Using DTC Marketing Tactics To Grow Your Brand With Cindy Marshall

Cindy Marshall is the Founder and CEO of SHINE Strategy, a strategic consulting company committed to helping brands drive profit and ROI. She is also the Chief Digital Officer at Jane, a curated marketplace with more than 2,000 shops. As an accomplished chief marketing officer, Cindy has developed working relationships with over 50 well-known brands, including Vera Bradley, Performance Bicycle, Strand Bookstore, Annie Selke, and LL Bean. Beyond her efforts as a company head, Cindy serves as a board member of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle, an elite women’s society of executives at leading retailers and brands.

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

  • Cindy Marshall raves about her passion for retail and DTC branding
  • Cindy expounds on the SHINE roadmap she designed and its unique attributes
  • What are some common challenges in the retail space?
  • How to create a dedicated customer database
  • The revival of direct mail and catalogs
  • How does Cindy evaluate client branding strategies?
  • Cindy shares comprehensive advice for e-commerce brands
  • The importance of building relationships with clients
  • Cindy explains why she’s no longer a fearful person

In this episode…

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is an e-commerce marketing strategy where brands sell products directly to consumers. In addition to benefiting manufacturers, the DTC model offers consumers advantages like higher lifetime values, improved relationships, and effortless omnichannel experiences. Despite the many pros of DTC marketing, the model also presents several cons.

The DTC e-commerce industry experiences widespread complications with marketing strategies such as paid search, feed optimization, and performance max campaigns. However, marketing strategists like Cindy Marshall provide solutions through the use of a roadmap. Roadmaps are campaign evaluations offering insights on brand logistics and the changes needed for business growth. The process includes strategic and content planning, data management integration, and talent solutions.

In this episode of the Up Arrow Podcast, William Harris welcomes Cindy Marshall, Founder and CEO of SHINE Strategy, to talk about DTC marketing strategies. Cindy discusses the SHINE roadmap, common challenges in the retail industry, and universal e-commerce branding advice.

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  0:13  

Hey everybody, it's William Harris here. I'm the Founder and CEO of Elumynt, and the host of this podcast, where I feature experts in the DTC industry sharing strategies on how to scale your business and achieve your goals. My guest today is Cindy Marshall. Cindy is a high energy and results oriented leader focused on building DTC brands. She runs a successful fractional CMO business called SHINE Strategy and has worked with over 50 well-known brands, such as Annie Selke, Boden, Vera Bradley, Strand Bookstore,, Faherty, and Johnnie-O. She has an extensive background working in omni-channel retail and leading marketing for brands like Performance Bicycle, Ross Simons, LL Bean. And she serves on the board of Women in Retail Leadership as an influencer in the retail space. And you'd think with as popular as those brands are, I would have pronounced more correctly, but I butchered a few of them. Moving on from that anyways, having fun, Cindy, welcome.

Cindy Marshall  1:12

Well, thank you, William, I'm really thrilled to be here. And I'm delighted to be on this podcast and also to have created such a great friendship with you over this past year.

William Harris  1:23  

Yes, and I believe that we ended up connecting through a client that we were working on mutually together. And I remember one of the things I was the most excited about was your spreadsheet, which we're gonna get into that in a little bit. But I'm very excited. Please make sure you guys stick around and listen to Cindy. She's one of the absolute smartest people that I've ever met. And I do not say that very lightly about people. Before we get too deep into that stuff, I do want to make sure I call out our sponsor here. 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. Enough for the boring stuff moving on to the good stuff. Cindy, why are you passionate about what you do? What got you into this and saying I want to help, you know, build up retail and DTC brands.

Cindy Marshall  2:18  

I started SHINE when I was out of a job and actually got a three month project at National Geographic. And it turned into three and a half years. And I realized at the time that I had such a gift of being able to go into a new brand and seeing what's working, what's not working, and how do I fix it. And and, and that's what I was always doing throughout my whole career before that before I started SHINE 11 years ago and my passion is growing brands. So I get so pumped up when I can find little nuggets of gold and figure out how to drive sales and grow these brands and build a 12 month buyer profile. So that's really, you know, what got me started in SHINE.

William Harris  3:02  

Yeah, I love that, you know, that ability to be able to come in and see things that others can't see it's a gift. And, you know, sometimes you either have it or you don't. And I think there's something to be said for the people that have that ability to see things. Almost just you know, naturally is very exciting thing to be able to do.

Cindy Marshall  3:21  

Well, thank you now I love it. I see not only in the numbers, but on the consumer side because I'm a big shopper and so okay, why did you speak to your customer that way? And how could you not putting forward in a certain brand fashion?

William Harris  3:35  

Yeah. And I think one of the ways that you are able to identify these trends is you have built out, like I've said before, and I've I've gushed over this your proprietary roadmap tool that you have built out in, in trying to remember was this in Excel or in Google Sheets, because I have a Google Sheets kind of further as soon but I'm thinking this was an Excel wasn't it

Cindy Marshall  3:59  

in Excel, because I don't like Google Sheets as much because I can't do all the same tricks that I do in Google. Yeah, Excel.

William Harris  4:06  

But tell me a little bit about what what went into, like, you know, is this something you always loved getting into Excel? Like, how did you get to the point where you built such an incredible Excel sheet and what what makes what sets it sets it apart?

