Welcome to the DTC Growth show.
Every episode we talk to founders and leaders at some of the most exciting DTC brands in the world. We discuss their vision, how they launched, and how they are growing their brand.
In this episode we talk with Taylor Holiday, CEO at Common Thread Collective. They're a growth agency that helps brands make a profit from their digital spend.
We kick off by talking about Taylor's hiring approach for the digital marketer role. He's found a way to hire people with the right skillset from outside of marketing proper—within the fantasy sports community. His team has found a way to incorporate fantasy into the hiring process. Interesting stuff.
To make sure they're hiring well, the team at CTC has also written up good/bad documents to use in interviews. He's been very generous and shared them with us.
Moving on, we talk about 4x400 and how that fits into the overall vision at Common Thread Collective, making entrepreneurs dreams come true. And of course we talk about how CTC itself is a dream that has come true for Taylor and team.
At the heart of making dreams come true for brand owners is creative—that's one thing they hone in on at CTC. That's one of their secrets to success, and we talk about how good creative is available to anyone. At no other time in history has great creative been so readily available.
Great quality doesn't always look like a polished and highly-produced asset, though. High-quality creative means that it sells. Content that engages, entertains, and educates is high-quality if it captures audience attention, regardless of the production value.
We also talk about leadership, specifically, the shift from being measured as an individual contributor. Leadership is relinquishing the right to be measured based on your personal performance, says Taylor. I love the quote. And we dive a little here.
We promised to share Aaron's absolutely incredible articles, so here they are:
If you want to learn more about Taylor, follow him @taylorholiday
His DM's are open to connect with you.
Roger: Today, I'm talking with Taylor Holiday, who's a former draft pick of the New York Yankees turned marketer. He's now the founder and CEO at Common Thread Collective. Thanks for taking the time, Taylor.
Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. Man, I'm excited to be here. And thank you for starting out by bringing up my failed sports career.
Roger: So, if you don't know Taylor, I would highly recommend you Google him and put the word Yankees next to it and you're going to see some wonderful flow.
Taylor: Yeah, I did much better here back then. It's funny. So, I'm part of this my local YMCA every morning. And recently, the like front desk guy has become aware of my minor league career. And so, every day I come in, there's a new printed photo taped up onto the wall, when I walk in, to troll me of my former morphed, better haired self.
Roger: Oh, man. So, I'm going to jump right in here on the topic of baseball. Because you have a philosophy on hiring digital marketers. You've seen an arbitrage opportunity here to hire within the fantasy community and online gaming. Can you tell me about that?
Taylor: Yeah. So, the thing about hiring for an agency or media buyers inside of a brand is that the market dynamics are really not in the favor of the employer right now.
What I mean by that is like if you think about just sort of simple supply and demand economics, the demand for great media buyers far exceeds the supply. And even as individual freelancers, most media buyers can make a ton of money. And so, if you're trying to go out and find somebody that's really experienced, odds are you're going to have to overpay for that.
So, the analogy that we like to use as a comparison in sort of free agency and sports is that if you are trying to hire or acquire talent as a sports franchise through free agency, the market dynamics will usually mean that you are having to overpay relative to the skill. That's just what competition and free market creates.
So, for us, what we try and do a lot of is think about how we can find areas where we can find the right kinds of thinkers; people that solve things problematically and analytically. And we think that we have the capacity to teach people with those kinds of brains how to use the tactical tools of media buying.
So, two areas that I think represent the kind of thinking and problem solving that is required to be a great media buyer; one is fantasy sports. So, we used to actually do this thing where we would have people build fan duel lineups as part of the media buying interview.
Because the whole premise is here's a framework, you have constraints, how do you use all the existing variables to build the best outcome possible? That's sort of what media buying is in my mind. So, I think it's like that; people who are really great at that.
And part of it is this bias where the person who is now the CEO 4x400, which is the part of our business where we own and operate our own brands, the way that he initially came to work for us five years ago was because he was in my fantasy baseball league and he has been just a fantastic addition for our ecosystem. Andrew Ferris, many of you sort of probably follow him on Twitter as well. He's just an awesome thinker. And so, that got us down this path of using fantasy sports.
