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Ecommerce ft. Robbie Fitzwater

September 09, 2020

Ecommerce ft. Robbie Fitzwater
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Ryan and Robbie t-off The Radcast's eCommerce series by highlighting what critical digital actions your business needs to take now.


Be sure to tune in for the rest of the series.

Episodes release Tuesday's at noon, EST.

 

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Transcript

Ryan Alford [00:00:00] Hey, guys, what's up! This is Ryan Alford. Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast and the first in an e-commerce series that we're just starting in. We thought, who else – I mean I couldn't think of anyone else, Rob, that I would rather have on for the start of the e-commerce series than Robbie Fitzwater. Good to have you, Robbie. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:00:35] It's good to be here. Yeah, it's a blast to be back. I always love to get on a talk show about marketing like there's nothing better. 

Ryan Alford [00:00:50] Well, Robbie is a professor at Clemson University and teaches Digital Marketing. He's been on the episode a lot. He's been a mainstay and will be a mainstay for us as a wealth of knowledge. He consults and is our go-to strategist for e-commerce and all things of digital marketing. So, I'm going to fluff you up Robbie. And because you deserve it. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:01:14] I'm right and going to come out of here. Somebody's after this guy to take me down a peg or two. Somebody like my ego is going to be way up here when it needs to be casually down here. But I appreciate it again, working with good people on fun projects is always a fun thing. And working is like solving puzzles as it's always something new. 

Ryan Alford [00:01:35] Yes, so the state of e-commerce and I think we talked pre-episode, making this a functional and tactical discussion and strategic it's not just tactics, but about what brands and companies that might be listening can take away as we lead into the holidays and the key opportunities for brands within commerce. Using your perspective on a lot of career projects, stuff that we're doing here, it's radical together and some other products that I have going on, but wanted to just dive in from a real day to day standpoint of things that people can be looking at. So I am glad to have you on. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:02:24] Yeah, it should be fun. And again, kicking around ideas, it's what I'm here for. You guys probably are seeing it just like that weird lead up to the holidays. Everybody is thinking about what they're going to do because it's going to be different from most other years. And for a lot of organizations, if they have a brick and mortar location and an e-commerce presence. They may be wondering how they can transfer more revenue or more volume into the e-commerce space because they may be projecting a little bit lighter sales on the brick and mortar side and trying to plan for that. So a lot of things thinking about it is like how do you get ahead of a lot of that work and think strategically about how am I going to plan for the holidays where we're going to have something effective and seamless and smooth during the holidays for the e-commerce presence, but also how do we take what we do on the brick and mortar side that differentiates us? And how do we bring it into the e-commerce space where we can use what people look at? It's our core value as a great differentiator, even in the digital space. So how do we take our in-person shopping experience? We may have great salespeople who help us with style consultations like the application of makeup and all of those things. How do we take all that great knowledge that we have in-house and bring it to them in a digital experience? Because we're not going to necessarily have them visiting in person the same way they may have in the past. And thinking about that ahead of time where you can plan a strategy where you're not spending a lot of money on ads right in the middle of the holidays when ad costs are going way up and trying to get ahead of that audience building. So the three phases of it that I've thought about and work through with groups is how do you think about that first transition from where you were on the brick and mortar side to more volume on the e-commerce side and going back to what makes you unique and what makes you valuable? Offering opportunities for scheduling consultations for high ticket items and giving people the chance to purchase those items and get like the high touch handholding and expert consultations they need for those high dollar transactions. And that's like taking where you would normally have the person to like. How do you schedule a private zoom? I feel like the groups that are doing and starting to think and get ahead of that are going to be the ones who can win a lot of those holiday purchases because people don't want to go into the store, but they still want to have that same empowering experience. 

