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What We Talk About

The easiest person to sell to is someone who’s already buying from you – which means it’s time to treat your existing customers like GOLD. But we don’t always know how to do that in a way that stands out and commands attention. 

In this special Thanksgiving episode, we talk with Mark Stern, Customer Experience Expert, on how to genuinely delight your audience and show your appreciation in a B-I-G way.


Read more about how Mark can help you delight your customer on his website.

Some screenshots from our interview:

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:01
Have you ever gotten an unexpected present, or a gift, or something from a company or a person, and it just kind of makes you giddy for a few days or even longer? Well, it's actually shown that those kinds of things help your customers and your audience really refer you more or become customers faster, or do all of the things that we want them to do. And so we knew when we met Mark Stern, who we affectionately call the box guy, we had to have him on for this special Thanksgiving episode all about audience appreciation, and how you can put stuff like this together. And so he has graciously agreed to be here with us today. Mark, thank you so much for joining us,

Mark Stern 0:45
Allison. Yeah, so good, reconnecting with you guys. Hey, Jenny.

Jennie Wright 0:47
Hey, Happy Thanksgiving to you Americans, we had ours last month. For this special episode, I'm so glad that you're here. And we had such a good time in the pre call. We actually talked about actually recording that pre call and using it as our proper podcast episode together, because it was just so good. So I hope that we're gonna bring some of that really special energy and conversation that we're having into today's I think it was awesome. And it really opened Allison, in our, in my eyes. Now, I want to say something about the fact that Allison has done, you know, direct response mail in the past, right, Allison, and you've done the inserts and the fun, cool things. And I'm all about audience appreciation and customer appreciation. But I don't you know, at one point I was sending because I was doing summits, I was sending boxes of what are they called truffles, chocolate truffles. And I was sending it to all my experts on my summit these little boxes for truffles. truffles are like they have like a temperature problem. And by the time that I got them sent to my experts, it was costing me almost 20 or $24, or something like that per expert per box. I was like, wow. And as you know, somebody starting out, I was like for four truffles, I think I can do better. Find something a little bit better. So I just want to talk to you. I'm gonna ask you, in your terms in your eyes, what is audience and customer appreciation?

Mark Stern 2:12
Yeah, you know, it's such a good question. But for me, as an influencer, for people who you're an entrepreneur, you may be a course creator, or coach, you know, you have in your mind how you want to serve your audience. And we invest a lot in creating our own products and services. So what the challenge is, is you could have the best product or service out there, if you don't represent it in a way to help inspire and drive success for your students or your audience. I hate to say this, but sometimes I like this and go. So what this is why, you know, when it comes to showing audience appreciation for me, the best thing I can do is I do what I do for a reason I'm motivated, I have a big why to say this is the impact that I want to have. How can I provide the tools and resources to my audience to really set them up for success. So they can have the desired impact. And you have to look at it through their eyes, they give you money, because they have a pain point that you can solve. So if they have a pain point that you could solve for me, it's just what can I do to make sure that you get the results as why you invested in my products and services in the first place. So that appreciation is really thinking about that experience designed in a way to say, you know, this is more than just throwing a course out there that you did in a vacuum that you locked yourself in a room for a weekend. It's truly thinking, How do I get the intended impact as to why I started this business in the first place. I

Alyson Lex 3:34
really like the take that you have one that that it's not just about like, Hey, here's a something just a little present. And I'm trying to not like say the things that I've sent like stickers and coffee mugs, because that would make me feel bad about myself. I know it's not

Mark Stern 3:53
bad, because there's, there's really yeah.

Alyson Lex 3:55
But it's it's more than just that it's it's giving them the entire experience. What did you say the experience creation? Or something like that?

Mark Stern 4:04
Well experience design? Yeah,

Alyson Lex 4:05
yeah, the experience design. And I really like that. So during that pre call that Jenny mentioned, you mentioned the three different strategies. And I think that's probably the heart of experience design.