Then the other one. And I've seen Tobey Lukey talk about this as well is that I grew up playing StarCraft. So, any of these sort of simulation games where it's similar; you have a an end outcome, you have a set of parameters, you have resource constraints to try and solve for the outcome or the exact kinds of environments that are indicative of people who would be great at media buying.
So, I grew up playing Rollercoaster Tycoon and SIM City and StarCraft, and these are the kinds of sort of problem-solving arenas that lend themselves to the kind of thinking that we want. And so, we use those as often qualifiers for discovering maybe not experienced media buyers, but of people with the right kinds of brains or mindsets that we want.
Roger: On the topic of hiring, what are some other tips that you have for maybe founders out there and you operate a couple DTC brands under the 4x400 umbrella? So, what are some tips that you have for hiring for those brands?
Taylor: Yeah, hiring; this is the great dilemma and challenge. One of the recent things that we've done is I fell in love with this document that was written by a guy named Ben Horowitz called Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager. If you just Google that, “Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager”, what you'll see is a document that he wrote as a sort of modernized job description for a role that was really critical to his organization. And Ben is one of the founders of Andreessen Horowitz, one of most successful venture capital firms in the world, but is also a world class operator.
So, this document, what it outlines is in contrasting statement; good product managers do this, bad product managers do that. And it just goes through all the different functions of the role in a way that's very practical and tangible.
So, we recently did this. We went through every role in the organization at our Vision Quest, which is like our yearly sort of company retreat. We had every employee write a good/bad doc. So, now for every role in our company, we have a job description and that's paired with a good/bad doc that then ties to the specific KPI that are related to the role.
And the reason I think it's such a critical process to go through is the answer to your question of how you hire is you get real clear on what it looks like to be successful in the role, and then it's a lot easier to find the people that fit that description.
But a lot of times, what I see is people underserving the process of defining what it will look like to be successful in this role. And then it becomes really hard. You get sucked into all sorts of personal bias around the kinds of things that you would like in a person across the table. And it becomes more like a first date environment than an actual analysis of what you need in a job.
So, that document has been so helpful for me to really get clear on what does it look like for somebody to be successful in a role and how do we find them?
Roger: That's a great document. I'm a drop in the show notes for anyone who's listening, who wants to take a read.
Taylor: And I would want you to because I think it would be helpful; is I’ll drop our good/bad for a media buyer and good/bad for a creative strategist, two roles that I think are really critical to think about, that sort of are written in that format that will be complementary that people can enjoy.
Roger: That's amazing. Thanks for sharing that. How does 4x400 tie into the rest of the things that you're doing at CTC? So, the agency stuff, the admission stuff you're doing.
Taylor: Yes. So, our holding company, the sort of parent of them all is called Dream Labs. And inside of that, we have a myriad of different companies; a couple of which you've mentioned here. So, 4x400 is where we acquire and own our own businesses. A common thread collective is the agency.
We also have an influencer sort of service business called Kinship. And then we also have a 3PL called Left Brain Logistics and then a culture development company called Tell Me Your Dreams.
And all of them exist for one purpose; and that's to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. And so, each of them plays a different role in that function.
But 4x400 has always been sort of the heartbeat of what we wanted to get back to. We began on the brand side. We started as brand builders. We've always loved building consumer product companies. And so, when we started building this vision for this ecosystem, it was always about building the support for launching our own products.
And so, 4x400 is the vehicle for that. It's a completely separate entity with complete employees and a completely separate business. So, there's no sort of shared resource model between them. There's a short-shared information model and a shared knowledge model. But in terms of the actual employees, they're completely separate.
And basically, we think of 4x400 as the tip, like sort of the Navy SEAL group of our development. So, a lot of times, what we're thinking about is using the agency as a development arm for taking our best employees and our best learners and putting them into our brand sites where we have, in theory, the highest upside.
