Alexandra (Alex) Greifeld is the Founder of No Best Practices, a website dedicated to helping marketers drive profitable growth by understanding consumer behavior. Alex has over a decade of experience in the e-commerce and digital marketing industries at Fortune 500 media brands, bootstrapped companies, and global names like Coach and Kate Spade. She is passionate about helping brands leverage the relationship between their customer and merchandise to break through growth plateaus.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Alex Greifeld shares what ignited her passion for e-commerce marketing
- Why brands can’t rely solely on industry best practices
- Alex debunks marketing myths advertised as best practices
- Leveraging feedback loops between paid social ads and merchandising to drive profitability
- What hinders wholesalers from being profitable in the e-commerce space?
- The importance of prioritizing to maximize results from brand marketing efforts
In this episode…
Thought leaders inundate marketers with best practices for scaling businesses — without having hands-on experience in e-commerce. While valuable, this advice is not always applicable or beneficial. What strategies are worth pursuing if popular practices are irrelevant to authentic business growth?
It’s unrealistic to assume applying universal marketing strategies to all businesses will reap the same reward. Differing missions, values, and goals require unique methods to reflect a business’ purpose. Alex Greifeld, an expert in the e-commerce and marketing industries, discredits widespread marketing tactics. Her alternative perspective provides brands with an understanding of how to market themselves to their customer base.
On this episode of the Up Arrow Podcast, William Harris welcomes Alex Greifeld, Founder of No Best Practices, to discuss why brands can’t rely solely on best practices for business growth. Alex explains how feedback loops between ads and merchandising help drive profitability. She also shares why wholesalers struggle in the e-commerce space and advises brands to prioritize their marketing strategies.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- William Harris on LinkedIn
- Alex Greifeld on LinkedIn | Twitter
- No Best Practices
- No Best Practices Newsletter
- A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders
Sponsor for this episode...
Our paid search, social, and programmatic services have proven to increase traffic and ROAS, allowing you to make more money efficiently.
To learn more, visit www.elumynt.com.
Welcome to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris, featuring top business leaders sharing strategies and resources to get to the next level. Now, let's get started with the show.
William Harris 0:15
Hey everybody, William Harris here. I'm the founder and CEO of Elumynt. And the host of this podcast where I feature experts in the D2C industry sharing strategies on how to scale your business and achieve your goals. And today I have with me, Alex Greifeld. Alex has been working in e-commerce and digital marketing for more than a decade for companies that range from Bootstrap brands to global names like Coach and Kate Spade. Now she helps brands break through their growth plateaus by leveraging their unique relationship between customers marketing in merchandise. And I think when I was thinking about where we met, we just met on Twitter, right? There was no introduction, we just engaged with each other's content. And we're like, Hey, she's really smart. I like her. Right? Something like that. Yeah, I don't think we've ever met in person yet. No, we haven't not yet. So I want to dig into a little bit of the backstory, I want to dig into what you're seeing with No Best Practices. Before we do get into the meat of the topic, though, I want to make sure I announce our sponsor real quick. This episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is an award winning advertising agency optimizing e-commerce campaigns around profit. In fact, we've helped 13 of our customers get acquired with the largest one selling for nearly 800 million. And we were ranked as the 12th fastest growing agency in the world by Adweek. That said, enough of the boring stuff onto the good stuff. Alex, why did you start your company? What is it about this that you're passionate about that made you say, Okay, I want to go and help brands, specifically, e-commerce, retail brands be more successful.
Alex Greifeld 1:47
So I got into marketing, because I was really customer obsessed. I actually started my career in fashion design. I was a mom jeans designer, before mom jeans were cool, like when real moms are still buying them. So I did that for about three years. Wholesale was a huge, huge component of the business. So we didn't know a lot about who was buying our product, why they liked it, why they didn't. And I really just felt that gap and decided to transition over to digital marketing and e-commerce. And then and that's really what's continued to drive and motivate me, it's just curiosity around why certain things work, why other things don't like what really motivates people.
William Harris 2:37
Curiosity is such a powerful characteristic that I think, is undervalued oftentimes, right. But it's that curiosity that allows you to just keep digging and say, Yeah, but why, but why, in fact, I think it was Albert Einstein. And I don't know if this is true, but at least there's like this, you know, story that goes around where it's like, he talks about how he was like, I'm not smarter than anybody else. I was just more curious, when everybody else was done asking why the sky was blue. I was still asking that I just thought by that time was old enough to be able to start answering those questions, too.
Alex Greifeld 3:09
Yeah, yeah. Curiosity is a really powerful thing. And the more I mean, honestly, the more you're able to tap into it, even even when it comes to things that seem like old hat, the more it keeps you going, it keeps you from getting burnt out.