Mark Stern 4:16
Right? Yeah. And I'm happy to jump into a little bit of that as well. But, you know, we're so I run the custom box agency, we're in the business of really, you know, for a lot of people who will send boxes out in the mail or physical packages. It's about, you know, in their eyes, let me stick a water bottle or t shirt. And for me I look at and say it's not about putting swag in a box. It's about being really intentional with how physical and digital come together. And part of how you have to see it is we're in the digital age. The barriers to entry to create a digital product are at an all time low. We can literally whip out our phone and film a course and then put it online in a marketplace and make money from it. But with that risk of low barriers means that there's a saturation. content, I think I read somewhere that there's like over a billion pieces of content are uploaded every single day that are vying for our attention. And if you just look at Digital, as you know, when we talk about connection, because so much of what we're doing is about how do we, like as a business owner better connect with our audience? How do we better to connect with each other, we're in unprecedented times that we're so disconnected. Then when you think about what connection is, it's really how you experience the world through your senses. And everything online is what you see and what you hear. So when we talk about what you hear a podcast online, is what you hear YouTube videos, what you see in what you hear, and E learnings or courses, what you see in what you hear, scrolling through social media is what you see. So all these billions of pieces of data are competing for two of your five senses. How do we replicate something that's more about the immersion of a Disney World or going to a movie theater or going to a restaurant? Well, we can't easily create that in our own home environments. But the closest we can do is I can send you something to activate, touch, taste and smell to make you more immersed and more connected to what we're doing. So that's kind of like what we're my philosophy is from experience design. if everyone's competing for what you see and what you hear if I can compete against them, and then add elements of touch, taste and smell with a physical component that activates the digital realm. It's a whole different experience that I can create in terms of how I connect with my audience and connect with my customer. And the way we see it is to activate them in a way that you just can't digital and give them the tools they need to be successful removing those barriers to success. There's just so much that you can do there.

Jennie Wright 6:38
I love that. And I love when you touch on the fact that you're trying to create like the connection with smell, taste and touch. Can I just say for everybody universally right now? Can't we just all say that we need more of that right now. Like, we all need more connection, and we all need more touch and taste and smell and all of those things, Allison, and I have been having unprecedented unprecedented amounts of conversations with people who were just like, like, I just need a hug. You know, some people are like, I just need a different view or different view in the world or space. Like, you know, I get, right, I get outside for 10 minutes, went for a walk actually went to go get my flu shot yesterday, I went outside and stare at the sky. And I was like I am so grateful for the fact that like a mountainside for 10 minutes. Because, you know, just trying to get that appreciation. And I think by creating what you're creating, that you can infuse a feeling right, depending on and I mean, you can get so specific and what you're doing in creating that experience that, like if you want people to feel a certain way, you could infuse those boxes with a certain taste, touch and smell that elicits that particular feeling. And I think that's

Mark Stern 7:53
really, really cool. Totally.

Alyson Lex 7:55
You mentioned movie theaters, like I've liked going to the movies, but it's not like my big thing. My favorite thing about going to the movies is smelling the popcorn. Like I'm one of those people that think popcorn smells better than it tastes. Because I think it smells amazing. And that's something that I can't replicate at home in my microwave. And so I love the idea of that, pulling them together

Mark Stern 8:21
with digital, like going to a fair and the small funnel cake like that's the only environment that you can really stimulate that. But it's just like going into an Italian restaurant, just the smells of it like the smell of pizza. For me, it's just like I love pizza. That's it just takes you to a place that that again, if it's digital only, you know, you're missing on some of these layers of connectivity that you just can't easily activate in the same regards,

Jennie Wright 8:44
hundred percent.

Alyson Lex 8:46
So talk to me about what this might look like in either a hypothetical or real life example.

Mark Stern 8:53
Yeah, and what we tell people, especially for like business owners, is that you do see a lot of the custom boxes hit the marketplace right now with course creators or with people with the virtual live event or challenges. I see a lot of people with software as a service platforms, introduced them as well. But I turned me people think of it a little bit bigger than that if we talk about customer acquisition, audience activation, you know, there is three phases in that customer lifecycle, you acquire a customer, so acquisition you fulfill upon which you acquire them for and then you want to retain them. And there's three different opportunities in terms of growing and monetizing your business. There's a different way I would use a custom box strategically across all three for acquisition. I can think about creating a box for prospecting, I can think of creating a box to do a dream 100 or joint venture partner acquisition there could be other influencers whose radar I want to get on, I may send them a physical box and create this experience to start to build a relationship. So there's a lot on the acquisition front. Real Estate Agents if you're moving into a new city may send you a small package or box to welcome you to the city as a means to acquire you as a customer. If you move into fulfillment, this is what you're seeing most people deliver with custom boxes. So that's like your course creator, you're a coach or consultant, you're an agency owner sending a welcome gift to your audience. It could be you sell razors, you're fulfilling upon the product that the person purchased from you. Those are all in that fulfillment pay phase. And then, to me my favorite element, which a lot of people, especially business owners, forget to tap into, is the audience that you've already nurtured. How do you continue to extend a send, activate them, so they become raving fans of your product, because who's going to sell your product better than you, it's going to be the people who've had results with your product. So from a retention standpoint, this is the power of gamification, it's the Power of Thinking of achievement. If you hit this milestone, I'm going to reward you by sending you a box in the mail, it could also be elements of surprise and delight, especially around the holiday season right now, you know, this is kind of where if you are an agency owner, you may want to send boxes to all your clientele just to say thank you. That's it, they're not expecting it. They don't know what's coming in the mail, but you're just sending it as a mark to, to reiterate how grateful you are for the business and the relationship that you built with them. It is an amazing retention play as well. So this is kind of where How does this look? You know, from a strategy perspective, it really depends on how you're thinking about using boxes, my challenges, you can see kind of it's more than just putting a T shirt in a box, it's really thinking about the story. And really the strategy behind you know why you're sending this in the first place.