And we've moved from a model of developing our own products to now acquiring businesses. We try and acquire two businesses a year in that inside of 4x400. And it's all informed by what we're seeing on the agency side, where we're getting to work with so many different consumer product brands, that I think it just gives us great sort of information arbitrage to be able to sort of make better decisions.
Roger: You're big on dreams; I've heard you talk about this before. Tell me a little bit how a lot of what's going on today at CTC is a product of maybe some of the things you and a couple others dreamed about in that office you guys dubbed North Korea while you guys were selling, I think it was bread balls; frozen bread balls. Tell me about today.
Taylor: That was the early days of the agency. The point was we called it North Korea because it was just a terrible office. It was this tiny little room with bakery in Orange, California. But we really hold that those memories really fondly.
But the question we started asking is, “Why would any awesome, really talented person come work for us?” “Like, what did we have to offer somebody that would make them want to not go to work for one of the other incredible companies in our area?”
And the only answer that we could come up with, because we couldn't afford to pay them more. Like we said, we were working with some questionable clients at the time, our office sucked, we didn't have all the cool benefits. And the only answer we could come up with for why anybody would want to work for us was that we could care more about them than everybody else.
And that sounds great in theory, right? Like this idea that you're going to be really caring. But the question is, how does it come to life in practice?
And so, what we came up with was this idea of a program that's now called Tell Me Your Dreams. And it's like sort of the heartbeat of CTC function and it also exists as now a separate entity serving more companies.
And the idea was if you were going to come work for CTC, we would be willing to ask the question, “What do you want to do with” -- Like, if you're going to come and serve our dream of building this business, we should be willing to ask the question, “What do you want out of your life? What is your dream?” And we should be willing to invest in helping you get there.
And so, my sort of vision of the ideal employee/employer relationship is it's sort of symbiotic; where we're both in service of each other and we leave every day feeling like we have sort of this equal transaction of support towards the person that we want to become.
And so, what we did is we started by my partner, Josh, would just go to lunch once every other week with people and they'd help them sort of identify their career goal or life goal and then we would help invest in them getting there. And so that was where the program began.
And it was funny because the very first employee that we did this with, his dream was to start at a competitive agency. And so, I brought up that and we sort of ran into this question of like, “Well, how much do we mean this? How much do we actually believe in this idea?”
And we did it. We helped him form an LLC and helped him learn how to analyze and set up QuickBooks and threw a party when he left. And now Greg is somebody who still comes back to our Christmas parties and is just a fan and part of our family forever.
But that program, as it grew, we got into a situation where it just became once we got too many employees, my partner, Josh, had real work to do and couldn't sort of sit in this function forever.
And so, that's when we partnered with a set of licensed marriage and family therapist who have now become a part of our community. We have four different therapists that meet with every one of our employees every other week to go through a journey, a twelve-month journey, where for six months they sit with them to help them identify their dream for their life.
And then the first Monday of every month at CTC is something called Dream Day, where employees stand up and declare their dream for their life, as well as clients coming in to share their dream for their company. And then we put them into pursuit groups where they're asked to achieve their dreams and then we celebrate the outcomes when they get there. And this can be anything from a dream of buying a home to, “I want to be an executive in this company”, to, “I want to write a music album, write a book”, all sorts of different things.
So, it's really become sort of the driving factor of why we exist is about helping our clients achieve their business dreams and that helping our employees achieve their personal dreams. That's the sort of whole motivating factor for our ecosystem.
Roger: And you're serving customers specifically within the zero to $30 million range. You're trying to make their dreams come true right now.
Taylor: Yeah, exactly. And the reason we choose that group specifically is because, one, that's where we have compounding value. That's where we think we have spent more time than virtually anybody on Earth. So, there's just sort of a compounding value to every new business that we work with, adds to the sort of central hive mind of experience and knowledge.
And it's also where we are running our own businesses. So, we can be really empathetic to the idea of that stage of business because we're living it alongside our clients. We're co-journeyers, if you will, in the process of building brands that way.
And then most importantly, it keeps us in relationship with the entrepreneur and founder. We've worked with really big companies, North Face and Lululemon and all these different companies. And the reality is you're dealing with a marketing manager who may or may not be as passionate about the product as you'd hope. There's a lot of turnover in that role.
