Aalap Shah is a Chicago-born entrepreneur and Founder of 1o8, a performance marketing digital agency focused on driving sales for CPG companies nationwide on e-com and Amazon platforms. They’ve worked with companies like Gildan, Sweet Leaf Tea, Tio, So Crazy, and more.
Aalap has been recognized as a leader in Chicago’s minority-owned digital marketing world and is known by multiple entities for his entrepreneurial and charitable endeavors. Crain’s Chicago Business recognized him as one of Chicago’s young emerging philanthropists, while the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship named him the National Volunteer of the Year.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Why Aalap Shah never wanted to become an entrepreneur
- How Aalap learned to build his first toy business and why he exited
- Aalap shares how he drove traffic to his toy business
- How did Aalap become an agency owner?
- What Aalap is doing with toy companies and how he’s helping them use TikTok
- Strategies for connecting influencers with brands
- Tips to boost customer retention and engagement
- What’s going on with DTC revenues declining?
- Taking customers from online to offline
In this episode…
One of the greatest concerns for online retailers is retaining customers and keeping them engaged. It is especially critical now because customer acquisition costs have become astronomically high as brands scramble to lift online sales. Currently, only 20% of site visitors account for 50% to 70% of retail sales.
Getting new customers is great, but what if you tried to get that returning customer up 30% or 40%? How would your business change? How do you get your existing customers to buy more? That’s where the retention loyalty model comes in: this model helps you generate increased profitability more quickly rather than spending insane amounts on new customer acquisitions. Want to find out how?
Listen to this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz featuring the Founder of 1o8 Agency, Aalap Shah. They discuss Aalap’s journey to becoming an agency owner, how retail brands can thrive online, the retention loyalty model, and how to increase the profitability of your business.
Resources mentioned in this episode
- “How To Start From Scratch With a Food Product Business with Peter Rahal Founder of RxBar”
- “Destroying Metabolic Disease With Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition”
- “[Sweet and Snack Show Series] Creating a Positive Impact with Rob Nelson Founder of Big League Chew”
- “Growing Your Business and Serving Your Community with Cameron Healy of The Healy Foundation”
Sponsor for this episode…
At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.
We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.
When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.
The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.
We make distribution easy.
We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.
Co-founders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Co-founders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.
Jeremy Weisz 0:13
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders, today is no different when formally introduced Aalap Shah in a second of 1o8.Agency. Aalap, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes that are cool and because of your business, there’s been some really cool consumer brands I’ve had on the podcast, I had the founder of RX Bars on, Quest Nutrition on, Big League Chew on, Kettle Chips on, so there’s been some cool ones. So check those out, and many, many more on inspiredinsider.com and this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that we help you run your podcasts, we are an easy button for you to run your podcast. Aalap you know me a little bit by now, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. I found no better way to do that over the past decade to profile people in companies I admire and have them on the podcast. So if you’ve thought about it, you should if you have questions, go to rise25.com or email [email protected] All right. And Aalap Shah is a Chicago born entrepreneur founder of 1o8, which is a performance marketing digital agency focused on driving sales for CPG companies nationwide, and ECOMM and Amazon platforms, Omnichannel you need to check them out. And they’ve worked with companies like Gildan Sweet Leaf Tea, that Nique labs just to name a few. And he’s been recognized as a leader in Chicago’s minority-owned digital marketing worlds. He’s been recognized by multiple entities for his entrepreneurial and also charitable endeavors. And I dug a little bit of stuff up on you Aalap, which is in 2013 Crain’s Chicago Business actually recognized you as one of Chicago’s young emerging philanthropists, and also the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship as National Volunteer of the Year. Aalap thanks for joining me.
Aalap Shah 2:12
Thanks so much for having me, Jeremy.
Jeremy Weisz 2:13
We’re going to dig deep into retention engagement which I know you’re thinking a lot about. So if you are a CPG company, or you know a CPG company, you should listen to this episode. But I want to start off with the journey a little bit. And key pivotal moment where your dad got punched in the face.