Jennie Wright 11:29
It seems very intentional. And I love that it's not just throw crap. And I used to be in the business where we would do the swag stuff. And we would have you know, I was actually in charge of it, I had three huge cabinets full of swag. And it would just be like your have a leather jacket with our logo on it. You know, here has we used to get gold watches we used to actually give gold minting coins. We had like we had an actual proper dye. And we minted gold coins. And gave them as gifts we did all of this kind of it was upper level swag stuff we were still doing. So we had the pens and the this and that and the other but we like we had some of that upper level stuff. And it's really cool. Now, I want to talk about gratitude. Because we're you know, it's it's American Thanksgiving. And I want to do I want to dive into the gratitude bit. And I want to focus on the surprise and delight part that we were kind of touching on a little bit earlier. How does this help you stand out? How is it going to have that long term effect versus Oh, this is kind of cool. And then it gets thrown in the corner?

Mark Stern 12:33
Yeah, you know, this is kind of where with surprise and delight, like I'm not a fan of gift cards. And the main reason I don't like gift cards is a gift just because I always forget to use them, or I misplace them and lose them. Or they end up having like 78 cents, and then they disappear. And then I just never use them. So from a surprise and delight, here's, here's what I'll tell you like the one most powerful thing about it is, in the digital age. When you send physical packages to people, one of the things that ends up happening is unboxing videos, people love to share what they've received in the mail, and they share it in a place of authenticity. And that's the difference between, you know, people who may just post a review, because I have people who are like, Oh, can you listen to my podcast and go write a review. It's not from a place of authenticity, it's just an A place of need at that moment. And that's what's really cool about the boxes is if you're really intentional with the story inside the box, people like to tell other people about it and share it I've had videos of sending boxes to people that they went online and spoke about me to their audience for five to seven minutes. Like I can't pay Facebook ads enough for that. And that's just like their mark of just being surprised and delighted and excited to authentically share with their audiences. So that's part of the part a, I would say Part B in terms of how to think a little bit more about that story, the best thing you can do is one listen to your audience and see where their struggles and to do something I like to call with if you could put anything in a box that eliminates barriers. So when I talk about eliminating barriers, it's if you're a course creator, and you're requiring me to download a workbook, that means you put up a couple of barriers because that means I have to download the workbook, I've got to print it, which means I have to have a printer, I have to have paper I have to have ink. So there's too many things that could go wrong between me being successful with your product or service versus not. Whereas if I sent you in a box, the workbook I've completely eliminated all those excuses. So I've broken down barriers to success. So when I think about surprise and delight, if you know your audience, and you can think about something you can complement with their experience with the journey they're going on with you. that eliminates barriers, whatever they may look like. That is an amazing thing to stick inside a box. Great way to show gratitude, great way to help them on their journey because you just made it one step easier for them.

Alyson Lex 14:57
So I love what you're saying there and about putting stuff in the box. Or if you're fulfilling something or something like that. What do you think about putting in something fun to like, the way that I've always tried to do any boxes is, you know, here's stuff you might need. Because there's also like the prospecting boxes, I do those. Here's stuff you need. And then here's something fun and usable and permanent. Maybe with some candy. Candy, always, I'm happy to buy your affection with candy.

Mark Stern 15:30
I mean, I'm having flowers too. So right.

Alyson Lex 15:33
But I mean, so is it the surprise and delight to meet? I mean, do you mix the two ideas together with like a little bit of swag and a little bit of barrier busters and maybe some candy or flowers? Like, is that a good strategy?

