Cultivating LTV With a Subscription Model With Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Decocrated, a seasonal and holiday home decor subscription box. As a serial seven-and eight-figure entrepreneur, he is also the Co-founder and Co-CEO of 1Thrive and Stratton Home Decor. With over 25 years of experience in the home decor industry, Michael has built high-performing sales and product development teams that fuel growth.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Michael Siegel shares the backstory of Decocrated and the company’s journey from retail to e-commerce
  • How Michael leveraged customer insights to scale Decocrated
  • Tips and tools for gathering and evaluating customer feedback
  • Maximizing customer LTV through exclusive deals
  • The value of building a community to acquire customers online
  • How has Michael created functional content for the consumer?
  • Michael talks about how sports influenced his entrepreneurial drive
  • Why mentorship is invaluable in the digital marketing industry

In this episode…

Customer lifetime value (LTV) is top of mind for many brands in the digital marketing space, and subscriptions are the leading choice for cultivating loyalty and retention. Yet brands with subscription-based business models require alternative methods of ensuring long-term satisfaction. How can you integrate customer insights and feedback into every aspect of your business?

Having transitioned from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce DTC, multipreneur Michael Siegel understands how to curate feedback to develop content and a community of loyal customers. He recommends cultivating trust by establishing an online community and offering exclusive deals. Then you can gather reviews using customized surveys with detailed questions. When analyzing the responses, many brands try to accommodate every customer, but Michael advises remaining consistent with your business model and mission, especially if you’ve already built a loyal consumer base. Once you’ve gathered feedback, develop organic content that aligns with consumer needs. For instance, you can create TikTok videos instructing customers on using your products.

Join William Harris in this Up Arrow Podcast episode as he sits down with Michael Siegel, the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Decocrated, to talk about fostering customer lifetime value. Michael shares the value of mentorship in the DTC landscape, how sports influenced his entrepreneurial journey, and how he scaled Decocrated through customer insights.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is a performance-driven e-commerce marketing agency focused on finding the best opportunities for you to grow and scale your business.

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

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

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'm helping ecommerce brands scale from 10 million to 100 million by interviewing the brightest minds in DTC. We also have a little fun on the show and get deep into the personal side as well. So it's gonna be fun one. Today I have a special guest, Michael Siegel. Michael is the co founder and CO CEO of Decocrated the number one home decor subscription box in the US. And he's an integral part of the Stratton Home Decor team with over 26 years experience in the home decor industry. Leveraging his extensive experience and creativity has played a vital role in Decocrated success, earning recognitions such as the 2023 sub the award winner the best subscription box in the US. Outside of his professional life. Michael enjoys traveling with his family playing pickleball in golf and volunteering, all while drawing inspiration from the world around him to create beautiful and functional spacious, spacious Sean's like, I'm going into like my Sean Connery mod there. I don't know what that was Michael, welcome.

Michael Siegel  1:16  

Welcome. Nice to nice to be on your show and really appreciate you reaching out. Thank you. Yeah,

William Harris  1:23  

well, and I was thinking about so young Koch is actually the one who introduced us. He's, for those who don't know, the founder of K-Consult, they do generative AI strategy. And I've worked with Yan for man, it's got to be more than a decade on a bunch of WordPress sites and things over the years. And so he's been somebody that I've considered to be a friend and partner on a lot of things. And I remember he put us in touch, actually years ago to talk through some stuff. And it was kind of fun to reconnect with you here recently.

Michael Siegel  1:50  

Yeah, yeah. It's been very helpful to us. Just to give you a little backstory, and to give your listeners a little backstory about pitfalls of how you start out different platforms technology, so we had a WordPress site for E commerce. That's how, that's how we started. That's how, how lack of knowledge we had when we started this. So we started on WordPress, and started with a company that was local in South Florida. And they recommended that to us. And they also handled a digital marketing for us, too. And we just got into a pickle with this company. And I found Yan, actually remember how I found him? somewhere on the internet probably Googled WordPress help, and he popped up. Sure. And I met Yan and the guy is amazing. He stepped right in and helped us tremendously. He did it over and above what he had to do. And when we he really saved us at the very beginning when we were scaling fast, and we had no idea what we were doing. So he was a big help. Yeah, I

William Harris  3:06  

agree. Yan has been there numerous times for me as well on various companies, even some stuff that we head over at GoDaddy and I can't sing praises enough for him. Mike, I'm excited to dig into a little bit more about the background and backstory of kind of how you ended up where you are. Before I do, I do want to announce our sponsor. This episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is an award winning advertising agency optimizing ecommerce campaigns around profit. In fact, we've helped 13 of our customers get acquired with a large one selling for nearly 800,000,001 that we sold was sold to GoDaddy and one that recently IP owed. And we were ranked the 12th fastest growing agency in the world by Adweek. You can learn more on our which is spelled That said another boring stuff on the good stuff you won Best subscription in the US from the sub to subscription make. That's a big award. Congratulations first of all, by the way, and I think a lot of people want to know like how what was this? Like? What was the backstory to even starting Decocrated to begin with? In How did you end up where you are now today?