Ryan Alford [00:05:34] To that end, I literally was reading this morning, alter their revenues down 95 per cent over the year, but their e-commerce sales were up two hundred per cent. And you said makeup, a perfect example. Also, that exact scenario you're laying out, build their business on brick and mortar. For the most part, they have e-com there that's been in the background. Not a terrible experience, but they need to be doing exactly what you're saying because again, they got to right that ship. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:06:06] I mean, it's compensating for the major loss that they're getting in-store. But also it allows them to scale that experience to take your rockstar like the best person. How do you take that rockstar and give them a spotlight to shine and allow them to scale that experience in so many ways and then allow people to dove deeper into this ?intimate experience in the store that they would normally get in the store on a Zoom call. And you're going to have less people just sitting around waiting for something to do because you're going to have people queued up wanting more insight. That's where that real magic is going to happen. And then you can understand what products you're working with that you think they would enjoy, what products they made, what products are going to fit for them, what products are not. Maybe if your company is sophisticated enough, you're putting that into a CRM where you can keep track of, “Hey, you were looking at this, you liked this and then follow up with them afterwards”. So there are lots of easy opportunities that open up, but it allows the businesses to transition from where they were so dependent on brick and mortar to where they have a lot more differentiated positioning in the market. They're probably a lot stronger and being able to handle them can weather a larger storm now and next time something like this may come around. 

Ryan Alford [00:07:32] I think brick and mortar thing. I mean, while we're down that rabbit hole, it just strikes me that I don't want to say 2020 was a loss for brick and mortar, but I just don't see with Covid-19 still around, I don't think the brick and mortar comeback is going to happen this year. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:08:13] 2022 is the golden age for brick and mortar. But right now, not planning for it and hoping that it's going to be is like you don’t have a strategy. And I'm controlling what you can control and improve on is probably going to set those groups up for success later on. You have a great brick and mortar presence. But how is your e-commerce presence and how does that transition doing the work that you'd already been doing. You're just doing it 5 years ahead of time and right now, again, as we've talked about in previous episodes, this just accelerated so many things that you've got to prepare for this in the same way you were working on getting an e-commerce presence in March. 

Ryan Alford [00:09:11] And I love that idea that you had with finding your rockstars because I could now?were. After all,ee the experience about e-com being like and not just one rockstar but think about how we'll use all the examples. But, they set up like 10 rockstars that cover a lot of demographics and segments and they are not your digital sales reps, but you have digital personalities that you leverage on your side in social media. You have some interactive chatting that takes place, whether it's zoom calls, whether it's within the platform. If you have that set up again, leverage technology is out there and on the shelf, if you need to make the holiday happen and think about it, the long term is within that one app, one experience. But again, “How do you tee up those segments in those rockstars across the stores and the brick and mortar?” I think that could be huge for a lot of different segments.

Robbie Fitzwater [00:10:14] So there's suddenly tastemakers; you suddenly have a group of influencers working for you with your business, who you have got. Whom you have given a platform and empowered like that's a win-win for everybody. The people who love doing that and getting to say, “Hey, you may not be helping ten people a day in the store. You're going to help hundreds of people, thousands of people outside that you may not even realize, like millions of people potentially like especially in the cosmetics space, like the views of those that that content goes so astronomically high”. But those are so easy to do because they're just standing what they do in-person to digital space and hopefully they have fun with it just as much. Those are the people that care about it and are passionate about helping people. It doesn't matter if it's face to face or online as those people are where some real opportunities are, and especially during the holidays. So everybody's going to be doing a lot more sales related messaging during the holidays. You need a lot more content to break that up. You need some content to have in between. So it's not so heavy-handed that you just burn out your audiences. That's going to be another piece. It's like finding a balance because you really can't just say all sales messaging like the holiday weekend, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday weekend. There is going to be more messaging than you probably ever normally have during the year. But you can't go “sale-sale” so heavy when you don't have any content to break it up because everybody just gets overwhelmed by that flood. When you're the person that can have some sales messaging, add some value sales messaging, add value, that's a group going to win because they're not so heavy-handed and they're still building relationships while still extending that communication and relationship with the brand. So like planning for more content around that time because you need it and your holiday gift guide, to use around that time and again on the email side, I do this with a lot of groups to plan for lots of stuff that we're going to be able to use and probably recycle even around that time. But you need a strong base of content to consistently be messaging with because everybody's going to get so burnt out by Friday afternoon with sales messaging that by Saturday morning, you better be leading with content because that's what going to break through the noise at that point in time and how you can differentiate yourself by not just being so heavy-handed.

