In this episode, I had the pleasure of chatting to George Kapernaros (georgekapernaros.com), who is an e-commerce expert and ex Marketing Director of divbrands.io.
We covered a few topics including digital marketing trends, grabbing attention, interesting facts about how to keep audience retention and a whole host of other topics.
George mentioned a few resources, listed below, which I think you will find valuable. I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I did creating it with George.
Resources mentioned in the episode:
- Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz
- The 16-Word Sales Letter™: A proven method of riting multi-million-dollar copy faster than you ever thought possible Paperback – August 8, 2019
- Hubspots Flywheel
- The Empathy Gap
The Fogg Behavior Model
Burhaan Pattel 0:00
Welcome to the marketing stack podcast, and my name is Burhaan. In today's episode, we're gonna be talking to George Kapernaros. I hope I have got his surname, right. George is from Greece. And in the episode, you'll see that I make mistake into the reference of Greece, and I screwed that up royally. But it was fun anyway, making the mistake. We talked about a lot of digital marketing, we talked about sort of human behavior. We talked a little bit about sort of trends and what's going on in the industry today. George was a great guest, and I do hope that he comes on in the future. And I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Enjoy the episode.
Burhaan Pattel 0:44
Give me a little bit of background, obviously, your profile says that you've got, you know, you've done eight figures with e commerce businesses, marketing director at Divbrands, involved in 200 product launches, and a lifetime worth of CRO tests. So conversion rate optimisation. That's what CRO stands for. So George, welcome to the episode. And give us a little bit about you. How did you get into what you do, and a little bit about why.
George Kapernaros 1:15
So unlike most people, I came into e commerce in the world of performance marketing, more or less by accident. I did not start in conversion focused marketing. My first job was actually in content marketing for a company called Smarter Chase, which is a small tech startup in Greece. But what happened was that I basically did a small copywriting contract on the side. And I did sort of a trial really for an e commerce company called Divbrands, which was also fairly small back then. And what do you know, the campaign did really well, it blew up as soon as. And I had the opportunity to then join Divbrand's full time. And that's kind of how I went into e commerce and performance marketing. I did not plan for it really. But Divbrands grew fast. And I also grew fast in Divbrand.
George Kapernaros 2:24
So I started as a copywriter. And I quickly became the lead copywriter, then the marketing manager and eventually the marketing director of the company, we moved to I'm telling you this so the listeners have context, you grew the company, to over 100 employees and contractors in less than three years. And that was profitable. There was no investment. Because usually when a company blows up, there's some venture capitalists or something that's paying. It was it was a loss. So at the peak of my career, so to say in Divbands, I was doing a lot of things, I was responsible for conversion optimization for creatives. And for multiple ecommerce stores, really, because this is a company that owns multiple ecommerce stores.
Burhaan Pattel 3:24
George Kapernaros 3:25
I was involved in over 200 launches in total. And anyway, to make a long story short, I, I think many people can relate to this feeling. There was a point when I felt that I wanted to start something of my own, which is why I recently decided to live Divbrands a few months ago. And I now have a small agency will I again work with ecommerce companies, but it's a different feeling, you know, having something you own than being part of something bigger than you.
Burhaan Pattel 4:08
Right? Yeah, I know, I know that feeling. But you know, like what you're talking about earlier about having sort of accidental success. And you I guess, because you come from a copywriting background or that's what you sort of learned that's what you use as your tool to one get the job and to just to do your work. And you're running advertising campaigns as well, right?
George Kapernaros 4:36
Yeah, I was not, you know, doing the media buying side per se but I was involved in them. I understand the metrics, I understand the structure, how it works from from a technical perspective as well but I was not actively running, the campaign.
Burhaan Pattel 4:53
I think that you know, like it's, it's nice that you you can tie the knot there because I think a lot of people a lot of advertisers, a lot of copywriters, they miss the other side of the river in terms of they know, theoretically how Facebook advertising works, or they know in their newsfeed what it looks like. But the science behind putting the campaign together is sometimes lacking. And for me, I think they like the way you've done it is good because because of your deep understanding of the platform, and it sounds like you were working with the media buyers at Divbrands to figure stuff out together. But it informed a copy it informed what you needed to write.