Michael Siegel  4:15  

I want to start out and say that, you know, William, your accomplishments, by the way are amazing. So you should be proud of yourself too. So how did we start thinking I've been in the business for since 1997. We took over a very small mom and pop domestic the made picture frame company contract we did hotels, we did local furniture stores and we made mirrors and artwork and Canvas and stuff like that and scale that up into a supplier for national hotels. We were preferred vendors for Marriott extended stay America we We're on the list with Hilton. And we did that for many, many years who scaled that business up as well. Kind of pivoted over to a big box retail got into big stores like the stores you would see driving down any town from the Rosses, to the Burlington to Kohl's, the Michael stores got into all those stores, before the internet really was a thing. And then I'd say about kept an eye on what was going on. And I'd say about 2009 started getting into E commerce got into Amazon Wayfair. Started grow that business got on That path or different accounts like that, and really scaled up the business. During that time, many, many years later, got into subscription business, we had a lot of team members that were talking about Stitch Fix and FAB Fit fun. And we were like an MC and boxy charm. And we had a lot of we're in a design business and a lot of people who, you know, those, those subscription box appealed to when they were talking about him and my partner and I little on the older side, they're like, what's all what's all the buzz? What's, what's all this? Like? You pay for subscription, and they send you stuff? And we're like, they send you random stuff? And you keep it like, yeah, it's great. It's like Christmas, like Christmas every day, or every quarter or every month. And I'm like, That sounds interesting. Is anybody doing that for home decor, they're like, I don't think so. My partner and I were sitting, we're kind of brainstorming, we're like, we could do that. And that was in 2017. And we launched a box with a lot of research. First, the backstory is that we went out and we had the team collect, like 10 Different companies. And we brought them all in. And so we looked at the packaging we looked at, when you open the box, what it does make you feel like we had we had a whole group of a whole team of people. We did like our own internal research and gave them questionnaires. So what do you like about the packaging? What was the experience, when you open the box, you know, what was in the box that got you excited, which you bought a box again, and we've just picked some of the nicer subscription boxes that were at the time, fun, and they're still obviously huge company, boxy charm and a few others that I don't know if they're in business anymore, so I won't name them. But we took all that research and ran it through, you know, our heads wasn't like super analytical scientific, we're like, okay, it's got to be a nice box, it's got to have a good experience, when you open the box, got it, it's got to be packaged, well inside the box. It's gonna, it's gonna be, it's gonna be something in the box that's going to appeal to a lot of people, not this niche, or that niche or that and it's just got to appeal to kind of mass audience. So when you're set up your marketing that you're appealing to the biggest audience you possibly can, our products in the past have always appealed in that in that respect, because of the customers that we've worked with. When you're dealing with big box retail and chain. E commerce sites. Your designs are not niche, they're, they're pretty broad. So we kind of stick that modern farmhouse farmhouse and, and we, we just dove into it. We said, Okay, we're gonna do this. And we're, we sat there with a list of like, names that we were going to use for the company, and it's this name and that name. And then I think, I don't know who came up with this name with Decocrated. But as soon as we heard it was like, That's it. That's the name. It's decor and a crate. I think we had to use kind of use crate loosely. It's a box, but sure, it worked. And we've stuck with it. And that's kind of how we jumped into it. It really didn't overthink whether or not we could do it. So I know you have a lot of people listening who are early stages. They don't know if it's gonna work out, whatever. But it's we didn't think if we didn't think about failing, we just said, We can do this and none of us had any digital marketing experience. And none of us had any subscription box experience. We were all retail focused. What we were is SAS people, product people and customer service people. Yeah, it's not much Different. When you're dealing with e-comm, you make a good product, you have a good service, and you deliver on time, you're going to win the buy box, you're going to win whatever it is that you're competing against, as long as you take care of your customer, and we always have throughout our history, taking care of our customer, provide a good product, good quality. And I think that just works. No matter what you did.

William Harris  10:29  

You touched on a lot of good topics there. Before I go into some of the real follow up email, I was thinking about you. You mentioned farmhouse and you know farmhouse chic in modern farmhouse and you would have been right through the what is it the fixer upper days then as well, when this was going on? Did that help or hurt your business? Like did it take too much? Where did you think that it like brought a whole bunch of people in? They're like, Oh, yeah, this is great.

Michael Siegel  10:54  

I think the fixer upper Joanna Gaines magnolia. She's amazing. Yeah, she's built this massive thing. Yes. So we started before she even right was on in the national scope. I think Oprah found her and made sure just shed a light on her. I think that we coincided years ago with the birth of of the all the TV stations HGTV the Trading Spaces. I think that is tremendously helped launch and take the home decor market to whole new heights. Because before that, you know, I'm I'm a little older. So I remember growing up in my house, nothing changed in my house, from the time I was sharing. Remember, in six till, like, I graduated high school went to college, nothing changed on the wall. And I think that's how it wasn't all my friends houses to

William Harris  11:59  

my mom's house, I can go there to still exact same it was when I left I think I

Michael Siegel  12:05

you know, the only people that I knew that did stuff were like, you know, they had interior designers and they would come in and you gotta get new blinds, you gotta get new curtains and, you know, flooring and all that stuff. I think that all of those shows, and I think that all of that has spawned a whole industry of people who can say, You know what, I want to try that for myself. I watched it on TV, I want to try it out for myself. I think that part of the core has just continuing to escalate up as an industry, and people are taking on the challenge and say, hey, I can do that. And you and people are doing that. And I think that's what we try to tap into the subscription box.

William Harris  12:57  

Yeah, when you mentioned to taking care of the customer, as being one of the keys. And so if I was going to think about this, there's a lot of things that you had already in place that were really good. Like you said, you already had good products, you already had knowledgeable team, you already had retail experience, there was a lot of things in your favor. The new part then was the digital side of this. But one thing that's true across both of these is knowing your customer. And you mentioned that knowing your customer taking care of the customer as being one of the biggest keys for this. How did you go about using the knowledge of your customer to grow this brand is what it is today.

Michael Siegel  13:39  

I think we had a reverse edge. I'll explain that for a second. Most ecommerce brands today they launch e commerce first and they try to get into retail, right? It's hard to crack into retail if you're not an established company. So I am used to working directly with a buyer. It's meetings, it's face to face communication. And I'm used to when you're dealing with buyers and big box retailers are very demanding as demanding. And they should be as customers who you know, one one off customer who lives here who lives here. So our team and our culture is used to trying to make the customer happy. Whether you have one big customer or 1000s of individual customers, you know if somebody from where you're from Minnesota writes in, I had a terrible experience. It's one customer and they spent a couple $100 We take it personally we read the review we read the the email go What did we do wrong? Because we're the culture is so used to dealing with As a customer, now, when you're dealing with a retailer, you could be talking about hundreds of 1000s of dollars, and you don't want their customer to be upset, we feel the same way about each one of our customers. So I think we had a little bit of a reverse advantage to today, because we were so in tune with what, you know, we don't want to let people down, I guess that's the one. So we take that, in the back, we don't wanna let people down. Just kind of use that throughout. So whether it's putting more stuff in a box, you know, so it's less margin, but you know, making the box better. Whether it's, you know, they got a damage and replacing it right away, and whether they lost a box, and they can't prove it. So like, give them another box, all the little stuff that you have to do in retail, or whether you have a store and strip mall, that you want to make people happy. We did the same. We're doing did done and still doing the same thing with our customers today. Yeah. So

William Harris  16:04  

how do you know which customer feedback to listen to? And which not to? Because I would say that one of the quotes that I liked from Harrison, Harrison Ford, Henry Ford, different Ford, is the idea. It's like, if I would have given the people what they wanted, I would have given them a faster horse or something to that effect, right. And so there's some times where somebody might be asking for something. And that might be 1% of the people that are asking for it. But if you did take that feedback, and apply it to all the rest of the boxes, you would alienate the other 99% of people who liked it the way that it was, how do you evaluate which feedback to listen to, and which one to pass on? For the time being or figured out later on how to deal with it?