And for us, we found that our best relationships, the one that keep our people's hearts and minds engaged in the business, is when we have a relationship with the entrepreneur. And so, that's something that's really important to us.
Roger: We talked a little bit about your hiring philosophy, but you also have a philosophy as it relates to advertising. And it seems to be very influenced by David Ogilvy; if it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.”
Tell me a little bit about how you guys apply that with your customers.
Taylor: Yeah. So, I think the hardest job of an agency and the promise that when somebody hires us is that we are providing them a methodology that is consistent across every individual in the organization.
So, often, an agency is really just a function of the quality of the individual that you get assigned to, because there is no actual shared ideology, philosophy or methodology.
And this is something I experience a lot as we grew is, “Wow man. The experience if you work with Employee A vs Employee D is so dramatically different. How do we solve for that?”
So, one of the ways is that we actually spent, me and one of our employees named Richard Gaffing, who is one of our creative strategists and is just a great thinker. We spent a long time, developing CTC's advertising philosophy. It's a seven-week course that we put every one of our employees through. It helps to answer the question, “What is good advertising?”
And we go through sort of a historical analysis, because the reality is advertising is a concept and principle that's been around for a really long time. And there's so much to be learned from sort of the historical roots of advertising as well as just human psychology.
And so, one of the things that we talk about a lot is that the mediums change, but the message and the methodology and the people don't. And so, we spent a good amount of time, and David Ogilvy, I think, is just one of the great thinkers about advertising and has also spoken to sort of agency life in a way that I think is super unique. So, we use a lot of his work. Bill Birnbach is another big foundation of a lot of that class.
So, these are just sort of classic like foundational philosophies that we give to our people as a means for them thinking about “Alright, what is the modern application of that?”
So, as an example, we take something like ADA, which is an 80-year old hierarchy of effects, model, attention, interest, desire and action and we create a modern application of that by creating metrics with inside of Facebook and Instagram that apply to each stage of that effects model and then we use that to inform how we analyze and predict creative within inside of CTC.
And we just think that our consistent commitment to ideological frameworks versus just sort of individual performance is one of the big differentiators of us versus any other sort of agency that you run into is that we work really hard to sort of create consistent and unique approaches to the things that we're doing.
And there's a lot of people that will tell you that creative is the variable that matters most in advertising, but they can't tell you why their specific creative is different. They'll show you a bunch of examples and hopefully you like those examples. But the process by which they get there is hard to define. And we really believe that our job as an agency is the promised great process, more so than great outcomes.
Roger: Interesting. Promising great process, not great outcomes. Can you explain that a little bit?
Taylor: Yeah. There is so much that goes into the outcome of return on ad spend. And one of the things is that when we partner with a brand, we only control so many of the variables of the business. So, as an example, we don't control the product, we don't get to decide what it is that you're selling, we don't get to decide always the price at what you're selling it, we don't get to control the quality of your customer service. A lot of different variables that go into whether or not a business is successful; we often don't control what they're doing on the organic side of the business, et cetera, et cetera.
But what we do control, the parts of the business that we are in charge of, we want to promise you that we are going through the best possible methodology and process to create the best outcome.
So, the idea would be that if you work with us, even if the advertising doesn't get to the return on ad spend that you want, which happens, you should not be able to go somewhere else and get a better outcome strictly by working with the same parameters that we are.
So, the reality is, is that we are going to fail on behalf of our clients. And I tell our people this, is that I don't expect that they are going to succeed in every single account that we service. But I am going to expect that the route and the thinking and the process that they go through to get there is going to be good every time.
It's sort of like playing poker; I think media buying is a lot like this. That your job is a great poker player is to make the right analytical decision every time, not to win.
Because the reality is, when you're dealing with odds, even if you have a 60/40 split on a possible outcome, you're going to choose the 60 percent outcome or 60 percent choice every time, but that means you're going to be wrong 40 percent of the time. But that doesn't make it the wrong decision; it makes it the right decision.