William Harris 3:29
Absolutely. And so one of the things that you have hinged on that I wanted to talk about that, that a lot of your content talks about on Twitter on LinkedIn is No Best Practices, right? Like this is this is a thing that you oftentimes are talking about with people. What do you mean by no best practices? Why? Why is this something that you are so passionate about?
Alex Greifeld 3:52
So at the start of my marketing career, I would always whenever we went into a meeting with a an agency or a vendor, my one of my bosses would always ask, so what are the best practices for using this? And I kind of I started to do it too, because I really admired this person. And I'm like, that's just what you do. And I gotten to a point in my career in a different role, where everyone was throwing every best practice, in the book at the situation at this business problem, and none of it was working. And that's when I realized that the best practices as popular as they are, they don't typically explain the root causes of what's going on. And you have to be really thoughtful about when you hear a success story, what are all the different aspects of that, that brand? Like what's their funding model? What's their category with their price point? You can just apply a winning idea from one brand to another, that's completely different, because it typically doesn't work. And so yeah, That's a pattern I just seen over and over as I got more involved in e-commerce and even into D2C Twitter. And so I thought it would be, it would be a fun name for my, for my own brand.
William Harris 5:14
It is, and it makes you think right now you're not actually against all best practices, right? Because there's there's room for best practices. One thing that I think about is it's like what's best practice to use, oh, a circle for a wheel on a car share, you might be able to make it out of a square triangle. But like there's, there's enough science to back that up. But I think where you get and correct me if I'm wrong, because I feel similarly is that it's a very lazy approach to optimizing something, you say, well, what's the best practice? Let's just do that. And there's not necessarily a lot of thought behind the context in that particular best practice, where you say, that's great. But that doesn't make any sense for our particular demographic, or our niche or whatever that we're doing. Right? So it's like without that context, it's just a lazy approach instead of actually thinking about your customers and actually thinking about your products.
Alex Greifeld 6:02
Yeah. And there's also an aspect of it, where it's like, yes, there's a list of things that you should do to give yourself your best odds of success for a given tactic. Like, there's definitely what I would call best practices for Facebook ads, or Google ads, or like web user experience. But you have to take a step back and ask yourself, do these best practices conflict to with my long term goals? Like if I'm trying to build a really strong brand equity? Is this a is doing the these best practices like the right move? For me? I think that's a important question that brands need to ask themselves as well.
William Harris 6:45
Yeah, and let's talk about you know, one of those best practices that I have always struggled with, and I kind of harped against for a while, was the idea of giving people coupon codes, before they've even spent like three seconds on your website. Sure, I get that that's a best practice in the idea that everybody's doing it and talking about how much that increases their, you know, purchase rate at that point in time. But the downside to it, in my opinion, and from what I've seen through a lot of data with customers is, all you've done is you've just acquired a lot of people who were interested in coupons, they, when you look at the cohort analysis of them, they don't necessarily translate into better customers long term. And so when you're talking about long term health of the brand, trying to you know, see, hey, do people actually want this at full price? There's a lot more benefit to that oftentimes, before just immediately hitting them with a coupon before they've even had the chance to decide if they like you or not.
Alex Greifeld 7:37
Yeah, the the welcome puppet pop of discourse kind of drives me nuts, because almost no one measures, you know, do the customers you acquire actually purchase, do they stay engaged? If they do purchase? Do they buy again, like you're you can your philosophy towards that any channel like buddy, especially email, specifically, your, if it's any customer, I'll take any customer that I can get? Sure you don't know, you're not really managing your own destiny in terms of like where your business is going. And you're like, I can understand it from both sides. Because if you're especially if you're bootstrapped, it's like you need, you need to keep the cash flowing in. But you also need to, to keep your long term objectives in mind.
William Harris 8:30
Yeah, and to a point sometimes, when you are short sighted, it can really ruin the long term. What are some other marketing myths that you find are out there as being touted as best practices, but your cringe every time that you hear somebody talk about these things.
Alex Greifeld 8:50
So retention is the new acquisition, or Sure, you don't need to do acquisition, you can grow your business with retention, or just a lot of what you hear on email marketing. A mere retention is just something that like, historically, very few people are measuring it in a way that helps you really understand the value of your marketing. Like, if you're if your business is healthy, people are going to come back and buy from you again, whether you send them emails or not. Like there's your baseline rate of retention. And if you're not measuring that, then you're not measuring the lift and retention that any given tactic might be driving. So you could be doing all of these things. You know, throwing a discount in front of a customer who was going to buy at full price anyway. And unless you measure it the right way, your retention strategies could actually be diluting your your lifetime value of your customers.