George Kapernaros 5:39
Well, my perspective is that if you are not heavily involved in how the platform works, whether that's Facebook or a different platform, you're basically doing yourself a disservice. I think it's almost criminal to do that. Because like, everybody has opinions, right? But what matters at the end of the day, especially when we talk about advertising, which means that we talk about money, what matters is what works and what doesn't work. And you will never really understand what works and what doesn't work unless you understand how the platform works, how, you know, big sales work out targeting works, how the algorithms work, how policy compliance work, so many people have issues with policy compliance.
Burhaan Pattel 6:28
George Kapernaros 6:28
But it is all up there. You can read it.
Burhaan Pattel 6:31
Yeah, yeah. It's true
George Kapernaros 6:33
Burhaan Pattel 6:34
And it's, it's interesting, because, you know, like, when you said, you know, what works. I think it's also important to mention that it's not just knowing what works, it's identifying what you want to use as the metric to define what's working. So if you, if you're just after clicks, I mean, there's so many advertisers that can get yourself 1000s millions of clicks in a day, like, without even trying, because getting clicks is easy. It's the it's the lowest hanging fruit. But what matters in a business and you said Divbrands was profitable, because of your, because of your input to the campaigns. It was the ROI, right, the investment versus what they sold in these different brands that they were launching. And I think a lot of and I'm not being critical, but I am in the way is that having that understanding, one, it creates continuity in your business, or in your job. And two it, it, it gives you that leg up, because there's a bit of initiative there.
George Kapernaros 7:35
Yeah, I agree. I agree.
Burhaan Pattel 7:38
So so in terms of okay, so at 2021 we all know what, what's going on around the world? You're right now in Greece, right?
George Kapernaros 7:49
Burhaan Pattel 7:50
You're in the famous Athens
George Kapernaros 7:51
Not traveling anytime soon, unfortunately.
Burhaan Pattel 7:55
Right. So you're
George Kapernaros 7:56
We're actually kind of lockdown,
Burhaan Pattel 7:58
Oh, wow. Yeah. So a lot of yeah, a lot of people are going through that at the moment. And so I, I guess I am a little bit of a historian. And like, from a marketing point of view, I do sometimes look back and see how things were before. But I think the first my first interaction, or my first experience with marketing was in Julius Caesar. And obviously, this was like, ancient Greece or, you know, from Shakespeare's times, the way that the writing was, I'm assuming it was Greece, I don't know. But just in terms of influencing and how, you know, writing was done in the, in those days of how Shakespeare actually wrote copy or you wrote people's dialogue, to get people to do certain things. And that is a form of copy. What do you what do you say about that? Or have you ever looked into those texts to see what the style was and how things were done?
George Kapernaros 8:59
I think you spoke about a number of things that are not necessarily exactly the same, like Shakespear, achient Greece. Julius Ceasar says, those are different things but. No worries. But I mean, like in a vacuum, I think there's certainly value in looking back and learning from the greats, whether that's a playwright like six feet, or, I don't know, maybe an ancient philosopher or even, you know, advertisers of the last century. I think there's certainly value that. Regarding what I do, or what I try to do, at least is that I always try to when I'm learning something, and copywriting is a good example of that. I always try to find them works of a, the body of work that has survived the passage of time in a way so books that have been relevant over a long time. I try to focus on that and I tried to give it context by studying what's actually happening today.
George Kapernaros 10:06
And what I found is that usually people either get stuck in the past. So you have copywriters, for instance, talking about those really, really long form promotions that were in newspapers, which is not so relevant. I mean, it is interesting, but it's not so relevant. When attention spans are decreasing, when people communicate through video, when there are so many, you know, things fighting for your attention with it wasn't the same as back then. It wasn't the same back then. So they did get stuck into the past, or they ignore the past. So the other side of the coin, is that I usually see this in advertising agencies, they don't try to work with structure or process or, you know, by by learning from the mistakes of others. They work by instinct, and they improvise. And what this does is that you can do something that's out of the box and really nice and looks great, and that's fine. But it's also very high risk. And I don't think it's sufficient, in a way.
