EP 03: How to Develop Relationship-First Marketing with Your Brand

Meet our guest:
Bryan Starck
Bryan is the founder of 100 Celsius, a CRM Marketing & Customer Engagement Agency for eCommerce brands. Bryan and his team have helped many high-growth DTC brands grow profitability with relationship-first email & SMS marketing. Most recently, Bryan also co-founded an up-and-coming DTC brand in the pet space called Fellow Living! With a love for animals of all kinds (but especially dogs), Bryan and his wife are working to make Fellow Living the most trusted source for stylish and effective home decor products for dog families.
Meet our hosts:
Dave Pancham
Dave has spent over 12 years in the industry where he has managed an e-commerce supplement shop for 8 years where they grew from 6 figures in yearly revenue to over 8 figures, managed millions in ad spend on Facebook, and founded a 7-figure fitness franchise marketing agency specializing in paid advertising, lead nurturing, and membership growth coaching which currently has over 100 clients.
Alex Ivanoff
Alex's specialty lies in psychology, paid advertising, funnel building, technology, and finance. He has managed millions of dollars in ad spend on various social platforms, and solved complex problems with thousands of businesses.


How to Develop Relationship-First Marketing with Your Brand

Alex Ivanoff: Welcome to Mission Control, where we give you step-by-step instructions on how to take your eCommerce store to levels only a rocket can reach. Each episode, we'll be interviewing an expert in the eCommerce industry that is going to give you simple, actionable advice on how to attract new customers, retain them and build a brand that you are proud of. This show is brought to you by the makers of RocketCart, an eCommerce services, and solutions company.

Alex Ivanoff: All right, welcome to one of our very first episode recordings of Mission Control. My name is Alex. I'm joined by my partner Dave Pancham. And today on this episode, our guest is Bryan Starck from 100 Celsius. Thank you so much for joining, Bryan.

Bryan Starck: Hey, what's going on, Alex? Hey, Dave. Great to be here.

Dave Pancham: Great to have you, Bryan. Neighbor, kind of, right? Orange County.

Bryan Starck: Wow! Okay, so we've got me, Costa Mesa, you are in Long Beach or Seal Beach? Which one?

Dave Pancham: I'm in Sherman Oaks.

Bryan Starck: Oh, okay. Somebody's Sherman Oaks. And then we've got another one down South Orange County on your team, Victoria. Wow. Alex, What are you doing, man?

Alex Ivanoff: I know, I gotta get out of the sunny weather, the winter weather. I, it's snowing here in New Jersey. So I'm on the wrong side of the coast, Obviously.

Bryan Starck: You're in the direct path of a bomb

cyclone. I think, right now, as the time of recording this.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, the weather here is just..this is probably one of the most volatile

weathers, winters I've had, or we've had in a long time. So I'm definitely looking to get out of it. But let's, let's get to it, Bryan, let's talk about, you know, what you do? Tell us a little bit more about what it is you do with 100 Celsius, you also started your own brand recently. We met a couple months ago back in an event and we were super excited to have you on. So you know, please tell us a little, a little bit about

yourself and what you do.

Bryan Starck: Yeah, perfect. Well, thanks for having me on again. This is awesome. You guys are amazing. I had such a blast meeting you at the event a few months back in Atlanta.

So I run "100 Celsius". We are a CRM marketing and customer engagement strategy agency for eCommerce brands. Specifically D2C brands on Shopify, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce, etc. And we help brands grow profitably using CRM channels like email, SMS, direct mail, customer service, and we help them do it in a way that not only makes lots of sales, but their customers love to engage with. That's what we call relationship-first marketing, which is really an approach to marketing where it's not only driving results and making sales, but your customers actually enjoy engaging with it, which I think is a big difference to a lot of the ways a lot of brands are doing it these days. So we can definitely talk more about that.

Alex Ivanoff: Wow!

Bryan Starck: In addition to the agency, just like you said, we, I recently started an ecommerce brand with my wife. It's called Fellow Living. We make the world's best waterproof dog blanket, we are launching in the next couple of weeks officially, we've opened up for pre-orders, and it's a blanket that is being manufactured right here in the USA. We are going through the trials and tribulations of a first time brand owner, which is great. It's given me a whole lot of respect for people that make physical products. I'm so excited to chat about that. But yeah, it's super exciting. And it's been a blast to work on that with my wife as well.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, absolutely. I'll tell you what, Dave, I'm super excited to learn more from Bryan about Fellow Living, in particular, because like you said, Bryan, you just started it. And you're really just getting it off the ground. And it's a very unique product. Like you said, there's not many competitors to it. So tell us a little bit more about 100 Celsius. And you know, how it got started.

Bryan Starck: Totally. My background is kind of all over the place. But 100 Celsius got started because I was working in sales for an enterprise marketing technology company a few years back. I was living in New York, and the company I was working with, we were a really high ticket enterprise technology, SAAS companies, so we worked with clients, brands like Stitch, Fix, Dollar Shave Club, Staples, Finish Line, Spanx, Mac Weldon, a lot of really cool brands,

Dave Pancham: I worked with Mac Weldon.

Bryan Starck: Yeah, they're amazing, right? What we knew, and basically we were sort of that next step, a brand would take after they graduated from something like a Klaviyo or most of these mid-market email marketing services. The reason was, they would be looking for something that allowed them to take all this data they had on customers that was living in a million different places and and bring it all into one place that was accessible for marketers who then could use it to create really segmented, really targeted campaigns across lots of channels, very complex. And it was great for these really high level brands. But as a salesperson I was talking to a lot of smaller brands. And they would, they would call in, they’d be looking for technology, enterprise marketing technology like this to solve retention problems, you know, maybe they were doing seven figures, low to mid eight figures in their brand.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah.

Bryan Starck: And we would start talking and they'd say, “Yeah, I need to increase my repeat purchase rate, I want to send more targeted campaigns, I want to understand my customers better.” A lot of the stuff that brands all across the world are having those conversations right now and have been for the last couple years. But the issue was, you know, we started talking, and we'd find out why they're not even maximizing what, what they're currently using, they only have a couple of basic flow setups in klaviyo. They're not collecting and then using data to personalize the experience. Frankly, their customers just, like, didn't enjoy their emails, right? Like, they're just sending emails that end up in the promotions tab that their customers just kind of tune out, right?

Alex Ivanoff: Exactly.

Bryan Starck: Because there's no personality behind it. And that really got me thinking, I was like, wow, yeah, I like sales. But like, I could do that, right? Like I could, I could do marketing. So I, I started teaching myself email marketing on the side, and took some courses, and ended up at a certain point, getting my first client to manage their email marketing and copywriting. And after a few months of doing that, like way before it was financially advisable to do so I ended up just jumping ship and saying, like, I see that there's a lot of opportunity here with the agency or freelancing or whatever it's going to be, I really sort of had this like entrepreneurial itch to get out and do my own thing. And I was like, frankly, just really enjoying the marketing side of things. So I made the leap and didn't look back from there.

Alex Ivanoff: How long ago was it that you made that leap into going full time into your agency?