William Harris 9:53
Sure, it reminds me of let's just say from like a biologic perspective, you have your basal metabolic rate, right where it's like the amount of calories that you're simply going to burn for existing, right? You lay in bed all day, but it's like you're gonna burn, whatever that is 800 calories or whatever that is you just by just breathing and existing. It's almost like there's like a basal retention rate, right? Where it's like, what is your just standard retention rate where you're going to get these customers buying again, even if you didn't send out an SMS or an email or advertise to them again, you need to know what that is? How do brands go about figuring out what that is? Because it's not like they can just stop everything they're doing now to figure out well, what is your basic retention rate?
Alex Greifeld 10:34
Yeah, I mean, it's honestly something that's really tricky to measure holistically. One thing that you can do is just start doing cold out testing for any given retention tactic, like any offers you are to run or even like email frequency, and cadence, like, I get that that's difficult, unless you have the right tech stack in place, it's kind of a pain in the butt to actually execute that. Another thing that you can do is, you can monitor the retention rates of customers who are opted in to email versus not opted in it for a given period. And that will give you a sense of, you know, the general lift that email is giving you, you probably want to look at look at like for like customers, because customers that are predisposed to purchasing, again, are often the ones who are going to opt in to email. So sure, there's a little bit of nuance there. I think a lot of that stuff is. And this is what I say to a lot of brands, it's like getting in the weeds with retention doesn't start to pay off until you're doing at least $50 million a year. Sure, like when when you're smaller than that you should focus on getting the basics right and just not not listening to anyone who's trying to sell you on like quick retention hacks, or things that are gonna like dilute your customer base.
William Harris 12:05
Yeah, the nuances where, you know, you can get sidetracked so easily as a small brand, by this shiny object with this shiny object. And the reality is, it's like just just do the basics, right? And then you can iterate from there. I think that makes a lot of sense. What about, you know, is that the same for SMS as well, so you're talking about, like, on email, you know, SMS is obviously, growing significantly, do you find people doing the same bad habits, they're on SMS, or they're doing some things better?
Alex Greifeld 12:38
I think the one thing that keeps people under control with SMS a little bit is that it costs money to send Digi messages that you can't, if you're sending, like three, like I know, brands that send three, four or five emails a day, like you can't really do that with SMS, unless you you prove out the business case there. What I've found is that if email, I mean, you kind of cultivate your email list based on the content that you send, if you mail really often, and it's very promotional, heavy messaging like that the customer who likes that as the customer, that's going to end up in your email file. With SMS, it's, it's typically the people who are already really bought into you like, unless you have some kind of incentive to get people to sign up, you're going to your SMS file is going to over index for like 3x and 4x. And beyond, like your loyal shares, versus versus prospects. So I think the one thing that I don't see a lot of brands do, but that feels like a missed opportunity is really giving people a reason to sign up to either email or SMS, like you'll get, you'll get notifications of our new product drop is not it's not like a market, like you're not marketing the value of that list. So thinking about, I know there are some brands who do like SMS flash sales, and the only way to access the sale is like you have to be opted into the list. And you have to be you have to shop the sale in the first hour after they send out the link. And then they close it. So like that's an example of creating a unique marketing use case around the channel versus just thinking of it as like, another way to push messages out to people.
William Harris 14:32
Yeah, because we are all inundated with messages so much as it is I like to talk about romancing your customers. And I know that one of the things that we do on the advertising side a lot is we see people where the day that they bought something from Company A they're receiving ads to buy again, that same day or something like that, right? And it's like or there's like this immediate like You're like let's target them for an upsell or whatever that might be. If you've taken zero time to actually just romance them, you know you, you take a little bit of time to create a relationship with them, show them something that they're excited about, show them about how your product makes their lives better. So they just look at this and say, Wow, that's amazing. And I'm just very excited about this. I can't wait for it to come in the mail, before you immediately hit them back up with another sale. And I think the same is true for creating that relationship from an email and an SMS perspective as well.
Alex Greifeld 15:30
Yeah, I think the the idea of really speaking about your product, is it it's like a muscle that's gotten weak over the past two decades, because the first decade of like mass e-commerce adoption, like 20, the mid 2000, the mid Audis, through like 2015, there was just so much free traffic, like, from a macro point of view, people were shifting their shopping habits online. If you had a lot of in real life awareness around your brand, people were just kind of like going to your site. No one realized what the value of attention online was. So people would just like write blogs about things they liked, and not charge money for it. And like all the social media sites, were giving away free traffic. So it was enough to just put it put an image in front of that passive traffic source and like collect money. Yeah, and now what you find is like, a lot, a lot of brands are, they're faced with this challenge of like, okay, well, how do we build out a real, like copywriting capability? How do we really think about the stories that we want to tell around this product and how we communicate that to people and, and the brands that are able to figure that out? They, the marketing just becomes that that more effective?