Ryan Alford [00:13:03] And having experienced this at different levels, either directly working with retail clients or larger brands, I can't even count on two hands how many times they've stressed over the ability to scale their best people in their best stores? Because Sam, who does awesome at a certain location, here's your opportunity to scale. How do you leverage Sam to now sell hundreds and depending on the brand as this isn't just exclusive to Makeup and Ulta because this could be in any company, in any vertical for leveraging your best people. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:14:00] So I like makeup and cosmetics is an example, though? In this industry, the experience is so amazing and the lifetime value of those customers is so high where some amazing innovation is happening. Like I'm a man and I don't wear makeup, but I follow makeup companies because they're doing so many amazing things like glossier which don't even get me started. I will go on a Glossier like Rampage as my wife is Glossier now, because I talk about it so much because they're amazing and I'm like, send me their emails as they're brilliant. Like, it's awesome, it's human and it's interactive. Everything they do is just spot on but that's where so much of the innovation is happening because it's a dogfight for that high lifetime value purchaser who wants to get something unique, speaks to them as a person, but they're hard to win over. So you've got to consistently elevate your game as far as experience goes and you have so many other players that are doing it well. They have deep pockets that want to do it, on the same level, and I think that's where it drives so much innovation in the industry. 

Ryan Alford [00:15:21] Same thing in supplements. They are very similar as well. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:15:27] It's like I love the business world’s podcast. I listen to business sports podcasts a lot. These are the industries that are pushing themselves far, are innovative and doing great things. This is where I think a lot of people can learn something from, like where do you take a non-relevant industry to your particular case and how do you borrow some of the magic that they're doing in the market that they're having in marketing and bring it into your home? Because that's where those real wins are going to come from, not from looking at your competition and seeing what they're doing. And even in one of my classes for a digital audience, I have them pull in different accounts or different businesses that they can use as inspiration for a non-parallel industry that they can use for inspiration, for improving a given business that they're focusing on now. 

Ryan Alford [00:16:27] There are things that you would recommend as we're coming up on the holidays, obviously with the brick and mortar that we just talked about. But any tactical advice for companies or people listening as the holidays are here, you need to be preparing. Where would you counsel people listening as to how to maximize the holidays coming up, given the climate, the election and the pandemic? But, with all of that and play, what's your counsel to people as they think about ramping up for the holidays on the e-commerce site.

Robbie Fitzwater [00:17:16] Build your lists and get your lists ready to go. That's your email list, your SMS list, your retargeting lists. Those lists are going to be your best friend in November because you don't want to be paying for new people coming in the door for the first time during the holidays. Your ad prices are going to be so high and astronomical you can't rely on that first-time purchaser. So how do you take your current lists, serve your email audience and make them get on board with what you're doing and again, get them ready to purchase because they're probably going to be making their share of wallet decisions early? So be messaging around the holidays, getting them to opt-in early and making sure you're taking care of your customers like they're your best customers because they get your lists ready. So I am tactically trying to build up a VIP list ahead of time. Starting in early November messaging and saying, “Hey, we know everybody is preparing for the holidays. We wanted to offer this as an opportunity to sign up here for our VIP holiday list for an extra discount in addition to the holiday savings you're going to get, and early access to all of our holiday savings.” So both those things in conjunction make them feel like rockstars. But you also have your opt-in audience who are playing like, “Hey, I already have this much of my budget that I'm going to spend. I'm going to 25 per cent here.” And I'm making that decision way early on because I know that's going to be an easy case as I'm going to get the most savings and most value from that because again, you have to play the discount game. I try not to play the discount game during most of the year, but this is the time of year when you need to do it. Again, in the states, we've trained everybody to expect high discounts around that time of year when they make purchases. But for those discounts, you're also going to be losing margin and that's when you don't want to be paying that high acquisition cost when you're on a low margin sale. So for the business case, it doesn't make a lot of sense as when you can get those people opted in early, you can build your pre-order list. By the time you send them their codes, they're ready to go, purchasing right away. So getting those lists built early and building a VIP list ahead of time, messaging your customers with what you're going to have available, what's going to make your holiday event unique. That could be a bigger discount or that could just be a gift to loyal customers around that time. Take care of your best customers and then find a way to get them to purchase afterwards. So, I'll take Klaviyo, build a bouncy backflow, where if they purchase within the Black Friday, Cyber Monday window. You have a flow that serves them in email right afterwards. Two days after Cyber Monday, it says, “Hey, just in case you missed anything during all of the holiday madness, as here's a discount for like five to ten per cent less than the deepest Black Friday discount.” But here's a discount just in case you need to get anything extra so you can get an extra sale out of that. There's a lot of tactical things you can do to plan your audience lists. Get your audience built early, use content to get people to your site so you can retarget during the holidays because those retargeting lists are going to be a lot cheaper than paying for the straight-up acquisition on something else. So your targeting list is going to be your best friend around that time. Even if somebody hasn't purchased, that's still going to be a more profitable transaction for you than a bloated acquisition cost of a new purchaser. 