Burhaan Pattel 11:21
So, so which which books can you recommend, or talk about a couple of book titles that you, you reference,
George Kapernaros 11:30
When it comes to copywriting?
Burhaan Pattel 11:32
Copywriting, advertising, marketing in general?
George Kapernaros 11:34
So the Bible of copywriting in a way, at least, in my opinion, is a book called Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz.
Burhaan Pattel 11:46
George Kapernaros 11:47
I think that's yeah, I think that's probably the best. It's slightly advanced, I should say. So, maybe not the best intro to copywriting. But it is, in my opinion, the best book, on copywriting. To reference something that's more recent, I actually recently read a book, I usually don't read copywriting books full disclaimer, because I think many of them already has information in a way. But I just recently read a book by a gentleman called Evaldo. I learned his name Evaldo Albu. I don't remember his name, but the book is called The 16 Word Sales Letter, I think,
Burhaan Pattel 12:34
George Kapernaros 12:35
Something like that. And it was actually really, really well written. It was a small book that basically talks about the architecture of persuasion in a way that it's it's a good read, and it's accessible most importantly, so if somebody is listening right now, and wants a good intro to copy, that would be a good reference. I think it's called 16 Word Sales Letter.
Burhaan Pattel 13:01
I have yeah, I have it open right now. It's a 16 word sales letter, a proven method to write writing multimillion dollar copy faster than you ever thought possible.
George Kapernaros 13:10
Typical copywriting title.
Burhaan Pattel 13:12
Typical, yeah, that the hook is really strong. So yeah, you spoke about a couple things. And let's, let's talk a little bit about attention as we move forward into the future. So obviously, we're in an age where we've got LinkedIn. LinkedIn, what do they call LinkedIn stories, Instagram stories, Tik Tok. We've got stories on Twitter now as well, I think they use a different name for it. YouTube shorts as well, it's kind of like everybody's copying this very short, video form, clips. And then you've got the opposite. And this is something that happened with me recently is I've seen a lot of good reviews on Netflix and an an online about the series called The Queen's Gambit.
Burhaan Pattel 13:59
And what was interesting about that, even though this is not really relevant to marketing, it's relevant to attention. The way that the the series was done, even though it was only seven episodes, it got me hooked for seven hours, which I watched over two days, because I just wanted to get to the end. And there's such a stark contrast between sort of how Netflix has been able to keep people's attentions through series, versus, you know, what we are experiencing online with all these short videos, 15 seconds or less? What do you what do you what do you think about what's going on in in the attention span, sort of world online?
George Kapernaros 14:46
First of all, a comment. I think that's a very stimulating question, actually. Thanks for asking that. I think that I haven't thought this through. So I could be wrong. But I do believe that getting attention. Grabbing attention requires salt from content,
Burhaan Pattel 15:10
George Kapernaros 15:11
And utilizing attention and potentially building relationships through content requires long form content. So it's not one or the other. It's a combination of the two. And I think there is an element of advertising, things that look like ads, you know, like, you know, the classic advertising where there is an obvious sales argument being made. I think that's because consumers, people, we, you and I, in all likelihood, don't enjoy that kind of content. We want it to be short, and we want it should get the message across fast before we skip it. But what when something is engaging, and when something is not necessarily trying to sell us something, even though it may subconsciously do like, I think that series you mentioned, Queen's Gambit, I think it raised the sales of chess or something along those lines, which is impressive.
George Kapernaros 16:17
I think they can afford to, to go longer, essentially. Ultimately, I think that this is a byproduct of the internet, I think we have more choice, because the world is more decentralized. Back in the day, you would be able to hang out with, you know, the people in your neighborhood and maybe the next neighborhood. And that was it. Whereas now you have the opportunity to find products to find communities to find services to find like minded people in whatever it is that you choose, thanks to the power of internet, which allows us to organize ourselves in communities. So I think that when you find something that you like that, that's that's what I'm trying to say, you can go deep into it. So that's why podcasts.