And so, our job is to make the right decision on behalf of our clients over and over and over again. If you start looking exclusively at outcomes, you're going to end up chasing your tail, because you're not actually going to be going after the thing that, over the largest period of time, yields the most outcomes. So, that's why we tend to prefer a process.
Now, I get that for some people with clients like they feel like they're hiring us for outcomes. I just believe that great process is the mechanism to produce great outcomes, most often.
Roger: You said recently that amazing advertising is available for any product. And I like to say that there's no such thing as boring product, only boring marketing. Tell me for four brands on limited budgets, what are some of the suggestions you have for developing really good creatives?
Taylor: Yeah, this is a great question. So, the phrase I like to talk about is living in an infinite creative universe. Like one of the things that was great about advertising in 2020 is that we have access to more resource on the creative side than any human in history.
So, if you think about just the massive amounts of free libraries of photos and videos that exist on the Internet, the amount of people that you have access to, the message and asked to create content about your product, the business that you guys are in on the influencer side. The ability to pick up an iPhone and shoot quality assets on your own, like it's just never been easier.
But the point that I'm making is that if you go back and look; like grab David Ogilvy's book or Bill Birnbach’s book and go back and look at some of these legendary creative assets.
So, one that comes to mind right now that I used as an example in that tweet thread is this legendary Gillette ad that's a photo of a frying pan with an egg on it. Right?
Taylor: So, this is the most basic photo that you could ever find, but it's the copy that they use to describe that ad that really unlocks something magic.
Another legendary Bill Birnbach ad is this kid sort of sitting, pouting on the ground. And it's an ad for a back-to-school shopping for moms. And it's so clever and brilliant, but it's the copy and the idea that makes it work, not the expense or the production quality of the asset.
And so often, we get hung up on this idea that to produce great advertising must require really expensive product production. And I just reject that; I don't think that's ever been less true than it is right now where social content creators; like just look at the explosion of Tick-Tock and the level of creativity that's coming out of the people on that platform. That has zero to do with production quality and it has to do with like people that are just genuinely creative and are not allowing their constraints of money or resource to prohibit their own ability to come up with awesome, clever ideas that will make people want to engage your business.
Roger: I agree. The other day, I was talking to someone and I was talking about how creators are developing this incredible high-quality content. And the person responds to me and says, “Well, a lot of this stuff doesn't look like it's produced.” And they automatically assumed high quality meant high production value, which is not at all true.
High quality means it's going to engage really, really well. And I think Tick-Tock is a great example.
Taylor: Yeah. So, this is part of where when we think about advertising, it's one of the reasons that we try really hard -- So, like going back to the ADA metaphor; these metrics. Like if you think about what we're saying is attention interest, desired action.
So, in social, we measure those with three different metrics. One is 3 second views per impressions, the other is average video watch time and then the other is outbounds ETR. Those are like, we think, the fundamental metrics that become important for an advertiser to think about.
But what they signal is a consideration of the advertising that begins with the user. So, when you design for those metrics, you're designing for the experience of the customer, not the financial outcome that you want. Because when you design for an experience that signals that the user is enjoying the content, you're going to create stuff that is about them and is not about you.
And what happens when you do that is you realize that there's actually no correlation between the production quality and the engagement level of those metrics. It’s that users, we spend all day talking to our family on FaceTime, posting photos and selfies. Like our expectation of content or what we actually want is often really disassociated from the price.
And so, I think once you start to begin with the user in mind and ask the question of what kind of content do they want versus like what do I feel like I need to produce, then you're going to free up yourself to really think about the kinds of content that users are already engaging with and meeting them there versus trying to start from your own considerations.
Roger: Fantastic. I want to ask you about your leadership and your leadership style and your philosophy. Because you've you mentioned this the other day; I believe you tweeted it. You tweeted, “Leadership is relinquishing the right to be measured based on your personal performance.”
What does that mean for founders? What does that mean for you?
Taylor: I would say over the last year, I have gone through sort of the hardest transition in my own development as a leader and still am very much going through it. I've just made so many mistakes then.