Cindy Marshall  4:19  

Well, what sets it apart is that my years of experience, I actually brought some of my experience of forecasting sales down to the daily level from previous brands that I had worked with, and had seen inside, you know, big companies like an LL Bean and a performance bicycle and but I had different tools that I would use, and I ended up with this National Geographic project. It was you know, assess the business for three months and and that's what you do when you bring in a Chief Marketing Officer. You look at the all the media, what's working, what's not working, and what am I going to fix and then you say, Okay, let's keep moving forward on these channels, Let's optimize these channels. Let's drop these. And here's 10 others that you haven't added. And so what I found is that I was so good at it. And then I was also adding the people in the process. So I do reorganizations I do process. So what comes out of that is, okay, you need to, if we're going to start opening stores, or we're going to launch a direct mail catalog from the UK into the US, or even just launch one in the US, what is it that you need in the process. And so what makes my tool unique is that I'm able to replicate it over and over for so many different brands, but it's custom to the brand. So I have about page document that goes into a discovery of just give me all the information you can down to the p&l and economics of the brand so that I can put it in the format I'm used to, so that I can come up with here's your, here's your breakeven CAC, here's your breakeven row as this is, you know, what you should be looking at as a business. And you know, many people, for example, want to put especially newer brands to the market, they want to put shipping income above the line as an income. And I'm like, it should be off your shipping expense. So it should be below the line. So those are some of the changes I make. But I think what really sets the SHINE roadmap, apart from other roadmaps is that I am a connection queen. And I have always prided myself in getting to know the latest technology, and staying true to my partners and people. I've worked with the vendors. So I can pick up the phone or email or reach out to somebody if I'm looking for, you know, an affiliate partner, who should I talk to, if I'm looking for a new influencer partner, or a digital agency? Who do I talk to? And what I'll do is say, okay, these, this is an area that you're missing, you're not doing live stream shopping, well, I've got two or three contacts. So I run the p&l is for those new initiatives. And I'm able to then take the brands economics and forecast when they should be adding these new initiatives. So if somebody's not doing connected TV, or Ott, or direct response ads, maybe that's a year or two or three, because their foundation isn't built up yet. And they haven't optimized their Google search, or they're not building their 12 month buyer file. So. So I think that's what makes it different and unique.

William Harris  7:46  

Yeah, and I liked that you talked about digging into the p&l, I feel like that's something that at least in the DTC side of things, is maybe just really starting to be talked about a lot more. I know at Elymynt, we work extensively with p&l as well. And not every brand shares them, but the ones that do it makes it a lot easier for us as the agency to actually hit the goal that is really there versus you know, an arbitrary goal of top line revenue or something along those lines, which can sometimes be good, but it can be the wrong goal. And so I really appreciated the way that you kind of dug into the p&l side of things. If you were, you know, gonna say what are the five or a couple of metrics within your spreadsheet that you think are the ones that like you said, they're, they're different for each brand. But if you were going to nail down a couple of metrics that you think are typically the ones that are the most important for an e- commerce or retail brand, what are the ones that you you gravitate towards?

Cindy Marshall  8:46

I would say, well, marketing efficiency ratio ratio, so MER, because people are so focused on RoW ads they can't get out of their mind. Like even if I look at last click, but I also look at path to purchase, I look at, you know, the whole path. And so and then I want to know, for every dollar I'm spending what what's happening at the top line. I also want to know the conversion rates, of course, am I driving new customers to the website? Or am I just reactivating an existing one? So I really want to get the mix by new to file is is this channel driving more new to file or is it reactivating existing? So those would be some of the KPIs beyond, you know, just your regular traffic average order value.

William Harris  9:38  

Yeah, and I feel like those are the ones that really set it apart. You know, I know when it comes to ner one of the things that we talk about is you could have Google takes credit for a sale, Facebook takes credit for sale email takes credit for a sale. Organic takes credit for a sale, it was just one sale, whereas MVR at least helps to level set that a little bit you say yeah, but if you spend $1 More, did you get another dollar Have you spent up, you know, a million dollars more? Did you get a million dollars more? Like? Is there at least something that's moving in relationship? Or as opposed to just the channels taking credit for more? Is it actually driving the business forward? And so it's one that I've personally really appreciated as well, right? And then the whole cost

Cindy Marshall  10:15  

of acquiring a new customer. So your CAC is so critical, and what is the cost of retaining an existing customer? And the channels, of course, that you can bring them in the existing versus new?

William Harris  10:28  

Yeah. And so you know, speaking of, let's say, retaining a customer, that's one thing that we've talked about, what are some of the biggest problems that you see going on right now, in in the e-commerce space, or retail space,

Cindy Marshall  10:41  

I think the biggest issue that everybody's struggling with is their largest channel, besides either organic or direct, like direct mail will drive organic and will drive direct, but is paid search. And so with Google changing the algorithm constantly, it's you have to have good partners that are digital agencies that can keep you up to speed. Because if you, if you don't, and you just have a Google Google rep, it's all one sided, it's what Google wants. And so I think p max has become so critical, and no one's been able to figure it out or nail it. Some people are some people aren't. But it's not cookie cutter, it's not, you know, whatever you do for 10 brands isn't going to work for the next 10. And so I think optimizing feeds being able to know how to compete against the Google organic preimages. So they're now taking up more space. So how do you optimize your, you know, create feeds for your top sellers, and then the middle products, and then even at the profit level? And then also, I find it really difficult when brands will not tie paid and organic together. So being able to optimize the two of those, because if you are getting ranked really high on certain keywords, then there's no reason to be paying for them. So yeah, it's, and maybe keep it small, go after 20 keywords and, and track them. And I know there's some agencies that are able to track.