Bryan Starck: That was in 20, I was, that was the end of 2020. So I had been working on the agency slowly for, you know, a good portion of 2020. And then got my first client, I can think the summer of 2020, and then ended up making that leap in like October or something. So okay, yeah, the post COVID-19, post COVID. Yeah, post COVID. Working, working remotely.

Alex Ivanoff: And so you took the leap of leaving an enterprise job, post-COVID-19, a couple of months afterwards, and going into an agency full time. And this is the first time you were running your own business for, like, by yourself ever or in a long time?

Bryan Starck: Ever. Yeah. First time we've got. Yeah, it was, it was a little crazy. I don't know. Like, I think that as entrepreneurs, right, your appetite for risk is maybe higher than the average person, but I look back and I'm like, wow, like, sure glad that it worked out. Because I was, like, not making very much money at all in the agency when I went full time. And then it coincided with making a pretty big investment in some coaching programs, etc, to help get it off the ground. So yeah, it's very, very, I feel very blessed that it…that it worked out. And I've been able to continue doing it and have a really cool impact in everything since then.

Dave Pnacham: I think it helped that you probably also, the timing of I think in the past like year or two like eCommerce has definitely been booming, you know, a significant amount due to, due to COVID. So I Think that also did work out kind of well there, right? If you're looking for more marketing services, businesses, a lot of businesses are dramatically changing. Something that kind of struck a chord when I was hearing you saying it, and I would love to hear you kind of expand on it, is that, like you said, you know, people are like, their customers just don't like your emails, they didn't enjoy their email, like, how do you make somebody enjoy an email?

Bryan Starck: It's, it's tougher! Well, I don't want to say it's tougher to do. It's, it's, it's kind of, it's an interesting paradigm shift. So think about it. We're all marketers. I'm an email marketer. I could probably count on one to two hands, how many brands I truly enjoy getting their emails and reading, hearing from them. Our inboxes are so saturated these days, right? Everything's going to the promotions tab. It all looks like, when I think about it, when I describe it, it's like I think about, like JCPenney, or like, Best Buy. And it's just like the big image-based like cattle, you know, to just like, it's just one thing after the other and it feels very transactional. I think when you, in order to get people to enjoy hearing from you, you've got to stop thinking about email, just like it's a coupon distribution channel, or like it's a one-way communication channel and start thinking about it more like this is a two-way communication channel between me and our audience.

Bryan Starck: And there's a number of things that go into that. But the, some of the things that really make people enjoy hearing from you, I think, one is when they can see themselves in the email or see themselves in the marketing. This is a real pillar of what we do at 100 Celsius,  this idea of audience participation and showcasing customers. So a lot of our content is really inviting people to reply back to emails, or to submit reviews, or to leave testimonials or whatever, invite them to engage, and then basically parrot that engagement back to them. So that they are always wondering if maybe they're going to open an email and see themselves in it. So that's one way. The other way too, is doing stuff that's not just selling, right?

Bryan Starck: Everybody talks about, like, educational and content emails and stuff. But you got to, like, when…when you really look at what most brands are doing, most brands are 90% just selling, right? They're just treating email like we've got, we've got a flash sale, or we've got, you know, a spring sale going on, or whatever. And if they are sending content, it's like boring blog posts, or stuff like that, right? So the question is, what kinds of content is your audience going to really love and appreciate, and it might have nothing to do with your product. But coming up, coming up with that kind of content, taking the time to be thoughtful about that. And actually asking your audience what they want to hear, all that good stuff. It's like, it's really important. And I think that there's a lot that goes into that. And then, and I'm word vomiting here. Third, third-key thing. And we can probably spend more time talking about this, because this is something that I think a lot of brands skip, get wrong. But it's this idea of lifecycle marketing.

Alex Ivanoff: Makes sense. For the brand owners listening now, what is lifecycle marketing?

Bryan Starck: What lifecycle marketing is, is that customers at any given time are at different, different places in their journey with your brand, maybe they're a new customer. They're a repeat customer, they're a VIP, they're a former VIP, they, whatever, there's, there's these lifecycle stages. And what most, a lot of brands don't realize is you really have to speak differently to each one of these customer segments, depending on where they're at in that journey with your brand. So a lot of what we do is helping brands come up with a lifecycle stage-based approach to say, how can we consistently create and deliver content that's different for your new customers than for your VIPs. Or how can we consistently work in campaigns and marketing messages for your reactivation opportunities. What cadence should they be getting messages from us? Do your older, former lapsed customers need to be getting three emails a week or four emails a week? Probably not. So all those things, but it all comes down to right message, right customer, right time. don't be boring. And invite that audience participation, for us.

Dave Pancham: So yeah, right customer, right time, hit those once again.

Bryan Starck: Right message, right customer at the right time.

Alex Ivanoff: Makes a lot of sense. And if we're talking. Yeah, if we're talking specifics, like one of the things you mentioned is, you're not, you don't always want to be selling. Specifically, what does that mean? Like, you know, a lot of brands, like you said, they try and use emails as a medium to pretty much just put out whatever promotion that they want to put out. You talked a lot about, like, putting out content and extending that lifecycle aspect of the marketing. How do you evaluate whether or not you're going to put a promo in an email, specific content, you're going to ask for engagement, like, how do you make those decisions? For the brand and as a brand?

Bryan Starck: Yeah, it's a great question. And it really depends on the brand, the really easy way to think of it is, are you making more deposits than you're making withdrawals? If you think about a relationship with an audience, through email, SMS, etc. It's a good question to ask yourself, have I been making a lot of withdrawals lately, maybe I should make a deposit. And I think a lot of, a lot of the…the practical way of making sure that happens is, is taking the time to be thoughtful about how you structure your campaign calendar. One really easy way to do this is to have, like, recurring content, campaigns every week, every month, specific things that you do that, you know, you can fall back on and plan for. So you're not just trying to pull content ideas out of your, out of your back pocket right at the moment's notice. But this whole idea of selling versus not selling is a really interesting one. Because I would say that selling and relationship building are not mutually exclusive. 

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, tell me more…

Bryan Starck: A lot of people think if I'm selling, I'm not building a relationship. And that’s not the case. We have clients that we sell very proudly, we are very…you know, we, we, we do lots of promotions but they're done in a way that's engaging and fun, and there's a reason why we're doing it. And that, I think, is a really important thing to think about, from that perspective, is if you're going to be selling it always is really powerful as a brand to have a reason why you're making it, you're asking for a sale, or you're putting out a discount. That's not just like, “Hey, we're running a flash sale.” We'll do things like…we call it the reply cycle technique. For example, we'll ask a question to the audience. And we'll invite them to respond. And we'll take a bunch of the best responses, and then we'll feature it back in a subsequent email. And maybe one of those responses is like, really, really cool. And maybe they mentioned something like, “ah, you know what, I've been…I am on fixed income. And I'd really love, you know, I've been wanting to stock up for a while on this product, but I haven't been able to.” And so we'll, like, take that quote, and then we'll like, parrot it back in another email being like, “Hey, we totally agree, it's been a while since we've done this, and for any of you guys that have been waiting, haven’t been able to stock up on this product,”…like, “checkout, we totally agree with this customer and that's why we're doing a sale and we're gonna name the discount after her.” Like we might make, we might make the coupon code Angie or whatever, right? To really… just everything that we do is reinforcing this positioning as a brand, like, this is an opportunity, this is an exciting opportunity to buy and we're doing it for you, to help you. And not because we are just wanting to make a sale.

