-password protected sales
-brand oriented community vs activity oriented community
-How to combined SMS, email, and groups for effective launches
-community product development
-learning how to hire experts
In this episode of Ecommerce Building Blocks Jason and Jordan West get into the nitty gritty of of gated launches - how to do them, which channels to use, and which community pool to pull from to ensure their success. All product launches depend on the community that surrounds the brand and Jordan also has great tips for building a community for your brand, whether it is oriented directly around your product or around other shared interests and activities. Finally Jason and Jordan reflect on what it means to constantly be learning on the job, from hiring experts to continually educating oneself.
Jordan’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordan-west-marketer/?originalSubdomain=ca
Jordan’s podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/secrets-to-scaling-your-ecommerce-brand/id1480733021
➡️ Building Blocks website: bbclass.co
🍍Jason’s twitter: https://twitter.com/EggrolI
Sign up for Jason's weekly newsletter: http://news.bbclass.co
Jordan is a multi-brand owner and agency owner - 6 brands 8 figures, working with over 300 brands
If you don't have a community right now, you are probably struggling. The definition of a community is that they actually need to be able to talk in amongst each other, your email list, your one to many that is not your community. For people who are, you know, testing, we have tested extensively with images versus text. The short punchy texts always win every single time. Hands down.
Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Building Blocks podcast. Today I'm joined by Jordan West, who is a multi-brand owner, also runs his own agency, has consulted over 300 brands and has done over eight figures in revenue. How are you doing today, Jordan?
Hey, I am doing good, Jason. Nice to be on your podcast.
Normally I am the host on, our podcast Secret to Scaling your eCommerce Brand. I love coming on other people's podcasts. This just makes me happy and we're in the same time zone too. Jason. So. All good things.
I know it's like being a chef and then finally sitting down and eating on the other side.
like, you're like, oh wait. That's, that's how it looks like.
I wanted to talk to you for a minute now. Been eyeing your name and glad to finally get connected. Um, because I heard about this thing that you did, it's kind of like the thing that you hear about in the space, you did a quarter million dollars in 24 hours with no Facebook ads . Like first doing a quarter million, 24 hours is hard enough then doing it without Facebook ads is like, holy crap. What you do? Like you pass out flyers on a street and get people by. What did you do? Tell me, tell me the secret.
Yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah. We'll just get right into it here.
So, before that, what, the sort of the problem that we were seeing with the brands that we owned was this up and down, you know, always relying on the algorithm we've seen, you know, since iOS 14.5, obviously relying specifically on the paid channels is, is hard. right. It's been a lot harder than it was before.
And so we saw this coming a long time ago and we realized that the solve to this was community. Um, I had somebody come on my podcast in the early days. I think we're at about 350 episodes. Now this was like, maybe episode 20. I had somebody come onto my podcast and tell me that through their VIP group, just to their VIP group, they were selling out of products and they had like 2000 people in a Facebook groupj.
I was like, no way. There's, there's just no possible way that this could, could actually happen. And lo and behold, we decided to start testing this out and we thought, oh, okay, we'll test it. One of the brands that we have, at the time, it was just Little & Lively. It's now turned into four different brands.
These are Canadian made, clothing brands, at the time we had no VIP group. Um, but every time that we'd launch, you know, we'd launch on, on Instagram and, you know, run some paid ads behind a launch and it, they went fairly well. But I thought to myself, you know, how can we make this? How can we create even more FOMO or fear of missing out in. A launch like this. And so what we decided to do is pair our Facebook VIP group, which at the time, I think was only like 4,000 people alongside of a VIP SMS list. Right. And so the reason why I, I really love the idea of a, of a VIP SMS list is because that's sort of the notification arm of the Facebook group, right.
People don't necessarily always get notified within a Facebook group for a launch, whereas with SMS, they're gonna get it to their phone immediately. Right. So all of that being said, we launched, we did a bunch of pre-launch and we can kind of get into to all of the, the blocks, as it were , um, and, of, of, of how we did that.
Um, but we launched, with a password protected page only to our VIPs. We gave our VIPs the password. They had to enter the password, make this little micro commitment to get into the site and then purchase. So first hour we did 110,000 in sales. Wow. Just on that alone. And so this was like a new, a new product release, a new whole collection, and then, you know, trickled in for the rest of that 24 hours, about another 140,000.
And we were amazed and we've done multiple other launches like this since, using the same
And it gets to the same level. Or a little lower us. Yeah.