William Harris  12:21

Yeah, well, and I think that's what's interesting. So you brought up a couple of really good points on the on the P Mac side, there are pros and cons that and Google certainly pushed it for a long time. And I know that, you know, we're one of the agencies that fought very much with Google on this about a lot of the lack of customization that you could do with it, a lot of the lack of the reporting that you could get there for a while, if you are pushing it, oftentimes your brand terms were showing up in there just as much if not more as your non brand terms. And so you didn't have that ability to segment that out. And that's critical to a brand to be able to have some influence over how much is going towards, you know, one particular set of keywords brand versus non brand. And so there's some there's some beneficial things there. And like you said, with the the feeds, I know one of the things and you hinted at this with profitability that we've been doing is making sure that we send in the profit by product essentially. So that way, we can even not just ourselves segment, the campaign's correctly, but we can help Google learn and train its algorithm on which products are more profitable versus just top line revenue. And I think that that's, that's a critical piece that brands are finally able to start implementing in looking at on the Google side.

Cindy Marshall  13:30  

I think that's critical. Well, but that's your secret sauce, don't give it away.

William Harris  13:34  

That's okay. You know what my thought is, it's kind of very much like a magician, I love magic shows. And there are times where it's like, you know, you see magician and they'll show you how to do the magic trick. And if somebody wants to do the magic trick on their own, or in this case, if they want to do their own version of profitability, that's fine. Like they were never going to pay us anyways, in the first place. They were going to try and do it themselves and, you know, good for them. But I also believe that there are ways that where people say, Okay, well, clearly you have figured it out. And if you're the team that figured it out in the first place, and not that we're the only ones necessarily, but if you figured it out, then we want you to continue to being the one who figures out what's next as well. And so, I don't like giving that stuff away.

Cindy Marshall  14:12

Okay. So what else I see Yeah, like, that's where you're gonna spend your next dollar. So that's what the SHINE roadmap does is it literally for one brand I was working with, in wrapping up a roadmap in January, I had 35 new initiatives. And granted, this was a wholesale brand that's largely new to DTC, but I still and they're doing really well. They're on fire, but I still found 35 new initiatives, some of them are duplicative. But if I got rid of the duplicates, it was still down to 25. And so I think that understanding the LTV, don't be short sighted, you got to know you know, is it a 12 month or 24 month payback and if you're a higher ed item, a lot of times it's a 24 month, so really understanding LTV, and so you know where to spend that Next dollar and looking at that, you know, first to last click in the path. And that's where you know, you get to MVR. Again. And then I think the whole marketing analytics, there's a lot that I was brought up with being an A, I spent a decade in cataloging retail brands before ecommerce came out and, you know, added digital and e-comm to the mix. And we always were looking at 12 month buyer file, like how to grow the 12 month buyer file. And, you know, I've got a bucket and I'm putting new names into the bucket, and how big is my hole at the bottom? What's my retention rate? And when I bring that up with some brands, I don't even understand what a retention rate is. It's not just a rebuy rate. It's how if I had 100,012 month buyers, January 1, how many of them bought again in the subsequent 12 months? Sure, and rather than, you know, knowing that recency and frequency, lifetime frequency, and the most recent purchase, like breaking your file into one time, two, time three time, four time and five time plus to know, like, combining that and understanding your behavior by recency and frequency, and then being able to forecasts that way. So I think that that's critical. Just learning about marketing analytics, do you see and then that your email file is not your buyer file? So a lot of brands like, well, I'm on Shopify, and I've got an email file. I'm like, Okay, but how many people bought in the last 12? Months? Okay, I had a million that bought in the last 12 months, but 700,000 or email, okay, so you got 30? You know, 300,000 names? How are you going to contact them? So create new audiences push into social send him direct mail? You know, that's that, like a true customer database and customer data platforms? You know, of course, that's taken off, but

William Harris  16:52  

Well, in you, you i, because you make this sound so simple. But I want to pull back and unpack some of this, because I think there's a lot of people that are listening to this that are saying, Wait, what did she say rewind that, please, there's some, there's some gems that you just dropped here. And so one of those is, you know, you're talking about 12 124, month LTVs. Not all like, I want to make sure I clarify this, not all LTVs are the same. And sometimes we're even looking at a 90 day LTV just to understand like what you know, if you've, if you're not if you're cash strapped or you're bootstrapped, and you need to be really cognizant of that, looking at that, but you know, you got into even like the LTVs of the different RFM segmentations. And so, walk me through some of like what you're looking at from a cohort perspective on these different RFMs.