William Harris 16:57
Yeah, yeah. So Myth number one, retention, and the way that people are going about it and figuring out what their basic retention rate is and figuring out what's incremental beyond that, which is, you know, even figuring out like, how incremental is the email, how incremental is their SMS? How incremental? Is their catalogs, how incremental is their, you know, retargeting advertising, like all of these things coming together and figuring out like, what's that right mix from that? And you suggested holdout tests, which I'm a big fan of, and complicated to do, especially to do them, right. But if you are a brand, that's big enough, and you need to get a little bit of a better understanding, it's one of the best ways to truly understand how incremental something is. What else though? What are some other marketing myths? One of the things you mentioned me, and maybe this is where you're gonna go to is the intersection of merchandising and marketing. So that was a big one. Yeah,
Alex Greifeld 17:49
I don't know if that's a myth. But it's like a, it's just something that it's kind of like an untapped opportunity. Where should the number one thing you need to know about merchandising as a marketer is that your best selling products make your conversion rate go up, which makes your ad efficiency go up? Sure. So if you have it a broad assortment of products, figure out a way to get your best sellers in front of more people, like put them on the homepage, put them in your emails for new customers, like put them in your welcome series, put them in your paid social advertising. Some of your products there, I mean, there's kind of the two schools of thought when it when it comes to retail that are both a bit outdated. The first is just that, you know, we bring in a big load of traffic, we send it to the site, and we kind of let it loose. Which isn't exactly what happens. And then the other is that you can push demand into any products, you sell profitably, like some of your products or just especially if you're a fashion brand, and you're turning over the assortment, not every product is going to be a winner. So you have to realize that there you reach a point of diminishing returns where if something isn't working, like featuring it in five different Facebook ads is not going to make it work. Sure. So there's a sweet spot in the middle where it's, you know, you're you're using your best sellers as an acquisition vehicle. You're using the next like if your best sellers are your top 10% of your assortment, and you're using the next 20 to 30% as kind of like a retention vehicle. And then the rest of it. You know, people buy it if they like it, and then and it's kind of sharing it doesn't focus as heavily in your marketing.
William Harris 19:46
Yeah, I think that's smart. So to your point where if you've got something that's working, well go ahead and scale that. If it's not working, well, maybe don't continue to just find 800 million ways to waste money on advertising for it. Move on to the next thing that's selling well and keep pushing those, let those products that aren't selling as well be upsells, things like that for people when they're on the website, you can use them in the retention. And I've been like the idea of sometimes using certain products from a cash flow perspective where you say, okay, you know, these items you haven't sold through them, you need to get rid of them. And so sometimes are better ways to get rid of them versus just trying to advertise them away. Because now you're just losing a lot of the efficiency on that.
Alex Greifeld 20:31
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And the kind of the next level of that, which there are, honestly a lot of brands are, they haven't gone there. But the Facebook is almost like, your role as a media buyer, or a marketing organization or whatever, you're almost like the department store buyer for the Facebook audience. So if you know that paid social, like meta advertising, or even, you know, any other paid channels, whatever your top Acquisition Source is, to a certain extent, you should design new products and plan inventory into that, like, if you know that a certain if a product that does really well in ads, has certain characteristics. Make more of that. Yeah, or don't I mean, you but but that's a way to really create like an incredibly profitable feedback loop between paid social and merchandising.
William Harris 21:34
Yeah, and I feel like that's something that's come up on a lot of podcast episodes here, we're talking about just marketing needing to have more communication, less siloed more communication with the different departments. And so more communication with the merchandising team, more communication with the finance team, more communication with the, you know, inventory team and whoever is placing the orders. And one of the things that I've seen run into to your point where there's oftentimes seasonality components, especially when you're in the fashion side of things where, you know, maybe jeans start coming out, and I don't have this pulled up, but maybe it's September, right, whatever, whatever timeframe, that is, when it starts getting a little bit cold out back to school starts happening, maybe this search for jeans starts going up. And what I what I've seen people neglect, though, is actually just even looking at search terms, reports within Google Analytics to see your specific site users. And so you might look at this and say, okay, the typically this is going, let's say, first week of October, but on your site searches for these particular products are skyrocketing first week of August, well use that data to inform whether or not you're ordering those products earlier for your particular users, because they might have needs for those things that you didn't realize that don't fit maybe the general trend, then you've been missing out on sales, because you just weren't aware to your specific users searches.
Alex Greifeld 22:59
Right. And I think something, something that's a real challenge is at least in the fashion, footwear, accessories space, what you'll see often is brands who either got started selling to wholesale, like, Sure, a decade or more in the past, or, you know, they launched recently, and they were just able to scale a lot more quickly there. And then the Wholesale Buying calendar, and the conventions of that whole channel, go on to dictate e-commerce, like when we can put product online when we can mark it down. Even you know, what we buy, and what we display on the site. And it's it's just a very hard, it's very hard to grow an e-commerce business with that as your framework, especially because a lot of the big wholesale accounts in those categories. The businesses themselves are not doing well. Sure. It's really hard to succeed when your partners are setting the rules, and they are, they're not profitable. Sure, yeah.
William Harris 24:13
And so to a point, you're almost saying, you know, if you're a wholesale business that's transitioning to more D2C, you need to decouple the two a little bit as much as you possibly can and let e-commerce run with the quick, fast data that it has to make those informed decisions versus relying on an antiquated calendars kind of what you're saying.
Alex Greifeld 24:32
You know, in an ideal world, yes. It's it's never it's never that simple. I say these things because it's like it's never that simple if because he you know, if wholesale 70% of your business that's funding your payroll and your overhead and, and everything by then you have to kind of step back and say, Well, maybe my goal of making e-commerce 50% of my business in the next, like 18 Under is not is unrealistic. And I have to understand what results are realistic with the parameters I have set here?
William Harris 25:09
Yeah, yeah, no, that's good. What else do you think holds back wholesalers from being successful as they migrate over to e-commerce then? So are there certain best practices that are getting in their way?
Alex Greifeld 25:21
Like department stores or specialty store?
William Harris 25:23
Yeah, or a brand that's selling to the to the department stores?
Alex Greifeld 25:28
Oh, okay. So I think the big one that I always advise every brand who sells to to wholesale accounts is in every selling agreement, where you can get away with it, tell the wholesaler, they can bid on your brand terms. Like that's becoming a little bit less relevant in the world of p max, like that. Anyone can basically do anything they want to your shopping listings, but like in terms of just knock down, drag out bidding wars for like, branded search, really low bottom has the funnel branded search terms like that just, it's like lighting cash on fire. So just get that out of the way and monitor it. I think you also have to look at your unit economics, a lot of brands who have a wholesale a big wholesale component, you'll talk to them and it's like, okay, we can afford to spend like 10 to 15% of our AOP to acquire a new customer. Well, you better be generating demand somewhere in the real world and posting it online. And, and that's not typically what's happening. It's like, we want to make Facebook Ads work. But we can spend $10 to get a $100.
William Harris 26:48
Well, in what's interesting on that side of things to your point is let's say that, you know, they're typically taking a bigger loss than 10% when they're wholesaling this to a department store. But they're only willing to take that 10% loss on the on the DTC side of things, without even realizing that there's a significant difference in 10% to wholesale versus 10% on e-commerce, because the 10% on e-commerce, you own that customer now you own that customer's email and their ability to remarket to them. And so you can start looking at the LTV, whereas on that wholesale order, you know, you haven't sure you've got the wholesale customer, but you haven't acquired the individual user customer to be able to remarket to them. And so there's, there's a difference sometimes and being willing to spend a little bit more on that, that e-commerce side to get that moving is wise.
Alex Greifeld 27:36
Yeah, and you have I mean, you never want to be in a business relationship where the other party's like financial incentives are different, like vastly different from yours, like, sure a lot of the big wholesale accounts are are not they're not bootstrapped. And they're not profitable. So if you're a bootstrapped brand, he's like really trying to manage cash flow. And all of your partners have those different incentives, and they have the power over you. That's not it's just a hard, hard road to be on. Sure.
William Harris 28:15
Something else that you said to me that I really liked. You talked about prioritization. You said, Stop stopping the insanity. The million things that we can be doing in deciding what to focus on is something that I think that you talk about often even in LinkedIn stuff, or as well as just being able to find that prioritization. And when you're a big brand, there's so many things that you can possibly do to improve your your overall marketing situation. And if we can just go to retention, for instance, you could run a holdout test to understand the incrementality of your email, you could run a holdout test to understand the incrementality of SMS differently. You could run a holdout test on your, your catalogs and your direct mail and you could run all of these different tests. And it is hard sometimes for brands to know how to prioritize what to do, how do you go about figuring out in guiding brands towards making the right decisions from a prioritization standpoint?