Ryan Alford [00:21:12] I got a good one for you. I'm a company and I've got a great social following, but I haven't been doing a great job of getting my list together. I'm behind on my CRM tactics, but I've got thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram. How do I transition followers into my list? I'm setting you up because we're dealing with this with some brands. I think that's a common challenge for brands that are a little behind with building their customer list, even though they feel like they're on those rented platforms, as we always call them: “You're renting space; you don't own it”. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:21:58] Yeah. So taking those lists and bringing them over granted a big follower count is how long that follower count has been around like that doesn't mean those are going to be large variables that play into it. But again, you should hopefully be able to transition. Probably, half of your active audience right now, and I'm saying half your active audience is like the people that comment, share, engage with your brand continuously. You should go to transition a large portion of that like you're naturally not going to have your whole audience. Subscribe to your email list, but transition as many as you can over around the holidays to plan on early. How do you give them the same incentive? Like offering to treat them like your best customers because they're been part of your community saying, “Hey, we don't want to be too forward and we don't want to be too presumptuous, but we think you're some of our best customers.” Like, how do we get them over saying, “Hey, here's an extra discount on top of what we're already going to be doing for our consistent holiday sale because they probably come to your holiday sales before.” So offering them a higher level of incentive is going to offer them a reason to get into an opt-in list. You can be trained and you don't have to drive them, but get them over with some incentive that can be early access to holiday discounts, not like a higher level discount, but giving them some high level of incentive that's going to give them a financial reason or some level of exclusivity that's going to make it unique enough for them may be saying, “Hey, I'm a part of the so-called VIP list and I am going to have access to the most exclusive soaps this holiday season because I opted in to this list.” So if you give them some reason for a financial benefit or some reason for exclusivity, that's enough incentive to pull them over. Don't be doing a ton of sales messaging when you're trying to do that. That's a conversion in itself, getting them from one channel to the other, but find a way to search and mix that into your content where I think they get the jab and right hook. Like that's what you're asking for in terms of conversion because when you're planning on using your social channels to convert a ton, you're not going to get the return you'd like because if you're two sales heavy, you're going to have people disengage. You're not going to have an active fanbase or active community. But if you can do it judiciously, get them over to an email list and then try getting them to convert the lot more accurate way of taking them down the customer journey that they're going to understand, because it's like building your relationship where you've to go on your first date. Then you've to go on a second date. You've got to have a first guess. You got to do all those things. I just look at it in the same way. But planning on building an entire marketing cadence after the holidays do so. You're continually building your lists and treating them like the rock stars they are. Because again, the service industry has known this for years. Your best customers, you take care of them because they're your best customers and they bring in so much money, so much revenue for your business. So how do you roll out the red carpet for them from social to email to conversion? 

Ryan Alford [00:25:27] Love it. Good. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:25:29] And again, I am still a very big proponent of social media as I found it. I have bounded rationality around social right now because I do email closer to the value chain than social is in a lot of cases. I spend the majority of my career in social, but the same rules apply. It's just one step closer to the value chain as to how do you get people to come back and purchase again? 

Ryan Alford [00:25:59] Yeah, exactly. You use the relationship comparison, but it's true how many brands want to get married on day one with their customers and “Hey, you got a date, you gotta have that first kiss?”