Gen generally, generally we're in that sort of, we can expect anywhere in that $100 to $200,000 kind of range. Um, we've we've had some, almost touch that 250 , but for us that's, that's been almost the max now.
Got it. Got it. And I mean like numbers are always relative, right? So like 200K for people who are starting out, that's like their entire years of revenue in one day. For this brand are we talking about, this is like 10% of your revenue of your annual revenue in one day, or like what's a percentage looking like,
yeah, that would've been about 5% of our
In one day, just through these things. And you do a few more of that throughout the year, and that's like a quarter of your annual revenue coming in, purely just through drops with no ads
Just through, just through big launches.
You know, community has been like a hot topic now, cuz everyone's like, oh man, Facebook ads is so expensive.
I gotta go back to the basics. And the brands that built this early on are now like laughing because they kind of built this moat around them. I have a friend who has 40 K members in their Facebook groups for nails. And she started a nail brand and it's just no ads just purely running it through that group.
So I, I, I know that is successful, but I think the way that you took it, a step beyond that with the password protective pages, with like the SMS launches, that makes a lot of sense, cuz people don't really see what's going on on Facebook feeds anymore. The algorithm kind of dictates what they see, especially in groups too.
So I like that the pairing, the SMS and the groups, um, you know, on the topic of community, you can't just make a group and expect people to come in. There has to be something for 'em to come back into. So I wanna ask you, like for your group, what is that thing that makes people want to come back to check the group?
Yeah,totally. So there's, there's a couple of different ways that you can build communities. Right. And I absolutely love building communities. There are there now let, let's talk about some of the different levels of community, right? So there's your VIP group. Um, which, which I really think is, is an essential ingredient to any successful e-commerce brand right now, if you don't have a community right now, you are probably struggling.
Um, now the definition of a community is that they actually need to be able to talk in amongst each other, your email list, your one to many that is not your community, right? That is not your community. They don't get to talk to each other. Your SMS list is not your community, right. They don't get to talk to each other.
So a Facebook group is a great introductory community. Now, I also believe that there are other even bigger communities out there. So we have another brand, down out of Mesa, Arizona called Keep Nature Wild that we own, and Keep Nature Wild has what I like to call a super VIP community. Now at Keep Nature Wild, we pick up a pound of trash for every item that we sell.
But we don't do it ourselves. We have a community who goes out and does it that we motivate and we give all sorts of great perks to, and they get to have their own community and that's housed on Slack. So that's that I call it like a super VIP community. And then even beyond that, we have our ambassador community.
Right. And these are our ranting and raving fans who will share anything that we do. And we incentivize them and we use Dovetail these days, especially since it's free now, through Shopify.
. Yep. That's the like super, super VIP community. So there's those different sort of levels of community. Jason, I'm trying to remember what your exact first question was.
Oh, just like, you know, for, for community, there has to be something that draws 'em back. Like there's there has to be a mission, right? Like I am in these groups for Facebook on like a specific credit card that I use and like all the privileges and perks that you get with this credit card that you, that you can get.
And all these groups are talking about, like how to hack for more points, how to get into these challenges. Yeah. So there's a point to, to bring them back and then there's like groups for like moms. To talk about how to do parenting. So I'm wondering, like for brands there's only so much we can do, how do you keep a group alive and keep people coming back again and again?
Totally, totally such, such a good question. So first of all, making sure that you actually know who your audience is, right? So there's a again. And I realize what that massive rant that I went on before. Why I was talking about that because it's two different kinds of communities, right? Right.
Not just VIP and super VIP. That's, that's not really the, the point of what I was trying to say before. Um, what I, what I'm trying to get into is there are some brands that are just so powerful and have such good, quality. Um, items like our Kindred brands. There's four brands underneath there, Little & Lively is one of them that people literally just like to be there because they love the brand so much.
Right. Right. So the 11,000 people, it's not massive our, the VIP community on Facebook, but the 11,000 people in there absolutely love our brand and they are centered around our brand. Now all of that being said, we are talking to the ideal avatar all the time. We're running contests for the ideal avatar for us, we call them hipster, Christian moms.
Um, that's sort of the, the, the, the persona that, that we've given to our ideal customer who comes in, um, Christian being, because we, we are in a, a community that has 150 churches. It's the most in Canada. Um, and so it was just sort of like one of the, one of the kind of fun ways that we used to describe our customers, over on that side.
