Welcome back to the Ecommerce Marketing Podcast. Everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Jordan West, who Is A Multi-brand and agency owner who loves growing brands and seeing founders thrive! Welcome to the podcast.
Jordan Arlen, thanks so much for having me. You have a great radio voice, by the way.
Thanks a lot.
It’s just so natural and, yeah, it’s great. So thanks for having me.
No problem. I appreciate that compliment on the radio voice. I’ve heard that before. I believe me, it’s not all me. I get that from my dad. My dad has a very deep baritone voice. People have always told him he should have done voiceover work. He never did. But he was an English Professor, also was in the theater arts. He produced plays, and I was in that arena. So I get that from him. Somebody. I appreciate it. Yeah. Maybe in another life, I’ll have to explore that. You never know.
Yes, you definitely should.
Yeah, I definitely will see what happens. Well, great. Well, you know, I’m definitely excited to talk to you. Today’s topic is something I never really got into before in this podcast. I’m super excited to talk about it. We’re gonna be talking about a gated launch, the gated launch method, and really what that is and how any Holy be successful with it. So super excited to get into that and dive deep. But before we do get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and specifically how you did get in what you’re doing today?
Yeah, totally. It was either 22 or 23 years old. I should really actually nail down when that was, I decided to buy a Mexican chain restaurant. So the name was Taco Omar. I found out that they were for sale. This one particular store. There was actually a few of them for sale. I’m like, what’s going on, and it seems so cheap. I think I ended up buying it for, like, $35,000, and I was like, oh, what’s the worst thing that can happen, right? Like, I lose $35,000.
I mean, at 22 or 23, that was a lot of money, right?
But I was like.
You know, this would be a good learning learning experience. I mean, it ended up being probably closer to about 150,000 that I lost in about five years of my time trying to run the store, trying to make money. We ended up tripling the sales throughout that. And that was the one thing I was really good at was pushing sales. I’m like, okay, I think I get this whole marketing thing. Facebook was just starting to introduce some of their marketing. So we started to use Facebook a little bit.
And then in there, we had our first child, my wife and I okay. My wife is a fashion designer. And so she realized that there was a need for leggings that went over top of cloth diapers. So we were trying cloth. I bring with her first child. And she’s like, oh, I just can’t find anything that really fits. So she created she just took a pattern, made it a little bit different, and people love them. They’re like, Can I buy some of these? And then we went to market, and we ended up starting on Etsy.
And we got our first wholesale order and then fast forward. Now, that brand is now actually three brands. And we’ll probably be close to eight figures this year in sales. And then from there, we just started to acquire other brands and continue to grow that way. And then in the midst of all of that, the one thing that I was really good at was the marketing side again. So people started to come to meet for marketing advice, and we ended up starting an agency. So that was about three years ago now, and we’ve grown that into a pretty substantial business in itself.
Yeah. So that’s sort of where we’re at right now continually. I think I’ve got two or three pretty serious acquisition conversations going on right now. Okay. So, yeah, that’s sort of where I’m at right now.
Okay. Great. Sounds good. That’s quite a history there. It seems like that takes a lot to dive deep into the restaurant business. It’s such a young age. You mentioned purchasing the next restaurant. It seems like you were all in at that point. I’ve heard a lot about restaurants and what it takes to manage them and grow them. And I think you probably learned from school of hard knocks going through that experience as far as what it took to market the business, sell and keep it going for it.
You said you had that going for about six years. Yeah.
I think it was about five years that I was in there. And it’s really interesting, right? Because you learn a lot of things. That what you’re good at. What you’re not good at for me. Terrible operations. I can’t be that operational person if I did, I just would never succeed in anything. So finding that out early was a good thing. It was definitely worth all of that learning, even $150,000. It’s an expensive MBA, right. But it’s one that I have now. Yeah.
Yeah. Definitely. That’s a great way to look at it. It really was like a real world NBA experience rather than going to school. I mean, you learned with boots on the ground, and that’s really the best way to learn, no matter what it is you’re doing. So absolutely great to hear that. Well, you know, as I’m interested at the top of the episode, of course, today we’re gonna be talking about the gated launch method. And so your listeners may not really be familiar with that. So why don’t you tell us exactly what that is?