Alex Greifeld 29:13
So a lot of a lot of what happens in terms of prioritization is we have a high level goal, like we need to grow 10% this year. Okay, let's make a list of tactics. And we'll do the easiest ones first. Sure, and there's a middle step that has to go that has to happen there, which is, at least the way I like to do it is like okay, we want to grow 10% This year, realistically, how much of that is going to come from acquisition versus retention? How do we break those down into customer level goals like we we had 1000 Customers last year we need to acquire like 1300 this year. And then you start drilling into different channels and metrics for or you can affect that. And that's where he started getting into, like the tactics. But a lot of these tactics, especially if they're coming in from like a third party, they make big promises on, you know, what kind of what kind of impact you can expect to shame. So part of it is just knowing like, what what's reasonable, like, what's a reasonable goal to expect, like a really good one is, is retention. There's a very real ceiling on retention. And typically, if you're a motto, Randy e-comm business, like between 20 and 30 of the customer, the new customers they ever worth, let me let me go back out of every 100 new customers you acquire between 20 and 30, we'll come back and purchase again. So and if the business is doing really, really well, you'll get up to like 3538, or maybe 40. If your flan if your growth plan hinges on going from 21 out of 100 to 50 out of 100 in a year. Like that's never gonna happen. So it's Yeah, part of it is about setting realistic goals. And to a certain extent that just comes from experience. Yeah, so there is there is some value and experience.
William Harris 31:22
Well, you know, and I even like, the framework that we use, oftentimes is the ice scoring framework, right? Which is going to basically be like, what's the impact? What's the confidence in what's the ease, because to your point, sometimes it is nice to be able to say, what's that quick win, there's this one's easy, low impact, high confidence, just just knock this out. That's a good one. But oftentimes, we do focus too much on sometimes knocking out the easy things, and not knocking out the things that are going to take four months to implement, but have significantly more room for overall growth. And we just keep knocking out these small little piddly things. And we never get around to the higher impact things. And so being able to mark that out and say, you know, this one's got high, high impact, this one has a lot of potential to your point, retention, maybe retention took a backseat for a while. And I would say that I think that's fair to say that for a while, there's a resurgence of people talking about retention now, because it took a backseat to acquisition for the last few years where we went real heavy on it. And we maybe didn't focus enough on retention. Great, let's focus a little bit on retention. But realizing to your point, it's a limiting factor, you're not going to most likely double your business by focusing on retention, you can squeeze out that incremental performance. And that might be a really important thing that puts you in the right spot from a cash flow, you know, productive productivity point of view, to be able to do what you need to do now to go out in focus on acquisition again, and so but it's but it might be a smaller win a smaller impact and say, Okay, how do we continue to use that to leverage getting into the bigger impact things?
Alex Greifeld 32:58
Yeah. A while ago, on Twitter, I asked a question and it was something like, You need to grow your sales by 20%. This year, you have two options. The first is you could just start doing 30% off all orders, and just make that your your evergreen offer. Sure. And then your second, Your second option is you can invest like 30k in customer research and hire a copywriter and start refining the messaging across your marketing funnel. And it's like, what what of out of those two choices? Which one are you going to take? And in the goody two shoes, idealized world, you'd be like, do the market research hire the copywriter? Sure, but it's a high risk. It's like a high risk, high reward strategy. So that's why I mean, that's why some of these quick wins decisions get made. And at a higher level, you need to make sure that a you're setting up the right incentives so that people are making decisions on the right timeframe. And then B you need to I mean, you need to you need to be realistic, but also not get yourself into a position where your options that is just bad and worse, you know,
William Harris 34:21
sure. I if I was gonna summarize what you said a little bit in a more brash way, I would say you don't have the guts to grow the way that you want to grow. Like you need to be willing to take some chances here and do something that has a higher impact thing. But yeah, there's a little bit higher risk as well, but you got to take those risks, otherwise, you're gonna get stuck in vanilla land, and you're never gonna be able to grow out of that.
Alex Greifeld 34:45
Yeah. You have to put yourself into the position where you can take risks without breaking your legs. Like, yeah, if you're, you know, if you're, if you have a warehouse full of inventory and like $100 tires in the bank then like, yeah, run the 30% off offer but sure make every decision as if you're, you're trying to give yourself some breathing room to make to take calculated risk.
William Harris 35:11
Yes, yes, absolutely. You got to take some big swings sometime. These are some really good thoughts. Do you have any other thoughts that you want to make sure that we share from a No Best Practices standpoint, or what e-commerce merchants should be doing to make sure they're thinking about growth in the right ways for 2023? Before we dig into the some of the personal stuff of who is Alex Greifeld?
