong sense that this was a solution to a lot of our creative struggles. Now, of course, we'll see how this plays out in executionally. That's always difficult to make that work. But I think overall, like the, what felt like to me is that the idea of creative ideation scale felt sort of solved

So maybe talk through like where do you feel like or maybe burst my bubble a little bit. Like where do you feel like the, the issues in for us moving forward?

[00:29:52] Taylor Holiday: so, so I wanna outline what I see as like the whole process of this. So in to get from what is concept to campaign live. I think that's the start and end points that I'm after. And so just as an illustration, like next month, C T C has to produce roughly a thousand ads across our portfolio, which is roughly 300.

Concepts, which means we have to launch 300 Facebook ad campaigns like it live in the ad account. So that's the end point from concept to campaign live. In between that, you go from concepts logged to concepts presented to the customer, which they have to approve, which there's gonna be debate on to then writing a creative brief, which is, think of that as the actual material that a designer's gonna use to make the thing.

And the briefing process is actually the most time consuming. Right, because it requires a lot of detailed specifications. This font, this logo, this edit time, this image, this, it's, it's the most technical work that occurs is the briefing to ad designed to ads approved, which that can take its own time to campaigns built to campaign live, right?

So there's a whole funnel of production that has to happen from this concepting. So what we've done is we're trying to batch. The volume of concepting as a group effort. So we've just reoriented all of C T C Wednesdays. We cleared every client calendar into what we call Wayfinder Wednesdays. We build growth maps.

It's all nautical themed here. Wayfinder Wednesdays is team. It's the exercise we did at the offsite team, collaboration around concept backlog to make sure that walking out of today, and this will, we are going to have all of August concepted. By next Wednesday, we'll have all of September concept.

That includes the date of the go live, of the concept and everything that goes into it. And I, and I've shared the, the sheet that we build this off of in the past, we call it the Facebook concept backlog. It has a set of columns with a specific set of information. We can share that at some point as, as, as well. And so the team is going to batch that work. That's a group effort. It's collaborative. We believe that anybody can bring concepts and ideas from there.

The strategist now has pick, the creative strategist now picks up the ball and has to present those concepts to the customer and begin to write the briefs and then we have to design them, right? So there's, there's a whole bulk work here that has to happen. And what we have to figure out is we have to really get to the clear

Atomic units of each process and how much resources needed to get. What, what we're really trying to do is get months out ahead so that there's more, the volume is right. We have enough, because right now we suffer from not enough. And so we're trying to get out in front of it and it's gonna likely involve these sprints where we're actually gonna bring in a bunch of design resource, a bunch of creative strategy resource to

Take the concepting batching into production batching where you are building a creative way out in front. And so there's gonna be some of that work to do. And I think what we have to prove is that one, we can come up with concepts as a group. I think I believe that that's gonna happen. But I will say I've been through a few of them today.

It takes an amount of preparation to do this really, really well. has to be thoughtful. And what we haven't proven yet is that the client's approval of the concepting can happen quickly. And that it's not gonna cause a big quagmire of debate around ideas and debate around assets. 'cause right now we've approved assets, just the ads themselves, is really only one checkpoint.

But now we're almost introducing a second opportunity for them to weigh in. And the hope is that it actually makes the approvals on the other end more less friction because they've already sort of agreed to the idea, so to speak. So we'll see. I I, I think that there's We we're hopeful. We're hopeful, I would say, but I think that there's a lot of work still to be done to prove that we can consistently produce the volume and that we can actually, that the idea about the amount of volume that we have, I think, I think it's gonna have to create an a more flexible conversation with customers about their contract.

Also with how many ads we think we need, because I think we're gonna be wrong about that a lot. Like in the beginning, we're gonna assume we need this many. And then we might need more or less. And so my hope is that we can be proactive about saying, Hey, we're actually gonna lower your contract. 'cause it turns out we don't need as many ads as we thought.

We're having more success more often, or we need more than we've assumed, but the end outcome is worth it.