Cindy Marshall  17:41

So I, this goes way back to my days at LL Bean. But we had what we called our long range planning model, and we would break our file into recency buckets. So if you just do really simple, zero to 12, month, 13 to 24 month and 25 plus months, I'm keeping it extremely simple. And then within my zero to 12, I'm going to break it into three buckets one time, two time and three time plus. And then I'm going to look at what was their previous purchase history within those buckets. So what did I say three times three, right? So I'm gonna now have, you know, nine segments. So that's easy. But, you know, most brands will go even deeper, but I'm gonna look at those segments to understand what was their behavior in the past 12 months to forecasts or next 12 months? And then how many and then you're new to file then you can figure out okay, if I had 100,012 month bars, and I want to get 250,000, what's my retention rate for each group? And then how many are going to rebuy that you know, that retention rate? And then what are they going to spend? Because that gets into your average order value times how many times they buy a year, which is your annual revenue per 12 month buyer? And so once you have those metrics, you can literally forecasts and say, Oh, we're going to be short, we don't have enough new buyers, we need to invest more. Or, Oh, we're doing really, really well. Let's put some more money at our five time plus buyers because they just keep buying and they love us so much. And then let's invest in the one times that aren't converting and stop marketing to the one and Dunn's that haven't come back for three years. Like, you know, so there are different things you can do. It's, you know, turn up the dials, decrease the dials.

William Harris  19:30

And I think where a lot of people get stuck on this, what I've seen, personally from an advertising perspective, at least is once you've found some of these segments, then they say, Well, how do I go after that particular segment. And it used to be that you could be more intentional about some of the targeting but the way a lot of the platforms work now is you still have to go after the same general targeting. And the way that you approach targeting those segments is through the creative itself. And you figure out which creatives are doing a better job of attracting that particular segment of customers as opposed to this one. Now the targeting within the platform might still be a lookalike audience, right. And so it's like, it's targeting same group of people. But those creatives are the ones that are going to be attracting the segment that you want. And so I see what we tried to look at as well is, how is that doing from an effectiveness right now? And let's look at the leading metrics. Is it doing a better job of getting engagement and clicks, etcetera? Now, is it doing a better job getting the purchases, but we have to continue to go on and this is where I feel like a lot of agencies or companies drop off is they don't continue looking further down the funnel on those creative analyses to say, Did this have the effect that we wanted on the primary buyer segment? Or did it just increase the, you know, the ones that are the lowest within our buyers segment? And we've so we've got a lower CAC, but it's a lower CAC on the wrong customers,

Cindy Marshall  20:54

right? No, I think that's fabulous. And I just I talked about customer data platforms, I've done a lot of work in that space, and some of the winners bloomreach Algon, me segment. I mean, I don't throw out you know, tons of names, but you can easily build a data warehouse customer data platform, with the putting your data in the cloud in the lake, you know, these build these data lake, and have your own BI tool, but you need the experts to help deploy it and, and then you can track by creative, you can track by audience, and I think that's critical. And it also gets down to, you know, what, what else is working, like people are reinvesting in direct mail. Like, it's so much direct mail, it's crazy. And, you know, like a loyalty thing, just from, you know, this just came from, you know, gets 30% off, you know, because I'm a credit card holder at Banana Republic, but there's so much direct mail and catalogs like direct mail thing, flyers and postcards. And, and, you know, there's great new tools where you can retarget visitors that come to your website that you don't know who they are, but send them a postcard that goes in the mail within 24 hours. And that's that reminder. Like, yeah, I remember a bit my very first days in marketing, and it's you have to advertise seven to eight times before people know who you are. Well, if they're only gonna, if they don't sign up for your email, and they only see you once on Instagram, then they don't know who you are.

William Harris  22:23

Right. And so you're seeing a resurgence in in direct mail. I've heard this before, but you're seeing a resurgence in direct mail and catalogs?

Cindy Marshall  22:31

Oh, absolutely. In the last couple of years with this whole demand and supply that we couldn't get paper, we couldn't get printers and people that wanted to mail more catalogs couldn't because there just wasn't the paper. But even brands that started out as what we used to call the pure play dot coms. That started, you know, with the website, or now at learning how to do direct mail and then also launched into a catalog. And you know, why would you put a 56 page catalog in the mail versus a trifold? Well, you would treat different customers, if you're a really good customer, you can afford a bigger book. And if you're a prospecting and you just want to get in front of somebody, sometimes the tri folds better. But it's a combination and a mix.

William Harris  23:22

Yeah, and what I love about that is, you know, you're talking about, you know, what we I call them like DNVBs right digitally native brands. And what's funny is they are they're growing up, they're starting to become more mature, they're realizing that, you know, you know, as cool as they thought they were rebellious as they thought they were ecommerce, I think the most recent numbers I saw, it only makes up about 15% of total retail sales. And so if you really want to dominate your brand, you have to start getting into you know, retail locations, you have to start doing some of these other tactics like like direct mail, and you got to grow up as a brand. And the thing that I like about direct mail to your point that I've really appreciated is, it's almost sometimes harder to ignore you, you you, you're gonna get it, you're sure you get thrown away, but you've got to pick it up, hold it in your hand and see it and feel it and rip it or whatever that might be. Whereas, you know, we're inundated now with so many emails that it's very easy to just have that go to your spam folder or some other junk mail folder or, you know, ads online sometimes it's like it's it's a banner ad it's like it's in your periphery and you literally can just ignore it. It's almost like you don't even see it anymore. And so there's something to be said for doing the opposite of maybe what everybody else in your niche is doing and getting back into direct mail I think is a very smart thing to do.

Cindy Marshall  24:42  

When you think about the direct mail as a branding component, tell your story who you are just like if you ran a you know, an ad on connected TV, you know tell your story, but it's a less expensive way than CTV but CTV is actually become More affordable now.

