The eCommerce Marketing Podcast walks you through everything that goes into ecommerce marketing — from inbound marketing to paid advertising to conversions. Learn the strategies top marketing experts use to grow their businesses.
Marketing Strategies Revealed in this Episode:
Welcome back to the e-commerce marketing podcast everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest with us Michael Jamin who is the co-founder and co-owner and director of granting wishes of twirly girl a unique line. Twirly dresses for girls. He’s also a professional TV writer having written on King of the Hill Wilfred Beavis and Butthead just shoot me Rules of Engagement.
Meirin Brickleberry Lopez and many others shows. He applied his knowledge of Storytelling to turn twirly girl into a multimillion-dollar brand twirly gold can be found at twirly girls shop. Welcome to the podcast Michael. Hey, thank you Alan pleasure. Yeah, not a problem that you’ve got. Impressive resume their you really done a lot as far as uh, you’re writing roles.
Yeah. Thank you. I’ve had a fortune to have a good career a long career. Yeah, that’s that’s awesome. Well today, of course, we’re going to be talking about using storytelling to help build your brand. But you know before we get into all of that, why don’t you tell our audience a little bit about your background and how you got into what you’re doing today?
Right? So I um, I’m a TV writer. I’ve been writing TV since I’d like 96 I think on a bunch of different shows. That you know listed and many other ones. I don’t want to tell you about not too many. I’ve had just a couple of stinkers. Those are mostly money grabs on my god. Dude. Got to do what you got to do right here.
You got to do. Yep, but about 10 years ago. My wife decided that she was going to make she wanted to make a very special gift for our daughter. So she created these reversible twirly dresses and they were really high quality and we live in LA near the Fashion District. So she’s able to use really good fabrics and construction technique was.
Very labor-intensive but it was a special gift. So really was you know, no expense was spared. So she made these dresses for our daughters. They love them. They warmed to school and the next thing you know, all the other moms were like, hey, can you make these for our daughters? And so a business was born, you know, my wife called the twirly girl and it wasn’t long after that that local Boutique started wanting to buy and so in the beginning my wife was just sewing them on our dining room table, but the man, you know quickly grew so fast that she found local Sowers.
And this, you know the business really took off and she put up a website and you know next thing, you know, she’s got she’s got an e-commerce store called girl. Okay, and I wanted to help her but I knew absolutely nothing about business. I mean nothing. I don’t have a background in e-commerce Fashion retail business.
Like I knew nothing and I member I bought a copy of small business for dummies. Okay. I was reading that I’m like there has got to be a an even dumber because I can’t figure any of this out. And I decided like I just you know, there’s an expression when when the only tool you have is a hammer.
Every problem looks like a nail and so I just started writing fried but what if I just start writing stuff so I would she had all these products on our site and I would write little stories to describe the products that were kind of fun and entertaining. I didn’t realize this I had no idea but that’s called branding people call it branding.
I didn’t signal but it was good for a lot of reasons. It was good for SEO because people would stay on the site longer just to read the stories and the bounce rate went down and the you know, the time on site went up and then they were also checking out other products just because they wanted to read the other stories of those products and that meant you know, and when they did that they would likely you know, Byproducts or at least see products that they weren’t even didn’t know they were interested in and so we got a lot of customer feedback from that day.
I love it. And then I started to okay, how else can I tell stories? So on our about us page on our Facebook ads like everything became an order confirmation emails everything became an opportunity to entertain right and I didn’t realize it at the time, you know, because I really like I said, I wanted to help my wife, but I didn’t realize how many skills that I had.
A TV writer and as a showrunner that were directly applicable to e-commerce. Okay, and in like now that I think about it, it’s just so obvious like as a TV writer your goal is to entice people to sample your show and then make it so entertaining that they come back next week to watch another episode.
Well, it’s the same thing with e-commerce like you want people to sample your products come to your site. If they don’t buy you want to give them a reason to come back next week maybe by next week. So it’s very applicable and it’s all about just telling a story. You can get fun and entertaining right right.
Yeah, that’s that that’s interesting and it makes total sense. But I never really thought about it that way now before we kind of get into what’s applicable for e-commerce businesses. Why don’t you define really what a story is to, you know, kind of make it plain for everyone. Right and that’s like a great question, you know in the beginning.
I was reading a lot of marketing books and they all kind of said the same thing. Tell your story, you know, because when you tell your story you’re forging an emotional connection with your customers, so they root for you and that they share your story with their friends because that’s what people do with stories they share them and and as like, okay, this is all good.