Totally. So before I talk about the gated launch method, what I want to talk about is what you need to have before you try the gated launch method. So first of all, the two big things that I am harping on the big time into 21 right now are SMS list. So text message list and VIP groups. So let’s start with VIP groups first, right. Vip groups are incredible, because what they do is they aggregate your best customers. I’m sure that most people who are listening to this kind of know the levels of traffic.
So level one are people who have never heard about you before. Level two are people who have engaged with your brand in some sort of way. Level three, they’ve actually looked at a product. Level four, they’ve added to cart in some way, and then level five or people who have actually made their first purchase. Well, it goes way beyond that afterwards. Right? There’s. Level six, seven, eight. What we’re really looking for those six, seven and eight people.
Those people who are going to become brand advocates, right. They’re going to actually do the customer service for you. And the way that you get them to do that is aggregate them in a group where they can talk amongst each other. Right. So that’s why I love VIP groups so much. So we have our VIP groups on Facebook just because the algorithm is very kind to Facebook groups right now, especially if you have an active Facebook group. And it has been for years now. It’s been very kind to those groups.
So we aggregate people in that group and then give them special privileges to be in that group. The real key to all of this success. We tried the gated launch, and I’ll explain the gated launch in a minute. We tried it before. We actually had an SMS list, and it was okay. But really, what ended up happening and really leading to a lot of successes when we paired the gated launch, our VIP group alongside of our SMS list and treated them both like VIPs. That’s when things really went crazy.
So let me walk you through exactly what a gated launch looks like. So first of all, we go to our website and twelve to 24 hours before we actually password protect the site and let people know. So two weeks before we’re letting people know, hey, we’re going to be doing this big launch. We’re going to be either having a sale, we’re going to be doing a lunch. So the one in particular that I’ll talk about was one that we did in 24 hours. We did $250,000 of sales with no discounts.
There’s no ads, nothing like that. So it was really like an incredible launch in that 24 hours. So, you know, two weeks before we’re letting people know, like, hey, this is what we’re releasing. We’re showing them a lookbook of everything. And then twelve to 24 hours before we end up password protecting the site, let people know if you want early access, you need to join this group or join our SMS list. So we get tons of sign up throughout that. Then at 10:00 a.m. Pacific, we end up releasing the password.
So 2 hours before everybody else gets access. And it was absolute mayhem on this one. I started to look at Google Analytics, and it was like 500 people on the site, 1000 people on the site, 30, 00, 40, 00 people on the site. And it’s just absolutely crazy in that 1st 2 hours while the site was dated, we did 120,000 in sales.
And this is no discounts, right? This is no sale. This is just releasing new product. So really, absolutely incredible. There’s a lot of psychology that goes behind this, too, right. Entering that password is that little micro commitment that you’re making when you’re getting into the site. And I think that that’s really important. There’s a huge part of that rather than just telling them, hey, there’s early access. We’re actually password protecting the site, so they know nobody else can get in it’s. Only them who have the password, who can actually get into the site.
So it really gives them that sort of VIP experience.
Gotcha gotcha. Yeah, really interesting. What I’ve seen from everything that you’re telling me that is it. I think it really, really is a whole psychology behind it because it’s makes whatever it is that you’re offering more just of an exclusive offering. And, you know, it’s something that only a certain amount of people can get. You know, these days, everybody wants to be a VIP. Everybody wants exclusive access. Everybody wants to get a little bit extra a little bit more than the next person. I think that goes a lot into why you were so successful and why a lot of brands are successful doing this particular type of method.
Now, you mentioned using Facebook groups and groups where you created the actual kind of VIP area. Why is it that you mentioned that you really love Facebook with it and our algorithms work well with it. Why is it that Facebook has such a platform where the facilitation of these groups is so good now? And is there any other options outside of Facebook that you would recommend?