Mark Stern 15:49
Yeah, and this is again, where I would say so fine. I to me, like fun is just like I want to make whatever I send you. practicality is important, but having fun with it. And the experience you create around it is also really important. So what I mean by that is one of our core products that we have is called Virtual social box. The whole idea about virtual social boxes, I'm sending you a wineglass or rocks, glass or coffee mug in the mail. And you can look at it and say this is a glass. But if I just let it be a glass, and it's just a glass, you know, it's like a wedding ring, if it's if it's, it's just a ring, but there's so much more to the story of a wedding ring than just a ring. So this is the power of the story and the experience of bringing physical and digital together. So it's very different. If I say, I host this monthly social hour, that's just designed to bring people together, here's your glassware for that event, come join us each month at this time, like I've just taken it from something that we're disconnected, that's just through digital channels to point you a little bit closer to me. And then for a lot of people who buy products and services, it's not just about the product or service that you're selling, it's also about connection to the attractive character behind the product. People want to be closer to you, a lot of times people buy online, especially because they resonate with you and who you are, and they look at you as their trusted mentor. So that's kind of where it's just like, if I can do things that can activate my audience in a way that they get excited. And I give them the tool to tool in that in the virtual social boxes, pour yourself a glass of wine, or pour yourself a cup of coffee and join me for a morning coffee chat once a month where they can get to know you be part of your community see each other face to face, it's more than just, you know, being behind a video that gets shown online, it's a little bit more of the connection piece, you can any day turn any product around. That's fun if you create experience around it. And these are not difficult experiences with what we've done with virtual social box. Like for me, I have a group of entrepreneurs that we literally meet every Thursday over a glass of wine. And that's it, it's really simple. And we do it via zoom. We're not talking fancy technology, I think you can get a free zoom account. But what makes people come back again and again, is the connection, the feeling of part of that community, feeling like they are connected to other people around them and being part of that experience. And especially if you start to think about that experiencial element to what you do. I have clients that are doing monthly meetings with their clientele, from people in the accounting business. So you name it that just allows them to feel connected to that influencer in part of the community. And trust me when I say when you feel more connected to that influencer, it's easy to sell, it's easy to upsell, it's easy to ascend, because you've built that trust element, and you've invited them into your world. So that's where it's just like, you can have a lot of fun, you can put a lot of fun elements in there. But just make sure that the story around it to me is is one that is the right story that you want to deliver to, you know your clientele your audience, your customers.

Alyson Lex 18:46
So I have two things. First, I happen to have like a case of coffee mugs that I bought for my business pre COVID. And I'm swiping that whole coffee idea. I'm like, how can you use this for individual clients? Maybe a catch up, let's have a cup of coffee together. Like I'm there. I'm swiping the idea I will give you credit. But the other thing is, I mentioned wedding rings. Jenny and I both touched our rings. Like you just activated this on the subconscious part. I mean, she noticed that she messaged me, she's like we both just touched our rings. It that kind of like really excites the psychology geek in me because it was so completely subconscious. For us. It's completely unintentional, that you mentioned something that had importance to each of us. And it activated a physical response in us. And I almost feel like if you you know hair, here's your your coffee mug for our morning chats once a month. Like you mentioned it and they remember it and they go make sure it's clean, or they think about it for a minute. And it just allows them to spend more mental energy with you not on you but with you. Yeah, and kind of build that connection. those neurons a little bit stronger. That's my non expert. Brain Science thought.

Jennie Wright 20:07
I have a follow up on that. Sorry, I have a quick follow up on that. Actually, this morning, I had a cup of coffee in the mug that Alison sent me. And as soon as that mug came out, and I was having that conversation that I was having with my partner, steered towards Alison, like talking about the podcast and talking about Alison, and how the podcast is going, and all this kind of stuff, just the physicality of having that mug. Now, if that mug said, you know, the custom box agency on it, like my brain would probably start thinking about the stuff. And I just think that's really, really cool. So there's our little Neuro Linguistic, non, you know, whatever we want to call it stuff.

Mark Stern 20:49
But in this is the other thing, just to let you know, versus a custom box. And so for those who are listening to this, you know, custom boxes, we're really talking about what we send in the mail as a fully branded box to your brand, you know, I'm gonna hold up, those are beautiful. You know, this is a virtual social box size, this is a small box size, we have ones that are massive boxes, some that are even bigger than this, this was part of a course you can kind of see the

Alyson Lex 21:16
Yeah, hold it up, I'm

Jennie Wright 21:16
just gonna grab a screenshot, we'll throw it right on our page.

Mark Stern 21:20
Oh, yeah. So got a fully branded box, with your branding on it. And here's what we're finding that people do is I call it the boardgame effect. You know, when you buy something from Amazon, you're going to break down the box and throw it out, you're gonna recycle it after you know you've received the product, what's happening is when you buy a board game, monopoly or a puzzle, you don't take out all the pieces and throw out the box, the box becomes the container of storage, that also takes up real estate in your house. And so what we're finding is with these, like beautifully branded boxes, sendings happening, people are collecting them, they're holding on to them, you know, part of the reason that we have like the small box small boxes of strategy, we want people to collect them, they will stick this box size on their bookshelf. So when we're talking about that with a digital only product, you're not going to have that physical presence. So not only would the box have that physical presence, it's that constant reminder of your products and services. And the impact you're trying to create with your audience at the same time, you know, the coffee mug Did you take out of the box? Become

Jennie Wright 22:19
a box up there one more time? Because I'm definitely putting that on the resource page

Mark Stern 22:23

Jennie Wright 22:24
Just pop that up there. Yeah, I love

Mark Stern 22:26
Yeah, this is. This is one of my honestly, it's one of my favorite size boxes, because you can see like the client literally is, you know, we are collecting different styles of the box the size, because we want people to we want people to collect them. We want them to get results. We want people to be excited to be part of that community. We want people to get results as a result of it. So that's kind of like the power of a custom box experience. But yeah, you want it to be the triggers the reminders, I mean, the amount of things that I have saved on bookshelves that I have throughout my house. I mean, there's a reason I hold on to them.