William Harris  25:02

Yeah, well, and I think you're you're you're absolutely right. That's another thing that I see for a lot of like, let's say DNVBs that digitally native brands or the pure play ecommerce dot coms like you were calling them and that they're starting to finally see the value of getting into connected TV as well, these are, these are tactics that have been traditionally employed by bigger brands. And I think that some of the, the up and comers are realizing that they need to branch out beyond just their Google and Facebook or their Google Facebook, Tik Tok, and starting to say, Well, how else can we more intelligently target our ideal customer?

Cindy Marshall  25:35  

Right? And then prospects, there's just huge prospecting databases with the cooperative date, the cooperative databases, the epsilon 's, and Oracle, and Weiland have these, you know, huge databases that can take your best customers and do look like models and then create competitive sets. And, you know, try to find your prospects and test it.

William Harris  25:59

Yeah. And so how, you know, you mentioned that there's many of these other tactics and techniques, and but some brands aren't ready for it. And so you're doing some projections, and you're using, you know, 12, month LTVs, and RFM segments to better forecast for brands, what they're going to do, and then you lay out these 35, new tactics, or something that you were saying these new techniques or things that they can do? How do you go about evaluating between all 35 of them, whether they should do you know, direct mail or connected TV or just double down on what they're currently doing? Because maybe those are shiny objects, and they actually have something going for them? How do you help them wade through that type of information?

Cindy Marshall  26:37  

Well, first, I have to understand what are the current? What's the current channel mix, and what's succeeding in the current channel mix, and then I then rank the let's take that 35, and I rank them best to worse I feel I forecast out a 12 month revenue, so it's consistent. And even if you're only going to start it, you know, and do a small test, but what would it be like on a rollout? And what's your row as your CAC if I know new customers, if not, I do cost per order, and and then rank it and say, Okay, this is a low cost for a high payback, and you don't have it. So we talked through it and say, Alright, and I also I take the numbers from the vendor might provide it for me, and but then I revise it based on what I think's real. Because a lot of times, you know that some of its, you know, fluff and then we take a duplicative factor out, because we know, it's not all 100% incremental, but it's ranking it based on a KPI or even a cost per order it say, Okay, now you take, let's take 10% of your marketing budget, or 20%, your marketing budget and slowly test these. And so it's about the test and roll test and roll. And, you know, if, again, like things that are longer payback, or branding, I do year two, or three, because you got to really build a foundation.

William Harris  28:07  

And I think that's some of the things that I feel like, oftentimes people are missing is, when they're looking for projections. Sometimes they're looking at, you know, what's next month, if you're really going to steer a ship, well, you need to know kind of where your North Star is. And so those three year projections and being able to say, hey, yeah, there's all these other things that you want to accomplish, and you want to do, let's put them on the roadmap. But let's put this on a longer frame roadmap. So that way, you can start, you could put those in the back of your mind and focus very intently on doing this one thing next, or these two things next and be much more impactful with them. No, I

Cindy Marshall  28:44  

think that's extremely the right approach.

William Harris  28:47  

Yeah. You also talked about getting paid and organic to work better together. What are some ways in which you've seen people, let's say go too far, one or the other to you know, there's extremes of people that are not using paid at all and they need to be using it when it comes to some of the organic stuff. And then there's the ones where, you know, they're spending way too much on it, what are some of the things that you've seen? And how do you address those?

Cindy Marshall  29:14  

Um, well, I think that there's a lot of people think that whole search is SEO is all about on site, but it's all it's about knowing what you want to stand for and building content, right the backlinks and so I tend to look at businesses and say you should be an X percent of your sales should be coming from this channel. Like if somebody's business is 30% paid search, and 5% organic, then I'm like you you're missing something here. You're spending too much in PE, you should be getting organic, much higher, and then the reverse, if it's organic is really high. Um, If you don't know, though, I would then look at the original source. So if they came in through organic, what's their payback period and their subsequent value? Were they all one time buyers and just never bought? Again? It did I build an email list from them, did I get email? Because that's critical. So I think, you know, I do look at that percentage of the pie the mix. And I've had brands that you know, 50% is coming from direct Well, that's because they're really well known. And they started out as a catalog business. That happened to purple light, versus somebody who had a website and launched a catalog. So they were like, Oh, everybody knew about us, because they'd been mailing millions of catalogs forever. But as the competition gets so intense and tough, it's harder to have that type of brand recognition.

William Harris  30:56  

Yeah, and I feel like you know, even within there, there's segmentation that needs to happen from a brand search perspective, to your point, where if somebody has not purchased from you before, and they're searching for your brand, I'd be more willing to pay a little bit of money to acquire that purchase versus somebody who's searching for my brand. But they've already, they've already purchased from me 13 times, I'll let them click on the organic listing. And so one of the things that I've seen that a lot of people don't do, and I wish that they would, and again, spilling some secrets here is segment those brand campaigns, there are ways that you can actually segment out campaigns within Google to say, on these brand campaigns that these are people who have purchased from us before, these are brand campaigns for people who haven't purchased before, let's make sure that we're spending a little bit differently accordingly. Because there's there's a difference in the customer and where they're at on that customer journey. And I've want to acquire them as a customer. So I might spend a little bit more to get that that brand search on that one, versus someone who's buying for the 13th time.

Cindy Marshall  31:56  

Yeah, again, it goes down to those audiences, and how are you going to treat them differently?