There’s lots of other options. So you’ve got slack. You’ve got discord anywhere where you can aggregate people together. Right. The reason why I love Facebook is because everybody goes on to Facebook every day, right. Where people don’t necessarily. Unless you’re in the business world, you don’t necessarily go check slack every day. Right. Like I do, obviously, like, I have slack groups that I’m a part of, but not everybody does that. Right. And customers don’t necessarily go check slack where they do for Facebook. It’s just a great way.
And Facebook, I mean, seeing some of the recent updates, they’re really trying to push groups even more. So they’re trying to have groups even off of Facebook. I saw this recent interesting update that they’re trying to aggregate and be able to host a group not necessarily just on Facebook, but off of Facebook using Facebook’s platform. So to me that’s the win right there is still using their platform. Yes. The argument is like, well, you’re kind of renting that space there, right.
It’s not even rented because you’re not paying for it at all Besides your Advertisement. But I still prefer that over a slack group, which would be a little bit more owned.
Gotcha. Yeah, it makes sense. And I’ve had experiences with both the Facebook groups and the slack groups, and I think the win with the Facebook is you already have people’s attention is already going to be there. People go there. They’re frequently checking their timelines. They’re already kind of in other communities there, and it’s totally a little bit easier to participate with slack. It’s definitely doable. I’ve been in some successful slack groups, but it requires a little bit more of a buy in a little bit of things that you got to do to get to it in order to communicate with the people that are in the group.
So yeah, definitely. See how both of those are viable options as far as creating this whole exclusive community. Now, I know one of the questions that a lot of our ecommerce listeners, the business owners and marketers are wondering is okay. You mentioned it for the example that you gave and the businesses that you’ve had experience with is this gated method, something that literally any ecommerce brand can take advantage of and get value from it. What is your take on that?
No, I don’t think that it is. I don’t think that it works for people who don’t have a brand, right. If you don’t have a brand at a loyal following, you’re not going to be able to do that. Right. If you’re just trying to drive, you know, cold traffic from Facebook to make a buck, this is not for you, right. If you have a brand and a loyal following. Right. But if you’re just selling products or drop shipping and that sort of thing, I don’t think that this is the kind of method for you necessarily.
You really need to commit to brand and commit to people actually loving what you do. So that whatever you put out, they’re going to buy because they trust you that much. So you need to really build that like we call it with our kids, like we call it the trust tower. Right. You’ve got to build that trust tower up with with your customers. So if you haven’t done that, this method will not work. You might get, like, a little bump. Maybe you’ll get, like, $5,000 in sales or something.
Maybe its not going to do the kind of numbers that we’re talking about here. And it’s not going to have that same sort of VIP effect.
Gotcha gotcha. So if you’re let’s say a startup brand fresh out of the gate, no pun intended and you have no customers, no following, this really wouldn’t be the move for you as far as using this kind of method, because you have no community. Really totally.
So I would start with building the community and building your SMS list once you have that to, like, say, a thousand people in each of those lists go for it. Right. People are joining your community and your community is working really well. Somebody in my mastermind yesterday was saying they just started their community about a week ago and they already have 400 people in there. And for him, that’s awesome. They’re totally going to be able to do a gated launch at some point here pretty quick. And their community is really, really active right now.
And so that’s really where you’re trying to set this foundation in the community.
Yeah. That’s really, really important.
Gotcha gotcha. Now one of the things because, of course, you mentioned the popularity of all of these groups. We have the Facebook groups, the flag groups. There’s all of these different communities online, especially nowadays, more than ever. There’s so many virtual communities that people can participate in. And so naturally, with all of these options out there, people’s attention, you know, can be somewhat scattered spread between a lot of other things that they’re looking at that they’re participating in. We have these communities and you’re preparing a gated launch.
How do you I guess you could say, rally the troops prior to this particular Lodge, and how do you start owning in on them, getting their attention, increasing the engagement. What are some specific tactics to do that totally.
So through all channels that you have with your customers, I recommend telling them about this launch. Right. So email SMS, your Instagram pages, your Facebook pages, let your customers know that you’re going to be doing this and that they have an opportunity to join and then also within the VIP group. Right. So something that’s worked well for years. And I don’t anticipate not working well anytime soon is running contests before. So running a contest, running contest to get the word out that you’re going to be doing this anytime you run a contest, you’re going to get a lot more reach.