Michael Siegel  16:50  

It's a great question. And something that took a little bit of getting used to is the feedback because when you're working with retail, you're getting feedback from a person or two people. When you're working with direct to consumer, you're getting feedback from 1000 people. So you can look at it and say overreact. You know, one person over here wants it this way. And one person over here didn't like this. I will admit that in the very beginning of doing this, because we were so reactionary to our customers, large customers, there was a little bit of an overreaction, we're going to pivot we're going to change we're going to modify. But once you start really digging into it, and you, you you, you end up realizing that you want to stick to what your strengths are as a company. And if your strength is x, stick with it, because you're going to find the people that like X. Yeah, you know, if somebody want if somebody over here want Z, and it just doesn't fit what you're doing. Okay, you're not going to go and pivot over here and pay you can't pivot for every one of your customers. But I will tell you that we, we took a lot of cert, we still take a lot of service, we read we read them thoroughly. The surveys had comments and your reading, you find three people that didn't like your booklet or three people didn't like the package, like you start panicking, like and then you got to take a deep breath. And you were doing a good job, people, you know, the majority of people like what you're doing. You can't build a business around, the very small minority of people don't like this or don't like that. Because if you start doing that, you're going to chase your tail, and then you're going to spiral out. And I would say that over the last couple of years, we've kind of stuck to our, our core of who we are. And I think that's when we started to kind of like, relax a little bit and say, Okay, we know what we're doing. We know the customer is gonna like this. Do we hit it out of the park every single time? No, but for the most part, we stick to what we want, you know who we are. We listen to our customers. We just we've got a path, a formula and just stick with. Yeah.

William Harris  19:22  

What about tools? Are there tools that you're using? You mentioned, you know, doing polls? Is there an app that you use for that or what kind of tools are using for gathering reviews or polls or getting that feedback?

Michael Siegel  19:37  

Yeah, a place where you can use it every season we send out type form. And we see you survey monkey I think we're using type form now to send out the reviews to email and gather the data. We crunch it the team crunches it up. We have a review after every season. We have four boxes a year or see isn't a year and the holiday boxes and they get surveys as well. So we get eight service. And we get a pretty good response. And we offer money prizes for people who sign up and give away money. We feel like the surveys really help us. And we appreciate everybody that fills out a survey because they take, take a couple of minutes to fill out so and we respect their time and we love that they deal with and we have also learned over time, the right questions to ask. Sure, modify questions. It doesn't you don't start out perfectly in your surveys you, us your 10 questions, and then you're like, I didn't really get what I needed. Yet. If you had a question, you get rid of questions. So after four or five years, you hope that you have the right questions that you're asking. But it takes time to ask the right questions to get the right information.

William Harris  21:00

What's an example of some of the questions that you've gotten rid of over the years where you say, oh, that question is pointless.

Michael Siegel  21:09

very vague questions. I'm just trying to think you're like, Oh, what do you think of our box? Yeah, right, right, the box of a scale of one to five. I think that was one of our first questions. You know, some people, you got to get into the nitty gritty, like, you got to, what do you think of this space? What do you think of that piece? What do you think of this? What do you think of that experience? I can't think of any off the top of my head, I'm sure we had very generic questions that were completely useless. That got us a five star rating out of five. And I'm like, wow, this is great. And then somebody in the office goes, what do they really mean by that? You know, what was the five star rating really mean? What are we getting from that? So you, you dial into that question, you go, Okay, we're really not getting anything out of it. Except a five star rating. we pat ourselves on the back. But we know there were people that didn't like XY and Z. So dig deeper, and I can't remember the specifics. But you just the vagueness

William Harris  22:10  

of it is your Yeah, get specific about it, so that when you actually have something that you can action against?

Michael Siegel  22:16

Yeah, like asking people, where did they come? Where did they find us from without giving them any options? Like there was no constant open ended with an open ended, like, and we didn't give them like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google. It was just like, you write it in? And they were like, remember? So you get a lot of you got you didn't get a lot of responses from that. So they questions you want to dial in and get like a little bit more specific. Yeah,

William Harris  22:46

no, that makes sense. And I imagine that you know, like you just said, this is a very good way for you to understand your customer and it certainly helps you to retain your customers over a longer period of time, which is going to increase the LTV, which is a huge component of the subscription business. Are there other things though, that you've found that help you to increase the LTV and keep your customers around?

Michael Siegel  23:12

Yes. So with our subscription, we have additional types of products. We have additional boxes, people love a subscription box but they also love they tend to ingratiate themselves with the brand if there's more things being offered, you know subscription today in a lot of cases has. You start out with an E commerce site and then you turn into doing a subscription whether it's I know the guys that are B that do the protein powders and stuff like that. You take a one time purchase and you add in the subscription, it's a great way to get coffee, things like that, where the reverse you got to you got to buy the subscription but if you buy the subscription, we have these exclusive add on boxes for the holidays, and we limit the quality, limit the quality, limit the quantity, not the quality and make them you know like FOMO like you're gonna run out we're gonna sell out in a week. So we do that with with Halloween, Christmas, Easter. And new Americana like Fourth of July patriotic buys. We also we also have launched this year our Luxe box collection got a lot of feedback from people about elevated items in your boxes. Couldn't exactly launch a box that cost the price point of the Lux box as a subscription. But it's a one time box purchase and it's a few $100 But you're getting bigger, larger pieces and you can do more of the room. They love that we added the Lux collection into our members shop we offer Members discount versus the public buying the same product. That all helps with the LTV. Right now we're doing a big Labor Day sale and it's Labor Day sales, just the shop. So if you want to round out your fall collection, you go in and buy Halloween pieces and fall pieces. In a month, you're going to see Christmas and winter. So constantly giving people a reason to come back to your shop. That's one huge way to get LTV and continue to get people staying with your with your company got finding the ancillary revenue.