Robbie Fitzwater [00:26:15] And if somebody wants to get married on day one, do you know what advice would you give to your friend? “Hey, I want somebody who wants to get married on day one like that, run for the hills.” That person is crazy and that's probably the case. But again, not thinking about everything is like a value transaction. Earned credibility, earned trust, earned respect and being able to build it over time because it's probably a slower game for some people who like it. They're at the bottom of the funnel because if they just need to make a transaction, you served a purpose, you had a transaction on Google shopping. But if you're able to build that over time and earn that revenue, they're probably going to come back again and going to tell their friends that 80-20 rule plays into this. Twenty percent is going to be your eighty per cent later on. So if you can turn more people into that twenty percent, that base grows a lot bigger and I’m a believer in that.

Ryan Alford [00:27:18] I know that we've both dealt with some transitions and conversions from different platforms, and as e-commerce goes, being a podcast that tries to show no preferential treatment. But I think we've both learned that making some decisions on the front end for brands or as an agency working on behalf of a brand is just vital in the platform they choose based on the goals and realities, and both of us being a Shopify partner. Now, I don't mind touting them about the growth they've seen and had in the integrations and everything else, but having dealt with a successful but maybe painful for the brand you're working on. Love to get your perspective on that!

Robbie Fitzwater [00:28:22] Before the show, we were talking about transitioning in migrations and recently had a group move over from a big e-commerce site to Shopify and was a really exciting example of what happens when things work smoothly, work consistently, and how it raises the level of every other bit of their marketing. If you have great marketing on the organic side, on the email side, on the site, if you're bringing everybody into a subpar experience, they're probably still going to convert. But if you can give them a great experience that they're going to convert at twice the level, that's the real win for everybody. Building a platform on your operations on a stable base is huge. So that's like where Shopify is growing and expanding. One of your biggest advantages is like you may not have that personal touch with every Shopify rep, and they do a lot of work to scale that. But they've solved so many problems already and they know what problems retailers and merchants fall into. They're able to solve that so quickly because they have a solution system at scale. When you're on a system that's meant for high-level conversions, a high level of interactivity, basically you can focus on what's going to make your business the best, as opposed to the nuts and bolts systems of a system that may not necessarily work as efficiently, like from big commerce to Shopify. I will never look at big commerce the same way. It's just like big commerce is like very far down in my books right now, about to Shopify, because it's just so much better than everything else. It's like we talked that your big commerce site may look beautiful and it’s gorgeous, but it's under the hood. It's like a golf cart engine that doesn't work the same way as something you want to take if you're driving across the country? You don't want to be driving a golf cart. You want to be driving at least a sedan. You can improve on it and make it a little bit better and more comfortable. You don't want to figure it out too much because that'll influence the site, but you don't mind trying to find a way to have something. It's going to scale with you. It's going to serve the function you want to. Going from a big e-commerce site to seeing a Shopify site convert twice the level is exciting. The next fun problem you are going to solve is like, how do we scale our warehouse suddenly? We can't get stuff out the door fast enough which is again a good problem to have. But it's a situation that having a stable platform makes a big difference and having a platform that converts at a high level, just makes everything better. 

Ryan Alford [00:31:21] The comparison you said, when you sign up for these, no matter what size your brand is one thing but for a small business that has very little resources, it has much less medium as compared to a large brand. But having to worry about when you sign up for these platforms is to be good. As my shopping cart functioning properly, am I converting, like getting hung up from the cart to check out to shipping? If you're having to worry about that on your platform, it is just so contrary to the nuts and bolts that you should be focusing on, which is the product plate price promotion area. That's what you need to be focused on, not the checkout system of the platform for what you're paying for?

Robbie Fitzwater [00:32:11] You should never be searching for bugs as when you're searching for bugs, things become problematic because you're trying to find out what you're trying to dissect. It's not working on your site because your conversion rate has fallen too. I've had this happen where their big commerce analytics would just pop out for a week or two and not come back for a little while, and it suddenly came back up. But why did that happen? It got a little bit of radio silence from the other end but having a system that's going to be more stable and more secure for you is going to make a huge difference. I'm sorry for the big commerce crew that it's on the other side of this, cursing my name right now. It's just a tough position when Shopify is coming in with a platform, they can do it so much easier and so much better. It's just the solution that I look for because you do focus on the things that make you great and you get to do marketing. When you're not thinking about how to make the system work, you can make your marketing better and you can make your operations better and also the user experiences better. That's what going to differentiate those brands because like having a system in a car at the checkout, having a checkout system that works the table stakes that he cares about, that it's the thing that you have to go above and beyond to do that are going to be separate. It's going to be what separates you from others in that industry. 