So running a contest specifically on Instagram is probably a great idea within your Facebook VIP group as well. Running a contest. There’s some really cool ways that you can get people to check their email as well. Right. You get that email open rate up using your Facebook VIP group and pushing them over into email as well. So really just cross pollinating all of those places that your customers hang out.
Okay. Got you. Yeah. That’s what I’ve seen. A lot of other brands do participate in a lot of different online course groups and get some education from different online courses. And they follow that methodology when they’re about to launch something exclusive. I see that they hit it out on all of their channels. They create an anticipation and there’s a buildup in to it. And then that really kind of gets people’s attention. And so all channel, even if you have your podcast, it’s also a great way to get the word out and build an anticipation for that.
Of course, you were very successful with the various David launches that you did. And I know you learned a lot of lessons, but from the things that you did, what I guess what are a couple of things mistakes that you’ve made when doing one that, you know, you know, you definitely would never do again. But you really learned a lot from that particular mistake in gated launches, particularly, right?
Yeah. So that’s a great question. I think the biggest mistake that we’ve made is not telling people enough about it before just expecting that we do a quick launch and gate it and that our customers are just going to show up. Right. People need that anticipation. So we’ve had a few flops where we didn’t properly let people know weeks in advance that we’re going to be doing this. And that was because we didn’t want to cannibalize sales before. Right.
So I don’t recommend necessarily doing it for a sale. I don’t think that always works the best way. I recommend doing it for new product launches, for sure. New line launches. All of that works really, really well. But for sales, it doesn’t necessarily work the same way unless you are okay with cannibalizing your sales.
I see. I see.
That’s a great advice, because that’s one of the things. Actually, I was wondering, I don’t know if I’ve seen many cases of that where somebody does kind of a launch or a case for a particular sale. Or I know one of the big things these days, an ecommerce businesses is these bundles where ecommerce businesses are selling a particular product or is in service, will bundle products together, sell it at an exclusive price and maybe include kind of a bonus item. It’s something like that worth doing a gated launch for you.
It’s the same products, but they’re just bundled, and maybe you do some special add on to it. Would that be effective?
Totally. I would definitely do that. And in fact, we’re going to be launching something like that next week. We will do a gated launch for it. To absolutely love the bundle idea. There’s so much that you can do with those bundles, right. That network. So. Well. So, yes, I definitely recommend doing a gated launch for bundles for sure.
Okay. That sounds good. Now it’s scary to wrap things up. I’m always looking for getting examples of other companies that are successful and specific methods. So what are some other companies that you’re familiar with that you’ve dealt with or just in general, that have launched some products using the gated launch method. And what specifically did they do to be successful? Yeah.
I mean, honestly, I haven’t seen many people doing it yet. So I’ve been talking about it for a while now. Interestingly on the Shopify. Plus community, people are asking about it, and I think that they’ve heard the sort of success that we’ve had with these launches. I got the idea from a book called Contagious by Jonah Berger. Awesome book. I got the idea because a fashion brand really struggling fashion brand years ago, they just were not getting enough sales or conversion rate was really low. So what they decided to do is instead of continuing to sell the normal way, they just password protected their site at all times.
And then Friday at 09:00 a.m. They would release the password and people would come and they’d end up selling out of everything. And it was all the same product. It was the exact same product. It was just it put that FOMO in there. And I put those ideas so great book, if you guys want to read Contagious by Jonah Berger, really good example in there of people who have done it. And that’s where I got the idea from.
Okay. Gotcha. Yeah. It’s very interesting. So you said they they password protected their site just from day one and then just creating the anticipation. The whole thing was always just going to be something exclusive. And you have to sign up. You got to be part of the community. You gotta get accident in order to get access.
Very interesting. Yeah. It’s definitely a different model. And I guess you could say that you are going that route. You are taking somewhat of a gamble, though, on it because you are gambling a little bit on the fact that you are going to get enough deal to see the value in it and to want to participate in this kind of take that little extra step to be part of the community, sign up whatever they have to do to be part of that group. You know, rather than opening it up to the whole world and just try to drive sales and traffic the traditional routes.