William Harris  25:42  

So what about the flip side? Now if I if I go back to the beginning, one thing that I've seen, people who especially come from a retail background, can sometimes struggle to acquire those customers in the first place. When they're online then Right? They're very used to maybe the right product shoots for a catalog or for a buyer and it's very different oftentimes to acquire a customer from a DTC perspective. What How did you break through that? Like, are there things that you found helped you to start that momentum of acquiring customers online, and then what helped to accelerate that?

Michael Siegel  26:21  

Yeah, so early on, we built we strategically built a community, private Facebook community, and really encourage people to join that. So we did a lot of we did ads and emails to get people into the funnel to join the community to see what being a deco crater, which is take off of Decocrated a deco creator means that you are somebody that you know, wants to tackle decorating yourself, right. And to join our communities, we have three communities that we've built from day one, probably, I would say, one from day one to pretty quickly in a third, because of the necessity of people ask for it. So building up these communities, it's like a soft, like, Hey, I'm going to dip my toe into the water and see what these guys are all about and see what they're doing. See how other people react to the brand. I think building a community is a big deal. You see that a lot with like, today, it's like these influencers who are at a million people following them. Now they're launching brands, sort of complete reverse, they've got the audience, they're launching a brand, we had the brand, we needed an audience. So we encourage people to join our communities, get them in the funnel that way. Obviously, we started out five years ago, Facebook was a lot cheaper, easy to grab customers. Email was wasn't overly saturated at that point, SMS was just starting out. It was first viewed as like a true Civ and don't touch me, don't talk to me now people walk out, don't mind it as much. So I would say building a community really helped us and building up the following on Facebook and Instagram, in the early days. And putting content up that was about home decor about life, about, you know, what our demographic may struggle with we are 90 plus percent female oriented. A lot of people are moms, so content about back to school struggles, and struggles or your daily life of having children and struggles and we provide convenience. And we save time, really understanding who your target audience is and gearing your community, your voice your language to those people and staying with that no matter what.

William Harris  29:13  

What I like when you talked about building community, you were talking about, you know, knowing who the audience is, and not necessarily having to go only decorating type content, but you're saying, Well, what are the surrounding things that they're dealing with? How can I not just have the bull's eye but the whole target and use that as a way to kind of draw them in because I think sometimes people have a tendency to go too narrow, focused with the content that they're producing, when they're trying to build a community like that. And it's fine, it resonates with a very, very, very fractional amount of people. But the problem with that is while that's good for, you know, that specific person who is absolutely going to be the buyer, the problem is you're not getting the attention and the likes and the shares from People are going to be potential buyers or sharing with potential buyers and all of those other things that you can get by being able to open that up a little bit more on the content side. So I appreciate that you you call that out as well.

Michael Siegel  30:12

Yeah, it's it's important to not just sell, sell sell every day. Right? You want to understand what your your target audience is going through their struggles, and hopefully appeal to that in some way. People are not transactional. People are want to get behind the brand. They want to know what you stand for. They want to know, you know, what you guys do besides trying to sell me a box?

William Harris  30:47

I think you told me that you're a big Gary Vee fan, when we were talking earlier. And so mine, Gary Vaynerchuk. You know, I feel like there's a period where when you first discover Gary Vee, you love him. And then there's a moment though, where you're kind of like, Alright, I'm over him, you know? And then, and then you rediscover him again. And you're like, actually, no, this is genius. And one of the books that I the book that hooked me on him a long time ago was Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. And they're very much as about that same concept where, you know, if you're always going for the right hook in any of your content, where you're like, hey, buy today buy this buy. That's It's overwhelming to people. It's It's It's doesn't it doesn't feel correct to you know, building a community. But if your jab and you know, the jab is almost more like giving, giving up some value there. So it's like, here's the value, here's the value, here's value, here's value. Here's the right hook, let me go for the ask. And I think there's something to that. Even still today, and being able to find out how do you do that within the context of each different social platform, because it's a little bit different on the different platforms in being able to recognize the nuances within those.

Michael Siegel  32:00  

Yeah, he's a he's a great follow. And I understand what you're saying about, yes, sucked in and you're like, Okay, enough, he's there every day. But he's, he, you know, you don't even know what he's selling. But you're paying attention to I don't even know what products the guy is selling. Obviously, he's got he's got his digital marketing companies use investments in private equity, and Brandon is working for but he's, his information is amazing. You know, I'm a little bit I think I'm a little older than he is the fact that he's still doing this 20 years ago, on the social side, and was way ahead of it, you know, I was too busy. Not focused on digital marketing, you know, I kind of watched it common law and was like, Oh, that's nice. And I'm like, grinding out, you know, making sales and stuff like that. The fact that he got into it so early, he saw it, he saw it and believe it, though he sees stuff. He believes in it. And he's willing to share that with the world. And I think he puts all that out there into the world. And obviously the world is coming back to him. I've seen his following grow, you know, 100 times on LinkedIn and other heavy I follow him i i think he puts out amazing content. And I feel like it's authentic. I feel like it's not, it doesn't look like he's putting it out for any other reason than to just be authentic. And I'm sure that's what he wants us to feel. But it feels authentic to me. So I like it.

William Harris  33:36  

Yep. Yeah, and without going too far down a Gary Vee tangent here. But I'm also in his Discord server for his V friends so big into crypto and NFT. And I do have V friends, you know, V two or whatever, but I really appreciate what he's doing in that spaces, as well as is first the first you know, V con that he had was in Minneapolis. Yeah. I was able to go which was pretty cool.

Michael Siegel  34:06

Was that three years ago? Boy,

William Harris  34:09  

I think just two years ago, but it might be three years ago.