Right. Um, and so we make sure that we're always talking to them about what they want to hear about, especially in parenting. It's not a parenting group though. This, this community is built around the brand. Right. So that's one way to do it. Now at Keep Nature Wild , that's totally different kind of community.
That community is built, not around the brand. That community is built around picking up trash in the outdoors, right. And how much trash people can pick up and all of that, that is the community that we've built over there, which is totally different. It's not really brand oriented, but the brand gets the halo effect of that community.
That makes total sense. And, you know, community has been something that I've been screaming on top of my lung for brands to do. Um, and unfortunately I think for some brands it's kind of hard to do it for some it's better. I think, as you get into the older audience, there are specific places that's just better for conversations that happen like Facebook, for example, Um, for our brand, I I'm in beauty so a lot of our products are catered towards 18 to 26, who aren't really on Facebook anymore. And so now I'm like, okay, where do we go? And two years ago we started building on Discord, which is like Slack, but for gaming. And it's a lot of younger people on there and it's been great. Because you can literally see conversations happen, friendships happen.
And when people see-
isn't that the best, Jason,
it's great. It's great. You're literally seeing people love your baby. You know, like people talking about, so they love this thing and we actually opened the form up for like feedback, like constructive feedback. Tell us what we could be doing better. And we started using this community for product development purposes.
Um, and so we actually have a little group, um, like of 15/20 people that we get and, you know, migrate from the larger groups because it's very secret stuff that we're we're building. Yeah. And they're now helping us with the prototyping they're helping us with making UGCs. So when we launch a product, it's not zero review and no UGCs, there's a bunch of UGCs that we can use in ads immediately from our product type group.
And we have like 15 reviews from the people who tested our product before we launched it. Wow. So, you know, that's like another step that we can add on to it. Um, but I love what you've done on the gated launch stuff. Can you walk me through the step by step process for it? Like, you know, you don't have to get very granular, but like, let's just say you have a new product.
How far ahead do you start planning out the, the gated launch? Um, how long do you run the gated launch for, is it just 24 hours? What are the, you know, the steps that you do in between like the SMS launch? When do you do the Facebook post? Just walk me through it so I can kind of understand the entire process.
Yeah, absolutely. So here's one thing that I think a lot of people that are, especially if they're in the product launch game run into and that's cannibalization. Of sales today. Right? Right. So if you're launching something new, it's kind of hard to be like, oh, okay, Hey, in a month we're gonna be launching this, but, but buy our stuff now, cuz we actually need sales right now, you know?
Yeah. So, so what we like to do is about, for, for massive launches, we like to do anywhere between a week and two weeks. And I actually have a whole checklist that we use for these gated launches, which is really helpful to be able to actually see like, okay, how are we gonna actually set this up?
Yeah. So we go anywhere from a week to two weeks, kind of, depending on what the launch is and we let people know, Hey, we're gonna be launching at this time. Now, this is where we start to build those lists insanely well, right. We let them know, Hey, there is going to be this amount of time of early access.
Now we've done early access from, you know, we recently did an hour early access for a huge promo that we did, that was more of a sale promo. Um, that was only one hour early access we did about 50,000 in the first hour. Um, for me, I was super happy with how that, little hour launch went.
For bigger launches sometimes we'll actually do an entire 24 hours. Um, reason being that we can actually get a lot more people onto our lists during that time, because they come to a landing page and they're like, oh, I can't get in. I have to enter this to get in. Um, and it's a really good way to be able to actually get a lot of that contact information.
Um, I love that idea. Um, I actually saw a website the other day that was fully gated all the time. Um, and love that. I wish I remember what, what it was, but the only way that you could go in is giving your phone number and your email address. That's the only way to access the site. Um, another interesting sort of way to, to gate things.
So, SMS goes out right at the time. So let's say that we're launching at 10:00 AM Pacific, right at 10:00 AM. They, we are launching with a link, with just a little idea. I always like to make sure to keep our SMSs, at all of our brands, just at one SMS I don't like using MMS. For people who are, you know, testing we have tested extensively with images versus. The short, punchy texts always win every single time, hands down. We've we've inadvertently. I have a new marketing manager who is, who is just testing out some, some new stuff. And, and I didn't let them know, Hey, we've tested this a million times. Don't send the images.
Right. As soon as they send images, it's like no response. Right. Um, it gets, it gets caught up, especially in Canada. A lot of times it gets caught up in the spam filters. Oh. Um, for carriers. So we send the SMS right at 10 o'clock with the, with the password. The site at this point is completely password protected and people enter the password to get onto the site at, at that time.