Alex Ivanoff: Right? See…sorry, that stuff is just fascinating to me, the fact that you guys take that much of a fine tuned approach to develop that relationship. I mean, this is a relationship first beyond anything, right? We're talking about, obviously, growing a brand. But if we're talking about the steps to do so, I think developing the relationship in the way that you just kind of described it is fascinating, I don't think enough people are doing that. If we were to back up a bit, why is this so important? Because, you know, a lot of people are gonna look at this and say, like, it was maybe, like, a fallacy, or, you know, everyone talks about building relationships with your customers, and that customer journey and the relationship, you know, between like that two way communication that you kind of talk about, but why is it so important for a brand to focus their marketing, not just emails and SMS, but everything on that type of mindset?

Bryan Starck: It's a super good question. We're in a day and age where there's so much saturation in the market. Yeah, we have a lot of options. People have a lot of options to, for whatever they want to buy, generally speaking. And you're right, everybody does talk about email, like, oh, yeah, email’s a relationship building channel. But most people don't walk the walk. And because of that, here's why this is really important, it’s because you can implement bits and pieces of these types of strategies. And it doesn't…the bar is pretty low, right? The bar for creating a really cool moment for customers is actually not that high. Like, how many brands do you know that ask, or that send you an email, it's like, “Hey, Alex, this is Bryan, the founder and CEO of Fellow Living,” or whatever brand you're getting an email from… “just wanted to know,” like, “Hey, thanks for buying this product. Quick question, did you buy this, like, as a gift? Or did you buy it for yourself?”

Alex Ivanoff: Fascinating.

Bryan Starck: Or like, “Hey, what was the thing, you know…like, what's your dog's name?” Like, that’s you know, like, in a post purchase email, like, “Hey, man, we want to send your dog a treat,” like, “what's their name?” Right? Start-, starting a conversation, you get that kind of stuff. And you're like, wait, what? It sort of breaks this. It's a pattern interrupt. And so what we really feel and what we've seen is that brands, that you can create, like, the world's best experience, or be a category leader, in that experience, by systematically looking at your customer journey, and saying, like, what are a bunch of small little moments that I can create for customers that are like standout experiences, we call them like dynamic moments. And it's really cool, because if you can do that, like all you're doing here is you're, you're turning your sort of generally apathetic customer base into people that go to the park or go to, like, when they're out of drinks being like, “yo, like, I just bought this thing and they sent me this crazy thing for their email. Like, I send something in, like, they send an email out with my name in it,” and you get people talking. And I think that that's like, in this environment, having that kind of experience is really what is a super amazing differentiator for any kind of ecommerce brand or any business frankly.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, I love

that. That's awesome. So we talked about a bunch of different things,

right? Pattern breaking, interrupting patterns, we talked about not overselling, there's a lot of different things that brands could be doing wrong with their email marketing. What would you say is like the biggest one that you know, you see it and you're like, come on, like this is, this is…. You can't, you gotta do better than this.

Bryan Starck: Yes. Okay. Outside of every brand we go into. There's always like,

technical fixes, immediate optimizations, quick wins, that kind of thing that  most brands are like missing out on, you know, 3 to 5 percent in revenue just because of, like, technical issues in their account. So we fix that. After that, we actually, this is pretty counterintuitive, and most brands don't think about this. But the place where we always prioritize starting is your post-purchase onboarding experience. And the reason for that is, if a customer doesn't successfully use, or enjoy or whatever, if they don't use, consume, complete, the things they just bought from you successfully, they're pretty much a one-and-done customer, guaranteed.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah.

Bryan Starck: They're not going to come back and buy again, they're not going to tell their friends, they're not going to leave a review. And where I see a lot of brands make a big mistake is that they spend a ton of time trying to acquire a customer. So they're abandoned cart flows and their welcome flow, and everything will be really, you know, really built out etc. And then they'll just have like, a one email, generic "Thank you" message when they buy. And then that's it. If they have that in the first place, and I find that post purchase experience is almost always super lacking for brands, but, what they're doing is like, they're actually just digging themselves in, like they're not doing anything to deepen that relationship, in the moment that it matters most. Because when you buy something, you're in this emotional high, and then almost immediately, you have this, like, buyer's remorse, like that's what most most people experience this, like, psychological shift where they buy something. And then they almost immediately think, “Ooh, was that a good decision?”

Alex Ivanoff: Makes sense.

Bryan Starck: Like, “Should I have spent a 100 bucks on that? Do I really need that?” And the reality is, like most brands do nothing to kind of validate that purchase, say, like, “Hey, you did a great thing by buying,” and then help guide them through that pre-arrival and then delivery experience where it's like, “Hey, here's the protocol that you need to be following to get the best results out of these supplements.” Or, “Hey, you know, when you get our blanket, make sure that you do XYZ, the first time,” right? Wash it machine, cold, gentle, tumble dry, otherwise, it's going to pill.” And what you're doing is like you're educating them, you're setting expectations, you're guiding them through that. And so, like, it just pays off massively throughout the rest of that customer relationship. And so that's really the first thing that we almost always do, unless there's like glaring issues with their front end flows. We optimize that onboarding experience, just in the same way, like, as an agency, you have a structured onboarding process, as a SaaS company, you know, they take you through an onboarding process. It's really, like, overlooked in ecom. And I don't know why.

Alex Ivanoff: Do you think you can do things like that even with simple products as well? I'm sure you have and you can but like, let's say I bought a deodorant stick or a pair of shoes. How do I nurture that relationship immediately post-purchase, so that I can eliminate that buyer's remorse, because everyone knows how to use those things. And everyone knows what generally they're expecting from it. Maybe there's some type of content or education around that.

Bryan Starck: Yeah, I think in those…that's a great question. I think in those situations, you really want to lean into making them feel good for buying. Like, they're gonna get this, they're gonna look, like, somebody buys a pair of shoes. Why? Because they want to look fresh, they want to look really cool, rocking their new kicks, you know, they buy deodorant, like, they don't want to smell bad, you know, they want to, they want to smell better, they have a sweating issue. They want to try aluminum, you know, aluminum-free deodorant, and they don't, because they support the environment, whatever it is, in those where there's maybe not like a utility, like, here's how to, like, open the cap of your deodorant, and like twist a little thing to get it out. You really want to focus on like, making them feel like they made a good decision and help them get them excited, like, “Man, you're gonna smell so good when you get this,” and really just like get them excited. It's that pre-arrival thing that I think in those cases you really want to focus on.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, no, essentially, what you're saying is like, you just want to sell the product and the same, with the same, you know, principles that you've used before to sell that product before they purchase it, you want to apply the same things and make them feel good about it right afterwards.  And it's funny because Dave and I talk about this all the time. This is not just with D2C, you know, physical products. This is with anything, like you said SaaS as well, if, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs in the industry buy courses or education, how many times do we see like you don't utilize the courses or the education or the mentorship that you have. And it's kind of on it's almost the responsibility is on the person providing that education to them. To, to make sure that you utilize this that you keep coming back and you find value out of it. Otherwise, you know, you're going to start to believe “Oh, I'm wasting my money here.” But  you're not, you're not utilizing what you spent your money on. And that's super important to realize as a brand.