Aalap Shah 2:34
Yeah, this is one of those moments that you stamped forever in your memory. I feel like I was about six or seven. My parents owned a convenience store in Brighton Park. I still remember the scene. And it’s just like, maybe two 3pm in the afternoon. My parents not only own the store itself, the storefront but they own the building, had a few apartments. And it was rent debt. And so my dad went up the stairs to collect rent, and one of his tenants came out swinging. And I saw my dad punched coal in the face. Here I am sad and freaked out thinking oh my gosh, like, do I ever want to be an entrepreneur? Because this is tough. It’s a tough scene,
Jeremy Weisz 3:18
Literally is getting punched in the face. Entrepreneurs get punch in the face, metaphorically, but your dad literally got punched.
Aalap Shah 3:25
Yeah. And I admire his tenacity, right? That’s a tough job. And especially in that era in the 80s and early 90s of being kind of in that spot, and actually not having a management company, right, like actually physically going door to door and getting rent. I really admire him for that. But to see him get punched into the situations he’s dealt with. I remember another moment in my youth where I went down the street to get a haircut. So I left my dad, I at his business, I literally walked down for storefronts to get a haircut. By the time I’d come back, I saw a slew of like cop cars. Because my dad actually had gotten robbed. He had his hands tied. And these folks had come in to steal money and some goods. And he got saved because like the backdoor store had two doors, the back door opened up and it seemed as if someone’s going to walk in and those people fled. And that was just another scary moment that I saw kind of growing up that again, I’ll never forget that you do work hard for your dollar, right? And you’re putting yourself and your family at risk in that kind of situation, at least to make it and to get to your dreams.
Jeremy Weisz 4:44
I mean, you still became an entrepreneur, even despite that, well how did that impact you those two scenarios.
Aalap Shah 4:50
I didn’t want to so I decided that those situations in those scenes were probably not something that I wanted to encounter. So I decided to go to school for accounting. I actually became a CPA thinking it’d be great to work in an office and travel the country. But that only lasted about a year and a half, before I decided that I needed to jump in and open up my own retail business.
Jeremy Weisz 5:12
And I want to dig into that. I mean, you could have said, you know what, I could do entrepreneurship, but maybe I wanted a convenience store, but you were turned off from everything at that point.
Aalap Shah 5:22
I was, because growing up, my parents came here, I want to say at least 45 to 50 years ago, and I love their origin story, and how they got to their first business, their entire community kind of helped them raise funds, really inspiring, everyone coming together to help each other, establish themselves. Seeing them working hard, actually lives in the basement. I was like in my very early childhood, we lived underneath our store. And then to see, my parents claimed that success was really inspiring, but they worked hard. And they made a lot of sacrifices throughout my childhood. And my parents felt strongly that I should get, a designation of some sorts and have that kind of white-collar job. And I didn’t actually know that I wanted to be an accountant, but I just happened to get into the Paul’s Accounting Program and thought, well, this is a great way for me to pursue it. But little did I know, I watched my parents working 70 80 hours a week, that’s the same kind of job as a consultant to. And so as I worked week, after week, after week, I thought, well, there’s a cap on how much I can earn. And it’s dictated by people that I might not necessarily be able to influence like, I can make a buck. And I’d love to try my hand at this at this journey. I do think entrepreneurship runs in your blood or can run in families and, and certainly did with me.
Jeremy Weisz 6:51
I mean, it wasn’t scary enough for you to not do retail. Right? And so talk about what you did next, with the toy business.
Aalap Shah 7:01
Yeah, so I was 23. And very naive, for sure. Even though I had years and years and years of experience in retail, it was kind of a very different setting, like more tobacco and kind of convenience store merchandise stores. I wanted to go into the world of specialty toys, because I wanted to have a niche, and I wanted to make families smile and kind of come together. There’s just something so appealing to me about selling Legos and like puzzles, and like games and stuff like that, that I thought it could create a really interesting business run, and probably like a safer route because the types of people are coming are generally families and grandparents and whatnot, right? So I kind of could alleviate my risk of getting punched in the face there. And it just turned out to be just a really great jumping forward, or springboard for me to like learn about how to build a community, how to market how to create, like loyalty and retention, and create a successful community center. And all of those things I just mentioned, by the way, is what we call social media today, right? Like all those skills and tactics kind of go into building a great community online, I just happen to do it the old-fashioned way, person by person as they walked into my business,
Jeremy Weisz 8:21
And then you had more than one location as well.