I wonder as I’m reading the book. I’m like, I wonder how they break the stories and that’s that’s a term that we use in the TV world when you break a story. It’s kind of like when you outline it, how are you going to unfold the. And unpack all the information so that you can tell it in a compelling fashion that’s called breaking a story.
And so I turned the page and all these books and no one told you how to break a story they’d say stories are important tell your story, but they don’t tell you how to tell your story sounds like I already knew but I was just curious like how they did it. So when I talk to people about this, the first thing I ask is like if you want to tell a story you have to know what a story is and you have to know how to define a story and it’s actually a hard thing to do like if I were to ask you.
You know Define a story in one sentence. I’m can you do it? Not really? Yeah, I’m thinking down but I don’t even know how I Define it. You kind of know in your gut what a story is. Yeah, but you certainly is you know, how do you how do you find if you don’t know how to define it? How could you possibly make one your you know, you’re just flying by the seat of your pants, right?
The way I’ve learned in the way I use every single time, you know, I write stories on a weekly basis because you know the shows usually, you know, every weekend put up in the show. So it’s this when I Define a story, it’s this your podcast listeners write down only one thing this whole episode.
This is what they should write down. So if they’re driving a car pull over okay, mr. Flying a plane land so a story is uh recounts the struggle of a hero. Fighting an obstacle to achieve a goal. Okay. So we’re cat story recounts The Struggle of a hero fighting an obstacle to achieve a goal. So if you can only remember three things hero obstacle goal.
Wow, right and that really makes it simple. Yeah, it’s really simple. It’s not as hard as you think it is. It’s like, you know, and so I if your visual I think of it as hero is you draw a stick figure. Imagine a stick figure at your hero man or woman. Your obstacle is a mountain. Okay, and the goal is whatever it’s a pot of gold on the other side of the mountain, right?
So an example from culture that we all know in an easy one is Jack and the Beanstalk. So who’s the hero who’s the hero in that? That’s Jack. You got it. He’s the guy that title Jack. Yeah his goal. If you remember the stories he wants the goose that lays the golden eggs, right? And what was the obstacle keeping him from that you remember I can’t recall actually.
It was the giant okay, never climbed a beanstalk and there’s a giant so to make your story more compelling you want to make like the bigger the obstacle the more compelling your stories more enticing the goal the more compelling your story. So that’s always what you want to do. When you’re telling your story inflate the obstacle inflate the goal not into a fact not into a way where it’s artificial or it’s not true.
But just highlight it and bring it out. Gotcha. Oh so in Jack and the Beanstalk, he wasn’t fighting like an angry fairy. You know a dwarf he was fighting a giant right and it wasn’t any giant. It was a mean giant who smelled the blood of Englishmen and Jack Jack was like, I’m English. I’m in trouble, right the guy wanted to buy, you know, grind his bones and soup and the goal wasn’t it wasn’t uh, the goose that laid the bronze eggs or the silver eggs.
It was the golden eggs. It was the bat mean. It’s the best you want to make the goal bigger and the obstacle bigger. Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. That’s awesome. You know one of the things that. With regards to Ecommerce businesses is you know these days when you look at all of the marketing blogs and you know, the experts out there everyone is telling you telling business owners, you know, it’s stories that cell it’s not features.
You got to have a story. Um, but I think what would really help is for any Commerce business that has really never even thought about a story and it’s just out there. It’s got products got Services is just selling the best that they can never done anything like this. How did how would you say they should start storytelling if you know if they’ve never done it before where’s a place to start?
I immediately I would start in your about us page. Okay, so I think when you you know, your goal is on twirly grow. Our goal is come to our site and by if that doesn’t happen, I want you to sign up for our email list so that hopefully you’ll by tomorrow and if that doesn’t happen, I want you to come to our about us page, so you’ll learn.
What we stand for who we are what we represent and so that you can kind of fall in love with who we are right and in the beginning I got you know in the beginning. My like I said, my wife was selling dresses on our dining room table and we put up the website and I was very I think we were both insecure about that.
We wanted to appear bigger than we were like, I didn’t know if people were going to trust her to actually, you know, make a good trip make a good dress, right? And so we did the exact wrong thing. We depersonalized our website to make a scene bigger and then. I remember I was watching TV and I saw an ad for Progressive Insurance and they have three remember flow right?
So they create a character named flow, right? So all these big giant multinational Brands they’re they’re trying to look smaller. Yeah, and we’re trying to look bigger and they know what they’re doing and I don’t know what I’m doing. Why why am I trying to do something which is you know, which they’re not doing right?