Alex Greifeld 35:36
Yeah, I think, Mmm hmm. every marketer should learn more about operations, merchandising, and finance. I tweet a lot of different resources around those topics. I can't, I'm not going to give you a reading list right now. But I think it's just it will make you much stronger marketer.
William Harris 35:59
If you want to send those over. We could always add those to the transcript here too. So that way, people can just click on them and go read some of the things that you're suggesting here.
Alex Greifeld 36:09
Yes, I will try to get that over to you.
William Harris 36:12
Yeah. So digging into the who is Alex? One of the questions that I'd like to know is what? What happened in your childhood? What was it like growing up for you that you think maybe lends itself towards who you are today? The Alex that we know that is talking about prioritization and optimizing in the right context? You know, Were you always this way? Or is there something that triggered this? Or why are you the Alex that we know?
Alex Greifeld 36:43
Yeah, the short answer is no, I grew up. I hated math. I yeah, I had some really bad experiences with math classes and math teachers, I was, I would always take the advanced classes, but like, really struggle to keep my grades in a good place. Like math was just something I absolutely struggled with. And my teachers were all pretty bad. Like, especially compared to some of the experiences I had later on in life. So I was like, I initially I wanted to study fine arts, I got into fashion as a more commercial, like a more commercial way to be creative for a living. Yeah. And then I got into the industry, and I was just like, A, this is actually not creative. And be I'm going to be living with roommates until I'm 40. If I keep doing so. I a lot of there was just a lot more being written about e-commerce and digital marketing. At that time, I think it was around 2008 2010. I really started getting into it. And so I was like, Okay, actually, this is really interesting. And the more I returned to it, the more I even started to get interested in the numbers, the number aspects of it.
William Harris 38:09
Yeah, that's interesting. Well, it's funny that you said that about like needing roommates, until you're 40. It actually reminds me of something my brother said to me, who has a degree in mathematics. But I remember him telling me some similar joke, which was, what's the difference between a large pizza and a degree in mathematics? And his answer was, a large pizza can feed a family of four. That to some degree, you know, degree in mathematics in and of its self might not necessarily lend itself towards capitalization. But I think it's true in a lot of fields, like you said, Fine Arts, whatever, there's, there's a lot of waste, where it can be hard to find that that sweet spot that niche, and e-commerce blends itself very well for people who are creative and mathematical to be able to use both sides of their brain and in ways that allow them to find, you know, ways to scale businesses really nicely.
Alex Greifeld 39:00
Yeah, I agree. I really enjoy it. It's I guess I've been doing it for a decade and I don't feel I don't feel any strong urge to do something else, you know? Yeah. Yeah.
William Harris 39:13
Although you do have something new taking up your free time. We were talking about this a little bit of ago as well. What is you know, as a new mom, what does free time look like for you now?
Alex Greifeld 39:27
Yeah, I had my first child, I guess, about last February. So more than a year it's been more than a year. I'm not quite a rookie mom anymore. But yeah, I'm still learning a lot. Yeah, I free to obviously, I have a lot less free time. And I really prioritize, like working out and relaxing. Like that. Those are the two things that I do with my free time.
William Harris 39:55
Yeah, it's important and I think you talked about you know, self care. It's like it's important to take care of your physical body, your mental body to be able to say it's like what do I need to be able to stay in a healthy place? So that way I can do good with my works that way I can be present for my it was daughter or son, daughter. Yeah, for your for your daughter, right. And so I've got three kids. And it's, it's, I would almost say it's impossible to find that perfect balance. But you know, you at least strive each day to find, you know, some kind of equilibrium between all of that. So good for you. Yes, thank you. What about books? Are there any books that you'd like to read, or any books or podcasts that you listen to that you feel have helped you along your path?
Alex Greifeld 40:42
So I used to read a lot of business books, and I was kind of finding that I wasn't retaining a ton of it. Like, really, and what you quickly realized, as a lot of business books could have been a blog post, yes. There, there are some podcasts and blogs. And I'll send I guess, I'll send her around a list after this to put your show notes. But there are some that I think consistently provide, like a lot of value that I read regularly. But I get most of my, I guess, most of my inspiration as a marketer from speaking with others, like speaking with my peers, or people who have progressed, well, actually, people who are more senior than me and people who are more junior than me and my peers, so everyone, like you can really learn from everyone. And then I also I always recommend this and it's polarizing, but I think reading fiction is really good just for creativity and empathy. And also, uh, you know, if, if you do well, most of us do a lot of writing as part of our work like it, it helps you become a better writer 100. So I know some people like some people just hate fiction, I get it. I will, you know, but I think it's incredibly about
William Harris 42:08
fiction, are they just find their time better spent being productive? Or do they actually hate fiction?