Ryan Alford [00:33:45] I don't know if we've gone through migrations from a Squarespace size to e-commerce. I don't even talk about Squarespace, but commerce might be better than Squarespace. 

This is great for anyone listening. And you're just moving into e-commerce, choose wisely on the front end because it's twice as painful and costly to redo it the second time. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:34:12] With any migration, you're going to lose. Like if you're a big site and the bigger you get on the organic side, the more organic traffic and the larger portion of your revenue that's coming from organic, the more painful it's going to be because you're going to have some drop in organic with any major migration, because this site, Google, is going to index you differently. So the earlier you do it, the more financially viable it is for your business because you're not going to be worrying about recovering all that organic revenue afterwards. In this case, we saw no organic drop because the site was performing so much better than its head and shoulders above where it was in the past. So no drop in organic revenue in this case, but normally you're going to have some drop and it's always a crapshoot to try and make those work out smoothly. I had again in a previous career, in a previous life as director of marketing for large, e-com had some gray hairs from a large migration. But when you get it done right and you get it done early, it's going to be really helpful for you in the long run. You're not going to be trying to fix small things all the time. That's going to be wasting your time and effort and spreading your team where it doesn't need to be. 

Ryan Alford [00:35:34] It's the final segment here. Anything on the platform side, but whether it's Facebook or Instagram or the things they're doing with shopping, anything news and noteworthy for a tech or platform or digital marketing standpoint?

Robbie Fitzwater [00:36:02] So, as a marketer, I'm always a believer that you need to go where the attention's going. You need to not be in love with the platform. You need to be in love with the attention and the platform drives. If people are spending two or three hours a day on a platform to understand why they're there and what's keeping them it is always important. So, thinking about from the technology standpoint, there are huge opportunities like Instagram shopping because you already have such a large audience spending time there, engaging there. If you can make that shopping experience native to the platform – the artist being two hours a day on or for anybody in that certain demographic window that's there a huge opportunity. So, like not going in full steam ahead with trying to go in the first touch, trying to open up some subtlety was like a first touch. That's a little bit more brand-focused as opposed to shopping focused. But once you can open up the door for a shopping focus experience there on the second third touch, those are open up a huge door for opportunities and allow people to shop in and native experience. That's going to be similar to what they're getting anyways. With the seamless use of that, I think I'm excited to see more groups jumping on board with and experimenting with and if nothing else, just the experimentation side of things because if it's a new ad unit, it's probably going to be undervalued. It's not going to be probably weighted as heavily as some others going into some more like retail, like some more high, not high ticket items, but items that are a little bit more esthetically pleasing, I feel like will fit into that area really well. Again, cosmetics probably fits into that category really well to all of those things that you're trying to dissect, what's going on and the groups that can do a great job on the creative side, and trying to make it a bad experience on Instagram shopping good, smooth and seamless are going to be the ones that are going to be the ones winning there, too. So probably underserved ad unit right now in terms of pricing goes so maybe a little bit cheaper, undervalued, and then exciting because it's something new that's going to be native to the platform that people are already spending all their time on. 

Ryan Alford [00:38:33] Well, I always appreciate your insights, I know everyone listening does, and let's keep fighting a good fight for Shopify. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:38:46] Yes, I was like full transparency stock. And I'm like, Nobody's going to do who are not making financial decisions off of my advice. If they are putting my dogs in that fight right now again I have a lot more faith in Shopify, but everybody's trying to figure this out. It's still the “wild, wild west”. Now and everywhere. We just had a bunch of new people coming to town on the e-commerce side. 

Ryan Alford [00:39:19] Focused on your lists. Get ready for the holiday, make the right platform choices, experiment – great insight, man. Appreciate you. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:39:30] Appreciate you. This is always fun. As always, it is a pleasure to talk to a brilliant marketing mind. What's the biggest thing on your radar though, Ryan? You've been asking me questions. What's the biggest thing on your radar right now? 