And the thing I've come to realize, though, is that, especially if you began as a founder, as a high individual performer. Like for me, I began as a marketer; I love the work. I love to do the work. And so, for me, it's really easy to want to be seen or measured as a great marketer and to be somebody who still does great work, and that that individual association with me is how I am measured.
But the reality is that now my job is not to do that; my job is to develop and find great marketers and to support them with an ecosystem that gives them freedom to become the heroes. And so, that my job as a leader now becomes about being measured on the success of my organization, not on the success of me as an individual.
And there's a death of sort of pride and sort of the praise of others that you have to relinquish in that process. It's still so tempting for me to jump in and try and be the hero. And it's just something you have to fight and you have to really be committed to developing other people and allowing their individual praise and the praise of other individuals inside of your organization to be seen for yourself as your own victory.
And that's just as a transition that's hard to go through as a leader, I think, and it's very hard to give up the right to individual performance and thinking about other people.
Roger: You're so true. And I think it's so relevant in the direct-to-consumer space, because many founders, and we've interviewed them on the show; I'm thinking of Vino, I'm thinking of Stedman at Kabo and Bruvvy; these are marketers who serve other brands who then go on to launch their own brands. And then there's a shift and it's no longer about my performance as a marketer, but now my performance as a leader.
What's the biggest hurdle in relinquishing that hero role?
Taylor: I think you have to find people that you fundamentally trust. The most freeing experience I ever have as a leader, is when there is something happening inside of my organization that I have nothing to do with, that I can look at and attest to it being better than I could have done myself. Or just that when it's happening at a level of quality that I am proud of.
Like the other day, I walked back -- We have a rad studio inside our office and I walk back and there was a shoot happening that was just so cool and I peeked in and I had nothing to do with the ideation, the talent acquisition, the production, the editing, the directing on set. And I almost just watched as an observer and I realized, “Man, this is happening inside of my organization and it's not because of me at all.”
That's actually the greatest symbol of my job as a leader being done well. And it's because Ian, my Chief Creative Officer, is somebody I trust immensely and he's going to do it better than me.
We just recently hired an incredible new Head of Marketing named Aaron Orndorff, who used to run the Shopify Plus blog. And we released this piece of content yesterday on the 10 sort of e-commerce trends that he put together. And when I read through this thing, man, I'm like, “Holy crap. Like, I couldn't have done this that well.”
So, you know what I get to do? I get to turn my brain off to our marketing and trust that the person doing it is going to do it incredibly. And then I get to heap praise on him when he does.
And it's just such a powerful thing. I think its leaders, especially early on in businesses, we view human beings as cost centers. And we were so afraid. So, we tend to hire out of this scarcity or fear of what they're going to cost us. So, we don't understand how much potential they have to be as value centers.
And so, that transition to realizing that the path of freedom, the path to relinquishing control, is to actually put somebody who will make you look even better in that role and then give them autonomy and freedom. And when you do that, what can happen for your organization is incredible.
Roger: Aaron's asset was incredible. We're also going to link to that in the show notes because it is that good.
Speaking of leaders, a while back, not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago, you posted something. You challenged people to pick five people for their team with $15 and you can add $5 operators down to $1.
Roger: Maybe let's pick one in each category. And you tell me quickly why they're special, why you think they're great. So, let's start at $5. You got Kylie Jenner, Jessica Alba, Gary, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeffrey Stark.
Taylor: Yes. So, this obviously is a very common thing that you see in the sports world. So, sports and Instagram in particular, you see this a lot. So, the day before, it was actually the Salt Lakes and Lakers were playing each other and I saw one for Build the Greatest Team out of Celtics and Lakers Legends. And so, that's what sort of inspired my idea. I was like, “Man, I've seen this all the time and I've never seen it in our industry. So, that's where it came from.
The $5 tier. So, these are all sort of legendary both -- What I love about this group is they come with massive audience, which I think is a huge asset to begin with, but they're also operators in different capacities.
When I initially picked this, I chose Gary. Gary is somebody who's become a friend and an inspiration for a long time. And I appreciate his enthusiasm and energy for both building audience as well as operating. So, I would say, Gary.