Jennie Wright 23:01
Okay, can't see it right now on my video. But behind me on this bookshelf is literally one of the boxes that I got for joining a Click Funnels challenge the one funnel away challenge, because it came with a box. Right, the box had 100 page, but like Actually, it was like a 300 page book in it. And it was like, it was huge. It's a total brick. And until recently, I still had because this was two years ago, I took a still had the audio device that came in there on his dad quite honestly never used the audio thing. It just wasn't my thing. But I kept everything else. And I even had the box. So I totally get it. Now I actually, Mark, congratulations, Alison and I are now sold. We want a box. And this is for the listeners to what is the process? How do you go about making this happen? What does it look like? So what is creating a box entail? You know, what's the process? What can people expect? What's the cost? Talk to us about all the

Mark Stern 23:59
communities? So for me, it starts with strategy. First, it's all about, you know, what are you trying to achieve? And then how do you think about the world of the box play. So usually what happens is that people approach me with the idea of one box, and then we start having the discussion around, you know, I can do a welcome box that gives you the tools and resources for my product or service. But then also if you hit a certain milestone, so have some type of feedback loop back to us. So gamification gaming tactics, the power of a feedback loop to signal I hit this milestone means they got results with your program, but they're letting you know because you're saying if you hit this milestone, fill out this forms and we're going to send you a T shirt. It can be as simple as a teacher kajabi they do you make your first thousand bucks, you get a kajabi hero t shirt, you're that's you know, one step closer it's a retention play is essentially what they're saying is that they've acquired you as a customer, they fulfilled upon it with their product or service and now they want to retain you and their monthly subscription. That if they incentivize you by hitting certain milestones, you know, they're going to send you things they Get the loops to know, oh, it's time to get a testimonial because we're getting results, people are excited to stay engaged because they're excited to be part of something bigger than what they were a part of originally. And then you get to send them something physical that will activate them on the digital channel as well. So now you're seeing, you know, digital and physical come together again. So there's a lot to that that is really powerful. So to answer your question, you really want to think about the strategy first. And then basically how we roll out and we have services that are do it yourself with the custom box challenge all the way to done for us. But when I work with our clients, it's let's start with strategy, let's go into sourcing, we go into design, then we go into production, where we actually bring to life, the elements, and then it's about what I tell people who work with me, one of my big secrets is it's actually cheaper to have a fulfillment center, pack and ship and hold your inventory than for you to do it yourself. Because they get bulk shipping discounts that you can't get. And you just like the amount of time it caught it like I see friends turning their homes into warehouses, and you're

Jennie Wright 26:02
worried that's what I want to talk about.

Mark Stern 26:05
Yeah, I was gonna say like, this is like where like, when I got started in the game, I have pictures of like, my, my place with my dog like looking around, like, What is all this stuff like did you have going on here. And then I was really set up shops at the USPS store to like assemble all the packages that I need to send out. But then, like it was the whole like having to do a mail merge print out labels, which I had, it was just too much. And I was the bottleneck to my business. And I'm not scalable. So that's like the power of fulfillment. So we take people through that that whole process to say it's actually cheaper in the long run. If you use a fulfillment center, even if you're just beginning, it's so much more cost effective than you could have ever imagined. But that's essentially the process itself is it, you want to go through the strategy, you want to like start to source the items that you want to put inside your box, you want to design out those items and activate a fulfillment center. And be off to the races. It's not a complex process. That's the cool thing. It sounds it sounds complex, it's really not.

Alyson Lex 27:04
I saw Jenny mentioned the truffles. And actually, she turned me on to the truffle lady and I used the truffle Lady for about a year. But we couldn't ship in the summer. And I would just send client, you know, gifts when we finished a project Hey, great to finish this project. And I found it's so easy to just, hey, here's what I who I want to send it to with this message. And it's out of my head. Now that I have these mugs, which by the way, my husband is very upset that half of our show is full months. Um,

Mark Stern 27:35
because I got a good deal before COVID.

Alyson Lex 27:38
And I think I've sent out too, because it's a pain in the butt and I am a total bottleneck. So I love the I like that you said that having a fulfillment center is less expensive, again, in terms of finances, but also time, because a lot of us don't consider that. Um, so you mentioned costs. Let's just talk about that. Because I know that it depends on the number of units that you're sending is your per piece cost. But I mean, are we looking at 20 $30? A box? We're looking at $100 a box? We're looking at 10? give me give me a ballpark?