George Kapernaros 17:16
Let's let's take a very popular podcast, Joe Rogan's podcast with Joe Rogan Experience. That's why that's so long, because people are really into it. So it can afford to go long. But when say you have an online shop, and you're selling, I don't know, socks, which are not so exciting, then you should probably try to make your point shorter and more compact, instead of trying to create a documentary about socks, even though that that could be interesting. I guess. I would not advise that you start there.
Burhaan Pattel 17:48
Yeah, well, I don't know how much content you'd be able to create from socks. But I haven't tried so I wouldn't know. But yeah, it's kind of interesting. And I think like, while you're speaking, I was thinking about the, the context of the platform also has a very big influence on the mindset that somebody has. So here's a real life example is, you know, when you go to McDonald's, you're in and out, right? It's you want your food quick. And maybe if you're health conscious, I apologize. But I'm just using a fast food example. Because it's fast, it's food, which is may not necessarily be healthy. But the idea there is to get in and out quickly, or to get it delivered fast, so that you can just get on with what you want to get on. And of course, it's it's kind of maybe a good again, a little bit of a judgment is the lazy people's food, I guess, right. Versus, you know, if you're going on a date to an ice rink, it's not about the food, but it's about the experience of taking a girl or you know, or your partner or your friend on this date to to have a good time for an hour to two.
Burhaan Pattel 19:08
So the context behind that experience is longer. And so when you think of Netflix, when I think of Netflix, I'm preparing my mind for a longer session on that platform. Versus when I'm on Tik Tok, even though it's highly addictive, you don't plan for the long form. But you end up watching a couple 100 videos in two or three hours if you get sucked into that vortex because the algorithm is just so good at showing you stuff that you like. So that combination of short clips strung together in a way to create the long form for the platform, not necessarily for the Creator, is the magic trick, in my opinion.
George Kapernaros 19:54
And I think sorry, go ahead.
Burhaan Pattel 19:56
No, I was gonna ask you a question around because like the Like the Queen's Gambit, they, they were able to string the episodes very well from one to the other. So that you didn't want to take a break. And Tik Tok and some other platforms, maybe Instagram Stories is getting more right i think Tik Tok is better at this, but stringing together the clips in a way that doesn't create a jarring experience because if you watch one short clip, and then there's the next one, which is completely different to be out of context, the one that you've just watched, you're not going to enjoy the, the platform.
Burhaan Pattel 20:38
So my question is, in terms of copy, and in terms of preparing episodes, or content, just in general, because you said you have a background in copyright content, you are working in content as well. Because you want to try to create continuity on a Facebook page or on a on a person's, you know, content feed. How do you go about doing that, and stringing episodes or stringing content together so that you create continuity in your users.
George Kapernaros 21:11
I think a very interesting framework is have sports flywheel when it comes to content with sports that, you know, the classic marketing model is the funnel, which starts with awareness and then builds up to the sale, but the flywheel is circular. So you start with I don't remember the terminology used to be honest out they're always changing the words awareness, desire, loyalty, something like that. But the point is that you create content for the different stages. A prospect or a customer can be in it's almost like a relationship, right? You go out with somebody, and you don't just ask them to marry you.
Burhaan Pattel 22:02
How could they not
George Kapernaros 22:02
Yeah, how could they. First, you take them to the cinema, then you might go for lunch or for dinner. And then eventually, that might be tapped into a relationship, which may end up in marriage is the same with marketing. That has to be content for every state. Now, what that content will be depends on what the business is trying to do and who the customer is and what the product being sold or the service being sold is, there's no one size fits all answer. But it's I think it's useful and helpful to think of it like a relationship that goes from one stage to another. Before I forget it, I want to make a comment about the channels, because I do agree with you that channels play a huge role. And my perspective on that is that there are basically two formats, it's either something that's intent based, so to say, so you said it's for something, that would be good, that would be YouTube.
George Kapernaros 23:17
And there's something that the other side is impulse based, is what I call it. So when you are on Facebook, or on Tik Tok, I guess I haven't really used Tik Tok so much, but I assume it's the same. And you're just, you know, kind of numb and kind of mindlessly scrolling around. Then you have ads or videos shooting up your feet trying to get your attention. And the distinction I want to make here is that it's an entirely different mode of being when you're searching for something you're looking to potentially learn more about it or buy than when you're just relaxing. I think that when it comes to intent based channels, it's usually best to, first of all, meet expectations, meet what the user wants, and try to answer any possible question they may have about whatever it is that they're sensing. But when it comes to impulse based channels, that's when I think the content needs to be shorter and more attention grabbing and almost defy expectations in a way so that it stands out and gets your attention. I guess that's that that's how I think about it.