The second choice, and I think that she's underappreciated, actually, is Gwyneth Paltrow. I think what Goup has done has been really incredible. The new Netflix series has been really, really powerful. And it's just a testament to her sort of -- This is a woman that was an A-list. I'm talking A-list, Oscar-level actress and is now operating a business in a way that I think is really impressive. So, I'd say one of those two to begin.
Roger: That's $10, man. You got Gary and Gwyneth.
Taylor: Finally, I’ll stick with Gary. That’s what I said.
Roger: So, Gary for his enthusiasm, his audience and you do like Gwyneth for her operating chop; she's done some wonderful stuff. Cool.
Roger: The $4: We got Emily Weiss, we got Andy, Neil, Michael and Katrina.
Taylor: Yeah. So, these are powerhouse, definitely business operators. These are your CEO choices, I think, right here. And I think that I would say that Katrina Lake is the one where I go, “Man.” Stitch Fix has sort of been left out of the narrative of the new DTC rounds. But this was one of the earliest DTC companies to go public and they are a beast.
And if you go back and read any of her story of where they began and how -- Like I was reading just recently a story about how they -- part of the reason they decided to build the business that they did is because they tried to go out and raise a bunch of venture money and couldn’t. And so, they said, “Screw it, we're just going to build a profitable business.”
And they went out and they did it at a behemoth level. They’ve gone public, they’ve had success and they're sort of now what I would call Old e-Com, almost and they don't get the praise of some of the Warby Parkers or Bonobos or even Dollar Shave Club; they're even really even before that round.
And I think they quietly, with oftentimes when you don't hear a lot of the PR, it's because they're just busy killing it. And I think Katrina has done an awesome job with that.
I would say Emily Wise would be my second choice in this group, too. She's did the same thing with them. Like they're just operating in a way that is just super powerful.
Roger: Amazing. So, we got Katrina, Stitch Fix. She's an OG Old e-Com, quietly killing it.
For $3, we got Jamie, Moyes Ali, Jeff, Jen and Webb Smith.
Taylor: Yep. So, this is tough because I have a lot of respect. You know, recently I got to listen to Moyes Speak in Native Deodorant story. Obviously, the Harrys guys, Jeff is sort of one of a myriad of guys from that group. Jenny ay Wade and then Jamie at Schmidt’s Naturals. And then Webb, I think, is just sort of this up and comer, more on the media side, but he also has real operator roots.
Dang, I think when I initially published it, I picked Webb, but I think it depends. I think you would have a problem pairing Moyes with Gary because Moyes is like, if you've ever heard him speak, he would throw out everything that I just said about being the CEO that doesn't individually contribute. Like he ran Native Deodorant’s ad account like all the way up to the acquisition. So, I think it would depend on the face of business.
But I think the most complimentary group, because, again, is I would either have to take Jenna and Webb to compliment Katrina and Gary, because Katrina and Gary are definitely CEO operators. And I think Web could play a role in community development and media that would complement the skill set best.
So, for the sake of building a team that can play on the court well together, I'll take Webb. So, I think the other four are pretty strong leaders.
I think Jen probably fits that model, too, because she's sort of taken a sort of sidecar role and has built more community and brand. So, Jenner and Webb, but I’ll lean Webb.
Roger: You already got consistency. You're picking a lot of the same people. I love it.
Roger: For $2, we got Elaina, Ezra, Eric, Ben or Nick.
Taylor: Okay. So, this group, I think the two -- So, this is like the sort of the sleeper group, I think Elaina, Eric and Ben. So, if you don't know beer brand, Eric Barenholtz is just a killer operator.
I have been following Jim Shak for a while now and I think they are one of those. Again, they don't end up in the forefront of a lot of the conversations of the Warby Parkers and the Goups in that crowd. But, man, Jim Shak is a beast. And I think what Ben's done there is really impressive.