Mark Stern 28:16
Yeah, it's a great question. So this is kind of like when you were talking about lovers. In fact, cost size of the box, small, medium, large, extra large box, the bigger the box tends to be more expensive printing, you're gonna print on the inside of the box and the exterior of the box that may affect it. quantity, this is totally a game that the more you buy, the less is per unit. That's just how it is with it. But you can like if you're asking like, if you were to do it yourself, you could absolutely create 20 to 30 boxes, you don't necessarily have to commit to 500 or 1000 boxes, the benefit of committing to 500 or 1000 boxes a bigger number is that you get huge economies, huge discounts as a result of hitting certain price thresholds. But if you're just starting out, and you're like I just want 20 to 30 boxes, a lot of the box printing vendors to be honest with you between you know, 10 to 300 boxes, it's pretty insignificant price differential between them, we're talking probably maybe, you know, 20 3050 cents differential, but it's rather insignificant, you could buy a physical box, that's a one side branded really good experience easily from anywhere from three to seven bucks for the box costs. And then you just layer on top of that, what you want to put inside the box. I always tell people, nobody goes inside the box to size the box accordingly. But then that just becomes like if you choose that a client who put yetis into his box, the average cost per Yeti that was fully branded with their brand we had an engraved by Yeti on it. That's going to be 35 a unit and suddenly the price of the box goes really high up. I have other clientele that may put a $5 water bottle inside the box. You could choose to brand things or not brand things that's fully up to you. You You know, it's going to be cheaper if you buy things that aren't branded, because you don't have to do the setup costs and whatnot. But for some people, you can find great deals on branded things. When we launched the custom box challenge, I literally only had 20 boxes printed. And I was curious to see, yes, I'm teaching people how to launch a custom box with this challenge. What's going to be the response with it? Well, I knew based on it is I want to say the average cost per box when we got started, including the box itself was somewhere between 10 and 15 bucks per box, and we were selling it for $97. And we were selling it again and again and again. And I knew that if people got to that part of my sales funnel that they bought it, I think it was if I sold six or eight, I recoup my investment and had the money to then buy 50, which then we bought 250. And now we're buying 1000. So you can see how like, we used a small number that Yeah, you're paying more per unit at a smaller threshold. But by the time but I knew it was converting. And that was what was cool about it was that it wasn't like let me spend 500 or $1,000 500, let me get 500 to 1000 boxes and see if this works. It was let me grow with it. And that is a strategy that you can use that other clients have use to just see, can I get this working in that box that was 10 to 15 bucks, it was the box exterior printing only it was a workbook, I put rulers inside that box, there was a bag, there's all these things. And what you need to think about is it's it's not about the hard cost per box, it's about the value of the story inside the box. And one of the things is, we had a really awesome workbook printing out a workbook, not that expensive. It doesn't cost a lot of money to print out a nice workbook. But the story on the pages is kind of where the brilliance isn't the real value is into why people are going to be paying $97 for something that your hard costs could have been, you know, $15. So that's what what you have to think about it is it's not about your costs, it's about the value of the product we'll deliver, and the acceleration to help you build out a custom box. It's worth the money every single day, you know, just because it's the time saving. So that's where you have to wire things differently is how do I price this, you need to price it based on the value that it's going to deliver to your audiences? Not necessarily, let me make sure I just break even on my cost if it gets out there. So.

Alyson Lex 32:13
So I wanted to just also talk about, you know, I mentioned that I have these mugs, and I have a plan, I have a local coffee roaster who is giving selling me, you know, single pot bags, and then I also bought some tea from a local Tea Company, you know, here to local here to Baltimore. So it's very Baltimore centric box. And I hit my microphone, I apologize. Very Baltimore centric box. And the the mugs cost me I think $2 apiece, I told you I got a great deal. And the coffee was I think $1 or two, the tea is $1 too. So to fill a box, and then I got cards printed for stupid cheap that I can handwrite a little note with the story that you gave me, I want to have a cup of coffee with you. Let's use our mugs together kind of thing. And now I can send it to prospects. clients, thank you guests surprise and delight. And I can also include it as a part of a larger box if I want. But I kept the costs really low? Because it's the first time I'm doing it. Yeah. So I wanted to kind of bring that in.

Mark Stern 33:20
Yeah. Do you want to do it? Do you want to spend all of it on it?

Alyson Lex 33:24
Well, I yes. But I also want to take the custom box challenge.