Michael Siegel  34:13

Right after? Yeah. So that's, that's amazing. was in an in a mall of America's or wherever was if there was no

William Harris  34:21  

it was in one of the stadiums and I can't remember which one. The Timberwolves stadium. It might have been. I honestly I'm drawing a blank on on which stadium It was now because you know, like you said that was kind of a blur. I don't know if you feel this way. But post COVID I feel like there's a lot of things that I just I can't even remember what I was doing or where we were at or what was going on. There was just a whirlwind.

Michael Siegel  34:44  

The last three years have been an absolute blur. Yep.

William Harris  34:49

So you know, you've helped us understand a bit more about some of the things that you're doing to to acquire customers and some of the things that you have done to expand those customers. What about I think you talked to me about it. And will you start getting in contact you talked a little bit about before, the content that you produce that helps people feel like they can do this. And I think that that's kind of where I wanted to key into that a little bit here as well. That'll lot of times people have content out there that has made people feel alienated from being able to actually do this. And one of the things that you realized was, in order for people to be able to buy your products, they have to feel capable of using them. And so you guys started producing content like that? What was the realization that that helped you to to establish that? And then how have you gone about creating that content?

Michael Siegel  35:46  

So in one of the early surveys that we had, we asked the question of why do you subscribe to Decocrate? What's your reason? And we let people write right in their reasons. And till we saw a pattern of what they were saying. And then future surveys, we actually put, you know, boxes, okay. And what we determined was people by our subscription buyer service, either if there's three reasons, they need help decorating. They just can't get enough of home decor. And the third is, they're just, they just love subscription boxes, like they have to have every subscription box that people are talking about three reasons. And after we identified those three reasons, and the future surveys, we realized that 50% of the people that are buying our box, need help decorate. And it just blew our minds. Because I, I had been our company has been selling to home goods and a lot of other home stores over the years. And we just assumed everybody that walks in there knows what you're doing. If you ever walked into a home goods, and you don't know what you're doing, you're going to spend an hour going in circles, because it's your as your aunt, and you're going to be overwhelmed. And you got to walk out. A lot of people do that they go in there. And they go, this is so overwhelming and they walk out. And 50% of our customers need help decorate. So like, yeah, what are we going to do with that? We're going to build content. We did a lot of Facebook Lives. It started during the pandemic where we would remote from people's houses, we started talking about toilet paper or paper towels, stocking up on groceries. And that kind of led to like, hey, let's, you know, hey, so and so can you take a box home with you and decorate your living room? Well, it's not the nicest whatever I'm like, just turn your camera and take your cell phone and just show people that you're just a regular person and and decorate your house with it. People like oh my god, that's great. And we started doing that. And then we started building segments on YouTube called deco dives where we dive into every box and what you how to decorate our blog strategy is how to decorate each piece in a box three to four different ways. Whether your house is modern farmhouse farmhouse, Boho, modern, that's basically the core that we live it is mostly not moderate and take them out in any question. The big three are modern farmhouse farmhouse, Boho, that's like 80% of our code 90% of our customers so we decorate the products. With that then we got into like as we launched holiday boxes. And as we launched the shop that we have we started decorating the box with the holiday box and the shop by giving people something you can't get on Wayfair something you can get watching a TV show because the TV show even though they're sponsored by this brand and that brand, you're not really having access to a shop where they like say shop the look. Retail a lot of E commerce sites are doing shop to look now and kind of building off of that but still people are still uncomfortable with that. So by building content around what we learned about our customer, what their desires or needs are, we also build a built an expanded booklet that goes into every box some companies will give you like a one pager of what's in the box and our booklets like 30 pages. You flip through it and it's like a catalog to you know one of those furniture catalogs that you get in the mail and it shows you how to style this piece with that piece. This how out a box with this piece, we also show you how to style. This seizes box with last season's box and last year's box. So you don't feel like okay, I'm gonna buy a box, what am I gonna do with it a year, that not everything can be styled Season and Season, if it's very specific to the season, you're going to put away for a year. But we try to do a mix of seasonal and every day to increase the value of the box. Some people love just throwing up Halloween, and they want the box to be exactly that. And that's what we have our holiday boxes for. But some people when they buy, invest in a seasonal box, they want a little bit of fall and a little bit of winter. But they want to know that, hey, I can use this in spring and summer. Why am I paying extra box where I got to put everything away and then shelve it, can't use it. So we realize, hey, let's give them value by giving them a box that can use mostly around let's give them a how to styling guide. Let's give them some content in our community, and our YouTube and Instagram about how to design designed with what we do. What's interesting about our Facebook community is and we learned this early on, never forget very early on when I you know, used to live and die by every comment in the community. And I'm like, Oh, they don't like us, or whatever I we were we'd sit there on a Friday night like looking at our community of 1000s of people commenting on something and see one bad comment, I'd start crying not cry, but I start getting upset about but I'll never forget a person. And this is really turn is our mission. But it like turned into more than that when we started seeing people actually in the community and using it the right way, which was they got a box. I think it was our fall 2019 box, because I remember a specific metal piece in it. And so we're Valley less than a year into this thing. Like the first two seasons, we were like, yeah, we can do this. And we didn't have a lot of boxes sold out like that. I never started to invest. So I would say fall is like 2019 is when we really started to take off. And this woman in the community types. You know, I've never done anything like this before on social media. I'm not sure if I should post this picture of my room before and after. Because I've never decorated before. And everybody in the community is like yes, you show it show it they'll type in and like, go ahead, you show it show it show and she post this picture. And everybody's like, great job. Awesome. You did an amazing job. It wasn't Joanna Gaines looking. It wasn't like fixer upper and Magnolia and everybody's gonna hire her to be on the next. It was just a regular person. Yeah, with aspirations, taking a wall, and making a little bit better with our products and having a community of people to give them a thumbs up and encouragement. And that's all it took for her and us. I saw it and I'm like, wow, okay, maybe we know or don't. Yeah, and maybe this is why we built the community, we built the community, for her. And that's what it's there for.