Burhaan Pattel 24:35
Yeah, and, and talking back to what you said earlier about risk. There is a fine line between creating something a little bit too jarring or too different. That's actually gonna push people away versus grab attention. So in my mind, it's it's it's kind of, you know, there's a certain style that people are used to, and this is what big marketers call being native, right? Creating native looking ads or native looking posts, is because while it's good to stand out, you don't want to be so far out there that, you know, putting up just a square image of like a, I don't know, a nose cut off, while it's gonna grab attention is not the right type of reaction you want to get right. So you got to be appropriate. And you've got to be conscious of what?
George Kapernaros 25:31
Burhaan Pattel 25:32
I think you get what I'm saying. It's like, you've got
George Kapernaros 25:35
I do I do
Burhaan Pattel 25:36
Yeah, there's a, there is a balance there that you need to. And this is again, like from a advertising point of view, you get opportunities to test. And so speaking of your experience in the advertising copywriting world, and because you've got so many launches under your belt, what was the strategies used to figure out what was working?
George Kapernaros 26:01
Yeah. Can you ask that question again in a more? Can you explain what you mean exactly?
Burhaan Pattel 26:12
George Kapernaros 26:13
So what was working after you launch? Or before you launch? Like, how do you decide what to launch? What's?
Burhaan Pattel 26:19
Yeah, so So I think there's an element of launch where there's a lot of assumption, unless there's a lot of research behind what you're launching, there can be a lot of assumption around, like, how do you write the copy? How do you create, you know, do the creative is a video better? is an image better? Which platform? Should we go on? And then, sort of what was your, what was the process of the company? Or what is your experience in terms of identifying what was working? And then and then knowing what, what was and doubling down on the successes?
George Kapernaros 26:58
So before I answer that, I will say that NDAs are a thing. So I've can't really, I can't really talk too much about what we did at Div. But in a vacuum, what I will say is that, before you learn something, you should look for signs of success, have validity of what it is that we are trying to do, you should not be first, in most cases, it's best to be second, or third or fourth, you don't want to be late. But you don't want to be fast, because that's riskier. When it comes to writing the copy, or the messaging of a store, or loans, or any projects, really, what you want to do is find what people want, and tell that tell them that you can give it to them using language the use. That's what you want to do. And that's that sounds simple. And it is simple intellectually, but like in practice, it can be hard. I don't I don't think I maybe I, you told me, do you want me to go into detail of how you do that? or?
Burhaan Pattel 28:21
Yeah, maybe why do you think why would you say it is hard? Because even though it's simple intellectually? Yeah, like, that seems obvious. But yet people are still not applying the principle. So why do you think that is?
George Kapernaros 28:35
That's a very good question. I think the reason, the primary reason is that we all think that we know better, in a way. And so there are, there are many biases we have all of us have. And there's one called empathy gap. Which means that we basically struggled to relate to how other people would feel. Now the thing is that when you write copy, you want to do that. You want to see, from their point of view, in a way, so that you can talk to them in a way they understand, like and can agree with. So the reason why people don't follow the rules is because my opinion people sometimes think they know better than maybe they do, you know, sometimes being a maverick pays off.
Burhaan Pattel 29:31
Right? There's always that fire. Yeah, yeah. Well, I I asked the question because it's kind of so you know, when when you're an intellectual or you are you're building you're trying to build something big or, you know, maybe you're, you're, how can you say your ego is attached to the result of your launch or to your product or to your business? You, you tend to forget that the simple stuff is what works. And so, again, going back to what I was talking about earlier and using frameworks and applying it to what you said, applying it to modern sort of society and attention spans all this, there are true tried and true methods and psychological triggers and language that does and has worked all through time.