Bryan Starck: That’s a super Good point, man, I completely agree. If you're selling something, you need to make sure that you are doing everything in your power to ensure the consumption of that thing, like your customers get success with it. That's actually, I believe that for eCommerce and I believe that for any courses, training programs, things like that, and like we've all taken so many courses, right? Where it's, you buy it, and again, you're left out to dry. Or it's like so big, long, complex, it never felt, it felt like it was never meant to be implemented in the first place by you, more as like a pre-sell to just work with us, you know. And I completely agree, it's the onboarding process makes, like really makes or breaks, people feel like you really care about their success is really important.

Dave Pancham: So let me ask you this, Bryan, because as us all being marketers, I'm sure we have swipe files, and you're always paying attention to everybody else's 

marketing out there. So don't toot your own horn by choosing a client of yours, but who have you noticed out there, like, they crush it with this? Like their email, like every little step that they do… like, you’re just, you're a fanboy of their work?

Bryan Starck: That's a great question. Um, one that I really think it's, it's a little bit different. It's not so much personality based. But I think that Huckberry does a super good job of creating content that their audience actually wants to see. They do all kinds of really interesting articles, they feature out to other websites. It's really, they treat their email, like their weekly email, like it's, they're really optimizing it for like, what is our what do our customers really want to read? How can we step into that and be that publication that they actually want to read? And oh, by the way, we sell T-shirts and stuff. And they're here. So Huckberry’s great. I've always loved beard brands emails, I think, from an educational standpoint, it's really good. It's a nice, it's a nice model to look at to say like, your emails don't have to necessarily be these, like, big, you know, super well-designed, Llike, things, productions. It's like, it can be a banner image and some like really thoughtful copy or education. Who else?

Alex Ivanoff:  You won't find me subscribed to those emails, guys.

Bryan Starck: There's a brand that I always, I'm blanking on the name. It's like a 

women's fashion.

Alex Ivanoff: Spanx is really good at this.

Bryan Starck: I mean, Spanx is very good. Spanx is a huge company with a great big team and lots of data on people. And you know how to use that data. Who else? Not too many brands do it super well though, like, honestly, if you look in your um, I really, I really struggle sometimes to even, like, think about lots of brands that, like, do this really, really well. 

Alex Ivanoff: Right. Yeah, nobody's perfect. You can always get, every brand is always gonna be able to get better somehow at this specifically, but with all marketing. So to pivot a little bit. Well, we could, we could also piggyback off of that, what would you say is, you personally, and with 100 Celsius, your biggest success story with email and SMS marketing?

Bryan Starck: It's a great question. We've had a lot of success stories. Brands, of course, like making a lot more money through email, SMS. We work with a celebrity brand  that in my mind is our biggest success story from both a revenue and an engagement

standpoint. We do a lot of… 

Alex Ivanoff: Can you tell us who or no? No worries if you can’t.

Bryan Starck: We work with Tommy Chong CBD. They, what's really, really cool is, it's an amazing example of a brand where almost every email is a content piece, is basically like a content piece, it's a message from Tommy. And the audience is the most, it’s the most engaged email list I've ever seen. For example, we sent an email late last year to the list asking, “Hey, what's your favorite thing about being on this email list?” And we had like 1200 people respond back. Like literally, with testimonials saying, like, this is, we love your emails for X reason or Y, right? Or we love your product. And every email as you can imagine, with that kind of a list does a lot of revenue for them, like we, so it's really commercially successful. It's super profitable, but it's done in a way where it's like it's completely like relationship-building, personality-driven and so, like, I think as an agency, that's one of our bigger success stories, getting to be a part of that. Of course, you know, there's a lot that goes into it. It's not just me or my team, right, but it's been really awesome to get to help move that client forward. And then, I also really, I look at our paid membership community, we call it "the boiling point". And it's been really rewarding for me seeing a lot of members in there that maybe are smaller brands, you know, done-not-ready to work with, like, a high level agency, but obviously need to be doing email and SMS, and it's a great revenue chance.

Alex Ivanoff: What is the boiling point? Can you tell our audience?

Bryan Starck: Yeah, the boiling point, it's a, it's a membership community

that my team and I run. And it's designed to be a place where Shopify founders, and marketers can go and get fast, practical, highly actionable ways to grow their store using email, SMS, and direct mail, and customer service, the cellphone. So all this stuff that we that we're talking about, is like, the foundation for all that the trainings that like all these techniques, my goal is increasingly, it all, it's all there, you know, it's like, and it's all designed to be able to be implemented by brands, not in like these big long flows. But like, “Here's what's, here's something you can do in 30 minutes to create a better experience with your customers.” And we're all plugged in there, you know, one-on-one support, coaching calls, all that good stuff. So it's really cool. But it's, it's really nice because I'm connected with a lot of brand owners that, you know, maybe would like to work with us, but it’s just a little bit out of their reach at this point. And it's a really great modality to be able to, like, support these people and see like, “Hey, like, we had no idea what we were doing free mode before, we had no idea what kind of content to create, and now we’re like making regular sales through email, or just rolled out SMS. And that's, like, that's for me, that's really, really rewarding.

Alex Ivanoff: So that's a perfect transition. I was just going to bring up SMS, you talk about it, you guys obviously do it. And you apply, I'm assuming, the same principles that you do to email with the relationship-first mindset. Talk a little bit about SMS in general. I mean, if we're just starting from the top, right, why should brands focus on SMS In addition to email? I mean, there's the obvious reasons, like you said, email is saturated, but what else? 

Bryan Starck: You always have this on you.

Alex Ivanoff: For the people listening he's holding a phone.

Bryan Starck: It’s a phone, yeah, my old iPhone 8, cracked. You  SMS, I was actually pretty skeptical about starting to go more into SMS as an agency, personally, because I don't like opting-in into SMS. I don't, I don't like getting, I don't like getting texts from brands. But a lot of people, actually turns out a lot of people do. And what we realized, after starting to roll it out for some of our clients, is that SMS converts so much better than email. Like, we-

Alex Ivanoff: How much better? Like on average,

Dave Pancham:Yeah, like, use some numbers to-.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, like, if you had to put a number to it.

Bryan Starck: 20x Better. Maybe more. Here's, here's a good example, like we had a client. And we did, let's say, $600,000, through email in the span of like, in Q4, or something like that. We rolled out from a list of active list that I don’t know, 80, 90, 100k, maybe more. And we rolled out SMS for them, they had a list of like 5 or 6 thousand  people that, and they did like almost the exact same amount of revenue through SMS from like a list that was like 10x smaller. And what you realize is, like, the earnings per subscriber, earnings per message like click through rates, if it's done well, are like off the charts, and really, it's a function of, it's really easy to miss emails but it's really hard to miss texts.

Alex Ivanoff: Is it really just the open rates?