So we became very personal and you know, I think people I know people connect with that because people want to. They connect with people they connect with stories. They don’t connect with Brands. They don’t connect with corporations. There’s got to be something about that. You know, even Nike they put the Michael Jordan front, you know, you want to be like him would be like Mike so it’s about personalizing your story and I think a lot of I always check out when I’m on someone’s e-commerce site.
I always check out their about us page just to see who they are. And nine times out of ten. It’s very impersonal. You don’t know anything about the owner. I want to know about the owner. I want to know what they’re going for. Right? Right, and you’re totally right because here at army star, you know, we deal with e-commerce business day in and day out and you’re right.
I see a lot of businesses where when I I’m always curious to people’s backstory and when I go to their about pays, I’m like, okay, they start this brand and a lot of times when I go there. I’m disappointed because I’m like why I just tells me nothing about them. So, you know that I’m. Forced to you know, start doing some searches.
I’m like, okay, let me find it Facebook. Let me find out how they got going with this and then, you know at that point if I was actually interested in purchasing a product I made lose interest. I’m like, you know, I can’t really connect with them and then by then I probably come across. 510 other brands along the way then, you know if kind of diverted my path.
So yeah that really makes sense. And I think starting with that about pages is really key because I just know them for my personal experiences. I’m always going there. I’m always wondering how people got to where they were. You know where they are today and how they started the brand. So it makes perfect sense.
I totally agree and I think people neglect that because it’s not a sales page. You know, I’m not anybody but so I don’t have to tell all the time. Yeah, true true a lot of times. I think it’s an afterthought and they just kind of throw up anything just to be like a placeholder but it should be the total opposite right now.
I know of course starting with the about page is a great place to start but of course with e-commerce, you know, there’s a lot of other channels that are out there what what other e-commerce channels. Do you feel really truly Lind well to storytelling and what are some effective ways of doing it across those different channels.
Well, I think the number one plays my opinion, it’s Facebook because no one’s going on Facebook with the intent to shop they’re going to see pictures of their friends or post pictures of the omelet this morning or, you know, see a cat video they’re going to be entertained. Yep when pi, you know, but you see a lot of ads on Facebook.
But I think people you know, it’s not a selling platform and I think if you approach it as if I want to sell my products on Facebook, that’s not the right place. Yeah, but entertain make a funny commercial or talk about your brand in an entertaining way, like people want to be entertained there to you know, kill time and have a few laughs right?
It’s right because the perfect place for that to tell your story that’s that’s true. And you know, I never really thought too much about it like that because there’s these days there’s been so much emphasis on. You know Facebook ads and you see all of these stories of companies that are you know doing so much on Facebook and they’re they’re so successful with the Facebook ads but I think other businesses that here that you know, take it the wrong way.
They just say, okay. I’m just gonna create ad I’m gonna try to drive people to my website. But like you said, they lose track of the reason why people are on Facebook and like you said I go to Facebook. Most people go to Facebook to see what their friends. The way you to watch some funny cat videos or some look at some funny memes and you know kill kill kill a little bit of time during their day and that’s really what it comes down to.
So, all right, you need to fulfill that need and fulfill. The purpose of people have come to the site for so at uh makes total perfect sense now, You know with storytelling, you know, a lot of our listeners out there selling a variety of different products and services. But do you think there are certain types of e-commerce products and services that Lynn well to storytelling as opposed to others.
I think every matter what you’re selling. You should be telling your story. It doesn’t really doesn’t matter who you are. Like when you this happens, you know all the time, you know my car breaks down and I’ll post on phase, you know, I’ll post on Facebook. Hey, does anybody, you know have no mechanic right and some say oh I got a guy for you.
I got a guy everyone has a guy is to mechanic. Right? Right. And so you want to be that guy no matter what you’re selling. Yeah, and you can’t be that guy unless you’re willing to talk about who I am. You know, that’s what you want to be. So no matter what you’re selling. You’re an accountant whatever, you know insurance broker.
You’re the guy that’s running about you. Right right for sure and you know from listening to everything it really I think just comes down to you know, because I know businesses that are listening are wondering. Okay does how is this really going to make a difference and you know why it does it make a difference and that you kind of hit the nail on the head is it allows it gives people the ability to connect?
With the business and at this is why we see all of these larger Brands, you know, trying to you know, remove the whole corporate shell and put a personal face on it. All right, we seeing this time and time again and you know, I’m even thinking of the the Verizon ads of the guy who I think he switched to Sprint where he says, can you hear me now?