Ryan Alford [00:39:45] I've tried to stay out of the negativity, but the political and the socio-economic outcome of COVID-19, combined with movements, economic stuff, and I'm ready for it. So I think it's distracting for people right now that I think everybody's searching for the new normal, next-normal and all that stuff. I think I'm ready to see the plane land a bit on whatever is normal. Like all of that is impacting the consumer space. I feel like there's still so many. You felt there was going to be some planes landed by now and I still feel like there's just a lot of things dangling. In some ways, that doesn't necessarily impact business and marketing. But I feel it is right now a little bit because I think it's hitting the mindset of brands and marketers. After all, they're not. They're not as committed to one path or another right now; they don't have the confidence as there's a lack of confidence right now because there's a lack of consumer behavior that might be typical. Yes, things have moved to e-commerce. Yes, brick and mortar are struggling with COVID and so my mind is like wrapping my head around where all of these paths go in the impact that they're going to have on all of these marketing channels as we move forward. And so, we're doing a lot of tactical day to day work for brands and companies. We're doing a ton of things. We probably have 10 e-commerce build's going on right now for clients, which is big for us. So we're in the tactical every day, nuts and bolts of getting brands up to speed on e-commerce, optimizing list creation, all of that's going on. But I think my head is a little bit more in the clouds right now of thinking and observing where this is going to make the best recommendations for clients moving forward if that makes sense. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:42:20] And how do you fight as an agency? You're not again, not the one just doing like the nuts and bolts tactical things like you're the one advising the director of marketing. You're advising, advising those groups and how to position their business for success long term. And like that, as marketers like that’s we need to be focusing on those things, too, not just the nuts and bolts tactics, because, again. If you're in your business, you can't always see everything at a ten thousand foot view and that's where you have your partners for. 

Ryan Alford [00:42:55] So I've had my heads more in the clouds lately, not playing in the clouds and being aloof, but more keeping my ear to the ground, seeing where things are going next and trying to build what's first-quarter 2021 looks like. Not because we don't need to make hay with the holiday, but what is that going to look like and how do we best position. We practice and preach content development and purpose-driven marketing, all those things. Everything's so black and white there's no acceptance of gray. So I think it's a dangerous position that I want to get out of. I want to see more grays and painting with that brush a little bit more. So it's such an interesting time, but I'm also excited by it because I do know that, as marketing changes, the world changes, everything's changing. And like you said, there's always a puzzle to solve. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:44:12] It keeps us young and it keeps us entertained and engaged. And again, maybe we live in interesting times? 

That's a good insight thinking six months from now. It's not easy to do but as a marker. We need to be thinking about those things.

Ryan Alford [00:44:38] My last takeaway is, help the brands. Think more that's on my mind right now is we're working with many and a lot of them are taking that space. But I still feel like the biggest white space area in marketing is to be thinking like B2C, B2B move. Yes, I know there are 10 decision-makers and not one when you're buying toothpaste, but I'm going to keep beating that drum with the brands that we're working with and moving down that channel. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:45:12] People consume content. Why don't they consume content as a business? They're going to the same person when they're at home or when they're at work. And even if there is a little more buttoned-up approach and communicate the way people want to be communicated with? I think that's an area you're spot on there. That's an area that's just underrepresented right now. 

Ryan Alford [00:45:36] We're working together with several companies that are right down that path and so we get to practice what we preach.

Robbie Fitzwater [00:45:47] Fun getting to see them come to life in those areas because like, those are where some big wins are available. There are so many of them with the future right there for them. It's just whoever is going to move first in the industry is going to be going to gain that competitive foothold and wherever that vertical is. 

Ryan Alford [00:46:11] Well, really appreciate everyone listening to today's episode. Go follow Robbie Fitzwater on LinkedIn. You'll see a lot of Robbie's content, lots of great insights and lots of good book recommendations and podcast recommendations, which I appreciate from time to time. 

Robbie Fitzwater [00:46:29] Always something new, always trying to come up with something new and have fun. You're on the other end with great content yourself. 

Ryan Alford [00:46:36]  Really appreciate it and thanks for everyone's listening. You can follow along for all of the episodes. All of our episodes are at theRadcast.com or you can follow us on Instagram at the.rad.cast.

Robbie Fitzwater

Marketing Strategist