Bryan Starck: Open rates, click-through rates, but also if I'm, if I'm the kind of person that's going to opt into your SMS list, I’m probably a higher intent customer in the first place, right? That makes sense, I'm probably likely to buy from you in the first place, if I'm willing to give you my phone number. That being said, we've done testing, and it's like, it's not, there is a little bit of crossover. But really, SMS is in a lot of ways incremental revenue on top of email. And you can do, it's really important because it's, it's highly visible, it allows you to get timely stuff out and know that people are going to see it. And it's actually really good for this like relationship-based approach, or two-way communication because like you can hook it up to say Gorgeous if you use that for, like, your help desk, or even tools like PostScript or SMS Pump or what have you. You can have, like, conversations with people, or you can have them reply with a keyword. And it's like, we're all used to texting conversations and like you can set that kind of stuff up through SMS, so it's really powerful when it's done right.

Dave Pancham: So my perception of SMS, SMS marketing is what I've gotten before, which is just like this spammy texts with, like, here's your coupon code, and then it has the opt out verbiage. And I typically just ignore pretty much every one of those, but how, how do you do it right. How do you apply, you know, the relationship building to text messages here without getting annoying?

Bryan Starck: Yeah, you, I think, I think when you…when you think of SMS, oftentimes, we like to think of it more like helpful announcements. So less about, we're just like pushing sales out. But what are things that people would really want to know about. And oftentimes that is like promotions and stuff like that, right? But the frequency of SMS communication, in my opinion, should be lower than email. Some other things to think about, like, they're really good for, for example, the post-purchase experience. So like, let's say you have it hooked up to your, you know, shipment tracking. And you can say, “Hey, your order is out for delivery,” through SMS, or when the order is delivered, like, “Hey, your order was delivered. When you open the box, make sure to take a video or a picture of the unbox-, like, unboxing it and text it back to us.”

Alex Ivanoff: Very cool.

Bryan Starck: Like, you can do that kind of stuff. Or for example, let's say that you are an automotive company, you sell, like, coatings or whatever. It's like, and you do coatings for, like, cars, bikes, boats, whatever. You opt into an SMS list and SMS providers, like, PostScript or or SMS Pump, Yapo like have keyword abilities. So it's like, “Hey, thanks for joining. Hey, what are you coating?” Like, “respond back with bike, bow, car.” And you respond back, and then you can automate follow up, say like, “oh, cool. We love, you know, we've got a bunch of stuff that's good for bikers,” like, “Hey, here's 10% off to use in the biker category.” 

Alex Ivanoff: That’s fascinating!

Bryan Starck: So like even, even thinking about it, just taking that extra step where you can use SMS not only as, like, more personal connection, but also data collection. And for segmentation, too. It's just really powerful if you get that step.

Alex Ivanoff: Now for brand new owners listening, how does that work with images? You mentioned, like, sending a picture of “unboxing,” is there any, like, manual oversight of that on the brand side? Or how does that work?

Bryan Starck: Yeah, it just depends on how it's set up. But they can text stuff back to you. And it depends on where, how you set up, it goes, it routes back to your, your help desk, or to the back end of whatever tool you're using. And we can continue that conversation. You can download UGC, it's great for that kind of stuff. But there's a bit of a technical setup to it.

Alex Ivanoff: Makes a lot of sense. That’s super innovative, fascinating. I mean, all the words, all the adjectives you can apply to that, right? That's just next level stuff. We're talking about innovation and marketing and what brands need to do to, you know, catch up with the, the new world of marketing, this is the stuff that, like, they have to be doing.

Bryan Starck: Yeah, even if you do some of it, it's better than nothing. That's the thing, this is all, it takes a lot of thoughtfulness to put this stuff together. But really, really what it all comes back to in my mind, is this intentional experience design where you say, as a brand, what should my brand new customers be getting from me. What should my repeat customers be getting from me, what do I want my prospects, if I was going to meet somebody on the street, and they ask me about my product, what will I tell them? Put that in your welcome flow, you know, like, and so like a lot of that stuff. You don't have to get too crazy, because where a lot of brands do get into trouble, like, thinking about that, like, data collection piece. We saw this all the time at that mark, marketing tech company I was working at. A lot of brands like to collect data but then they don't do anything with it to improve the customer experience. It's really hard to do it. So sometimes you do have to start really small and just do really basic stuff.

Dave Pancham: What's an example of small and basic?

Bryan Starck: It's a great question. Okay, so if, if you were to open up… if you were a brand owner, if you're a marketer, and you were to go get, like, an email marketing for ecommerce course. That, that course is going to take you through, like, your core flows, they're going to say like, “Okay, you're going to do a welcome flow, you're going to do abandoned carts, you're going to do a browse abandonment, you're going to do all this stuff post-purchase.” And a lot of times they recommend these kind of, like, big long flows, right, like 6,7,8 emails, discount upgrades. And our perspective here is actually, like, that's oftentimes counterproductive. When you try to do too much and make these big, long complex flows, it's really hard to actually personalize them. Because then you're dealing with like, splits, like three different splits and like, old emails each, and there's like no way anybody's going to be able to manage that. And to create a better experience...

Alex Ivanoff: What’s an example of that, like, what would you do when you find a client doing all these complex flows.

Bryan Starck: I would rather send, instead of a six-email abandoned cart flow, that was just the same abandoned cart flow for everybody. I'd rather have three abandoned cart flows of two emails each, that are all essentially the same but personalized to different segments. So it's like, I would rather have an abandoned cart flow for prospects for VIPs, and for existing buyers, all mutually exclusive. Or whatever, whatever is meaningful. And each one, just two emails that are really  easy to change, really easy to manage, and test versus like these big complex things. And so my perspective is like, you know, this is, this idea that we call like dynamic moments, which is like, it's much better to have like a lot of small standout moments than trying to go crazy and create these like big, long, complex automations. So you want to think about that experience, like, maybe, maybe all you can do is two emails for that post-purchase to start. It's better than nothing, you should get it up, like, try to cover your bases. And then you can always test and see what works and go from there.

Dave Pancham: So is the idea to focus much more on segmentation?

Bryan Starck: I would say so, segmentation.

Alex Ivanoff: It’s, like, quality over quantity approach essentially, right? Yeah, it makes sense. Right back to the original theme of relationship-first,right? It’s about nurturing that relationship through the different segments that you’re talking about.

Bryan Starck: A lot of people I think, especially in the online marketing space. They're really, they're like, I've never seen a brand not make more money by sending more emails. Like, that's a pretty common thing you hear, we'll increase frequency, or, you know, send lots of emails, like, not, not wrong, you probably do make more money every time you send an email, but at what cost? I would rather build a strategy that is going to work in three years. And people are gonna want to stay engaged with for a year than, like, burn  them out.

Dave Pancham: Do you follow Ben Settle?

Bryan Starck: I do, yeah. 

Dave Pancham: He hammers you with emails.