He was becoming the face of Horizon and I think I guess you some Sprint now, so we’re just we’re seeing so much of it these days and. I think really that’s why it makes a difference. Yeah. Now I know you mentioned of course Facebook. Is there any other types of channels outside of Facebook that you think Lynn well to storytelling that you have experience with people say Instagram, you know, they have a platform Instagram stories and stuff and so in Facebook’s experimenting with that as well, but in those are basically just pictures and I think sometimes people confuse the post a picture and say this Picture Tells a Story and like I don’t think so.
I think you’re using the word store. Wrong, like I don’t just give you an example of I saw an ad for a car head. Oh, no, I’m sorry. This is something else. This was a this was an ad was a woman on a beach and she was uh walking on the beach and she had like she’s holding like red shoes this Picture Tells a Story.
I know it does and you’re asking your viewer or your audience to create their own story, right? Like what did you know and that’s like No One’s Gonna Do that you’re you know, people are going to just gloss right past it or if they do create their own. Maybe it’s not the story you’re trying to tell maybe maybe she was just broke up with someone.
Maybe she wants to walk into the water swim away. We don’t know because you’re asking me to do all the hard work, right? And that’s the same thing with a photo I think on Instagram. It tells a story. No, you’re asking your viewer to tell a story. So that’s different. I think I really think story is about language.
It’s about hero obstacle goal and it’s about you can accompany that with photographs or video. That’s perfect. Right, but just post a photo. Say tells a story I think that’s a it’s a cop-out. Yeah, I never really thought of it that way but you’re right, you know, like with Instagram like you said the photos it’s every photos.
It’s just like Fine Art. You know anybody that looks at a at a picture is going to get have their own interpretation of what’s going on there. So if I’m looking at Mona Lisa, I’m gonna have a different feel I’m going to be thinking why she looking like that versus the way you think you’re going to be thinking.
Okay. She’s looking like this because you know, she’s had to sit to pose or. Whatever everybody has their own interpretation of and it’s you’re really asking your audience a lot to just post something with the product or your service and then, you know, leave it up to them you really the only way to really do that like you said is to define the actual story and it can be done really effectively with video and you can do that these days now, I know Instagram has recently just launched their Instagram TV, which I guess is allowing you to actually save all of these videos into a.
Kind of separate Channel, which I know is going to really open it up for businesses to be able to create more of a connection and a lot more of a lasting connection because I know what the Instagram stories, you know, those things disappear, right? So as far as quick action, I always like to ask my guest.
What do you think is one quick action that an e-commerce business can do today, you know to to start implementing storytelling, you know outside of the things that we talked about I said, I’d start with your. Page and if you don’t fancy, if you don’t consider yourself a writer, I would just record it into your phone right just as if you’re talkin to your friend your friend says hey, how did you come up with your business?
Well, 10 years ago. I was blah blah blah just write it to speak it into your phone and then play it back and then transcribe. And then let it sit for a few days and then read that your then read it and you’ll see okay. I’m getting a little repetitive here or this Parts a little boring. And then you know, they say 90% of writing is rewriting just narrow it down use fewer and fewer words and at the end of a week, you’ll have your story and put it on your about us page or where or put it in an email marketing campaign.
I see this a lot is company’s got you know, because I signed up for a lot of email campaigns, you know, I want to see what other. People how they’re doing it just out of curiosity and what I mostly see is you get one email save 10% and another one say 15, and then another one save 20% And so you’re you’re training your customer to wait for a bigger discount and you’re also telling your also telling them, you know, I’m willing to compete on price.
I’ll do whatever lower my price however far it takes to get your business and that’s a race to the bottom and you don’t want to win race right for sure. Well if you mix it up with okay, here’s the first female save 10% Here’s the second one. Let me tell you a little about me. I’m on a sell you anything.
I’m just trying to tell you about me my customer my brand how I started it with my struggles. And by the way, every business has a different struggle. No one had none of us have it easy. Yeah, and so talk about that just be honest and authentic and talk about it. And you know, that’s how you get people to.
That’s how you win their hearts. Yeah, that’s true. And I’m glad you mentioned that you know here at Omni star. We we have of course like a lot of businesses have a series of emails that go out to our customers and we were in the process of kind of doing some restructuring of that and what you said really make sense, you know, our whole school of thought has always been to.