Aalap Shah 8:26
I did. I really had this like, vision of becoming the dominant toy store retailer in the Chicago region and I was able to open up a second location with really the support of my family and just learning from them. And what happened is that when I open up my second location, customers started coming in with their iPhones and showcasing to me how much things cost on Amazon. And these prices were insane, like usually like 10% or 20% margin type of situations where there was just no way I would be able to compete with this long term. I’d reached kind of his a top of like my sales for both stores. And I thought this would be a great time to sell, kind of just watching my parents my entire life, you know, working building businesses selling high kind of starting over again. I thought this was a great time for me to exit because everybody started getting into sports specialty toys like back then, borders, if you remember that chain target you know all these places were getting the specialty toys because it was a high margin business. So I decided to exit before I’d be in a situation where it just be losing money on this sale.
Jeremy Weisz 9:52
Yeah. And how was the exit process?
Aalap Shah 9:54
It was horrible in the sense of you know, I had no idea what I was doing, right. So I think by this time I was seven years in, and I had no experience in selling a business. And the buyers that I sold to were wonderful people and just incredible. But the process itself was just an opportunity for me to learn, what it takes to actually sell a business. And the critical mistake that I had made was, as I was preparing the business for sale, I kind of took the gas off running the business. So whereas my sales were going kind of at a great clip, just by not paying attention to the day to day of my business, I put myself in a position where I had to make some tough choices, in terms of the sale price and the exit and the deal terms.
Jeremy Weisz 10:46
What were you doing up to drive customers? I feel like you get someone off their couch, to drive in the car to come in and buy toy. Now people are like, just, they don’t have to move their arm, they could just touch with their thumb on Amazon now. So that will work anywhere, I probably the methodology that used to get them out of their comfortable home.
Aalap Shah 11:12
I’d say I did three things pretty well. One is back in those days, that invisible text against dark background for SEO, worked great. That blackhat SEO type of, in the early part of the century, I guess, was a great tactic. Email marketing, and Facebook, number two, and that’s something that I just mastered, and was able to really leverage to build my community. The third, which is something that I see today that is so vitally important is that experience. People walking into my store had an experience. I trained my team, we had created these interactive, kind of like, almost like where you could touch, see, feel, hear the product, just insane amounts of demos, like learning all the games that we had just creating that kind of play environment. And really cats, people coming into the store. And just, I know some parents probably wanted to drop off their kids. And now being a parent, I can understand that feeling. We just made a really fun. And we had these just incredible opportunities to connect with consumer and get to know them and build that relationship. And I feel strongly that the retailers that are very active growth mode today are leaning and tapping into the experiential component of retail.
Jeremy Weisz 12:37
So how did you get into the agency world? Because next, you sold and the next was an agency.
Aalap Shah 12:47
And it’s a really interesting way that I got into the agency world. So I sold my business in September. I took some time off, I traveled, I had just gotten married maybe a year or two prior to that. And I picked up a copy of Crain’s Chicago, because back then you actually read newspapers and I read a spotlight on someone that I very much admire to this day, Katy Lynch at Social Katy. And I was reading about her starting a social media agency that worked with all these incredible brands. And I thought, wow, like, if there was a social media agency that existed for my business, I would have hired them and I would have paid them money. So I thought, she’s building a great firm that serves enterprise level brands, there’s probably an opportunity for me to build a brand for the small business. So literally that day, I kind of heard Keller ask Southwest Airlines style sketched out a business plan on a napkin on my dining table. I don’t have that napkin anymore, unfortunately. But I’m definitely came up with some of the building blocks of what a toy store retail outlet might want in a social media agency.
Jeremy Weisz 13:59
And so what was the evolution like about what kind of customers did you end up serving, etc?
Aalap Shah 14:04
The cool opportunity with that, one is that I had a business partner. And so we both really wanted to think about how we service these retail and smaller brands. What we learned very quickly is that toy stores like mine couldn’t really afford the labor or the manpower that was needed to create social media posts at scale. Back then, if you recall, like Facebook and Instagram, I don’t think was around really needed a ton of posts to get to that organic reach that you were looking for. Right? So that content production was the kind of irritants in terms of being able to price competitively for that small business. So we did pivot and landed TransUnion as one of our first clients and it was the most interesting assignment ever. I had never actually probably run Facebook ads at scale, but they basically like said hey off they send us over an IO. Mind you, like, I don’t even know what an IO is. Because we want you to run like a follow up campaign for us, and can you get them for X amount of dollars for like? Of course, being the entrepreneur, like yes, of course, like I’ll do this, and then I call like five friends to figure out what an IO is, right? But that one client really opened the doors for us by having such a big name, and got us ahead of all of our competitors. Because back then social media agencies were popping up like a dime a dozen, right? So it gave us a leg up by having a marquee client like that to start tapping into what turnout or niche was, like kind of real estate, professional services, and kind of b2b firms really a different pivot than what I was anticipating. IO is an insertion order. I never knew and I remember talking to my client, he was the kindest. I mean, just when you think about like, people that support your business, and those angels that come in at pivotal moments, like John was just such a Angel, because he probably knew that I had no idea what he’s talking about. But he gave me the grace to figure it out and send the IO that I could find on one of those templates sites.
Jeremy Weisz 16:27
So running that didn’t scare you away from starting another one.
Aalap Shah 16:35
It turned out to be a fertile ground for me to learn about how to build the experience that I wanted to. So in-between kind of owning that agency, I picked up an Amazon business, which kind of points the evolution of how Huawei came to be. And it picked up that Amazon business because I really learned by doing like, everything that I offer at my agency is something that I’ve learned how to do, in one way, shape, or form. And so I wanted to learn Amazon, because I saw that as a critical growth opportunity. It was going to be it wasn’t yet a commodity service from any other agency and I sold fishing gear, I sold fishing belts and gaps. And I actually vegetarian, I’ve never gone fishing in my entire life, and actually sold it because they actually felt bad about selling stuff that killed fish
Jeremy Weisz 17:29
Sold the company mean, eventually?
Aalap Shah 17:31
I sold that Amazon business eventually, because I just couldn’t reconcile it with being vegetarian. But it was a really interesting and awesome experience, because I got to learn the ins and outs of Salon vendor Central and be able to speak to my clients and understand like the pain points. And that’s kind of why it takes such a deep dive into learning about every service I offer. Because if I can’t understand it, or the pain points that are associated with it, like, how can I prove our expertise or even, like, create results for you, right. So only that Amazon business gave me the confidence to launch an agency that was just focused on consumer.
Jeremy Weisz 18:10
And into kind of complete the full circle here for a second. There is a toy company that you help with 1o8.
Aalap Shah 18:21
Yeah, so what I love the most about my business today, so I had an opportunity to exit my past agency. And, I just want to share this little clip here is kind of a an insane week. I sold that company on a Monday, I started 1o8 on Wednesday, and my third baby was born on November 11. So it just all happens in one week. And that’s just kind of how I roll I feel. And one way it has given me the opportunity to do is build a company that really draws on this insane amounts of retail experience I have from my past and present. And then one of the most beautiful things is that I get to work and build connections with toy companies. And so I have gotten to work with some of the most like I think the top 10 companies out there in the toy world, including brands like Tomi and Ty and just have been able to use my retail expertise. So here’s how it’s all coming full circle to really drive those insights and create ongoing momentum for those brands on social media.
Jeremy Weisz 19:33
And we’re talking about the toy company. You mentioned TikTok.
Aalap Shah 19:38
What I love about this opportunity that I have is TikTok is one of those things that brands are trying to figure out how to harness. It’s a lot of influencer-based work. It’s a lot of like video and music-driven content. And a lot of brands are still trying to figure out how to tap into this really rich audience that’s just obsessed. Right? And so the assignment was really twofold in how do we grow our E-commerce revenue? And then secondly, how do we grow our TikTok? Not only audience, but just our traffic from that audience. And what’s so special about this assignment is that we’re working to connect these lovable toys with both a Gen Z audience, and then of course, families, right? Like just that, what are those moments and occasions that you need, not even need, but you want to make extra special with these products? And I think it’s been so much fun creating content, being a content creator, working with influencers, and then really driving astronomical growth and that follower, I think we’re up to, at least I think when I last looked at the numbers were up 200,000 followers on TikTok. And that’s really just because of curating content, working with the influencers, and then building a story that’s evergreen.
Jeremy Weisz 21:07
One of my favorite interviews, at least at the beginning was with Natural Stacks. And he actually walked through a little bit, what was a pivotal moment are were some influencers in some people who help with the brand. I’m wondering, what are ways you reach out to these influencers to connect with them, because ultimately, you’re connecting influencers to the brand help drive more awareness?
Aalap Shah 21:36
It’s all about relationships, right? It’s all about relationships. It’s not just about who you know in the influencer world, but it’s really planting the seed. An influencer, that has, you know, a million followers on their platforms, has really no reason to believe in you, no matter how big your brand is, or how big your budget is. But really connecting with them, viewing and reviewing their content, pitching them stories that you think are going to resonate with them and their audience, and really thinking about it from how is it going to help grow their business? Right, because as they affiliate with your brand, they’re going to have to turn around and talk to their followers about why they’re doing what they’re doing. So some of the tips, I would say, is really figuring out not only who’s the right influencer for your brand, but how are we going to connect with them? How are we going to make them feel like they’re part of the story that you’re trying to tell? And how can they contribute to that story? And that creative, like, co-sharing that creative control has created some magical moments for us across the board?
Jeremy Weisz 22:46
Do you have a philosophy on the types of people that you reach out to? I know, some people say, “Well, I don’t really want the person that’s over 2 million, and maybe they’re too busy, and I don’t want someone under a certain amount.” Do you have a certain range, that’s the sweet spot for you?
Aalap Shah 22:59
I want the right person that’s going to connect with my persona that I’ve developed. Right? So whether they have 1000 followers, or they have 5 million, I’m not necessarily worried about the follower account, I’m more concerned about are they going to be able to connect with my end consumer that I want to reach, right. And that’s really important to me, and I know it sounds fluffy. But we can often overlook creators out there because we’re so focused on like, “Okay, here’s the five filters, I’m going to set like location, like follower count, whatever it is view impressions, all that stuff.” I could get all the views I want, but how would if they were all paid? Right, like, so I am always talking to my clients about like, let’s find the ideal set of folks that could connect and resonate with our end consumer.
Jeremy Weisz 23:59
Yep. So you’re really mapping out that persona, just to make sure there’s a tight match there. And that brings us into, I know one thing you’re excited about lately is a retention and engagement.
Aalap Shah 24:06
I am really, really excited about this, because there’s a couple of factors that have come together and industry. One is that iOS 14 or 15, or whatever version we’re talking about, has kind of racked our row as model that most agencies have really highlighted over the past couple of years, right? That was kind of the claim to fame for many agencies that we could get a 12 14 20x row as. So that’s one kind of factor there. The cost of customer acquisition has gone astronomically high because all of a sudden, we’re all looking for people to buy online now. Right? So you’re competing against many brands, and then now you have other influences, like political campaigns and all those things that are happening that are just kind of really disruptive in that new customer acquisition stance. So we have access to or have had access to over 1000 and on e-commerce brand analytics, and what I found after setting them is that more often than not less than 20% of your visitors to your site drive that 50 60 70% of your revenue. At oftentimes 2x the conversion rates that your new customers are. So alike, what I find myself in a lot of conversations is, hey, we want to drive growth. And we’re really looking for new customers. And what I’m really constantly my clients on is, it’s always good to find new customers, right? We’ve always got a feed machine. What if we took some time and tried to get that returning customer to 30%? Or 40%? How does your business change? What are other things that we can sell? Or get in front of them? Or is there ad creative and messaging that we can test with our existing customer base that we can then use to get new customers to really focusing on that retention loyalty model, whether it’s paid ads, whether it’s email, marketing, SMS, even social media, right? Like, I love this conversation, because we’re actually generating increased profitability for our clients much more quickly than spending insane amounts, just on pure new customer acquisition. And that’s something I find a lot of conversations are happening, it’s almost often on like, my Facebook ads aren’t working. Great. That’s a great conversation starter, because how can we make your Facebook Ads work for your returning customers? How do we get them back to the table again? How do we get them to explore the things that they may have left in their cart through quality or SMS? And those are conversations that are really exciting to me right now?
Jeremy Weisz 26:43
I’d love to hear because you mentioned a couple SMS, texts, social media cart abandonment. Let’s say an E-commerce brand is listening right now and like what’s one or two tips, they should be like, what’s some low hanging fruits, they’re like, okay, if you’re not doing this, go and do this right now. That would help with the retention and engagement.
Aalap Shah 27:10
One of the hidden gems in any email marketing program is those automated flows, and how tight that integration is with your Shopify or your platform of choice. And what I say is, one low-hanging fruit is just like how those triggers are being set up. So browse abandonment, or upsell, cross-sell whatever it may be, right? And how it’s interacting. What I find is that those flows have been set up by an agency or your brand, maybe a year or two ago, and they don’t even match up to the current branding today. And there’s sometimes an overemphasis on just campaigns, when you talk about campaigns, that Memorial Day Sale email that’s coming out in a week or two. Go back and take a look at all your automated flows. Have you max it out to the hilt? And how’s that messaging looking like? And then are those discount codes still valid in those flows? Right, that’s some of the lowest-hanging fruit, I’d say. And then the next thing I immediately would tell you is when you look at your email, pop up on your website, have a space for a phone number, let’s get that first-party data. Because it’s like gold, right now. Being able to, of course, consent, not only being able to text your customers, but then also use it on platforms like Facebook, to build audiences, it’s super valuable. So I’d say that those are two things that you can take action on relatively quickly and see good return on investment on.
Jeremy Weisz 28:38
Yeah, I was talking to my 10-year-old daughter the other day about direct response marketing. And because they were doing some kind of class project, and I was saying, it’s about not only the messaging, but the medium of the messaging, and where would you send the medium? And she’s like, I don’t know. I’m like, well, if I send it your email, well, should I send your email or your phone? She’s like, oh, I read all my texts. I go, even if it’s like, not from someone? Yeah, even if it’s someone I know. I go exactly. So it’s not just the message things actually where the message is being sent. So I love that I think what you say applies to any business, really all up, which is retention, we all kind of myself included, follow the shiny object and new customer, but it’s really the engagement and retention of the existing ones that is easier and cost less money as well. Right?
Aalap Shah 29:35
I completely hear you on that. And it’s a great ground for you to test new creative, new copy, like offers. Like if your existing customers are not responding to that, then why would you expect a new customer to? And oftentimes we spent 1000s of dollars and testing all it’s really cool and awesome creative, which by the way, I’m a big believer into new customers, but then we’re disappointed in the results. And you have kind of a built-in focus group of super-fans in most cases that you can test this out to.
Jeremy Weisz 30:05
We also talked a little bit about D to C revenue declining and what’s happening there as things have opened up. And even people’s behavior has changed a little bit. What have you seen with that?
Aalap Shah 30:21
So maybe two perspectives I can give you from like an accounting, being a CPA had, to me revenues, revenue, no matter where it comes from. Where I’m seeing some angst and a lot of conversations happening is that incredible growth that we saw over the last few years and income revenue is falling off. And then some of that revenue is going to retail. And to me, this is an opportunity for my clients and any CPG client to say, hey, I want to be where my consumer shopping, whether it’s at CVS, or target, or Thrive Market or my website or Amazon, I want to make sure I have a solid presence across the board. And what we’re doing here is building pretty rich dashboards that tap into those API’s at those retailers. We work with a fragrance company right now that has presence at places like Ulta and Sephora and target, but a strong presence in Amazon and DTC. And we have partnered with them to really look at this data from an omnichannel perspective. And it was fascinating is that it comes down to even how you think about creative to drive to retail versus your DTC, right. So really being nuanced in how you approach marketing to serve those two. One is kind of like, hey, can I drive trial and discovery and maybe an experienced almost at the retail level? And then how do I get that reorder and subscription on my website? So that’s what I’m kind of really excited continuously to work on with my partners.
Jeremy Weisz 31:54
I love what you’re saying there? Because so what are some of the ways that you go from online and take them offline? Like driving them to retail, how does that work?
Aalap Shah 32:08
Well, one of my favorite companies that I know of, is nugs. I believe they changed the name to simulate now it’s like a vegan chicken nugget, and for a long time on their website. And for a long time on their website, you could like kind of send five nugs to a friend. And whether it be a coupon that you can redeem it at a retailer or whether they actually physically sent you the product, I thought this is a great way for them to get an offer, get you in-store, support your retail partner, that’s a huge win. And then like actually experienced your product, right. And so I think anything that you can do, and I’m not sure why this is so complicated, and someone’s got to come up with an innovation around coupon or digital coupons to create redemption or trial opportunities. I’m like, super curious about that right now. But I know that like for fragrance perspective, like how do you get someone to smell online? Right, like so how do you make it easy to send a sample packet to a consumer that might drive them to retail to actually use a product tester, right? So like incentivizing people to go there by having a strong offer, or partnering up with like the loyalty apps that you know, target or CVS or anyone has to drive that discovery is huge. So as you may know, like Kroger, CVS, Target, all these places are coming up and rolling out with their own digital networks and platforms. And they see a huge opportunity to like really extend some additional work that we do creative copy all that good stuff into those platforms to drive that trial or discovery.
Jeremy Weisz 33:45
Yeah, thanks for that. And you also worked with, of all things a linen company.
Aalap Shah 33:50
Yeah, I this is one of my favorite companies. It’s a client that I’ve had for over three years. They’re a great fitted sheet, company. And we’ve really grown with them. They’re a pure DTC and Amazon with a little bit presence in retail. And what we’re seeing here is this conversation that we’ve just had about retention engagement. So if we could increase our customer lifetime value, we can unlock strong astronomical growth. And a lot of the way that we’re doing that is some this low hanging fruit that we’re talking about that kind of evolution, and especially when you’re spending hundreds of 1000s of dollars and paid media is going to be building creative, and rapidly iterating on it to just testament. So we did a full-day photoshoot, we got a ton of content on last fall. We’ve used it in lots of different ways throughout the year. And but more recently, we created a TV spot, and that’s hilarious. And it’s for just connected TV. So we’re going to try that out and see what happens just to think of about how do we drive people to remember this company and be that fridge magnet, right? But an interesting fish magnet that kind of changes or has gifs or static images or carousel as you’re thumbing through your newsfeed to get you to incentivize to buy again.
Jeremy Weisz 35:18
So some reason I don’t picture hilarious TV spot and linen, so I have to go watch this, but that’s what kind of comes to mind with something like that is how do you differentiate linens? Is that some of the things you’re thinking about when you’re doing advertising, whether it’s online or offline?
Aalap Shah 35:44
Well, they have some patent technology, which I think is their differentiator. And they’re also competing against parachutes and like Brooklyn linens of the world, right. So I think there’s a couple different ways that you can differentiate, it comes down to sometimes price comes down to comfort, it comes down to maybe product assortment. What I love about this company is that they’re very, very focused on their product, and the feel the fabric, the quality, and the use case of it. And that’s a challenge, because when you think about changing your sheets, how easy is it to go to a retail store, like Kohl’s or target to buy that without even thinking about it? But when you think about the occasions, and just the pain of like getting that sheet around the corner of the bed corner, that’s a pain point that they’re solving for, and they’re doing it brilliantly. So I feel very strongly that they have that point of view. And it’s our job to think about how we creatively showcase that kind of zipping function that they have as part of their technology.
Jeremy Weisz 36:54
Aalap, I want to just thank you. I have one last question. Before I ask it, I just want to thank you for sharing your journey and your stories. And I want to encourage people to check out your website, which is 1o8.agency. Are there any other places online? And it’s actually the letter O, not zero. So 1o8 Agency? Are there any other places online we should point people towards?
Aalap Shah 37:23
Yeah, absolutely. I have my own website, it’s aalapshah.com. So definitely check that out. I’ll put some of these brands that I mentioned in your show notes for people to check out. Yeah, those are the best places to get to me.
Jeremy Weisz 37:36
Yeah. And it’s spelled aalapshah.com. So last question up is mentors, who are some of the mentors, we all stand on shoulders of the giants. Who are some of the mentors that helped you in business and it could be virtual just because you got their book? Or it could be actual mentors from groups like EO or anyone else? Who are some of the mentors that have helped you?
Aalap Shah 38:09
I feel strongly that I’m here today, because of exactly what you said, I having an insane appetite for questions and asking people things I don’t know about. And the list is way too long. However, over the past decade, I’d say that David chi Han, at 8 Through Partners, has just been an amazing, amazing mentor and advisor and friend, and coach, as it builds this agency and just in my past experiences, and then Justin Teamies has been just such a great champion of me, and one way and the work that we do here. I’m really thrilled to call them my friends and mentors. And I would have to say that my wife was right behind me on the wall. Just when you think about people that support you and like help you rise to the top like in the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur, she’s been there every step of the way. So couldn’t have done it without her.
Jeremy Weisz 39:09
Love it. Thank you. Aalap, first I want to thank you, check out 1o8.Agency, checkout Inspired Insider, checkout Rise25. And thanks. We’ll see you next time. Thanks Aalap.
Aalap Shah 39:20
Thanks for listening to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast. This episode is powered by Rise25. Please subscribe and check out future episodes.