Bryan Starck: He does. But like, he has a lot of value in it and they're actually interesting. So not everybody likes it, like a lot of people unsubscribe, but like people that like…

I'm not saying that a daily email doesn't work. I just think, it's one thing if you're kind of like an internet marketing guru, or you’re a coach or somebody with, like, tips or you’re a personality. Personality brands have a leg up here, because like, if you're backed by a celebrity or an influencer, like there's more of an opportunity to do that because just like somebody would follow you on social media, like they'll probably appreciate hearing from you via email. But if you're just like, I don't know, some brand selling shoes or deodorant? Like, how often do people really want to hear from you? I think like we work with subscription-based companies, it's like, the frequency of campaigns for those brands is like a lot lower and should be a lot lower. Why? Because like, every touchpoint, you're kind of like reminding people like, oh, yeah, I'm subscribed to this thing. I like to think about, like, how often do you want to hear from Geico, your insurance company or whatever like So it's really contextual. And it really depends on the brand. But it's important to be thoughtful about that.

Dave Pancham: You were talking earlier about the cadence for texts, like over email? Um, how do you view that in terms of like, you know, direct to consumer brands?

Bryan Starck: I would say it again, it depends on what sort of campaigns you send via text. But I think a pretty safe bet is like one to two times a week, as long as they're good and they're segmented. 

Alex Ivanoff: Wow, that's way more than I thought, actually. 

Bryan Starck: I would generally say one, one a week. Here's the thing, though, is like, you don't need to send it to your entire list, like most people would just send it to their entire SMS list but in the same way you would maybe want to send something different to existing customers and prospects. Like maybe existing buyers don't need to get, you know, your third discount reminder. But like your prospects, your prospects probably should, right? They should probably get the open of a sale and the close of a sale, they should probably get all that stuff. You really want to control for unsubscribes with SMS because each subscriber is really valuable. So unsubscribes cost you a lot more.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, that makes sense. Alright guys, I want to get into Fellow Living because I am fascinated to talk about waterproof dog blankets. Woke up this morning as the main thing on my mind for the day is to talk more about this. So how did this come about? Was this, I mean, you're doing this with your wife Chelsea, right? How did this, was it  her idea? Was it your idea? I'm assuming you guys have a dog? I've never been to your house, but that's a safe assumption. What was the idea here?

Bryan Starck: Yeah, we were, the idea for this came about because we got Archie, which is our little Westie puppy, pandemic puppy, we got him and he was like, you know, he's a little buddy. And we really wanted to, like get to spend lots of quality time with him and cuddle with him on the couch. He's just like, so cute. But it only took like, one accident on the couch during potty training for us to be like, Oh, we should probably put, like, put something in between our dog and the couch or the bed. Because we're, he's potty training. So he's like having accidents. And we're working through that process with him. But you know, he'd have accidents on the floor on the couch, if he’s sitting up there. When we started talking to a lot of people that like yeah, like, you know, like, dogs have accidents, right?

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah

Bryan Starck: And a lot of people, like, weren't letting their dogs on the couch with them or on the bed. And we started thinking like, “Wow, you know, we need to get a a waterproof dog blanket. Like, I don't know, if we were like, I don't think that we were alone in that. And in thinking that, like we're during that potty training phase. So we started looking, and turns out there were actually probably more than you would expect brands successfully selling waterproof dog blankets. And we ended up buying a handful of them like a bunch of them. And realizing like they all kind of sucked in one way or the other. Either, they just, like, looked like they were super cheaply made with a big paw print on them. Or, you know, they were, like, flimsy, like just not high quality, made of polyester, or there was, like, probably there are like the biggest brand out there selling, selling these blankets were selling them for like 150 bucks.

Alex Ivanoff: Really?

Bryan Starck: Yeah, and it looked like they killed a yak and skinned it and threw it over their counter blanket. Okay, you can't dry it in the dryer, right? So it's like machine washable, but you can't dry it. And like, it took three days to hang dry, which is, like, kind of defeats the purpose of waterproof blankets. So we started thinking like, “Man, you know, there's a cool opportunity for us to make something that looks really good, that you're not embarrassed to have out in your house when your friends come over. Like you don't have to, like, secretly put away your paw print blanket. It's like, now that looks like it. It makes sense decor-wise, super durable, completely waterproof, and premium safe materials for your dog. Another one, big one for us was like, and I think we could probably do this here in the US. Like that was really important for us, like, create something domestically that was supporting local economies, local Mills, local cutting sours, etc. So yeah, we started the process of product development and materials testing and prototyping and took us like a long freaking time. I mean, like a lot longer than I was expecting.

Alex Ivanoff: When did you first come up with the idea?

Bryan Starck: We first came up with the idea in February or March of 2021, of last year,

Alex Ivanoff: And you just launched it.

Bryan Starck: We're recording this in March, 2022. And we're like, we have pre-orders open as we speak. We're, we're, our blankets are in LA getting manufactured like they're in production as we speak. Which is really exciting. But yeah, it took a long time. And it's been a, it's been, like, very eye-opening and very challenging from somebody that's, like, used to creating his service-based businesses and like, digital products and all that stuff, to like trying to create a physical product is a whole different ball game and a physical product that's, like, good and high quality that you like.

Alex Ivanoff: So for the people listening, you can go to the site right now fellowliving.co. Correct, right, Bryan? And you can look and Bryan said like a lot of the other competitors, it looks like a Yak was skinned for a blanket. But this I mean, it looks like a regular old blanket. Like it's not even just specific for a dog. I kind of want to use it myself, right? It looks very comfortable.

Bryan Starck: It's just, it's not winning any awards for like design, right? It's not, it's not like the most, the world's most beautiful blanket. But it doesn't look, it doesn't look bad. It actually looks,  it actually looks really nice. And the utility of it is amazing. Like, we could dump a gallon of water on that thing, and not a drop would leak through. And you're right, you're right that it's like we're, it's, we're really, you know, positioning this for dog owners, and specifically people during potty training. So you think about the customer journey, a lot of what we're doing is trying to get this in front of people at that specific moment window of time where they're about to get a dog, or they just got a dog and try to really target and hone in on that through influencers, through paid media, all that stuff, our content strategy. But yeah, like, our, my father in law was like, “Wow, like, this would be great for like, you're in Boston, and you like, want to lay this out in your seat to see that it doesn't get wet, you know, to a sports game.” Or like, older dogs that have incontinence. Or, I don't know, picnics, you're out at the beach. Like, there's a lot of things you could do with that.

Alex Ivanoff: Sure. multi-use. Absolutely. What would you say is the biggest challenge you're facing or you have faced so far in building the brand? And how are you and your wife tackling it? 

Bryan Starck: Couple things. It's obviously eCommerce brands are cash-eating monsters. So we've poured a lot of money into it, getting it developed, this blanket is not cheap to make, it actually cost a lot to make, which is why we have to charge a premium for it. And it's a premium blanket, like, it's premium materials but, and it solves a real problem for people. But yeah, the investment is totally different, right? It's not it's it's like, it wasn't the kind of startup where it's like, we could just put a couple $1,000 into it, it's like it, you know, it was sort of a leap of faith for us to like, make that kind of an investment. And also how slow it's been is a big challenge. Just the, we've experienced so many delays and setbacks from like machines at the mill needed parts replacing that like, so it took an extra 10 weeks, you know, or our manufacturers, just communications not very quick. There's so many different things where samples wrong, all that stuff where it requires a lot of patience, and staying powered And I think a lot of brands give up in that first period of time because they never make it to that place where they're launching. Because it’s just, like, it can be so demoralizing.