And then generally either an hour or two hours later, that's when we're gonna actually open up the site to the general public.
I wish the Shopify password protected site will let you, um, add like an extra few and be like, don't know where the password is? Text us to get it.
So, we've added that.
You did no way.
Yes. Through, through custom coding, we, we were able to add that because gated launches is such a part of, um, our, and so every single brand that we have, we do this exact same thing.
I've been looking for that, like, there's, I've been looking for a better gated launch website. I've been thinking about how, like these SaaS tools are doing like wait list launches, like before they launch, if you wanna join a beta, share this website with five friends, and if they all signed up, then we'll move you up the wait list.
And I, I forgot what website did this. I know Superhuman, the email app did this for a little bit and I'm like, fuck, I, I hear everyone talking about it. I want, I want this. I will invite five friends or, um, there's this dating app called Raya where you have to get referrals to even be on the app. And I have a friend who was on the wait list for five years.
And it's just like this FOMO
Well, club Clubhouse did such a good job at this. Jason remembering like, yes, Clubhouse is dead basically, but man, did they ever do a good job of getting that, that FOMO? Like I was like, how in the world do I get an invite to Clubhouse? I want to be on Clubhouse. Why is everybody else on and I'm not on?
Yeah. So like, I'm, I'm constantly thinking about like, how do I draw inspiration from these companies into the product side? You know, it's not gonna be in the same effect, but at least it's a lot better than whatever we have right now. And I, like you said, it's gotta be a lot custom coding. Um, now that I know it's possible, I'm gonna go try that out myself too.
I've been looking for it like something so simple where you can just click and copy a link and just send it to your friends. If they like join in, you get a code, like something along those lines. I just wish someone will make it. So if any app developers listen to this podcast, hit us up. We'll give you a lot of ideas and I'm sure we wouldn't mind a little piece of the cake too, right?
Alright. . So after you sent out the text, do you all do an email?
So email comes just for regular subscribers. So that will come at the time that we actually open up the website. Um, so we send some pre emails to get people onto the SMS list and the VIP group beforehand letting them know like, Hey, early access is gonna be starting at this time.
We generally sell out of sort of the best sizes or the most popular sizes. You may want to sign up for this. Um, that's the pre email that we send. And then on the day of we send to our entire list at the time the website's actually open.
And how long do you keep a gate?
So again, anywhere from between one hour to two hours, sometimes every once in a while, we'll do a whole 24 hours.
Um, but that's, we've, we're kind of in testing mode always.
And when you do that gated item, do you, um, do you like, just not tell the password to anyone else except for that one channel? Like you don't be like, you could find it on channel one and channel two? or do you just say only when you go into this channel, will you get the password?
Exactly. Exactly. We make sure. So it's only on SMS or, if, if we're doing it to our Slack group, again, it'll be like in the general channel. Um, and we'll make sure that people know there. Um, but that, yeah, that's, that's it that's the only place that they can get the password.
Got it. One thing that we did that was interesting was we.
We did an artificial stockout where we did a gated launch, and then we just stock out one of the item that was not stockout. So it looked sold out when it launched to the public. And then we start seeing people postings about, gosh, I wish I got into the, the wait list. I wish I got into like the, the gated password stuff.
And so like doing this a couple more times, you start building this hype that it will sell out. If you don't join the list and it actually made people more motivated to join it next time. So sometimes you just kind of have to like artificially sell out like that. I, I see a lot of clothing brands do that to generate hype, especially collectables.
So I got a lot of ideas from those companies.
Absolutely. I mean, that's, that's totally like as such, I, I, I like that as a marketing tactic. Um, I think that people, FOMO is just something, um, that I think is okay to play on. Like, it, it, it totally works.
Yeah. It's just marketing.
Yeah. All right.
So after you built all these brands done all these launches, let's go into like reflection. I, I always like to ask this question. It's. What have you really learned that one thing that really stuck with you after doing all these incredible things?
That I don't know anything. That's the, the, the real thing about all of this is that like, you know, every once in a while people, well, not every once in a while, daily people will come to me for advice on things.
And I'm like, Yeah. Like I'm actually just building stuff just like you are right now. Like, and, and I imagine I'm we're doing fundraising right now at a couple of our companies. Yeah. Something that I have never done before I am so new to all of this. We've always bootstrapped all of our companies to where, where we're at right now.