William Harris  32:00  

Yeah, like you said, the what was it the email file is not the customer is not the buyer file. And I love that it's something that I've learned, yes, email final,

Cindy Marshall  32:09

if not the buyer file. Yeah. And then you know, when I get, sometimes I'm ordering on my phone, and then other times I'm ordering on my desktop, and I have two different emails I order from, and it annoys me when I'm getting the same email to both. And I do that also to just track what the brands are doing. But you do some cleansing of your email file, you know, people get rid of their email addresses, people have a primary one, some brands say I want to mail to all of them. Well, if you're going to mail to all of them, then make it a little different. Right? Yes. A different time.

William Harris  32:45  

Yes. And so if you if you are going to give, let's just say some generalized advice to e-commerce brands right now, who are you know, maybe they're at the position where they're ready to work with you? Or maybe they're not quite at a position where they're ready to work with you. What advice would you give to these e-commerce brands, knowing what's out there in the market as far as like, Hey, these are the things that you really need to focus on this year in 2023, with the way that the world is going, like start doing these things now.

Cindy Marshall  33:17  

I would say segmenting your file into the one time up to five time I would go as high as five time and understanding what each of these buckets are spending on a or their potential to spend in a 12 month period and what your retention rate is, because you may be attracting too many one and DUNS. And then if you're doing that the hole in the bottom of the bucket is getting bigger and your whole goal and how to make more money is to get more buyers to spend more often and increase that average order value. But a lot of times average order value will just stays flat. But if you can get them from two time buyer to three time and it's $100 average order value, I've just increased that 33%. Right, huge. So just focusing on getting more dollars and treating your best customers differently. Like don't treat everybody the same. So get more dollars out of your good customers treat them separately. And then your middle of the file what are you going to do for them that's different and then the bottom of the file, you know, stop hitting the same these people that just don't care about you. And I find new ones and be able to better model your prospect universes. Yeah. And that's why you know, working with the co ops is really great. Sure. Epsilon Oracle Weiland

William Harris  34:41  

well, and

Cindy Marshall  34:42

they can offer social media social audiences that aren't necessarily just direct mail so they can help you that way as well. Yes, exactly. And flag menu non paid search, right. So we're working with Elumynt on how to be in a segment on paid search and by March And I love that.

William Harris  35:00  

Yeah. Well, and I love that you said, treating the different customer segments differently too. And one of the things that I like to tell my team about is help your customers fall in love with you romance them a little bit. And I think that there's something that's happened as a result of a lot of the direct response advertising over the last few years, that has caused us to think that it's a good practice to immediately show ads to somebody that just bought from you. And so, so somebody buys from you. And then we immediately say on day one after they bought, it's like great show them ads to buy again. And it's like, Sure, there's something to be said for that. Why don't you start a little bit of a relationship with your customer, show them ads about, you know, they're actually excited about the purchase they just made with you. And so why don't you show ads that help them to just fall in love with your brand, is showing ads about like, what you're doing as a brand to improve their world is show them ads about how the the decision they just made, and we have buyer's remorse from time to time, show them another ad that reinforces the decision that they just made. And so I've seen where I really appreciate where this could be, you know, an ad, that's a video about why product X is, you know, so significantly better than a lot of other things, but just reinforce the decisions that they've just made. And help them to fall in love with the brand. And then when you hit them with that next to Add to purchase, they're significantly more versus just kind of saying Great. You just bought us buy again, hey, well, you buy again, hey, how about you buy again, right? And it's like, okay, wait a minute, start a relationship, romance them a little bit.

Cindy Marshall  36:34  

Exactly. Start a relationship. It's all about the relationship. Yeah. And one of the ways first day do you want to get that second date, treat them? Well, the first time and then you want to get the third date? You know, treat them? Well, on the second day? Yep.

William Harris  36:47  

And change it up. Right. It's such a, it's like, Look, if you're doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, that's also really monotonous and boring. And that's not exciting. So you send them the direct mail you to surprise them and delight them with something completely unexpected. You're doing things now that maybe other brands that they're buying from aren't doing. And that sets you apart in their mind. And they say you get me, and I like that you get me and so I want to reward you with my next purchase as well.

Cindy Marshall  37:11  

Well, I'm just holding up Tommy Bahama does this, they send me $50. Now every, like twice a year, and I've used it once, but I know that they know the cost of acquiring a customer. And I know some of the people that do this, you know, modeling, but this is the first time they sent to me and to Cray it both of us in the household. Because they knew he was a prospect. So they were you know, not householding to one person they sent to both. And I think that's great. You know, why not? Yeah, but know that what know your cost to acquire and surprise and delight. I love that.

William Harris  37:46  

Yeah. I want to get into some of the personal side of who is Cindy Marshall, if that's all right. Because I liked getting into the basic mind of what makes you who you are. And so, you know, is there? Is there something that if I was in the office with you, I would learn about you that I otherwise wouldn't know about you unless I was in the office with you.

Cindy Marshall  38:13  

Yes, so I'm an extremely confident person. And because of that I have really heavy footprints or footsteps. And so I used to get teased my first couple jobs out of college. We could always hear Cindy coming down the hall because we know her walk and I never stopped doing that. And I remember I had a boss once say you need to slow down and I'm like really? Well, that's just who I am. I'm confident, you know, but I love it. I have learned to slow down a little bit. It's just my walk.