William Harris  43:38  

I think that's huge. I really like that idea of being able to allow the community to exist as its own organic presence versus being overly curated by you. And I think it's really important that you call it out the idea of having content that teaches people how to use the stuff that you're supplying them with, because I can see how this makes sense for again, any brand, if you're a coffee brand, you could sell the coffee, what if you also have the content that shows them how to make the perfect cup of coffee, or you know, any number of things or you know, whatever, whatever your brand might be, I can see where there's value in creating content that helps them use the products you're selling. And being a part of a community like that where they can do it and get that feedback from somebody saying you did it. Great job Keep up the good work. What if you also try this what would happen if you do this right and just allowing that to begin to help them transform what they're doing so good job for seeing that. That's really cool.

Michael Siegel  44:43  

Yeah, go ahead. I was gonna make some dumb analogy about teaching somebody how to fish and I'm like, I liked them analogies. Go for it. He's from Minnesota and that was about ice fishing. You know, when they say like, you teach somebody how to fish To be able to fish for the rest, I forget that. It's it's similar to that. Yeah. And I clearly recall the exact analogies but teach them if you teach them how to use your product. And you can keep a customer for a long time. Like, I'll, I'll go into Shopify look, by the way, we did transition eventually, from WordPress, to Shopify, like five years ago, thank God you go in, sporadically go in and look at the orders and customers and click on a person's name. And I'm like, ces 2018 You're getting a box from us since the second box that we ever launched, wow. 100 orders and I'm like, God bless. And like, yeah, we must have, we must have taught them how to fish because they keep coming back for more. So I see that I see little bits and pieces where it makes us happy that we're doing this and people can feel a little bit more comfortable about decorating their homes. And you know, there's a there's a there's a there's a meat, there's a why to what we're doing right, yeah, will appeal to that.

William Harris  46:18  

Like that. One of the things that I like to do on the show here as well is to get into the personal side of my guests. I think it's fun to see what goes on in the background. So I wanted to find out like who is Michael Siegel Tell me a little bit about your childhood. What was it like for you growing up? Did you did you have jobs? Were you an entrepreneur from the very beginning you're out there you know, hustling lemonade, or, you know, how did you get your started there as a child.

Michael Siegel  46:48  

I wasn't an early entrepreneur. I didn't have a paper. I didn't. I didn't stand outside in a summer with a lemonade stand. I was an athlete. I played a lot of sports. So I was always on a team, working with people trying to get better at whatever sport I was playing. I grew up as a golfer, my dad, my dad was a former minor league baseball catcher in New York City. And he played with like, like, I think Yogi Berra back in a kid not Yogi Berra. That's, that's dating. Joe Torre was a guy that he played with Joe Torre ended up winning a lot of World Series as a Yankees manager in the 90s. So my dad got fascinated with golf. And so he's from the city of New York didn't play much golf in the 50s and 60s. So growing up on Long Island, he's like, you're gonna play golf, like, okay. And I got me into golf, I got hooked on golf, and I just, I played golf from the time I was like, seven till I was 18. I played competitively. I traveled around all over the New York City area, tri state area, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York played a lot of golf. I did play soccer, travel soccer. So my desire was more sports based and being on a team and achieving that. Then, you know, the entrepreneurship, but I would say in comparison, the competition is that aspect is the same thing. What drives you to be successful and to grow and, and to win? And to compete? It's the same thing. So there's a lot there's a long list of professional athletes and I wasn't professional by any means, but a long list of professional athletes that turn entrepreneurial like Michael Jordan, Roger Staubach, your audience doesn't know who he is. But Roger Staubach was quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the 60s and 70s won Super Bowls. The guy's worth like $800 million from real estate, when we would know anything. I am sure that being the captain of the Dallas Cowboys being a quarterback it you have to have abilities that are innate. And also you develop those skills that take you when he retired like he was 32 years old. Didn't make him when he played football. He didn't make any money playing in the 60s and 70s like they did today. That guy's a million dollars because of real estate. So what you can learn playing sports is very similar to what you can learn a paper on. Yeah,

William Harris  49:48  

I completely agree with that. It's one thing that my wife and I talked about is each one of our daughters. I want them to play at least one team sport and I specifically say when teams where they can do other sports that are not team sports. Pick one that's a team sport. Because I've even recognized within my own hiring or things like that, and, you know, other businesses that I've worked at that I feel like you can almost sometimes tell the people who didn't play a team sport, maybe just to understand how teams functions. And there's different roles and you know, this is your, your position in within the team and how that works. And if you if you're don't get, for instance, you know, basketball was my sport, but it's like, well, if you're, you know, the post, if you're number five, and you're not down there to get the rebound, because you decided to jump out and take the three, who's getting the rebound? And things like that, right? Where it's like, okay, well, how do you fit within this team and the organizational structure. And so I really appreciate all of the things and the lessons that you can learn from sports as well. I

Michael Siegel  50:51

will tell you like when I, I've hired my share of people over the years, I see on a resume that you play, when she played travel soccer and baseball, softball. It's amazing, like the person is just, sometimes they're on a different level, because they're competitive and they've not got a team. They're committed. They've been a part of something bigger than themselves, like, great people. On your team.

William Harris  51:17  

Yeah, completely agree. What about what do you fear? Is there something you know, you're somewhat fearless to be able to just jump in and do your own thing? But is there something that you do fear? My wife? Oh, no. Why do you fear your life?

Michael Siegel  51:37

I'm just kidding. Yes. She's amazing. She doesn't, she doesn't get enough credit.

William Harris  51:43  

So true.

Michael Siegel  51:44  

She's like my therapist. What do I fear? Laying people down. Yeah, like letting people in my team down and letting my customers down. I do fear that I don't. We don't try to let people down. Things get in the way. Technology has been a struggle for us, I told you about the transition from WordPress, to Shopify, and transition from one subscription platform to another. You do let people down. And sometimes it's completely out of your control. You forget it technology doesn't ship them a box, because it doesn't make its way from the subscription into Shopify into into your shipping platform. Are you like, you know, what the heck are you shipping two boxes when they cancelled? And they still got a box? Sure. All these things that sometimes are out of your control, and you're trying to manage everything internally, you have you sometimes you don't have a lot of control, when you're dealing with technology, and we let people down and you try to explain it. And they don't give a you know what? And like, I know soccer Yeah, we know you. We cancelled you out. But you got a box. And we still charged you. So letting people down. Fearful let your team down. very fearful of that. Yeah, those things?