And I realize I'm like, oh my gosh, I don't know anything. And, and then it's interesting because you start to talk to these investors and I've been an investor for a long time, and I kind of realized that they don't know anything either. . Right. Like, we're all learning this together. Like yeah. You know, you could go to like the top CEO of like, you know, a multi-billion dollar clothing company and we're all kind of just learning together.
Right. Like I think the biggest thing that I've learned is like not to fake it. Right. Just be like, oh yeah, I actually don't know what I'm doing here. Like, I need experts, in my corner. That is probably the biggest thing. And then team right. Having the best team. And the best teams ever, um, at all of our companies, that is what allows us to actually scale
I'm so with you on that, I, that's a realization that I had in the past few years too, you know, I started when I was 16. So when you give a 16 year old a lot of money and, and you know, a business, there's definitely a certain level of ego that comes out of it. It's like, yeah, I'm young, I've done all these things.
I feel like I know everything. And as I got older and I started getting into like bigger rooms with bigger Titans I'm like, shit, I don't know anything or I know enough. Or, or, or like I started looking back at like things that work for me. It's like, I knew enough to get through and there is great timing, great doors that was just there.
And I just happened a take it, but it wasn't that anything like innately brilliant about me that made me succeed in certain things. I was just so, just so happy to take that opportunity or I knew enough to get, get through it and then it just worked. and, and then like, I started thinking about like, oh my God, there everything's changing at all times. Something new pops up every single day. It's impossible for me to be an expert. And, and so I started like, I just left the expert seat, the whole expert title. Yeah. Getting four years ago. And I'm like, I'm gonna be in the learner's seat. Whenever someone, whenever someone asks me something, I'll tell 'em what I did.
Why I think it worked, but I'll tell 'em, that's not always how it works. Because when you start giving a definitive answer, assuming that this is the exact way for why things should be done or how it should be done. You, you put yourself in a very difficult position. And that's not the seat that I wanna be in anymore because the truth is, I don't know shit and yeah.
And I felt that I succeed a lot faster and better when I'm in a position where I don't know anything because I start learning a lot.
Yeah, well, and Jason people then actually wanna work with you. Oh right. People don't wanna work with assholes. They don't wanna work with know-it-alls. Um, I don't ever hire those people.
Right. The people who, who are, it's actually funny. We were talking at one of our companies yesterday about the, kind of the hire mistakes that we've made in the past couple of years, just to, to, to learn from it. And every single time it was ego. That was the, the number one thing. It was like, oh yeah, these big ego guys who actually are pretty dang good performers.
Those are the ones that we always had issues with in the end. And it's so hard. So that, that whole humility piece is absolutely massive. Jason, thanks for sharing
Oh no, you, you have to, um, you know, especially as a CEO, a lot of people look at you for the final decision. And you do have to make the final call.
Um, but at the end of the day, like it's very important for you to be transparent with your team and be like, Hey, a lot of things that I will tell you are not directives. They're, you know, advice. There are things that I think might work, but I want you to tell me when I'm wrong. And, and that's the first thing I tell to anyone I hire is tell me when I'm wrong.
I will never get upset at you. You'll never be penalized for. I'll actually be very happy if your reasoning is good and you can prove me wrong because I am not the smartest guy in the room. If I am, then I'm obviously very bad at hiring because my job is to hire people smarter than
Yes. Great point, Jason
Jordan, thank you so much for coming on a show and telling us about the gated purchase experience, the whole pre-launch thing, something that I have done in the past, but you definitely took it up to the next level. So it was great learning from you. I know you also have your own show.. Um, and you obviously have your own sites, where can we find you in if people wanna contact you?
absolutely. So, our podcast is Secrets to Scaling Your E-Commerce Brand. Um, come check us out. We do tactical episodes. I do a lot of interviews, like this one as well, um, with sort of eight figure and above, e-commerce store owners and brand owners in the space. Um, so that's Secrets to Scaling Your E-Commerce Brand.
And then the other great place to connect with me is on LinkedIn. Um, I am very active on LinkedIn, generally posting two or three times a day. What we're learning. Um, it's kind of the, the place that I try to disseminate, whatever sort of knowledge or something that I've gained throughout the day, will happen there on LinkedIn.
And then, um, we also do this stuff, for brands, and that's at upgrowthcommerce.com um, so feel free to reach out to us there. We love building, helping people build communities and build sustainable
you've done it over and over again. So clearly it's working well, guys, we'll link it up in a description and Jordan, thank you so much for coming on again.
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