William Harris  38:49  

Yeah. Well, that's so good. Because that is just an extension of what's going on inside of your brain and how you're feeling. And that's good. It reminds me of when I had my first employee review. So believe it I don't know if you and I have even talked about this. I was a nurse before I got into marketing. And so I was in the Open Heart unit. And it was me in the ladies, I think there was 95 employees, I was the only guy and I was 20 years old. I graduated early. So you get a badge and I'm a 20 year old guy. I like long hair like I was I was the I didn't fit in necessarily. And I can remember my first employee review, my boss said, Well, you've got mostly all shining reviews for the most part. But we also have a couple of people here, said one you need to sing a little bit less at work. You need to you know the things like that she was like But yeah, I like it, you're good. But I can even remember the one time to where in between patients I would I was you know an athlete and played basketball. And so it was always natural to say hey, if the coach says like, you know, get to the baseline, you ran to the baseline, you walk to the baseline so I can remember running from one patient to the next and so I was like great done charting for this patient. I'm running over to the next patient I'm taking off. Next thing I know there's like three or four nieces and dependent nurses chasing me with like a crash car and they're like what's going on? I'm like, who's dying? And I was like, Oh no, I just like to run, I want to be efficient. And so to your point, it's like, I'm an extremely joyful and energetic person as well. And I love those stories about like, you're, you're walking strong. Yep, walk confidently. And I'm glad that you do continue walking confidently.

Cindy Marshall  40:15  

I think that's great. That's really fun. What a good story.

William Harris  40:18  

What about? Have you ever met anyone that you're like, oh, there's a good story about, you know, I met so and so. And this was, you know, a really big deal I've ever met anybody, you know, really influential or something along those lines besides yourself. You're very influential besides you.

Cindy Marshall  40:34  

Thank you. I did have my 15 minutes of fame. And that was in like, 93, the summer of 1993. Bill Clinton was just elected and and was in office. His inauguration was in January in 93. And a girlfriend I was living with at the time, her brother was the head of the motorcade in the police force at the vineyard. So she said you want to go to the vineyard today. Let's take our bikes and we're gonna meet Clinton. I was like, Yeah, right. We took our bikes. we cycled to the police station. They're like, Oh, he's playing golf. So we went to the golf course. And we got to meet all the Secret Service guys. And Verdun Jordan came up on a golf cart and said, Oh, does anybody play golf? And my friend Janine says, Oh, Cindy does. So he hands me one of Clinton's balls that he played with his golf balls. And she also handed one to my girlfriend Janine. And I was leech like, put one in our backpack and didn't think anything of it. And so we're waiting to meet the president. And he goes and does a speech he comes back from his speech to head to the motorcade. And he said, Oh, who are those two blondes. We both had long blonde hair. And I was Director of Marketing at J. Jill at the time and in Boston area. And so he said, Oh, I want to meet them. So he came over and we shook hands. And then a golf caddy came over and said, Oh, Mr. President, will you sign one of my golf balls? And he said, Sure, absolutely. And he took out his pen to go sign in it at the same time. I said, Oh, I want to your balls. And then Janine goes, I have the other one. And we realize what we did, and we just stopped and he smiled, but he never like looked up from signing the golf ball. He was so charismatic. And so at that point, I handed my phone to one of the Secret Service guys. And I said, we take our picture. And so as soon as he was done, I said, Mr. President, Mr. President, will you take a picture with us, so we put his arms around us. And next thing I know, the press was in the tertiary circle, we were in the secondary. They just started taking pictures left and right so that we were on TV the next day, we I was on the cover of The Boston Globe, the Patriot Ledger, I was on the 10th page in the New York Times, and I go into work, not even knowing and everybody's like, Oh, you're so famous. But this golf ball story was hysterical. And so that was my 15 minutes of fame. And I have to tell you, I took the I took all the pictures, and I wrote a letter to my friends and family and with the pictures attached, and I sent 200 letters out to people, you know, my Christmas card list, because I'm a direct marketer. For my 15 minutes of fame, but that was fun.

I can't hear you.

William Harris  43:30

Oh, that's interesting. Somehow my mic muted. I apologize about that. I love that. And I think it's hilarious because I think you hinted at this, you know, there's so many jokes that he gets that can be said about this that we probably can't say necessarily over the air, but it is, it is just funny the way that sometimes words come out of our mouths and the way that we say them, but I love that you had those 15 minutes of fame and you knew to use it and you know, send it out to your your direct mail list. That's just very smart.

Cindy Marshall  43:54

Yeah, now that was the most famous person I've met.

William Harris  43:59  

That's, that's I have not actually I don't think I've ever met any of the presidents. So that's you've got me beat by quite a quite a long shot there. What about what about fears? What are things that keep you up at night? Um,

Cindy Marshall  44:16

well after I'm an 11 year breast cancer survivor, so I learned that fear is just to word and I used to be fearful, but I am not fearful anymore. So I like I learned that it's just a word, rip it up, step on it, stomp it out. So I don't typically have fears. But because I'm so passionate about growing people's businesses, I wake up in the middle of the night either doing a spreadsheet forecasting, thinking about their brand, how they need to position thinking about their customers, and I literally can be processing in the middle of the night, and then I'll have ideas the next day. So you know, it's building people, building brands and and then sometimes I start wondering when should I stop work? Gaining being, you know, I don't consider myself a consultant, I consider myself an extension of the team and leading the team or however it is, but I'm, you know, I'm working with the brands. And you know, I've thought we'll meet you. And I've seen inside over 50 brands, maybe it's time I focus on one brand or a family of brands. So, you know, I've thought about that as well. And should I go back into corporate well, maybe, but only for the right thing. And sure, it has to be people I love product I love and, you know, massive opportunities. So

William Harris  45:33  

yeah, I didn't realize that you were a breast cancer survivor. Congratulations. That's a really cool thing. My grandma is as well. And oh, wow.