Burhaan Pattel 30:21
And if you, if we can use a framework as a starting point, then that gives us already some leverage over a lot of other companies that are just trying to do it from scratch, like you said, they're improvising. And so I think, like for the audience, that are listening, that are trying to put together their marketing strategies or trying to figure out how to improve their marketing. It's like, look at what you're doing right now, and try to understand or try to see, one, is it simple, is it easy to understand. And two, is it just too many steps, too many variables, too many choices for somebody to actually make a purchase to convert. Because nine times out of 10, in my experience, that's what I've seen is that, you know, people go to a landing page, and there's just so much so many distractions, the copy doesn't flow, there's no story. Or maybe there's just too many things that they can do. And so, you know, too many choices leads to none. And they leave. And so I mean, you know, this is just basic marketing 101. And it's not new, it's not like anybody else.
George Kapernaros 31:31
It's really not new. not new, and people should know this. There is this gentleman called BJ Fogg. He, he's a professor in Stanford, and he has this theory, he calls the Fogg behavioral model. And what the Fogg behavioral model says is that any sort of action happens when there is motivation. So people want to do something, when there is ability when people can do something. And when there is a prompt or trigger, I think he calls it so they have a reason why to do it now. And our job as conversion optimizers, or marketers, or people that sell stuff, offline and online, is to pull those three levers, how can we increase the motivation of people to buy? How can we make it easy? And how can we give them a reason to do it now? So it really is simple. You're right. It's really simple.
Burhaan Pattel 32:35
Yeah. And it really is only three things. It's, you know, it's like it's, I've been selling stuff for a long time, offline and online for a number of years. And, you know, even though I studied sales, and I've studied marketing, and I've studied, like, even before I knew the theory, I was doing it inherently just out of knowing that I was satisfying somebody's need. And, you know, if you if you really think about it, what you just said with that with those three things is that's ultimately what selling is, you know, all the systems all the tools, all the internet, you know, CRMs, and email marketing and advertising? Like all of it, they're all designed to do the same thing.
George Kapernaros 33:19
Burhaan Pattel 33:21
George Kapernaros 33:21
and I think that's, I'm sorry, I think there's an element of people overcomplicate things, and they shouldn't like, usually, I do this too, by the way, I'm not excluding myself, but usually simple is best, I think.
Burhaan Pattel 33:37
Yeah, yeah. 100%. You want to say something?
George Kapernaros 33:42
No, no, I interrupted you. Go ahead.
Burhaan Pattel 33:44
Oh, no, that's okay. So yeah, I wanted to round off the episode. So George, where can people find you if they wanted to follow you or see some of your content? Do you wanna drop a handle? Or like, you know, let me know, let let everybody know where they can find you.
George Kapernaros 34:00
Surprisingly, I'm not sure on social media, but you can find me on LinkedIn. I like I don't have Instagram or I don't know, all those other things. I'm fairly private. You can find me on LinkedIn by searching George Kapernaros, which is my name. And you can find my website at georgekapernaros.com. And that's k a p e r n a r o s. I know it's hard for some people so I have to spell it and in case somebody is interested, I think it's worth your while to if you visit my website to go to the resources section. I do have a free webinar there's no piece the topic is How To Optimize Creative For E commerce. I think it's it's good, valuable content. And again, there's there's no piece or I'm not selling a product or anything so. It's just some of the things I've learned over the years.
Burhaan Pattel 35:03
Nice. So you've it's so it's a webinar that's curated content or curated your know how your summary of what you've what you've seen.
George Kapernaros 35:11
Burhaan Pattel 35:12
Cool. I'll I'll link all of your well, your LinkedIn and your website down below. George, thank you so much for being with me on the episode. I think this was a very juicy episode, but quite deep on on certain things.
George Kapernaros 35:27
Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure to talk to you,
Burhaan Pattel 35:29
Cool. So thank you so much for listening. And if you enjoyed this episode, depending on where you're listening, definitely hit the follow. Hit the subscribe, leave a review. I really appreciate that. And definitely check out the podcast on the website burhaanpattel.com/podcast. I'm your host Burhaan once again of the marketing Stop stack podcast, and I look forward to producing another episode for you in the near future. Take care God bless. Be safe. Bye bye.