Dave Pancham: There's so many pieces of the puzzle that are completely out of your own control.

Bryan Starck: Yeah, it's true. It's true. So I mentioned it earlier, I really have such a huge respect now for any smaller, like, smaller brand owner entrepreneur that's making physical things themselves, you know, taking that route of not just like white label, I mean, private labeling stuff from China. That's like, that's an amazing way to go. But like, we're creating something that didn't exist before, like custom fabric, custom material, custom design. And I don't know, I'm hoping that that was a good decision.

Alex Ivanoff: You're making designer waterproof dog blankets Bryan.

Bryan Starck: It's stuff. And thank goodness I had my wife to help with that. Because she's like, she's really been the one to like, move that forward. And she's kind of like our point person CEO for the brand. So she's been amazing with it.

Alex Ivanoff: That's awesome. She's done a great job. It looks awesome. If I had a dog, I'd be absolutely buying one. I need to buy the dog first. For brand owners that are listening, what do you say? Because you know, this is a multi-use product. Like we mentioned, it has multiple different ways of being used. But you're targeting a specific segmented market. What do you say for brand owners that are doing the same thing they're selling in a very unique market, like you guys are?

Bryan Starck: Hard, hard for me to say I guess because it's like, we're still in this pre-order phase. And a lot of what we're planning to do is yet to be proven. But what I would, this is, the this is the direct response background coming in. But when I was thinking about a product and I was thinking about a market to serve, I really wanted something that fit, that addressed a specific need or a specific problem for a specific person. And I don't think that serving like a specific niche like that, or smaller niches a bad thing. I think it's actually a real advantage. What we're, because we really want to create a brand where if you are the right person, if you're in that time of your dog ownership experience. Everything about our brand screams “Oh yeah, this is for me.” Like this is, like, this is for me at this moment in time. And I think that something a lot of brands maybe don't think about is just that product market match and how that translates into your messaging, which is like, how can you communicate?

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah

Bryan Starck: Everybody always asks them questions like, is this right for me? And is this right for me right now? So how do you address that? Is it for me, and then the timing of it, which is why we were really excited to come up with a product that it's like, there's a specific period of time. And so things like, we're going to be reaching out to YouTube influencers, that post videos like, “Hey, we're getting a dog.” Because they're, you know, they're at that moment in time. And also the people that find those videos and watch that are also in the market for that kind of stuff. They're buying things for their dog. And so it's all about really highlighting and really narrowing in on that, that period of time. And so how do you, how do you do that as another brand, right? Look for those opportunities, and really think about when, what are the inflection points in which people buy my stuff? Like what happens right before somebody buys, or that gets them searching? And then maybe try creating content that's really targeted towards those inflection points in those moments?

Dave Pancham: That makes a lot of sense.

Alex Ivanoff:  Super valuable. 

Dave Pancham: I have a question that I think probably a lot of other eComm brands may be thinking about dealing with because when I look at the product right now, I wonder, like, how do you increase the lifetime value of a customer, right? It seems like it's a, it's a product for a specific specific period of time. Naturally, the next thing you do is what's the next product for the next period of time. But I'm sure there's a lot of other ecomm brands out there that they feel like they have a single-use product. And it's like, what's the strategy? What's the game from there?

Bryan Starck: That's a super good question. Totally depends on the brand. Our strategy, like what were, our next move is color variations. We sell like our blanket right now, we sell it in one color, it's a navy blue, looks really nice. But in the next couple of months is if this stuff starts selling through, we want to launch-in additional colors. And so when it opens up, some people may not want that blue color. But also, what we're really trying to, our short term, thing is, how can we increase the AOV and get people to be buying two or three blankets on the front end, because if you think about it, if your dog has an accident on your blanket, you're gonna have to put it in the wash but you might still want a blanket ,or maybe you want one for your car and for your bed, or the crate in the couch. So there's a lot of opportunity to get multiple blankets. And I think that you know, for us then it's like other products right? Like we have you know, a lineup of other stuff that we're kicking around and we really actually want to just like see how this goes and see what the feedback is to help us direct towards what comes next. But you're right, Dave like it's different products for different stages of that journey are different at different moments in time for that customer different use cases.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah, exactly.

Bryan Starck: I, my blanket, my blanket advice for I think other ecomm brand owners, is to give it some thought, like really give it some thought. We call it the repeat buyer journey that repeat buyer narrative, like what's  the story? What's, what is the, what's a logical reason why somebody would buy twice from you. And map your marketing to that repeat buyer journey because for most brands, you only make a profit when somebody comes back and buys a second time, right? Because the cost of acquisition on the front end is so high. You really want to be consistently bringing people back through low cost channels like email or SMS to make that profit so you can feel the machine. It's tough though. It's tough for single-purchase, like single use brands, you work with some of them. And frankly, it's really hard like there's you know, maybe accessories, a lot of I think a big opportunity for, for, for ecomm brands going forward actually digital products

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah.

Bryan Starck:  I think that that's something to consider is like, let's say you sell an exercise machine. Maybe you only need one of those. But could you put together a really baller exercise course or fitness regime, in the fitness regime taught by one of the top coaches as a guest coach and sell that on the back end as a recurring membership or something like that. And that's why you see, like, you see brands like Peloton and those types of brands where the, the single purchase thing is the entry into a continuity program. And I think that that's, that's a really good move for a lot of people, if you can swing it just take some creativity, but that's why we really like to work with brands that have opportunities for repeat purchases. Because we always say, like, we want to be selling supplements, not mattresses, mattresses, like you look at Casper or whatever, how like unprofitable those brands are. There's so little opportunity for retention. And a lot of, so a lot of that comes down to what, what are you selling and like, how quick can you logically convince people that, how can you bring people back, right? Some, some brands just can't.

Alex Ivanoff: So, on this note, this is a perfect place, I think to transition, we talked a little bit about, you know, finding an agency, or a marketing partner that can help you with these things. And I think this is a good point to start talking about that. Because you, you know, the most important thing is extending that lifetime value, like Dave said, and for those that that's hard to do having additional products or services to sell, that's obviously something that an agency or a marketing partner can help with, in general, what would you say is like a for a brand owner looking for a marketing partner? What should they be looking for?

Bryan Starck: I think it's important for, when you are considering working with an agency, it's really important to have a pretty solid idea of what that agency wants to do with your brand, and the direction they want to take you before entering into an engagement with them. A lot of brands, a lot of agencies say, basically take a sales approach, which is like, “Hey, trust us, we're gonna do great.” But statistically speaking, most agencies don't do a great job. Like, and, you know, there's so many stories, right of brand owners or clients that have really bad agency experiences. And so, and a lot of that, in my mind, and even as I was getting started out, like, I didn't really know. And so I would go start working with a client now and I would take the same approach, like, hey, trust me, like, I'm really smart. I'm a good writer, I know how to do this stuff, and it's gonna be great.

Alex Ivanoff: True.