Cindy Marshall  45:44  

I wrote a book. I didn't know my book. I wrote a book called Sorry About Your Diagnosis... You're Fired. Because I lost my job halfway through chemo. I got diagnosed in December of 2009 2010. No wait. When did I get diagnosed? December in 2011. I got diagnosed and then I went right in I'd really aggressive triple negative breast cancer. And I went right into chemo and lost my hair, the whole thing. I had seven weeks who I want to be, yeah, halfway through my email, I lost my job. And then that's how I started SHINE. So I always say now like, Thank you for making that happen. Because now I wouldn't have started SHINE. But you know, that's like bad enough to get diagnosed with breast cancer and then to lose your job. But nine months after I bilateral mastectomy and rebuilt, I got hit by a snowboarder and almost died. I have a plate nine screws holding my arm together. But my arms like amazing. And here I am. And I'm alive. And so I finally I you know, I started it. 10 year I launched it last year. Yeah, so it's out on Amazon. You, Cindy Marshall. Sorry About Your Diagnosis... You're Fired!

William Harris  47:01  

that Yeah. Wow. I mean, I feel like I just got hit by a snowboarder right now too. Because it's I don't even know what to say to that. But that's incredible. But I want to read the book. So please, definitely send me a copy. I'm gonna ask for a signed one to it, I will pay you for it as well, because I want the signed version. And yes, I I love what you just said, though. I mean, that is the epitome of what I know about you, which is it's like, you're not going to take anything. For what it is, you're saying Great. I'm going to take this and return let me know for lack of a better example. It's like I'm gonna turn these lemons into lemonade. And, and every time I've interacted with you, that is definitely you know, showing through that you're going to take every situation say, How do I make the best out of this situation? And to your point, would you be Cindy Marshall, had you not gone through some of those experiences? And it's like, those are what have allowed you to be stronger and who you are. And I think that that's just really cool to see that you've pushed through that. So congratulations.

Cindy Marshall  47:54

No, thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah.

William Harris  47:58

It's awkward way for me to transition into that. But as I go to transition into the end of the show here, one of the things that we have talked about that always like to do is like silicium. At the end, when you and I were talking about is a really crazy word in this word, where it's kind of like Balderdash, where you're gonna I'm gonna give you a crazy word, you're gonna make up a definition for it that we think sounds believable. So you just got to have some fun with this. And before I give you the word, it reminds me of, it's got some things in it that are very medical in nature. So it's kind of interesting. And it reminded me of a actually a poem that I wrote. And so I like big words. And so this poem that I made a long, long time ago, it's very, very short, but it's called bovine spongiform encephalopathy. So I'll just read that real quick. Four verses Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is a disease that afflicted by dear friend Kathy. And humans, it's called Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. And it's not something you'd get from carrots or peas. So that's it. I never finished it. But it's just the idea of like taking them massively complex, whereas turning them into poems. We're not doing a poem today not asking you to do that. But medical tie in here. Dactylioglyph. Tactile glyph is the word that you have in it is DACTYLIOGLYPH. I have no intent of you knowing what it is. I didn't know what it was until I saw it here. But it's just a really big fun word that is in the English language. What is the definition of Dactylioglyph.

Cindy Marshall  49:27

deck to you glyph is when your sales hit a peak and you're at the top of your graph. And you can see the future and you know that you need to turn up the volume so that's when you're at your core peak of your business. Dactylioglyph.

William Harris  49:50

naturally that makes a lot of sense. And so it's like right alongside your Mar, you got to check your deck to Leo glyph as well. So you're not drinking that tillow glyph Do you even have any business being In the E commerce space,

Cindy Marshall  50:02  

none whatsoever.

William Harris  50:05

Cindy, this has been really fun talking to you and learning even more about you than I even knew going into this. If people wanted to reach out to you, follow you, buy your book, what's the best way for them to reach out and stay in touch?

Cindy Marshall  50:18  

I'm on LinkedIn. I absolutely love LinkedIn. So you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me at And, yep, or on Amazon. Just start Cindy Marshall. I do pop up pretty quickly. That's awesome. And I'm not related to Penny Marshall.

William Harris  50:39

Okay, there we go.

Cindy Marshall  50:42  

Everybody always asked me and I'm not related.

William Harris  50:44  

Yeah, no, that's good. You got to know who you are and aren't related to and not related to Penny Marshall, go search for Cindy Marshall,

Cindy Marshall  50:51  

I am related to Kurt Vonnegut Jr. So, he's my cousin.

William Harris  50:55  

We will unpack that on the next episode with Cindy. All right, no. Okay. Why I again, I really appreciate you coming out here today and sharing so much with us and everyone. I appreciate you joining in. I hope you all have a great rest of your day.

Cindy Marshall  51:09  

Thank you Will, so much fun to take care.

Outro  51:14  

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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