William Harris  53:13

Yeah. I think that's something that every entrepreneur can resonate with. We don't. That's partly why we do what we do is because we want to make sure that we're able to provide something to people. And if that fails in any way, even on small micro failures, or small micro just like missteps, letting somebody down it's it's, it's brutal.

Michael Siegel  53:33  


William Harris  53:35  

How do you deal with stress? Being an entrepreneur is stressful, like you said, like you read a bad comment in, you know, it can bring you to tears or it can at least ruin your Friday night. Right before you go on a date night with your wife. So how do you deal with the stress of running the business?

Michael Siegel  53:59

I would say I used to let the isolette things build up. And I would take things more personally. years ago, especially in a new endeavor and a new space new industry for us, I would say you industry, digital marketing direct to consumer. Then you get a little confidence and you get comfortable, okay, you're gonna have those people. They live there. They're always there. No matter what you do. They're always there. You just want to have enough people that like you, and that's good. And how do I deal with stress because I still have a ton of it. I play I work out five, six days a week. We travel I do work a lot. I work weekends or even when I'm traveling I work a lot because it's it's a reliever for me. I do try to try to break away but it's a lot of travel and work. I play pickleball not today because I'm recovering from knee surgery if you're going to play pickleball Be careful. Yeah, be careful. It's causing a lot of injuries for my age, but I love it. It's addicting. And so playing sports, keeping active I've got two adult children, two girls. They just graduated college one is going to go to law school just keeping busy, tight group of friends not only you know, not a huge group, a nice tight group travel and, and I work I, I'm always working, you know, as entrepreneurs, and I'm sure same thing via you're always working. But you're, but you're okay with it. Yeah, you enjoy it. Enjoy it. Yes. For sure. Yeah, because you want to win. You want to win and you want to be you want to be proud of what you're doing? Yeah, that causes winning, and that's great. Yep,

William Harris  56:04  

that's fair. Um, what about books or podcasts? Are there books or podcasts that you highly recommend that people read? Or maybe it has nothing to do with marketing in growing a business at all, but you're like, Well, I like to read these books instead, what what kind of books or podcasts Do you like to read or listen to?

Michael Siegel  56:25  

So I'm not a big podcast person. But I do except for your

William Harris  56:33  

checks in the mail, checks.

Michael Siegel  56:35  

I do. Got into history books, I got into love like Vince Flynn books, where it's like, one detective taken on the world and solving major congressional terrorist stuff. I love stuff like because I, I get lost in the book. I use it as it relates, I can read them pretty quickly. From a business standpoint. The last book I read that I really, really liked, was Burn the Boats by Matt Higgins I thought I thought it was very, very well read and actually sent him a note to thank him for writing the book. And he wrote back to me MCD, I

William Harris  57:21

was gonna ask that he wrote,

Michael Siegel  57:24  

he said, awesome, because we're both from New York, both from knife. I was born in Queens, he's born in Queens, I saw that, in his history. He wrote back, he was very appreciative, really good book. The gist of it is, given everything you got, don't have a plan B, when you're younger, give it everything you got. And if you're, if you choose to do whatever it is that you choose to do that you're all and if you're running a digital marketing company, run that digital marketing company and be all in. Because when you have a plan B in your mind, you're not going to be all in, you're always going to be like, Okay, I can, if this doesn't work out, I can segue to this, if you have that in your brain, it won't work out for you. So his his philosophy is go all in burn the boat. And the philosophy of burning the boats is I think it goes back to like, and this is where the history part of me like really likes this kind of stuff. But it goes back to the days of like the Vikings and Romans, whenever they were going to take a land and they came on a boat, the general would burn the boat that you're supposed to escape and leave on. So he would burn the boats. So signifying to all the people that just arrived. Like if you don't take this land, you've got nothing you got, you have no way to escape. So that is if you see his book, it's a big boat burning on the cover. That is the idea behind burning the boats, it's like, get rid of that in your head, like okay, if this doesn't work out, I'm gonna go over here. Be strategic about it. Don't be stupid about it. Don't hit your wagon to something that is not working. And, you know, stay within too long to where you have like nothing left. But if you have something that is a good product and service, and you believe in it, and other people look at and say yeah, there's something there. It's just go all in and don't stop and don't think about Plan B. So I thought it was a great book. I thought it was you know, I read it in like three days, which usually takes me like three weeks to read a book if I'm going to read one book But it was a powerful

William Harris  1:00:01  

image. It is, you know, you think about that idea of if you want this to be a success, burn the boat, like there is no turning back go

Michael Siegel  1:00:12  

like that. Yeah, it was. It's, it's pretty cool.

William Harris  1:00:18  

Who else do you like to follow in this space? We talked about Gary Vee. Is there anybody else that you'd like to follow that's helped you build your business.

Michael Siegel  1:00:31  

I network with a bunch of people in a subscription space, we do have a shared Slack channel, we've gotten to know each other. We'll bounce ideas off of each other. Hey, what are you using for this and when to use it? As far as follow, I'm like, I'm a LinkedIn person. I'm not an Instagram person or Facebook person. I think my mother, finally, you know, my mother and I connect on Facebook is the worst thing because I'm never on there. I don't even know she was on Facebook. And she sent me a message like, Hey, can you accept me? I'm like, when did you be on Facebook? How long ago did this happen? So I'm not even on Facebook. I'm on there. But I'm not even paying attention to it, or Instagram. I pay attention to Instagram, our feeds, I understand it. But I'm a big fan of LinkedIn, because I think there's a lot of valuable content on there to do learn a lot from like, I follow like John, David's in influence Sydney. He's got really good, amazing content. Neil Patel II and I know him, Eric Hsu. Single, great. I've been to a couple of his level of master classes. I thought that was amazing to test and meet people like that. And just on another level of digital capabilities, it's, you know, I went to a level up and I'm like, the oldest person in the room like a dinosaur people coming up to me, and I think I want to touch me, like Are you a fossil? And these people are like, talking about SEO, and I like in their mid 20s. You know, I'm doing SEO and I'm doing this and I'm doing that and it's like, okay, sounds interesting, but it's pretty much the same thing, right? About You know, selling and customer this and this acquisition is pretty much the same. You know, you're you go into a room like that, and you feel like, when you're a little older, you feel like intimidated. But then you realize they want to learn more from you than we're learning from that. And that was that was really cool to be able to do that. So I you know, I follow a lot of people, Alex, or Mozi. I don't know him. But I think it's interesting what he does. Him and his wife, she's seems to be pretty formidable, too, about the, you know, they give you a competency, you can take on these challenges. And they give amazing information that I have. I've gotten my digital marketing MBA through LinkedIn. Yeah,