Just you know, we always want to look out for the in customer and provide them as much value as possible. Not necessarily sell sell sell all the time. But our whole school of thought has been the whole inbound marketing term that which was actually coined by HubSpot, which is providing, you know, the in customer value and then, you know, they’ll appreciate that so much so that they’ll trust your brand and you know become an actual customer and so we’ve been you know, and I know a lot of businesses.
You know do this where they you know, they’ll try to provide tips on using their products. They’ll try to provide best case scenarios. They’ll try to provide case studies and all of that thing those things I think are helpful, but I think you’re really right. You really ought at the very beginning or somewhere early in on your communication with those customers.
You’ve got to. Make them understand or let them understand you know who you are, you know is because the bottom line is these days people are so inundated by you know, emails and all of these lips and all of these businesses trying to get their eyes and their attention and their dollar so by creating that personal connection by, you know, kind of opening up to your customers.
I think you will definitely stand out and that’s what we’re people I think Will Remember You. Opposed to some of the other competitors that may be in your space. And by the way on this is stuff that you got you are already doing your wisely doing just by having this podcast. I’m sure you get calls from people from potential customers.
Oh, yeah. I heard your pockets and they hear you. They know they’d like your voice smart guy and they’re excited to get you on the phone. That is that’s very true. I get that all the time because I do a lot of the the video production and I do a lot of the the voiceovers to some of our our support documentation support videos and.
You know, a lot of people are always emailing saying oh, yeah, I recognize your voice. All right. I heard you on the support, you know, we appreciate that and so you’re right that does help to create that personal connection there being, you know being right there front and center and you know being honest with your with your customers and potential customers.
Right and you know one thing that I always like to try to wrap things up with taking a kind of a different spin on things just to help our audience get to know you a little bit better. What would you say is one thing that our audience would be surprised to know about you? Uh, I was I saw that question like, I don’t know I work on whatever Studio’s paying me, you know that that that season or whatever so I have to drive around.
I live in LA and sometimes my my commute is 10 minutes and sometimes it’s two hours. Just depends because traffic is terrible. Right? So a couple of years ago. I was like I was listening to a lot of radio. I was like, this is ridiculous. I should just learn how to uh, learn Italian so I bought all those learn Italian in your car CDs and okay, I now speak fluent Italian after in a car for you know, three hours a day.
Okay. That’s awesome. So you actually learn how to speak Italian by listening to the how to speak Italian DD’s in your car while driving to the to the difference. I want every one of them. Okay. Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, that’s um that really speaks volumes to multitasking and then how much you can do while you’re sitting in your car and then trash.
Yeah. Yeah. I I what I do a lot of times it’s just listen to podcasts and just try to get as much information as possible, you know, trying to fill those gaps because you know, like you said that that time adds up you’re talkin one to two hours going and one or two hours coming back to to your house.
That’s that’s a good chunk of time. Where. Yeah, you can learn a lot in that that span of time. So yeah, that’s awesome. I appreciate you sharing that you know, as we wrap things up, you know, you provided a lot of valuable insight to our customers in our in our audience and our listeners and I really appreciate you being here.
So if our audience members want to connect with you if there’s anything that you’d like to share how would they do it? Well, I’ve been a lot of people asking me okay to go into more detail about how to tell a story how to actually craft it. I mean I said here Optical goal, but there’s actually obviously there’s a lot more in.
But and how to really break it down. So I put up a just recently put up a website. Uh, Michael Jamin, so I’ll be offering a webinar for anybody who wants to sign up and you know, just put it up. So it’s the first 30 people who sign up we’ll get the course for half. Half price because it’ll being beta and I’m really gonna break it down how to tell stories where to tell stories how to how to create a Facebook videos that are entertaining.
I gotta do a bunch of those for twirler girl. We’re shooting another one this weekend, and I you know, that’s. To me that’s that’s changed. Our businesses is how to tell stories because people share those for free right right Michael Jamin, so, it’s Mich jmi. Okay, great. Well, thanks again Michael for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.
He provided a wealth of information that I know is going to go a long way. Yeah. Thank you. My pleasure. No problem. Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast to access eCommerce videos and other resources. Verses to help your business grow. Please visit get forward slash videos subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for e-commerce marketing podcast, and please leave a rating and a review.
Thanks for listening. See you next time.
Founder of TwirlyGirl
The eCommerce Marketing Podcast walks you through everything that goes into ecommerce marketing — from inbound marketing to paid advertising to conversions. Learn the strategies top marketing experts use to grow their businesses.
Marketing Strategies Revealed in this Episode: