The right actionable insights can dramatically explode your sales & profits by making it easier for customers to find and buy your brand. Data does not need to be overwhelming or overcomplicated when you have a qualified guide to maximize your potential.

What if I told you that I had a proven strategy to help you get a significant and sustainable competitive advantage against any brand, whether big or small? What if I told you that there was a way, a simple way to get your product to stand out on a crowded shelf? Would you be interested in it? Of course you would. That’s what today’s story is about.

The best part is, at the end of this podcast episode, you’re going to want to stay tuned. Today’s guests are giving away three free gifts that you’re going to want to take advantage of. Three things that have the potential to do more for you to help you get more traction, more sales, and more importantly, help you connect better with that unique customer that wants to buy your product. That’s looking for your solution. More about that in a little bit.

I talk a lot about Category Management and how Category Management is the process, the art and the science of aligning your product with your customer. By using data and insights, including insights about how your customer shops, where they shop, what’s unique about your customers at their preferences, et cetera.

One of the things that’s not included in traditional Category Management that I’m trying to change are the resources to be able to understand your consumer more intimately by leveraging your online footprint, social media, et cetera. This is what today’s story is about. How to understand exactly who your consumer is so that you can better meet their needs, or more specifically so that you can help them find your product wherever they shop, which at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.

On today’s episode, we share a lot of strategies, a lot of tips and tricks that are going to help you grow your business, and more importantly, these strategies that you’re going to get from these resources are going to be also very useful to work with traditional brick and mortar retailers.

Download the show notes below



Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #158

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.


Dan: Welcome. What if I told you that I had a proven strategy to help you get a significant and sustainable competitive advantage against any brand, whether big or small? What if I told you that there was a way, a simple way to get your product to stand out on a crowded shelf? Would you be interested in it? Of course you would. That's what today's story is about.

The best part is, at the end of this podcast episode, you're going to want to stay tuned. Today's guests are giving away three free gifts that you're going to want to take advantage of. Three things that have the potential to do more for you to help you get more traction, more sales, and more importantly, help you connect better with that unique customer that wants to buy your product. That's looking for your solution. More about that in a little bit.

I talk a lot about Category Management and how Category Management is the process, the art and the science of aligning your product with your customer. By using data and insights, including insights about how your customer shops, where they shop, what's unique about your customers at their preferences, et cetera.

One of the things that's not included in traditional Category Management that I'm trying to change are the resources to be able to understand your consumer more intimately by leveraging your online footprint, social media, et cetera. This is what today's story is about. How to understand exactly who your consumer is so that you can better meet their needs, or more specifically so that you can help them find your product wherever they shop, which at the end of the day, that's what's most important.

On today's episode, we share a lot of strategies, a lot of tips and tricks that are going to help you grow your business, and more importantly, these strategies that you're going to get from these resources are going to be also very useful to work with traditional brick and mortar retailers.

Before I go any further, I want to remind you that this free downloadable guide for you at the end of every episode. I always try to include one, easy to download quick to digest strategy, that you can instantly adopt and make your own. One that you can use to grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively with.

Remember, the goal here is to get your product on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. This is in addition to the gifts that I mentioned that our guests are providing at the end of the podcast, so you definitely want to stay tuned.

Remember, this podcast is for you and it's about you. If you like the podcast, share it with a friend. Now here are today's guests, Meaghan and AJ.

Dan: Meaghan and AJ, thanks for coming on today. Can you please start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey to where you're at today?

AJ: Of course. Thanks for having us. I'm AJ Yager, co-founder of Praxis Metrics and this-

Meaghan: And I'm Megan Connell, the other co-founder.

AJ: The other half of my brain.

Meaghan: Yup. I guess where we are today is we co-founded and run a data agency. We're basically a fractional data team. We help companies that are scaling that might not necessarily have a full budget for data analytics, for analysis, for dashboard buildouts-


Meaghan: ... for IT, yeah. What we do is we help those companies as they're scaling really have and be able to leverage the data that they do have to make better decisions that, in turn, allows them to scale. Then, usually, once they're at scale, a lot of times, they'll hire an internal data team and then what we do is we go and we help with the overflow, the backlog as well as the outside viewpoints for consulting on the data journey.

AJ: Yeah. I think a little bit more about our background is we really came from marketing in a sales background. That's a big part of acquiring customers, understanding the marketing journey, and what it takes to close big deals, small deals, whatever. We have that experience. That's what we bring to the table so we used to have a digital marketing agency. Now, we've gone full force into being world-class and data.

Meaghan: Yeah, because what we found both of us have very different backgrounds like he said. He's more of the marketing him. Then, I worked with actual sales teams. What we found is no matter what we were doing, it was all data. People kind of tend to gloss over when we think about data because most people didn't study it in school. They're not statisticians.

But really, every business nowadays is in the data business

AJ: They just don’t know it yet.

Meaghan: Yeah. They just don’t know it because all of these technologies that we're using, the CRM, the ESPs, the ERPs, every technology is storing data on the backend. If you don't know how to tell a story with that data, then your competitors do. It really has become a new competitive advantage that if you know how to utilize this information, then you will have that leg up against your competitors.

Dan: That's where the similarities exist. My background is taking that data, that historical data in this case, and telling a story for a brand, why the brand needs to be on the shelf, how the brand's doing, how they help the retailer drives successful sales, more sales on the shelf.

What's unique about what you guys are doing is you're playing in that unknown area that people don't really understand. Let me frame it this way. In fact, I said this right before we started to hit the record button is that in the world that I play in small brands are taught to raise money, then they're taught to raise more money than they're taught to raise more money.

Then, they're taught to effectively hand their keys to someone else broker or agency. The reason that's an issue is that I firmly believe that you need to have your hand thrown around the rudder of your ship. You need to understand what's driving sells, what are those key metrics, how to leverage what's really important.

Like you, a lot of people think of me as an expense. However, the big brands understand that I am the most valuable tool in there out in their toolbox, and they know that I can drive more sales than anyone else. That's exactly why I wanted to have this conversation. Framing it that way, I'm a brand, I'm a small brand and I'm taught to hold ... set hand my keys to someone else.

Digital or having an online presence is key to my very survival. It's something I talk about a lot in this podcast and beyond this. Can you please talk back up a little bit as an agency, talk about the importance of having a digital strategy what that means and the advantages that I as a brand could achieve or realize if I had a solid digital strategy.

Then, we'll get into the nuts and the bolts and dig into the weeds later.

Meaghan: Definitely. That is such a great point. I mean the big thing here to note is that this landscape is changing constantly that in order to be a successful brand now, it is so competitive. Every mom and pop out there now have access to go and create a website, to go and create Facebook or an Instagram channel where they can gather all of this PR and this publicity whereas before you had to go through these channels. You had to go through these brokerages. You had to go through these agencies to really create a name for yourself that's changed. It's constantly evolving. It's constantly changing.

Now, what we're starting to see are these huge brands. they need to have an omnichannel presence. It is now a foundation for success because if you're not creating this brand awareness in the minds of your consumers. Then, somebody else is. They can take your market share.

Nowadays, what we're seeing more and more is it used to be very much a line in the sand. There used to be the retailers and the CPGs that went through wholesale and retail. There used to be those that had their own e-commerce brand. They were pretty separate buckets really for a long time, but now with Amazon, it has really bridged that gap. It's forced a lot of these big brands to start selling direct-to-consumer.

It's a huge marketplace now. Most people don't want to leave their home to go to this store. I know that as Millennial, I don't remember the last time I went to a store. We literally order everything online, even our day-to-day groceries. In order to really compete with the new demographic of clientele as well as with your competitors, you have to have this omnichannel presence.

It means you have to have your own e-commerce store. You have to have retail. You have to have the wholesale in order to find a balance because we are in this precipice where everything is shifting, and nobody knows exactly what the future of retail is going to be, but if you can diversify and if you can have all of this presence across the board, they all feed each other.

It's no longer siloed. Everything interacts with each other. We've got Facebook ads for brands that don't even have e-commerce that is just driving people to go to Home Depot or go to Whole Foods to buy their brands. Everything is interacting today in a way that it never has before. If you're not doing this in your business, it's really going to change how competitive you are. Did that answer your question?

Dan: No. They're well said. Actually, I love the fact that you did this. Thank you for framing it that way. Let's go one step further. Getting your product and selling your product in traditional mainstream brick-and-mortar retail, it's horribly expensive. In fact, I would go ones then further. I'd say it's broken. The reason it's broken is because everyone has a handout.

Before you, the consumer buys your product, you need to go through get it online. I mean get it to your traditional retailer, who gets, who has to pay, wants a margin, who wants to give the broker margin, the distributor margin, et cetera. That's why a lot of these products are so expensive.

Having that additional store as you said on your own, and having all those different opportunities to sell your products to customers wherever they shop critically important. The other thing is if I'm selling a product in a traditional store, you're not going to buy it because you just said that you don't traditionally go into a store.

You've got to be wherever your customer shops. Thank you for framing it that way. One of the things you were talking about separate buckets. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Then, how does what you're talking about relates to the shopper journey.

Meaghan: Yeah. With the buckets, they used to be very separate. They used to be wholesale would be its own little arm where you would hire employees to manage the distribution, and that would be its own little bucket. It would be siloed. The reason it was typically siloed is because of the technologies that it took to manage it and the skill sets and the mindset around that.

There are strategic initiatives that work really well in that that don't work with e-commerce or with retail. Each of these buckets up to this point has been totally separate, but nowadays, they all feed each other. Anything on that before I go into the next-

AJ: No. I think that's a perfect way to describe it. I had some thoughts on it later but go ahead with it.

Meaghan: Then, what was the second piece of the question? There's a bucket-

Dan: Part in the buckets. I mean I think that's ... You said exactly what I was hoping you'd say. I'll let you expand upon this. In terms of the buckets, the thing I don't think that a lot of brands understand is that everything you're doing online supports everything I'm doing in a traditional store. Could you talk about how that works, that intersection?

Meaghan: Yeah.

AJ: I think one other thing is you said earlier you want to be where people are shopping, but you also want to be where people are researching. It's not just about being the last place they buy. People go on automatically right away and start researching, Googling searching, clicking off of the social media stuff to research first.

They may not buy your shop. That's why you want to have your eyeballs and your tracking tentacles out there as much as possible to see where they were first before they bought. Does that make sense?

Dan: Absolutely. In fact, I talk a lot a bit about ... I'm sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. Talk a little bit about how customers go beyond the four corners of the package to do their research exactly what I think you're talking about, am I correct?

Meaghan: Yes, 100%.

AJ: Yeah, 1.00%. What we're seeing now is this trend called Lyft. Lyft is a big thing that we start calculating for clients too because imagine and I touched on this earlier, but imagine you have your own e-commerce store as well as you sell in Whole Foods or H-E-B, whatever it may be. While you are out there creating brand awareness and creating social media posts, you may not be driving them directly to your website. They may not directly buy through UTM code because that's all very easy to track.

I think that's a huge reason that a lot of brands nowadays are expanding into the e-commerce world is that you have control of your data. You can now track all sorts of things that retailers don't share with you. Now, you're starting to get customer demographic information.

You get starting to get their shipping addresses. You're starting to get their repeat purchase patterns. You're able to see what else they're ordering at the same time as other products.

AJ: Ultimately, we call that owning the relationship. I own the relationship, then that person can continue buying from you directly, and you have more control over what's going on in the future. That's really, really important.

Meaghan: It is. It's hugely appealing to these brands before they had zero connection with their end-users. They just relied on these static reports that retailers would send out that were aggregating data instead of really individual specific. They couldn't tell who was their target demographic, who was their raving fans versus just a one-off purchase. With the whole ecommerce route, you get more control of your data. You get more visibility into what's working and what's not working so that you can double down on that.

AJ: You own the relationship, and you own the data.

Meaghan: Yes.

AJ: Owning your own data.

Meaghan: Owning your own data.

AJ: If that's as simple as having an email list of people that are your raving fans or enjoy your brand and you're putting out some good content to keep them engaged at the very least, at least you own that relationship.

Meaghan: Yeah, because you can even set up auto-responder emails to say, "Hey, I noticed that you bought the 30-day supply of this vitamin, and it's been about 30 days. Are you ready to reorder?" A little touchpoint like that is something that you can't get with retail. It's one big reason that we see more omnichannel brands now is because of that ownership of the data which is super valuable.

However, going back to your question on Lyft, what is that doing to also drive in-store purchases, and how do these inter-relate? It's big. We'll talk as consumers first and then we'll dive into the data side of it. As a consumer, I typically get familiarized with a brand online first because our generation is more research-based. As you said, I actually have spreadsheets where I'll analyze different brands against each other based on features and functionality.

Then, what will happen is if I am at a store, if I'm at the airport or if I'm exposed to things, a lot of times, I'll see that. I'm like, "Oh, you know what?" I wanted to try that, and I forgot to order." By creating this sliver of my brain that is already predefined to select a brand, you are just increasing the opportunity for them to purchase when they do see your brand later on instead of them being in the shop and then having to think about, "Do I need this? Do I want this?" They're already familiar with that.

AJ: Or any other competitors right lined up in the store that you're competing with.

Meaghan: Exactly.

AJ: If I've seen that logo somewhere, I'm like, "Oh wait. I saw that."

Meaghan: I mean we have companies that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads in specific geographic areas just to drive their clientele to retailers. It's a beautiful thing to be able to have this omnichannel approach and to do marketing efforts online that do drive that because then it just strengthens your relationship with the retailer as well.

We've got a lot of clients that do all of it because the rising tide lifts all ships.

Dan: I love that. Thanks. I'm just making a quick note. Back to Lyft, thank you for bringing this out. In my world, we're talking about traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Lyft is that increase in sales, simply put. But there's a lot that goes into that. When you're promoting your product, certain promotions do a little of anything to drive Lyft, to drive promotions, to drive promotions beyond the end of the event.

This is why this matters. I talk a lot about this on the podcast. Thank you for bringing it up. I don't use exactly your terminology, but the reality is that if you're a brand and every traditional retail store closed or went out of business tomorrow, who would you sell your product to? Your notion of, and I love how you put it, on your own brand or on your own relationship with the customers.

That's why I've been telling brands for years now you've got to have that one-on-one relationship. You've got to have an email list. You've got to be able to nurture that relationship with that brand. Then, what I teach which goes beyond our conversation today, well, actually could tie in very nicely to it is how to leverage that relationship that you have with your community to drive sales within a traditional store. We'll get to that in a minute.

But back to what you're talking about owning the data, data is horribly expensive. If I'm a natural brand and I want to compete and know how my product is doing in Denver, Colorado, there's no data source out there that's going to tell me that. Now, layer on top of that one. of the things that I do is I teach brands how to use consumer shopper data which is kind of what you're talking about.

Being able to use that is sometimes even more impactful than having the syndicated data which is historical data. Syndicated mean what goes through the register. I'm not trying to get too deep into the weeds, but the point is that data tells you what happened. The person, the shopper data, consumer data stuff you're talking about tells you why what happened happened.

In other words, why did the shopper choose that product, your product over your competitor? What did the shopper buy when they bought your product which is what I use the term market basket? In other words, why is that customer more valuable? When we're talking about the natural channel, these healthy products, the reality is that if I'm an organic buyer, I probably buy the organic spread, organic dairy, et cetera.

As a customer to the retailer, I'm far more valuable than someone who buys the private label, the generic, et cetera. When you're talking about owning the data, can you go into that a little bit more? Here's what? For me as a brand to go by that data, first of all, it's horribly expensive. The other thing is because it's so complicated, it isn't something that people understand.

They buy a lot of canned topline reports, templated of the reports that don't give them the insights that they want. In other words, on motor oil, this is the same report that I use if I'm an organic baby food which is not going to help me. Then, next is it because of the issues within the syndicated database, they don't talk about how the consumer shops the category.

There are errors within the database or the way that the product's coded. In other words, one retailer might ... Well, here's a good example. There's a company that I did a project for several years ago that has potato chips. That's in the salty snack category. What you should be? Well, in one of the three syndicated databases, they're products that are sold, they're vegetables and tomatoes and beets and stuff like that. Well, obviously though that's in the canned vegetable category, just being a little bit sarcastic, but that's true.

If you're a brand, you can't have a line of sight to what you're actually doing to drive sales unless you understand the data a lot more than just anyone else just hand your report. What I love about you guys are talking about if this allows me to segment down into the category to understand the customer-buying habits at the more granular level, does that make sense?

Meaghan: Oh 100%. Yeah. I mean you hit the nail on the head. This goes back to the point that we are making owning your own data is so important because you can't control these syndicated data reports. You have no say into what is included, how things are coded, all of these things. This is you're at the disposal of other people and other people's data. The omnichannel approach allows you to then get more granularity because now you have everything.

You know exactly what search terms they put into Google to make them find your brand. You know exactly what pages they landed on in order to end up with that one thing that they purchased. You know when they'd come back and what they would come back for. Owning your own data becomes a huge advantage because you can tell this story that these aggregated data reports don't tell.

Then, going back to your point, and I do want to challenge you on one thing because, over time, data has become a lot cheaper. I want to allow everybody to understand that we work with companies that are doing only a million and annual revenue. There is data out there that is so cheap nowadays or free because this is a huge need in the marketplace.

Over time, big data used to in our minds be reserved for the Kellogg's, the huge companies that we're using this, but nowadays, our smartphones have big data. We have it at our disposal. You just have to look in the right places. We want to challenge the way of thinking of the historical way that is not the way it is now.

There are all sorts of public datasets that you can tie into and then these cheaper data that you can really tie into your own data to tell a more robust story.

AJ: I want to piggyback on that real quick because it's also not just the acquiring of by like getting these databases or the public datasets. There are simply those brands who I'm speaking to you who may not have gone out there and started aggregating data. You can go out on social media creating other channels and getting feedback asking questions, getting involved in gathering these people's information, their insights, getting them to help you doing challenges or contests, other ways of engaging people that are-

Meaghan: Surveys.

AJ: to do that you just start reaching out in these platforms that exist already. It's not a difficult thing. It's not an expensive thing. You can hire somebody for a very little one over two thousand a month even go do this stuff for you, but an aggregate your own data so that you're owning that relationship and ask and you shall receive.

Putting cool stuff out there that enhance the brand and engage or what get people to say, "Oh, cool. I'm really actually happy to hear from you," because there is you're now bridging that gap between the store and that person you don't know. Makes sense?

Dan: Oh absolutely. Let me go back a little bit. I agree with you 100%. I was talking about syndicated their data that you buy from someone who captures the data that goes from [crosstalk 00:20:49] unbelievably expensive. I get a project for a company years ago that had a subscription. They paid $17,500 for a very little bit of data.

I bought a snapshot for a company which is just a glimpse in time with different data periods and different majors, et cetera for about $5000. Got the exact same bit ...actually about $2500, but about two different categories, but the point is that I could get a lot more than snapshot but not knowing how to leverage it is what I'm getting at. If I'm just throwing canned reports against the wall, that is nothing, but I couldn't agree with you more than that is what you're talking about the kind of data that's available today is Apple, but I want to go one step further and quantify this even more.

If I'm a brand, if I'm a big brand, I use what they call a focus group. A focus group is where a bunch of people sit around and they give you their opinion. I find that those focus groups are not accurate. They don't relate to how the customer shops. In other words, female had a household 2.3 kids. We're all the same. Right, Meaghan? All girls are the same.

By the way, I was thinking, I bet you guys are a fun date, you're getting at your spreadsheets to compare these, but anyhow, but I mean that's kind of the mindset that a lot of big companies have. They commoditize the shopper and the products. What is great about what you guys can do, what's what I talk about a lot is being able to understand that unique customer.

If I am a low house consumer, lifestyle sustainability. I care about my environmental impact. I care about reducing my carbon footprint. I care about where the product comes from. You cannot get that necessarily by going to a focus group if you don't control or understand who's in that focus group. That's really expensive.

What you're talking about is enabling me as a brand to develop my own focus group that is specific to the customer that buys my product. Why does this make sense? There's a brand that he did a project for several years ago kind of going back to that story I was talking about a little bit ago where I was able to get a snapshot.

I took a very informal Facebook study and was able to marry it or weave it into the story into their data. They went from getting it from being in different places with an ace given store chain to be in one section to not only being in just a couple stores but to gain distribution throughout the entire chain.

They went from being a couple hundred thousand dollars a year to $12 million a year within three years. The point is this, understanding what you're talking about and how to leverage it is not a cost. It's not something you have to do because ... Yeah. Exactly. Thank you. Can you talk more about that?

Meaghan: Yeah, it is an investment. It's crazy to ... 90% of what we do is education because a lot of the business owners, the C-suite, the people in the organization, see data as, "Oh, man. What a pain in the butt or I don't want to touch that with a 10-foot pole because numbers just aren't their thing."

AJ: Which is another cost line.

Meaghan: Or it's just another cost line, but what we found is the companies that do invest in this and make it a priority, it's exponential growth every single time, every time without fail because data is information. Do you think that a brand that's more informed is going to do better than a brand that's less informed? All the time, yes. There's no skew in that data.

If you know more about your customers and about your product, then your competitor does, you will win every single time. Instead of them seeing that as a huge, oh, man, we have to do this, oh, man, it's not exciting, we like to make it fun and sexy. It's like this is this stuff that really allows for true exponential scale. You don't have to do it yourself.

No matter where you are in this kind of spectrum of data maturity whether you don't have any or you have a lot and you're just not doing anything with it, there are always steps that you can take to make better decisions based on what data you have. That's what we like to do. We like to come and step in and help be that arm and that division to translate the technical jargon and then really unsexy numbers to the story that drives organizational behavior.

That's the big difference is we focus on metrics that are not just vanity metrics is what we call them things that are nice to know. We focus on the things that are moving the needle, the ones that really, really will change how you act, what you do, what you spend your money on and really helps the organization understand how they can increase their revenues, decrease their waste, and really grow.

I think that's the problem as most of these companies have not invested in people who have that skill set and passion. They're just storing this stuff on these databases. Then, they just see it like a repository or almost like an external hard drive where they're like, "Oh, that's all that's the stuff of what happened before."

But going on to your point, you said something that was so vital. It's not just knowing what happened in the past. That is one aspect of data. Another aspect is understanding the underlying principles. That's the why, the how because if you can understand why things happen in your business and how they happened and where they happened and who they happened with, you can start to really play around with your strategies and execute on this new knowledge.

What ends up happening, so the first stage is knowing what happened. Then, it's knowing why it happened. Once you know that, then we get into predictability being able to know without a shadow of a doubt. If I spend X amount of revenue on this kind of marketing or outreach, I know that I can yield this level of results.

If you know that, then it's printing money. It's simple calculations and you know if I do this, it yields this and I'm going to do more of this so I get more of this outcome. That's how these brands are really crushing it is they figured that out. They didn't figure it out ... No. Actually, some figured it out accidentally. They stumbled upon it. They're like, "Oh, great we're making money. I don't know-how. I don't know why, but we're just going to keep doing what we're doing."

Others are more strategic and they figured that out. Then, they go and duplicate those efforts. That's what we want to help companies do is no matter where you are in revenue, no matter where you are in maturity with your data or collecting data, there's always something you can do right here, right now to collect more and to make better decisions to figure out how to get to that next level.

Dan: Well said. Category management actually came about this study to practice what I do. I'm a category management expert. That actually came about because we tried to weed out the excessive costs in traditional retail. To your point, this is critically important. People need to understand this.

In my world just using the syndicated data, you've got to understand it because you need to understand the trends, et cetera. This is how you help the retail. More importantly, the retailers want more than anyone can just provide in just a simple can top-line report. Being able to tell the story that you're talking about is so critically important because that gives the retailer something that you're not getting from competitors.

That's a point in negotiation, point of leverage. I try to teach brands how to leverage at its shelf with retailers to avoid some of the excess cost slotting and whatnot. But to your point in terms of understanding what you're going to get to promote this product at this price point on an endcap, et cetera here's what I'm going to get, that left going back to that, that's really important that brands understand that.

We're talking about here is trade manager. About 25% of a brand's trade management budget is tied to their gross revenue. It comes from their gross revenue. Let me rephrase it. 25% of a brand's gross revenue's tied to their trade management. Of that, 70 to 90% of all those dollars are wasted or ineffective meaning just throwing money at stuff because this is what we did last year, wouldn't have thought about why you did it.

What you guys are talking about is how to leverage that to be able to do more. Back to your point, why what happened happened? When I started going down that path and bringing that argument or that discussion that conversation to what I do for brands, that changed it dramatically. That's why I was able to push big brands around, et cetera.

Now, overlaying what you're talking about being able to understand the predictive piece. In other words, skinning to where the puck's going to be not where it's been, that's so important. What's even better is that a brand that can leverage these strategies, traditional category management can stand out a lot more.

Now, if I add in layering what you're talking about or just do what you're talking about on my own, I can get even more traction back to your point about historical data. Just another word, syndicated data, what sold through the register last week, last month, et cetera like taking what you're talking about, you can actually identify, like you said, predictive being able to understand why consumers do what they do.

Let me frame it this way. If you use the available resources to traditional brands, focus groups, et cetera, you get a very commoditized customer. You might get kind of close. If you're playing horseshoes and hand-grenades, a hand grenade, you might hit the target and might accomplish something, but the reality is you're not going to get close.

What you're talking about is identifying that unique consumer that's shopping online or in a store or whatever at a specific time that buys a specific product that's going to probably buy a similar product within a different category, et cetera. Your thoughts?

Meaghan: Yeah. I mean great points. I'll go back to the beginning of what you said, AJ. What business do you always say that we're in?

AJ: We're in the data business.

Meaghan: We're in the waste business.

AJ: Oh were in the waste ... I'm sorry. Yeah. We're in the waste business.

Meaghan: AJ always says that.

AJ: The problem we solve is waste. Everybody's really focused on the top-line optimization from there, but let's take a few steps back. What if you're optimizing the wrong things? That doesn't help anybody. That actually helps you go down. I think that's where we step back and say, "What are the right things. What are the wrong things?" Remove all that out of the equation, all that wasted, oh, maybe this is it. Then, we can focus on optimization.

Meaghan: Yeah. To your point, I mean there's so much wasted time, effort, energy, emotions and human resources and capital when it comes to managing all of this. If we can look at that 25% sliver and how 80 to 90% of it is wasted, AJ always says that whoever can spend the most to acquire a customer wins. We haven't talked about this kind of data at all. Yeah, we focused mostly on kind of the sales, the marketing, the demographic data up to this point, but now focusing it on internal numbers like if you don't know your cogs, you're shipping, you're warehousing, all of these things. You don't have that dialed in, there can be a 10% margin where your competitors then have 10% more to spend to acquire your market share.

Understanding your numbers internally as well are so, so, so very important. Where are you spending all of this money? Is it yielding positive results? If not, let's cut those areas of waste because it gives you then leverage and this huge swing to really then win those customers over. That's kind of the first part of what we were talking about and because I feel like too many people like AJ said to focus on optimization.

They don't really look at, okay, so optimization is just doing more of what's working well, but we can eliminate entire pain points. For example, actually, we're a perfect example of this. Typically, we're data-driven in our business as well.

Unfortunately, like most business owners, sometimes, we get caught up in the day-to-day and running the business and in the weeds of the business rather than working on the business. At least every year, we take a good one to two weeks to strictly look at data for our business. At one point in our business, we were operating at 3% profit margins. It was great. We had great brand awareness.

We had really great customer testimonials. We had a high NPS score. All of these things were fantastic, but that profitability wasn't optimized. In these two weeks of deep dive into our own data, what we found was one key metric that we had not been focused on that had really gotten out of control.

When we brought that to the top of our awareness and shared that with our team, what we found was us focusing on eliminating this one area of waste in our business, within three months of discovering this, this one KPI, we went from 3% profit margin to 22% profit margin in three months. This is not a topic that we talked about lightly because we truly believe that every business ... What you're saying? Every business is-

AJ: I have so many. I don’t know.

Meaghan: I know. Every business can be one data-driven decision away from exponential growth.

AJ: It doesn't have to take a year. it doesn't have to take a lot of money to go do it. It's being aware of where is that waste in that 25% and stop assuming things just because it worked last year like you were saying. Let's look ate every single thing we're doing with that 25% and break it down a little bit.

Meaghan: Yeah, because I mean the market is constantly changing. The strategies that you have to use to scale these businesses are constantly changing. Just looking at where you've been historically is not the full thing. We also need to have these models that take into account where we're heading and what's changing in the market, what's changing in business in general.

I know we went down a rabbit hole there, but I think it was very important:40].

Dan: No. It was very hopeful. I think it's very, very helpful. I mean I'm going to throw a quick story in here that kind of frames the way this industry looks at things. There was a radio announcer named Paul Harvey who was at ... I believe as Paul Harvey. He's at his son's house for Thanksgiving. His son's wife was cutting the hams off the turkey. He hands off the ham. He said, "Why are you doing this?"

She said, "I don't know because my mom always did that." Mom was standing there. She said, "Well, because my pan was too small." Get it. In other words, we do what we do because this is why we do it without any thought about why this matters.

If you come into my world and trying to understand this is what I do for brands, I help brands identify those unique opportunities, but a lot of times, the bigger brands, their Achilles heel, is that they do things without thinking about it, so the opportunity here is for these small brands to think more strategically.

We're talking about waste. Let me throw one more thing in there. By the way, to give the kind of an increase, that's phenomenal. When we're thinking about brands thinking about us as being a cost versus investment which I love the way you put that, remember when I went back to saying, "Well, brands are talked to raise money," and then hand their keys to someone, the challenge is there's a tremendous amount of waste in that when you let go of the reins of your own ship, more importantly, if you can manage us effectively, you can get more runway out of the resources you have.

You can look more attractive to the investors that you're trying to get money from. This is why over 80% of our natural brands fail within this first year, I'm committed to fix that. This is why we're in this conversation.

In addition to that, you can develop a strategic advantage over your competitors. What I love best is now you can take those insights and then leverage them back with the retailer to try to gain incremental shelf space, et cetera.

The benefit is not only do I explode sales online, but I'm also using those insights to fuel my brand everywhere I sell it. Your thoughts?

Meaghan: Oh, 100%. I mean this is exactly what people need to hear right now because, again, going back to that, so if you go to these retailers and you have all of this button-down. You show them exactly what those numbers are. You show them the story. You tell all of this. Most people are not doing that when they're going to the retailers.

If you can do this, if you bring this to the table, you are setting yourself apart from everybody else that is fighting for that shelf space. It is so important because you need every competitive advantage. Going and doing this work is it an investment not only just for yourself and maybe your ecommerce or whatever, but also to these retailers. You stand out, especially with BCs.

BCs are all about the numbers maybe like all about it. You need to really be able to tell this full robust story and not just historic, but where you're heading. Hey, we've done the calculations, and we understand. We've tested these things out. We've seen these types of results. We know that with X amount of capital, we can expand through this. They don't care about the sub-story of why the company was created. Some do, but most of the time, numbers tell a story.

AJ: Knowing your numbers is the number one thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary because knowing your numbers intimately and we're not talking about an 80-page report here. I mean I think a lot of people think, "Oh, I got to get all this whole thing together." No, no, no. Let's simplify that. You need like a one-sheet, a summary, a scorecard, a scorecard page that just has those needle-moving metrics that these investors or retailers need to see.

Meaghan: Or that you need to see, or that your team needs to see because too many people suffer from, well, I guess in our industry, we suffer from like paralysis by analysis as we love digging in, but a lot of people glaze over. If there are too many things, you can't manage it. Really being simplified and that's one of the processes that we walk through with each of our clients is how do we prioritize those KPIs, the numbers that are highest business value as well as feasible with the data that you do have because a lot of times they don't have the resources to go out and buy all of this vast amount of data.

With the data that you do have what is feasible and which ones will yield the most value to your organization, and those are those first-level KPIs that you focus on. Everything else, those nice to knows they can go down the list right, but let's define. AJ always like to say the North Star metrics, the ones that are really, really if we focus on these things, everything else will domino.

Dan: Love that. Love that. In fact, that's exactly what I talk about a lot in this podcast. Again, thank you for adding to that conversation. You've got to know your numbers. The best part about this is these small disruptive brands have a unique opportunity to own the space for the reasons we've talked about a little bit ago, the reason this matter is going step further is execution.

Most brands, they show up at retail. Hi, I'm a nice guy, got a cool product, a great slogan, cool T-shirts. Please put my product on your shelf. Please, please, please whereas what I teach brands is where to put it on the shelf how to merchandise it, how to promote it, how are you going to support it and then try to get the retailer to leveraging my experience, my expertise to help drive sales, sustainably elsewhere.

My point is this, and the reason I brought this up, it's not about me, but adding in what you guys are talking about gives me the brand so much added strength and power. It allows me to tell in terms of my story, my storytelling ability.

The other thing I talked about a lot, by the way, analysis paralysis, I think I invented it because I mean weeks down a rabbit hole with what I know something's here. There's got to be a story here and then nothing. This is where a talented category manager's worth their weight in gold as opposed to just an analyst, that's just okay, from an ivory tower standpoint, here's why it makes sense. That has nothing to do with reality kind as you're saying.

But where I wanted to go with this is when we're laying in these insights that you're talking about, I'm getting a lot more bandwidth. I'm changing the conversation. Now, what I want to talk about is how you share your story. The challenge is that everyone likes to share the story in their voice. The reason I put together my free turnkey self-storage strategies course is to teach brands how to share their story in a unified what some explain.

First of all, you get to know your customers. Those insights you're talking about, those are invaluable, but secondly, how do you communicate that through that the entire sales funnel? In other words, Meaghan, if I tell you a story, you tell AJ and AJ tell Spencer, et cetera, all the way down the line, well by the time it comes back round to me, it's unrecognizable.

Now, being able to leverage what you're talking about and teaching a company how to have the discipline to share and communicate effectively with a compelling story, that message across every aspect of their sales funnel is going to give them an incredible sustainable competitive advantage. Your thoughts and then how would you recommend a brand leverage what you're talking about to be able to take advantage of this because I guarantee the big brands don't do this.

Meaghan: That's very, very true so. Actually, he just got a company that he really loves which has simplified kind of a process for that storied brand.

AJ: Story band is all about making sure that you have clarity of message that you're not confusing the consumer with too much fluff that you're really getting to the heart of what you're trying to say and then putting it in such a simple way less is more that it becomes a story. It's literally the kind of a hero's journey. It's not putting you as the business as the hero in the story.

The customer's the hero. You're like the mentor. You were like the guide like in the Matrix. Neo is the hero. Morpheus is the mentor. You've got lots of other movies I pull from the nerdy Matrix stuff, but that's what it's about. It's putting the customer first and like guiding them on this journey of your brand. That's how you tell a story from that marketing standpoint in that conversation to move them along.

Meaghan: Yeah. If that is super, super clear, then you're able to come to their retailers. You already know exactly what your target demographic is. You know exactly how they view you and your brand. You can present that to them in a clear way because you've been tracking it through your own data.

It's interesting because I'm glad that you tied this in because even things that are kind of esoteric or more they're kind of less things that you would think of with the traditional data sense can all be trapped. We have a clean that it's fascinating like social media has become a huge ground for creating your message and really defining who you are to your clientele.

We have a lot of clients that have a huge budget for content marketing. A lot of times, that includes videos. It includes these one-minute hero videos, a three-minute story video or a 20-minute like a trailer video. A lot of times, our clients are saying, "Oh, well, I can just track how many people watched it. That's about it."

I'm like, "No, no, no." We can tie in a lot of these other variables that you might not think of as data like we have a lot of clients right now that awkward humor is a big piece of their marketing right now. They want to know if that's converting. They've got 10 different videos that they've put out there. We already know what percentage of people watched each video.

Then, they put in their different tags at different places. Was the awkward humor in the first 15 seconds or at minute three? Does it make an impact on conversions or on stick rate if you do it earlier in the turning? Taking all of these different variables that you wouldn't necessarily think are data, but it's creative. They define your brand.

Hey, we've got a client that their Instagram is their number one traffic generator. We track all of these variables like was the color of the post mostly pink or mostly blue? Was it promoting a holiday? Was it user-generated like somebody sent you a video and you posted that or was it done in a studio? Was the studio inside? Was it outdoors? Was it shot from top-down or from side profile view?

All of these things, they're just like a simple binary yes, no or like a drop-down of yes, we did this inside versus out. All of that becomes data to tell this story about what your clientele likes and who they are and really it lets you then see what your story is through the eyes of the people that are watching those raving fans that come back over and over again.

You can really define out what your story is and how to market to those people with that same type of marketing so that it is cohesive. I know that's kind of esoteric, but it's just to prove that data exists in all aspects of your business including the branding component and that story that you're telling with your clients.

Dan: Absolutely. Thank you for sharing. By the way, I just finished reading Don Miller's book. I've been recommending it to my clients because it's a great way to frame it, I've got a degree in marketing. I didn't realize this because I think all of us do you that insider language creeps in. I expect you to understand what I'm talking about [crosstalk 00:47:35] so trying to step back and reframe it, but the point is to be able to leverage those concepts, have someone else to be a guide ... Having a guide helped the hero. The hero is the customer, et cetera. Love it. But being able to-

AJ: So important.

Dan: It is. It is. Then, leverage what you're talking about, Meaghan. That had so much to it.

AJ: Then, I want to add-

Dan: Go ahead

AJ: ... one other. I'm sorry to cut you off, but the other component we haven't really talked about here which is very, very kind of a different level of thinking which is a direct response. What is the clear call-to-action? At the end of the day, you tell a great story. Great stories have an ending, but in this case, we really want to make sure the call-to-action is very, very clear and simple is that going to a specific link. Is it specifically going to a certain store, certain aisle?

What clearly can brands do to communicate to people in this world of distraction and noise? The clear you are, the simpler you make it for the consumer at the end of the story, then you're going to have that much more of a dramatic effect on that story.

Dan: Well said. Thank you for sharing that. I was going to back up a minute and say one thing that people have to watch out for is you can buy volume. You can buy sales volume, velocity, et cetera. But going back to what you're saying, AJ, absolutely. You've got to be able to have that call action. If you've got that relationship with your customer beyond the four corners of your package, your email list, et cetera, if you understand the nuances through a digital situation as you guys have, that ability to mine those data points so that when you're talking to them, you're talking to them as if they were having the conversation themselves.

You're effectively in their head. Then, be able to tell that compelling story, that's the home run which is exactly why I was thrilled when you guys reached out to me. Thank you for doing that. What are the thoughts do you have about how a brand would leverage? Back to what you're saying, AJ, the call to action needs to be clear and simple. I couldn't agree with you more. What examples would you offer to an emerging brand or to any brand to be able to leverage what we're talking about in terms of having that kind of messaging so that you, the consumer, would want to buy that product, would be compelled to buy it?

AJ: I've been thinking about that for about 20 minutes. There are several different ways. It really kind of depends on where these brands are. Speaking of the brands out there that are maybe smaller and haven't really reached out to the type of thinking, it really comes at first, we look at auditing your data, but let's look at where you are first.

Right now in time, what data do we have available about our consumers? I'm not saying go out and buy all the expensive stuff and saying, "What do we have now? What do have access to?" Let's look at that first and create that avatar or that profile.

From there, then let's look at, well, where are more of these people or where can we reach these people if we don't have the addresses and everything. Well, then, you can start getting on if they're more ... Facebook's a great place to start there. You don't have to start with Facebook ads, but you can start putting content out there and just getting the brand awareness out there or choosing several different platforms to kind of see which one is going to work really well,

Starting the conversation and giving value, giving funny videos, good content, quotes, whatever it is putting it out there and then ask and you shall receive, I'll say it again. There are such great little tools out there that are not the typical survey where you've got 50 questions. This will only take half hour of your time, please, to fill it out. It's what are those key five to 10 at the most questions that you can start engaging in there one at a time, not a scrollable page.

Literally, the only thing they see is this question and a yes or no or a drop-down. It pops up the next question. It's very quick and simple and engaging and visual. You may be giving them an ... Incentive also can help. We'll get you a coupon for this or whatever like just getting them to give you that feedback, then, you build up a hundred to thousand responses.

Now, you've got some new data to work from. You've got this much better than a focus group. You've got this group of people to then go and really ask what their biggest problems are and get their feedback about the product.

I think that's the beginning stage is like starting with the data you already have. Then, start to reach out to as many people and get that first thousand. Get that first thousand people on your list or in that engagement. It's really not that hard to get.

Meaghan: Yeah, not nowadays. I think piggybacking on that and kind of switching the subject a little bit, but I think what AJ is also alluding to is we have this process that we call metrics mapping, but it's really just a way to think about the different aspects of your business where it starts very, very high level. What is our business goal? What is our goal with defining our story?

What is our goal of defining our customer or ideal customer? What is our goal here? Looking at the overall higher-level goals of the business, then reversing that into the secondary questions that you would need answers to in order to hit that goal.

Then once you have those questions, then you can turn those into measurable KPIs. Then, the next logical thing is, well, do we have a way to track this right now. Is it already existing within our systems or is it something new that we need to put in place because a lot of our clients, they'll be asking some of these really, really intense and valuable questions.

Then, they realized that they were never tracking anything to answer these questions. One of the big things that they want is like Net Promoter Score or they want to know like how many of our customers are going from our online store and then going to the retailer. They don't have a customer loyalty program.

This framework of metrics mapping allows you to then look at and do a little bit of a gap analysis. What is the data that we do have? What action can we take from that, but then also what data would be super valuable that we could track around the story around our customers, around whatever it maybe? What do we need to go and implement to then get that data back?

I know that kind of took it and totally shifted the direction [crosstalk framework.

AJ: perfect. That was the first part of mine. You just went deeper into that which is what data do we have. That is the exact framework that we go through all the time. I think that's a perfect position.

Dan: I'd love what you guys are talking about. I want to back up and go one step further backwards to the foundational piece, the reason I created that course. Most of the brands that I talk to don't really know who their core customer is. Someone who buys chips. Someone who buys whatever Without understanding what that customer looks like, why is your customer look different than another customer?

My point is nothing happens to tell somebody sells something. If you're not able to speak to that unique customer that understands what's important, then you're missing the point. Let me frame it this way. I use this story a lot, this example a lot. If you go by the cheap generic bread, then you're hungry almost before you finish eating it.

If you buy the best mainstream bread, you might be satiated for three or four hours. However if you are what you eat, then what you eat matters. If you eat the organic bread which has all the nutrients your body needs, you might be satiated even longer.

Even though you're paying more for that product, that shelf, you're saving money in the long run because you eat less of it because it gives your body more of what you need. That customer that understands that. That's what you want to get to. Going back to the focus groups and all that other stuff, you're not just a human that eats bread. You are a specific kind of customer that is trying to achieve that objective, et cetera.

Now, taking that and overlaying it into what you're talking about is where you start really standing the customer and being able to help with the customer journey. Now, I want to go one step further beyond where you work. If I'm a brand and if I've got an item and I put it into a traditional retail store, toss a lot of money to make it, to put it in a package, to ship it to everything else to get it onto that shelf set.

Then, I've got to wait until customers buy it. I've got a promoted, et cetera. Horribly expensive. However, if I had a community or understood who my community is, I could reach out to him the same as you were talking about, AJ and say, "You know what? Here's a high-value coupon. If you can answer a few questions to help me innovate, what would you like to see me create?"

If I created this in this fashion, would you buy it? You can really squeeze or reduce the waste like that, reduce the waste-

AJ: There we go.

Dan: ... in trying to get the product on the shelf. When you start selling a product in traditional retail, you've got something people actually want to buy, what a concept more runway. Your thoughts?

Meaghan: I mean this is exactly where the market is heading. I mean think about the whole concept of Kickstarter. It's literally going out there and saying, "I have this idea. Do you guys want this? Do you support it and even getting pre-revenue to go and develop or to create that product.

I mean nowadays, consumers are more than generous to give their feedback if they know that it will create impact and solve their problems and give them what they want and need. I think you hit the nail on the head as this is where the market is already heading. We just haven't had a lot of implementers in the market yet because it's still kind of at the beginning of the hype cycle.

This is still new. It's still not something that is mainstream, but it's all out there. The consumers are ready for this. It's now how do we take action as a CPG brand. How do we give them what they want in that format that they want?

It could be through a quick start. It could be through these surveys. It could be through Facebook. It could be through any of these, but take action from this like the demographic is here. They are hungry for this. Those who are adopting to this new wave of purchase patterns and priorities with individuals and being loyal to these brands like they're the ones that will really, really make it.

I mean we're getting more and more unicorn companies that are just springing up and springing up because they're listening to their people. They're really understanding what people are asking for. They're asking those people for it actively.

Dan: Well, I'm going to be your chief or whatever component of getting people to go down this path. You're implementers. The word you use, I apologize to forget, but that's exactly why I do what I do to try to teach brands these creative strategies because if you can leverage this, then this is how you're going to get a significant competitive advantage.

One of the things you both have touched on a little bit about customer loyalty. In my world, that's a myth. That's a joke. It's so frustrating to listen to people talk about it. I've got a loyalty card for every airline I fly at. I've also got a loyalty card for every retailer in my neighborhood. They're coupons. They're nothing more than just coupons.

I go where I get the best deal. However, if you're able to develop a community, a tribe through your online presence, through the insights that you guys are able to provide, now of all of a sudden, I have true loyalty. Now of all of a sudden, I have customers that want to be evangelists for my product because they have that connection and that relationship. Your thoughts?

Meaghan: Oh my gosh. Yeah. I mean. Yes. 1000%. I mean nowadays, it's almost, I wouldn't say, an expectation yet of the consumers, but it's heading that way. It very much is. If they have a portal with which they can log in, they can see their historical purchases, they can see how many points they've accrued over time. They can use that. I mean people nowadays are getting used to like ... I mean American Express. All of the credit cards have these loyalty points, all of the airlines.

Then, even CVS. I choose CVS over Walgreens because I have my online portal where I can go in, and I can look at everything historically. It helps me to come tax time to go and be like, "How much did I spend total on these healthcare expenses over the year?" Simple things like that and then I know that every time I go I get $2 off. They show me on a 50-foot receipt.

But this is becoming a new norm and a standard that the consumers are expecting. A lot of brands just haven't utilized that yet. Even if you could think about it this way like what if you could have your online portal where your customers can go in and they can scan their receipt from Target that they purchased your item and that then also gives them points later on. Then, you can earn a coupon.

Then, this is now bridging the gap between the retail where you're not getting a lot of data and you're not getting that granularity and your online presence and it's really creating this seamless journey where you can now for the first time truly articulate what your customer lifetime value is.

AJ: And close the gap between that and the syndicated data [crosstalk 01:01:08] But then, you're saying, "Okay. Well, is that actually true? We're getting this kind of data, and it actually is or is not." As long as you close that gap being a little bit closer, that's great. On the other side of coupons, also making it very simple for people to refer business to you.

If people are a fan of your stuff, make it an incentive to tell three people, tell five people. If you do it before Friday, we'll send you a free product, whatever, like one free product for three or four new leads or people that can buy that, that's worth it.

Meaghan: We're entering this phase where influencers have had a big impact on brands over the last several years. But now, we're really starting to enter this phase of micro-influencers where brands are starting to sponsor people that only have 2000 or 3000 followers on Instagram, but because they're actually friends, they're more integrated into that and they can get people to really spread your message and spread your word for very little on the dollar.

It can also be coupon codes where you're incentivizing them to spend more to refer your message. Again putting it out there and making sure that you know that this is part of our goal is to grow our client base, to grow our market awareness, to grow this segment in our consumer's mind so how do we do that? We have to be able to track what's working, track what's not working and test these different areas and then really tie it back to revenue.

Dan: Well said. Thank you for sharing that. As I mentioned a minute ago and to big brands with deep pockets, they can buy that volume. But that volume actually pulls dollars and profits out of the category. It actually commoditizes the retailer. It actually commoditizes the shopper, dumbs down the experience.

It is the antithesis of everything we're talking about, small brands that take advantage of exactly what you're talking about, those are the brands that can dramatically reap those benefits. Thank you so much for sharing that. Can you please tell us a little bit more about how do we get ahold of you? Before so, any parting thoughts? Any closing thoughts?

Meaghan: I think the big thing that we want to drive home is that big data is not big data anymore. You don't have to wait until you're a hundred million in annual revenue or a billion in annual revenue to be able to get insights from your data. You don't have to do this yourself. There are teams out there that can fractionally come in for short periods of time and give you these answers to the questions that you're asking.

I want to also separate that data is not just ones and zeros. It's a story. Data is information. If you're better informed, you will win. Making it a priority, creating a budget. Most of our clientele have marketing budgets and the marketing allocated spend every year. Then, they don't do the same thing for data.

That is one thing that we want to drive home is no matter how small you are, data will be your competitive advantage. Start setting aside that budget now because it is an investment that pays off multiple times over. Obviously, you can reach out to us because that's what we do. We're passionate about it. Obviously, we're super nerdy.

We want to help all of these companies grow and scale and make this not as scary and make it digestible. For your audience, what we're offering is if you come to our website and we'll put it in the show notes and link it out, but we will offer you guys a free data strategy session like an hour where we dive into your company into your technologies. Ask those important questions. Really give the hierarchy of what you should be focused on and what that roadmap is because you don't need to do all of the things right now.

But what is the one or two things you could do right now that will help you exponentially grow? We'll promise a free data strategy session. We also have some tools, some free resources that are helpful in this journey in understanding your tracking and what you should be tracking as well as what metrics would be important.

We'll link those as well and give those sheets. There are free resources. You just download it. You can walk this through with your team. It's not something you need a data scientist to do. We just wanted to share that with you guys. Obviously, everybody can find us on our website which is It's P-R-A-X-I-S Metrics,

Dan: I love it. That's very generous. Thank you so much for sharing that. We needed before we finish when you talk about your dashboard, why it matters, that kind of stuff sorry to get to that earlier, but your point about budgeting data, big brands budget a ton of money to buy data.

Small brands can do a lot more with a lot less if they're smart. Can you tell us about the dashboard? I love the fact that you've got those tools so that you don't need to be a nerd like the three of us that get into the data that don't mind doing the analysis process stuff. Tell us a little bit about that? Why does it matter? How does it help me as a brand?

Meaghan: Dashboards, I would say the reason they're so valuable is it takes the technical and simplifies it down for the non-technical.

Dan: I love it.

AJ: In other words, if you don't want to look at spreadsheets all day, then there are other ways that have data become more digestible. Dashboards help communicate the right things in a more visual way as long as the data is clean and clear and concise. That's what we do is help make sure we build into these dashboards clean data that you can trust.

Then, once you're looking at these five, 10 KPIs that are the most important, you know and your team knows how to take action from them. That's why a dashboard is so important taking it from the database and putting it here in your pocket on your laptop, up on the screen in your office.

Meaghan: Yup. It makes it more digestible and really helps you just answer those questions quickly so that you don't have to go in and play around with the data and run these reports only quarterly to find out that action yadda yadda yadda is it makes it real-time. It makes it automated so that you don't have to have human error and human resources always manually going in and creating these.

Then, it really simplifies the complex and the other aspect to it is it can be programmatic to alert you so that you can manage by exception. You don't have to log in five times a day to get the information. It can ping you and notify you if something changes by X percent. It makes your job easier and not more complex.

Dan: I love it. I don't need to go get a Ph.D. in nerd. No. That was perfect. Thank you so much. I appreciate your sharing all that. This has been so valuable. Thank you for coming on, for reaching out to me in the first place. This is exactly what small brands need. They need to know that these capabilities exist.

They need to know that there are creative ways for them to scale and grow their business. They need to know that there are ways for them to gain a significant competitive advantage across any category in a channel in the economy by leveraging the strategies that we talked about. I cannot thank you enough.

I really appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on. I'll make sure to put links to everything we talked about in the show notes and on the podcast web page.

AJ: Yeah. Thanks for having us. We had a lot of fun.

Meaghan: Really enjoyed it.

Dan: Thanks.

Dan: I'd like to thank Meaghan and AJ for coming on today and for sharing their wisdom and their insights.

I'll be certain to put a link to Praxis Metrics on the podcast webpage and in the show notes. I mentioned that they've generously supplied three gifts for you. The first is a course. Practice UTM Foundations Tracking Course, a tune of $97 value. The second free gift that they're offering is a Practice Metrics Analytics Audit Implementation course, a $397 value, that you can get both of these courses for free with the discount code CMS. That again is the discount code C-M-S.

You can get to this either in the show notes on the podcast webpage or by going to That's P-R-A-X-I-S-C-O-U-R-S-E-S, discount code CMS. The other free gift that they're offering is a free consultation. You can get there by going to Praxis meeting. You want to be certain to check out these free resources to help you up your game. To help you compete more effectively.

Thank you, Meaghan and AJ for making these valuable gifts available. Today's free downloadable guide is the essential or new item checklist, the recipe for success. I thought this would be a great addition. This will provide the healthy foundation that you need to grow your brand on.

In addition to that, this week's weekly newsletter is chock full of free resources to say thank you for all that you do to support me and everything that you do to support a community. If you haven't subscribed already, you can get there, as well as getting all the free gifts information about them, and this week's free downloadable guide on the podcast webpage at As always, thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Praxis Metrics Discount code CMS

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at for the show notes along with more great brand building articles and resources. Check out my free course Turnkey Sales Story Strategies, your roadmap to success. You can find that on my website or at Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues.

Sign up today on my website so you don’t miss out on actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.

I appreciate all the positive feedback. Keep your suggestions coming.

Until next time, this is Dan Lohman with Brand Secrets and Strategies where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

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