William Harris  1:03:15  

true. I don't doubt it and

Michael Siegel  1:03:16

and through experiencing the ups and downs of running a digital, direct consumer business, you definitely get more than what you'd get in a classroom. I can tell you that. Yeah, for sure.

William Harris  1:03:31  

Alex reminds me so much of the Brawny man I actually made a fun little image of him, right. He is he you know, he's got the full beard there. And he had a flannel shirt on there inside.

Michael Siegel  1:03:42  

The breathe right strip across. Yeah,

William Harris  1:03:44  

when I took I took his image, I put it on like a package of like brawny paper towels. I was like, This is him. Unfortunately, he didn't see it, but maybe one day, but also you're talking about a couple of us. She

Michael Siegel  1:03:57  

said I'm a boxer that I should

William Harris  1:03:59  

they go hilarious, printed off and send it to, you know, you actually may have inspired me to do that. That might be something I do. I like that. And then you're talking about a couple of my friends there, Neil Patel and Eric Sue. So one of my best friends is Sujan Patel, we weren't together for a while he moved to Minnesota and had a lot of fun together. And so, you know, knee surgeon was actually the one who started single grain and then Eric took that over from him. So I'm right there with you a couple of very, very smart guys in the space and offer up tons of value, which is really good and encouraging to follow along as well. So the

Michael Siegel  1:04:43  

one thing I've noticed in this space is that there are so many people who are trying who were who will work with you and try to help you for no reason whatsoever. Yeah, yeah, there's not there's no benefit, necessarily to Have them except, you know, just kind of extolling their wisdom on you. And it's pretty interesting, I never got that. You don't get that in the retail world, I can tell you that nobody's trying to help you land the Walmart account, who's a competitor of yours or anything like that? So no, people don't try to land a Walmart account for you or a salesperson to kind of make a commission off. Yeah, right. So all this free knowledge and information, it's exciting. I mean, if you're, you know, very young, you're starting out, you're used to that. But as somebody who's got a little season, like me, you're not used to free information. You know, back in the day was always like, you know, a friend of a friend would introduce you to someone who was a consultant, and then they would be like, Okay, it's a three month commitment. And it's $4,000 a month, and I'll teach you how to, how to sell it to retail. And it was like a contract and all that stuff. And, and you would try it because you didn't know anything, there was no social media to say, This guy's a dope, or this thing is not going to work. There's so much free information out there that people just you guys are lucky. Grab that knowledge, it really helps you trim that learning curve tremendously. And people should take advantage of it. And you guys do like, a lot of people in this space that I following They're young, they're you guys are young, and you guys are hungry. And you know, and there's a lot of stuff about certain Millennials or Gen Z's and the lady like, oh, shit and are lazy. They're killing it. They just don't want to work in an office making $10 an hour. Sure. They they want to go after they see these people going after it and and making money and making a killing and going after it. So kudos to that whole group. And I'm just sitting there going like this listening, getting my tidbits and trying to absorb it as much as I can. And it's funny my wife and I same age. She'll text me like eight tiktoks a day. We're older, we're you know, we're not the Tick Tock demographics. To see this and what they're doing. And you should try this. And you should try it. My wife is tech. She's sending me tickets. It's rabbit hole after rabbit hole of ideas. And this, see what this guy's doing. That guy's doing? It's like, the hard part today. It's like, how do you sift through it all and figure out what the heck is valuable? What is, you know, snake oil, which is I think a very old reference. I'm

William Harris  1:07:49  

right there with you, though. I understand it. Hopefully everybody else does. What I think that you're exactly right. That's the key now is there's plenty of information out there, there's plenty of knowledge, you have no excuse not to know what you need to know. It's just a matter of like sifting through it. And then I'd say the biggest piece is just take action, then you know enough likely, at this point in time. Just go do it and put it to you know, to work and see what happens and see what kind of results you get and iterate from there. But if you never get started, then you're never gonna get to learn that. So I

Michael Siegel  1:08:18  

think for your listeners, and I think I think you're tapping into a good a good spot here is that you got to try stuff. Yeah, over and over, you're not going to hit it out of the park. You have a good product and good service, you got that figured out. But in the digital marketing side, okay. You want to try this influencer group or you want to try this technology. But this one says they promise lead generation and this you got to keep trying till you this growth company or that growth company. Okay, let's go. Let's run. Let's do it. Okay, it's not working out 90 days, 120 days, let's go to something else. You got to try to find what works for

William Harris  1:08:59  

you. And then once you do burn the ships, you burn the boats. Hey, Michael. It's been really good having you here. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge, sharing your wisdom with us sharing your time. If people wanted to follow you or connect with you. What's the best way for them to do that? Aside from following you on tick tock?

Michael Siegel  1:09:23  

I don't have a big presence on social but you can you can find me on LinkedIn. You can message me on LinkedIn, you can look for me. I'm on it all the time. I'm not the best follow on the world. But I'd be happy to set up a conversation. anybody that's interested in talking and learning. Mentioned William Harris and I will set up time to talk to people and try to help somebody out. Cool,

William Harris  1:09:50  

I appreciate that. Thanks again for coming out here today.

Michael Siegel  1:09:53  

Thanks for having me. This was great.

William Harris  1:09:55  

Thank you, everybody else. Thanks for tuning in. Have a great day.

Outro  1:09:59  

Thanks for listening to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris we'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes

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