Mark Stern 33:30
Well, you should. And here's the thing to its customer challenge. This is like this is not meant to be pitching or selling this by any means. But it's less than two hours, you could do it in one sitting and it's fun. Like we completely gamified it. So that's where we're at. It's like 37 bucks, and we're about to completely gut it to make it a more experienced design challenge. So you could really see what's possible with physical and digital and like right now we're playing a lot with augmented reality. We're doing a lot with QR code automation. So we're testing out new things. COVID if it did anything COVID did a lot of damage. But COVID also taught taught us how to use QR codes. So we're trying to think like how do you leverage that in terms of bringing physical and digital together but and your situation? My question would be with these mugs. What was your vision It was designed to surprise and delight clientele. Was it designed to activate your audience to get them a little bit more into your world? Like what is your vision for how you were using those those mugs? Or were you like I have no idea but just a great deal is $2

Alyson Lex 34:26
so we're gonna go with some hashtag transparency and talk about impulsive Allison for a minute. impulsive, Allison gets up entirely too early in the morning and is quiet and hot puppy. The house is quiet. And I start online shopping. And I buy things that I really have no idea what I'm going to do with and I convinced myself that it's the best idea I've ever had in my life. So I mentioned that I have the truffles that I was Sending and it because the I couldn't ship them really from May to September. It was not going to work for me anymore. I needed something that wasn't temperature sensitive. And so it was originally that I could send them as Thank you gifts to clients or thank you as referrals. Now I'm thinking, well, shoot, I can send them for holidays to the 70 mugs about, I can send them for holidays too. And well maybe I could use them in prospecting. I'd love to send personalized, like almost creepy level personalization as a prospecting gift to somebody that I've never met before. And I thought, well, maybe if I, you know, include that personal gift and I can include a mug and a sales little note a sales letter, make it a more shocking box. So I was thinking these things would be the solution to all my woes.

Mark Stern 35:54
Yeah, my dog Addy is she wants to chime in she knows. So. So a couple things just to let you know, you know, he one thing that people think is they think when it comes to custom boxes, you gotta like stuff like a sausage, like, right? I have a client right now that had in their box, it had over 30 pieces. Oh, my goodness. And other clients like I personally am just like even most clients, I see a lot of them do over 10 pieces inside the box, I'm the type of person that like three to five is all you really need to do is sometimes there's a like that initial gratitude that initial unboxing. Like, it doesn't take a lot to really get people excited. So you can stick a lot of stuff in the box, I'm cool with it, as long as the story makes sense to what you're doing. So like, for instance, if you had a virtual event that you're hosting a virtual live event, if you had a session. So I've seen a lot of people do like boot camps, or meditations or some type of physical activity in the morning to get the day started just to pump up energy, they may include a towel or water bottle in the box that complements that experience like, Alright, that makes sense. And if you had a lot of pieces like that, that totally makes sense when it comes to. So that's why I'm just like, you don't need a lot of stuff in the box. And there's a lot of different things that you could easily do. One thing that I would tell you to think about doing is if you have and I can't let her out. I'm so sorry.

Alyson Lex 37:17
Yeah, she clearly agrees with everything you're saying.

Mark Stern 37:22
Yeah, people think that you need a lot of items in the box. But you can easily have three, four or five items and be more than fine. It's all about the experience that you're creating. Sorry, let me let me actually go back to doing you to bring it up. Here's

Mark Stern 37:45

Alyson Lex 37:47
All right, it's my microphone, I'm

Jennie Wright 37:49
just gonna leave it recording, you can just go when you're ready, I'll find the Edit.