[00:34:13] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. And, and one advantage I think that much of our listenership will have over us is that they themselves are, they are on brand side, right? They're not an agencies. They don't need that set of approval. So, this . So sort of that roadblock is no longer there. But I do think you made a good point about about debate.

'cause that's still the type of thing that can happen. I think that there's an element here that we need to talk about, which is this sort of . Ideation period. That maybe happens, like for us anyway, that would happen at the beginning of a relationship with a client where we just download and get sort of on the same page about like, okay, what is the best seller?

O obviously, what is the marketing calendar? What's worked in the past? What angles do you prefer? Like what audiences have worked like. Getting everybody in the room to get all the information there so that later when you do this process, you know where you're pulling from and you know that what you're pulling from is like, ultimately makes sense.

And so I think one of the things, you know, because I was, when I was ideating around and caller you know, I didn't necessarily have the background because I hadn't been a strategist in another account in the past. However, presumably somebody who'd been a strategist with them for a while has a better understanding of exactly what.

He's attractive about the shirt. So anyway, that's just sort of a caveat to say, like one a phrase that we use a lot is that good information creates good inspiration. And I think that this, this is, that still holds true, but this creates this middle ground there needs to be a restriction on the inspiration process, I think where, and I think that that's kind of what this ve diagram does for us.

[00:35:43] Taylor Holiday: That's right. And if you think about that information, the marketing calendar, bestselling products, what the customers say about the product, what they really value, and then I would even say personal experience yesterday. So we work with solo brands and we got a chance yesterday a bunch of our team went out and took ORU Kayak, which is one of their brands out into the Bay.

Went with the president, put the kayaks together, went out in the water, and had this real experience of the product. For something technical like this too, I would even argue that that part of it. Really awakens you to like, oh, okay, I see the, the novelty of this experience and what makes it so special and fun and there's like an experience to it that you can hear from customers.

It also helps. And so all of these pieces, the data, knowing the margin of the products and the L T D by first customer purchased and all of that, the marketing calendar, the qualitative planning side of what's coming, when you have to intimately know that in order to concept effectively, What the customers say, what they really believe matters to them, and then what it feels like to use it are all really useful in being great at this exercise.

[00:36:49] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. Okay. So if you could leave our listeners with just one takeaway from this, like what, what, what can they take away maybe after listening to this and immediately apply to their own businesses? Like what would you say that would be?

[00:37:01] Taylor Holiday: So the answer is that if you wanna run cost controls, which I believe is the best media buying methodology to protect your dollars, it begins with a creative system that enables it. And we, this can exist in different forms. I know the guys at Kinship as an example, they do, they sort of treat this as like, we're just gonna make thousands of ads and we're gonna really lower the barrier of quality, but it's gonna be tons of U gc and we're just gonna flood the ad account with it to make sure that eventually we get spend and that that's one way.

But the point is, if you don't have a system in mind, and if you don't have an ability internally and all, what I'll say is it's hard to build this process. It's actually very difficult, I think, on the brand side to actually create this kind of system. It is not how your creative team is likely designed to function.

Some people do, you know, I've heard of Fabletics making 50,000 ads a month and other people that you can build that system, but it's a must build. You cannot decide to take on cost controls to take on that as the mechanism for your media buying without a corresponding. Synergistic creative strategy. So if you don't have one, we'd love to help.

But if you're going to pursue it internally, just make sure that you're working through these component parts to enable the most efficient form of acquisition.

[00:38:07] Richard Gaffin: Cool. All right. So we'll, we'll keep you all updated on, on how this plays out, but I think like for the time being , I at least am optimistic that we found a unlock to creative ideation at scale. So shouts out of course to Alene for coming up with a structure for us. And yeah, I think I think that does it for us.

Taylor, anything else you wanna hit?

[00:38:25] Taylor Holiday: Nope, that's it. Appreciate all of you. Tune in next week.

[00:38:28] Richard Gaffin: Take care everyone.