Bryan Starck: And usually it was. But the issue was that when you do that, when you do, when you take that approach, the agency is really, they're incentivizing, they're, they're under pressure to like, skip the planning, and maybe not be as thoughtful as possible, just to get straight to like, we're going to send emails make you money. So what we always like to do like to make sure that we're a good fit for a brand and the brands a good fit for us as we do like an initial discovery project. We call it the 90-day Customer Engagement Roadmap, we really lay out a full next 90 days of like, this is exactly what we're going to do for you. Or we would recommend, if you hire us here, all the different campaigns, it's like really meant to be a business asset for the client. And that also really gives them a good opportunity to experience working with us prior to, you know, having to get married, right, which, you know, you're not you're not doing with an agency, but switching costs are tough, it's tough to like, hire somebody than have to go to somebody else, you want to avoid that as much as possible. And then I'm sure you guys totally are on the same page. But like, the one of the biggest things, I think you should be looking for in partners is proactivity. Is just like proactivity of communication, proactivity of ideas, being able to communicate that.

Alex Ivanoff: Yeah. That's harder than it seems as an agency at scale. But it makes a huge difference.

Bryan Starck: And I think if you're in a close relationship and close communication, let's say a campaign goes poorly, it's like, well, they've been updated throughout the whole point, right? Like, they know what's going on at least. And usually, that doesn't become the thing that creates a separation. But if, without the proactivity, like it only takes one bad thing to, to basically ruin a relationship. You know, like, for example, you know, we had a, we had a client, we parted ways with them at the end of the year. And then they worked for six months with another agency and ended up coming back to us after six weeks. And like one of the reasons why it's just like that, they didn't have the same level of intimacy of communication and proactivity and expert partnership and guidance that I think that they needed. And that's really what I think, if you're going to hire out for this, as a brand owner, you really want to find somebody that you trust, where you can lean out a little bit and let them trust that they're going to do a good job for you but also that they're going to bring you into the loop as the brand are so important.

Alex Ivanoff: Absolutely. So I have one more question that we can get into wrapping up and our closing question. What would you say in your career, by the way, for the audience? How old are you Bryan?

Bryan Starck: 27

Alex Ivanoff: 27 yeah, very young, very successful already. But what would you say is so far your biggest failure? Whether it's personally or within the company? And what did you think you learned from that experience and took away from it?

Bryan Starck: Management has been a big struggle, like honestly, going really quickly from two to three people to eight, nine people on the team has not been easy like, and I think that generally I'm a pretty good leader, but I really have not historically, have not necessarily been a good manager, I think through that whole process. A lot of challenges. And I think, like, I realized at certain points, especially like this last year, and like, I was doing things that just made it not that enjoyable to like work. Like just like didn't, where people weren't feeling empowered. They didn't feel like they're being trusted, like, you know, a little bit of that, like Mr. Fix It mentality of like, awesome, goes wrong, and you get to hop in and fix it yourself versus, like, showing people how to do it. And so I would say that, like, that's been, it's been a challenge. And in my mind, like a failure of me as a manager, but it's something that we're working on, you know, I'm working on it personally a lot. And I think I think it's getting better. You can ask my team, I guess.

Alex Ivanoff: We will, yeah, David and I struggle with that too. And I think it's a good failure to have because you learned so much from it. Like, one of the best ways to learn how to delegate or be a good manager, or be a good leader, or supervisor or mentor to your employees and your colleagues is to be a bad one or not sufficient one. And you realize, like, Oh, I'm not doing a good enough job. This is what I have to do better. 

Bryan Starck: No one teaches you that stuff though.

Bryan Starck: No, it’s the hardest thing, hardest thing.

Alex Ivanoff: And it's really, it's really such a limiting factor is the team, the team management, the leadership, those skills, especially for an agency, ecommerce brands, it's a little bit different, like there's eight figure brands that are like three people and a VA but, but agencies are basically like, you know, one big HR department like big, like, you need people and those people have to be moving in the right direction. You got to have communication systems and that stuff.

Alex Ivanoff: Yup, every entrepreneur unless you're a solopreneur, you need, you need that type of system. You need that type of skill. Cool. So we'll start to wrap up here. And one of the things, or two of the things that we like to do when we wrap up is one, where can listeners find you, get in touch with you, follow you, follow your companies? In plural now, and keep up.

Bryan Starck: For the agency, you can always follow me on Facebook or Instagram, my website is 100celsius.co. I’ll definitely put the link in there because there's like five opportunities in that short name to get it wrong. I know, most people do. I don't know why I picked it, you know, European, Non-American metric system, whatever. It was cool. If you go to our website, you will also be able to check out the boiling point. Theboilingpoint.com should also work as well, as a redirect, the links will be there. And then if you want to follow along with our eCommerce brand run, Instagram Fellow Living, and the website's FellowLiving.co. C O. 

Alex Ivanoff: So one thing we want to do and we like to do with all of our guests to close out here is kind of a weird question that sparks your imagination a little bit. If you could sit in a room with a bunch of mentors once every morning to help guide you, who would be in that room? And they can be alive or dead.

Bryan Starck: That's a great question. Wouldn't that be awesome? In no particular order, I'm reading this book, I'm reading John Wooden on leadership and I feel like he would be, Man! what a killer person to like, leadership, like that book is amazing. But that would be really, just being able to sit down with somebody like that every morning, talk about team building and that stuff will be really cool. Let's see, this is gonna be like the most cliche, like current marketer thing ever. But like Alex Hormozi, you know, you follow, I follow him and everybody's probably like, a lot of people are gonna say that. But he's one of those guys where it's like, I actually follow him on Instagram and his wife, Leila, and like, read $100 million from like, everything in there. I needed to hear that today. Or, like, that was really relevant for me today. And it's just like, he's just so great. And so hopefully, I get to that point where it's, you know, we're at a place where we can actually be a portfolio company. Who knows? Like Alex, if you are listening, hit me up. Yeah, who else? I think maybe the lead pastor at my church would be a good one to, just from, like, a spiritual development. Just like a man, you know, personal, really respect him. C.S. Lewis would be a really cool author. How cool would that be? I just, and then I think the other one, Ryan Reynolds.

Dave Pancham: Really? Why?

Bryan Starck: Ryan Reynolds is one of those genius marketers on the planet right now. I think he is really one of the smartest guys. And what he's doing with his media company, I think it's just like, the way he runs all these different brands and his like entrepreneurship. I think he's like, so freaking smart. And he's great at like, how do you not be freaking boring? Right? Like, how to not be super boring. That's what Ryan Reynolds is really great at in business and I think that would be really amazing to be able to sit down with him.

Alex Ivanoff: There's so many people from so many different fields. I love that answer. Thank you so much, Bryan, for being on the show. I think I could count on five hands how many gold nuggets you dropped today and I know all the brand owners and all of our listeners and entrepreneurs listeningers are gonna be super happy with everything you had to say today. So thank you so much for your time. For everyone listening, please follow our podcast and check out our content on all the platforms we linked below. And follow Bryan, go and check out 100 Celsius, if you have a dog, go buy a blanket! Can’t hurt you.

Bryan Starck: Appreciate you guys having me on. Dave, Alex, it's been a pleasure. You guys are amazing.

Victoria Petersen
Helping businesses navigate their growth to the upper echelons of eCommerce domination.