Mark Stern 37:52
Totally, totally. Alright, here we go. Um, here's the here's the reality is that you really don't need a lot of things inside your box to create an incredible experience. You know, I have some clients that have over 30 pieces to their box. And it's one of those things, if you think about 30 pieces inside a box, like having more isn't necessarily a good thing. It works if it complements the experience that you've created. But it's not necessary. You know, sometimes just having simple 234 items is really all you need. And it doesn't really take a lot to while people for you like if one of the things that you're trying to do. And this is kind of where like I think about it. Everyone in the digital marketing space thinks about how do I monetize an item? How do I make money, I just bought this thing, how do I make money from this thing they're thinking very short term with it. You know, one of the strategies that you can do is there are boxes that we created. With a goal, it was front end of our value ladder, we knew what our Ascension model look like on how we were going to upsell people. So it wasn't about monetizing the the front end of our value letter, we may create a box that is just a breakeven box, we even may take a slight hit on the box, because we know what our value letter is. And we know how things convert. So it's more about creating that experience and building the relationship understanding that we're not playing a short term game, we're playing a longer term game. So if you had a community and you had other higher ticket products that you are selling your services that you're selling, you may choose to do a free plus ship with your coffee mugs, where you just say hey, just cover my cost for the coffee mugs and shipping and handling. And you get to be invited to this special monthly event. That's a great way to get people to open up their wallet to you the power of people opening up the wallet to use if people spend money with you. That means you get to serve them at a greater level. The power of having a value ladder that has more higher ticket products and services means that you get to serve them at a greater level. Those who pay attention is so true. It's rewiring what is high ticket high ticket is a lot of people think it's just like I'm asking for a lot of money. No, it's the what is the investment that you're willing to make to have the transformation that you're looking to have. And so that's where like me pricing things out when we started Offering high ticket products, I always took it personally to say, why would someone spend as much money with me, but the reality is they would spend it because they need the transformation. So that's why I just know that like, smaller front end products is not necessarily in my strategy where I'm gonna make a lot of money. But it's where I do a lot of nurturing and relationship building and people to get to know me to eliminate the risks around am I going to get the results, if I work with this person, it allows me to at least invite them into my community have a conversation. So that's one of the things that you can think about is your community or the clientele that you're trying to build relationships with. If it's someone that is a prospecting that situation, you're not going to charge them, but you may utilize it for a different purpose. That is to activate your your audience of buyers in a way that they can dip their toe in to get to know you. So you can warm them up for you know, being able to serve them at a greater level with your higher ticket products and services. So that's kind of where my head goes into. Anytime we meet with clients during that strategy session. I want to know what your value ladder is. Because if I understand your whole growth trajectory for your clientele, and it's okay, if you don't have all the pieces worked out, it allows me to slot in like how to leverage that. But like something like that mugs, you know, I don't know how many of you bought. But like, if you're like I want to liquidate them, my strategy would be maybe there's a breakeven strategy here that is good enough to sit where people can say, because they opened up their wallets, you even if it was a $20 for you know, to cover the cost of the goods and shipping and handling. The fact that they spent even a little bit of money with you means you have their attention more so than those who just opt into the free free lead magnet. That's the power of the low ticket offer. And then when you upsell them, they've already spent money with you once it's a different wiring in the brain. than if you just were someone going after free products and services. It's always easier for me to upsell someone who's already spent money with me. That's the power of the retention play than it ever is for someone who's never spent money with me.

Jennie Wright 42:00
I love that. And go ahead Elson.

Alyson Lex 42:02
I was gonna say so it sounds like I need one of these strategy sessions.

Mark Stern 42:07
There your fun. Anyone to so let you know the strategy session, I

Alyson Lex 42:12
need the challenge. I need you to tell me how to get it. And I think everybody listening probably wants the same thing because you have it. I mean, you're sitting there like hitting me with all this information. I'm gonna have to go back and listen just to write everything down. Oh, so how can we get in touch with you? How can we get into that challenge? Tell me tell me all that pitch me a little bit yeah,

Mark Stern 42:34
it's um, it's uh, you can find the challenge at custom box challenge calm. If you're looking for more done for you. So customer challenge is great for do it yourself. And, you know, we're in the process right now live completely revamping it to maybe more experiential, just to show you some of the fun tips and tricks that we're playing with right now. And what's working really well with our clientele. So regardless of where you enter the equation, whether it's the new version, or the old version, they're all amazing. And they're all fun. And trust me when I say like, that experience is something that's so much so important to me. So like, I want to make sure it's something that it's easy to consume, and that you can really have a good time with it. If you're looking for more done for you go to custom box And that will also provide a lot of links to a lot of our other resources. You know, virtual social box is one of our products, it's all about, you know, a simple accessible done for you box. That is all about creating this virtual social experiences. You can get coffee mugs through us with your own fully branded box when you need to get more. And then Aside from that, we're in the process of revamping our swag shop, as well as our print shop. So we have all services pretty much integrated with what we're doing at this point. But custom box agency, yep, you know, are really home base for us. Yep, I've

Jennie Wright 43:54
already been on your site are played on there for a while I got dreamy eyes about a couple of things. You know, this couple thing? Oh, yeah, there's a couple things coming down the pipeline, for me that are really interesting, where a box would make sense, as, like you said, a free plus shipping offer. And so that is, you know, you've really solidified that in my mind. And Alison, and I love to send something nice to some of the clients that we work with. So now we're thinking, this is this is a really interesting concept. So we're really interested in that. Thank you so much for spending time with us, and sharing so much about how we can create that deeper connection, that deeper relationship, you know, surprise and delight, all those wonderful things. And we really appreciate your time, especially around Thanksgiving. So thank you so much for being on with us.

Mark Stern 44:44
You know, I always have so much fun with you, too. So Jen and Alison. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Jennie Wright 44:49
Yeah, it was great. We appreciate it really, more than you know, and if you're listening to this podcast and you're interested, please do go and subscribe to the podcast. Wherever you listen. So you won't miss anything Allison and I have great quick tips that come out on Mondays. Those are really informative tips on ways you can implement something quickly into your business to help it. We also have some really cool episodes that come out midweek with some of our great experts. And then an episode just with Allison and I most of the time, sometimes more comes out every week as well. So please do go and subscribe. And if it feels right, leave us a review. We'd love to hear from you. So thank you so much for listening and we'll be back again answering another big question.



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