So definitely there’s a bit of a gamble there. Totally.
And we do both. Right. I think that the way that they’re doing it is scary, but has seemed to work, right? Yeah. That’s all I gotta say about that.
Right. Gotcha gotcha. Yeah.
Whatever works, you know, and it’s the type of thing where you can try things and, you know, you can definitely pivot. It’s just the only issue with going that route is if they were to fail initially with it. I don’t know. It’s just sometimes it can be hard to recover from something like that, especially if you’ve kind of already gotten your brand out there a little bit. You launched it as an exclusive, and then you totally pivot from that. Then I always wonder doing a big pivot like that with the way that you are getting your brand out there.
Does that kind of paint your brand in the eyes of the consumer a little bit, especially those that are a little bit more savvy. So that’s a good question.
I don’t know.
Yeah. Yeah. So I guess that’s just a risk you have to take. But from the most part, it seems like going this route. You can definitely be successful with it for sure. Yeah. Well, it’s definitely awesome talking to you, Jordan. I’ve learned a ton about this. Like you said, there’s not enough brands using this specific gated launch method, but I think we’re all gonna start seeing a lot more businesses doing it. As you mentioned, Facebook is definitely a great platform for creating an exclusive group of VIP group.
And of course, it’s free. And it seems like from what you’re saying, they’re doing a lot of things to even make it available, not even within their platform. That speaks volumes to what they’re banking on you. They know that this is something that can be huge in the near future for sure. So it is great to know things like that. Well, yeah. Last thing before we let you go, I’m always interested to pick my guests brain a little bit about something where we can kind of switch gears.
And if you don’t mind enlightening us on one closing, fun fact about yourself that you think our listeners would be interested to know about you? Sure.
Sure. So I was up until March 3. I was a paramedic for twelve years. So throughout all business, I also did that.
I finally got to the point where I’d gone down to casual for a long time, and it got to the point during COVID where I was like, no, no, I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. I can’t dress in all of the PPE and and all of that and be yelled at and peed on and on. I put in my time. Okay.
Gotcha. Wow. That is impressive. Man. So you said for about twelve years, up until this past March, you were paramedic on the side, aside from your various ecommerce ventures, man, when did you sleep? That’s the question. Yeah.
I mean, there was times like, especially when we own a restaurant. I was full time as the paramedics, so I’d work a night shift and we were out all night. Right.
It’d be done. The shift at 06:00 a.m.. And then I’d go into the restaurant and help them prep.
I I yeah, that’s brutal, man. That’s off to you, though, man. That you’re a better man than I could be, for sure. I don’t know how you can do it, but, yeah, that’s definitely admirable. I think paramedics and people in that emergency trauma care don’t really get enough credit it’s. I mean, their front line. You guys are front line, and you deal with so much. I think it’s a lot more. I’m sure you can testify that the fact that it’s a lot more than medical assistance that you’re providing.
I’m sure. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve seen it all. I’m sure. You know, you’ve probably been a social worker. I’m sure, you know.
Yeah. That’s the main part of the job. It is social work.
That’s what I figured. Yeah, that’s what I’ve seen. Just something from looking outside in that’s.
Well, I appreciate you sharing that, Jordan, and I guess you can get a little bit of rest now. And the focus just entitled in your ecommerce ventures now. So. Yeah, that’s great. You sharing that. But lastly, of course, if any of our listeners want to get a hold of you and pick your brain anymore about this gated launch method, what is the best way for them to reach you?
Absolutely. So just reach out to me on LinkedIn. So if you just search Jordan West marketer, that’s where you can find me on LinkedIn. And then also, you can get a hold of us at our agency at Mindful Marketing Co. So that’s a good place to contact us. And if you want to learn more about how we do gated launches and how we do that for clients, that’s the perfect place to go.
All right. That’s awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that, Jordan. I definitely encourage our listeners to get a hold of you. Take a look at your site, your brand, and see how you know you guys can help them out. Well, thanks again for joining the day, Jordan, on the Ecommerce Marketing podcast.
Thanks for having me
Founder and CEO of Mindful Marketing