Alex Greifeld 42:14
Either, maybe hate is a strong word, but they just they, they don't enjoy it, nor do they see any business value?
William Harris 42:22
Yeah, well, okay. So I like fiction, I don't read as much of it as I used to, partly because of the productivity. And when I do have some free time, there's just other things that I find myself doing. But what types of fiction books are you reading right now? Is there one in particular that like, oh, this was a really good one. And if you haven't read this one, you know, I highly recommend it.
Alex Greifeld 42:41
So this year, I've been reading all the work of Patrick Modiano, who was he wrote a lot between like, it basically, I think, like the mid 50s, through the mid 80s, was the bulk of his work. And it's, it's a lot about, like, memory, and like the, the unreliability of memory. But the the books themselves are just very vibey it's like, people or people have amnesia, or like some guy is looking for like a woman, a woman that he thinks he remembers from his childhood, or like, people are running away to the Swiss Alps and changing their identities. So it's, it's a lot of beautiful writing and like, tone setting, and just really enjoyable.
William Harris 43:35
When to your point, like you said, maybe people don't recognize the business value in it. But I think that there's a lot to be said, for being creative, allowing your brain to think in creative ways, again, not just in logical structures, and being able to understand some of the human psyche that's going on in the character development. And all of that helps you better understand how can you know, what are these basic impulses that consumers have as well? And how can I make sure that I'm addressing them within my creative or within my landing pages? So I think that it's I would agree with you that it's undervalued, oftentimes, but has a very profound impact on thinking.
Alex Greifeld 44:14
Yeah. And, uh, you know, I also read a lot of random Twitter accounts. Just how
William Harris 44:22
random are we talking about?
Alex Greifeld 44:24
Um, I think it just helps you become a better copywriter, like when you see when you see tweets that have gone viral, even if they have nothing to do with marketing, like, starting to, I feel like that's made me a better tweet writer is adapting some of those.
William Harris 44:43
Sure. It reminds me of there's a book I believe it's called A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. And it's written by a Syracuse Professor, I'm drawing a blank on his name right now. But it's for Russian short stories. And then he goes through. And I'm trying to remember who all was in there. And I don't remember, but don't quote me on. It's been a little while since I read it now. But one of the things they talked about is the impact of writing short stories and how every word absolutely has to matter when you're writing a short story. And there's almost like this competition of how to write the shortest story. And it's very wild. It's very much like what Twitter is where if you if you do look at this, and you think through every word, exactly where it's placed in what it means and how it's leading somebody in towards this thought. It's it's very interesting to see that there can be a lot of resilience that went into this tweet that might have seemed like it was written haphazardly, but it wasn't it was written very intentionally, sometimes they were just by accident. But oftentimes, there was a lot of very thoughtful intentionality behind every word that was chosen for that tweet.
Alex Greifeld 45:50
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
William Harris 45:54
Okay, so I also like to end with a fun little game, oftentimes, speaking of words and everything, where I give you a word, and it is just a completely made up, or it's not a made up word. It's a real word. But it's a word that I don't expect you to know the definition of. And just for fun, it's like Balderdash, you give me you give me a definition that you think sounds believable that we can believe for this word that you've likely not heard of before. So the word that I'm choosing here is Whistler, w h ISFLER. Alex, what is the definition of Whistler that we should believe?
Alex Greifeld 46:37
The Whistler is a Chinese dropshipping product that is advertised on Twitter that you can use to clean dust off your steering wheel.
William Harris 46:49
Yeah, obviously, because you know, when that dust accumulates on your steering wheel, you're turning left and all of a sudden you get that dust and it's, you know, an accident waiting to happen, and you need to use the Whistler. That is, that is fantastic. That is not the definition of it, though. Nobody's ever gotten one of these, right? Which is good. Because I'm trying to pick words that are very obscure. If you want to look up what the definition of is of it is incompetent, that would be fun. If people wanted to follow you connect with you work with you, what is the best way for them to stay in touch?
Alex Greifeld 47:21
So follow me on Twitter. My handle is, @heyitsalexp. As in Peter. My website is nobestpractices.co And you can sign up for my newsletter there. It's also the link in my Twitter bio. I send it out twice a month. So it's not a you know, you won't be inundated with newsletters
William Harris 47:45
times a day, right? Yeah.
Alex Greifeld 47:48
Maybe I'll get there one day, but right now now it's twice a month.
William Harris 47:52
Perfect. Alex, this is all really great. And I appreciate you taking the time to share some of your knowledge and time with us here today.
Alex Greifeld 48:01
Yeah, thanks for having me. Yep. And thank you everybody
William Harris 48:04
else for joining in. Have a great rest your day. Bye.
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