But I just listened to Elaina speak, I think it was maybe at Harvard or somewhere else, on Customer Journey and Brand and the way they think about design. And I'll be honest, my initial response to her, as she came out to the public sphere was like, “Oh, man, she's a little bit too much of a PR darling. I'm suspicious.” But the more I've gotten to hear her sort of share her story and her and her husband, which is just something I have an appreciation for, I've been just so impressed.
So, I would put her in charge of customer experience and just let her go to town as a designer and thinker about how to build an incredible sort of thoughtful experience for our customers because I think she's done a great job with hers.
Roger: Amazing. And lastly, for $1, we got Marco, Hayley, Emmitt, Andrew and Bill.
Taylor: Yeah. So, interesting group here. So, I got a lot of flack for putting Emmitt in this role. I'm going to be honest, I'm more suspicious of Pattern Brands. I'm a little more suspicious of Pattern Brands. Just, I think, they have some proving still to do.
And I got to take my guy. So, Andrew obviously runs 4x400 for us. There's just nobody that I trust to like replicate my mind in a way that I go, “Man, if he's thinking about it, I'm in.”
And he's such a relentless problem solver that even though he hasn't gotten to the point of the big exit that some of these other people have gotten to, I think this this whole row is a group of really creative thinkers.
If you don't know Bill Del Sandro, he's sort of under the radar at Elements Brands and then Marco, obviously now over at Elliot. And then Hayley, I think, came from Stitch Fix as well. She was brand growth there.
So, a really smart group of sort of in-your-organization people. But I would take Andrew here. What he's done for us at 4x400; taking over and leading that. We just acquired our fourth business there. And I think we got really cool things ahead under his leadership.
Roger: Very nice. Awesome. I want to honor our time together. So, I'm going to ask you a final question here, Taylor. What's one thing that you hear or see brands doing on their paid channels that just makes you want to yank your hair out?
Taylor: What is one thing you see the brands doing? So, my biggest thing -- I had one of my biggest meltdowns ever in our office the other day because of an account set up that we were making a mistake in.
And what it comes down to is media buying right now, the common setup is that it's the CBO's (Campaign Budget Optimization) where the premise is you're going to use machine learning to optimize it. And I think the product is incredible. I think what Facebook has done on the product side is like people just so underappreciate just the absolute behemoth that they are on the ad tech side; it's incredible. Just like so far, light years ahead of everybody else.
But the tool is only valuable if you understand the construct of how to allow a machine learning tool to be effective. And the most common mistake I see people make is they setup a campaign with so many variables relative to the budget that they have that they never actually leave the learning phase ever. And so, you see 70 to 80 to 90 percent of the money in their ad account being spent in learning phase because they are setting up a machine learning system with way too many variables.
If Facebook would say that you need 50 purchases, on the ad set level, to sort of get to a statistically significant outcome that would let you leave learning phase. What ends up happening is you have a CBO, a campaign that has, let's call it, $100 a day budget or $200 a day budget. And then inside of that campaign, there's eight ad sets and then inside of each ad set, there's eight ads. So, that's 64 different variables.
And if you have sort of, let's say, a $50 average order value, the number of purchases that you're going to get on any given day is going to be so small that it's literally going to take like months for that to be actually a campaign that generates you an outcome that you can trust. And so, people are setting up these campaigns in a way that they're never actually going to get a result that's indicative of the possibility.
And then the other thing that people do is they manually turn ads and ad sets off inside of a CBO. It makes me want to just like spike my computer to watch that happen.
Roger: Amazing. Taylor, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.
Taylor: Yeah, man. I don't know who specifically that's going to be for, but hopefully there's something that somebody can take from it. And I'm @taylorholiday on Twitter. My DMs are open. I'm happy to be helpful in any way that I can to anybody in our ecosystem.
I think DTC, Twitter and the world that surrounds us is just full of helpful people. So, if there's anything I can do to be of assistance, I'm here for it. So, thank you, guys.
Roger: Amazing. And Taylor is going to share his good media buyer/bad media buyer document. We're going to put that in the show notes. We're going to put Ben Horowitz's article in the showcase and Aaron's article also in the show notes.
Thank you so much for listening. This is the DTC Growth Show by #paid.
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