53 questions to ask yourself & find opportunities

Happy Sunday & Happy New Year! I hope you had an exciting and safe ringing of the new year and you’re excited for the first week of “New Year, New Me” messaging plastered everywhere. If you’re new here, I like to make sure that you have a beverage in your right hand, assuming your phone is in your left to read this email, and you’re relaxed before you start reading this email.

If you were forwarded this email from a friend, please click here to subscribe for free, and join the other 21,000 weekly subscribers. Thank you!

When the Sharma Brands team is at full capacity or companies are at a stage that’s too early to work with us, I try to help them via MentorPass. The idea is that it’s still me, you still get the strategy work from Sharma Brands, and you get all the intros (tech vendors, agencies, full-time candidates, other contractors, etc) I would normally make as a client, but all facilitated through the MentorPass platform. To be honest, they're my favorite calls to take, and the clients range from publicly traded companies to a quietly-humming $500M/year revenue brands to celebrities who are looking to launch their first brand.

In the first call, I like to spend 30 minutes or so going through a full diagnosis of the brand, or what I like to call the pre-flight checklist, to understand where there are opportunities to double-click, or fix low-hanging fruit. So in this email, as we get into the new year, I want to outline those questions and it'll help you reflect on where the opportunity lies. Feel free to email back your answers and I'll see if I can help at all with any of it.

Here’s our Pre-Flight DTC Checklist:


  • Are you hosted on Shopify?

  • Is your website conversion rate over 2.8% if your AOV is <$100, and over 1.5% if your AOV is over $100?

  • What is your website load time? It should be under 2 seconds at the minimum, ideally less.

  • Is your website designed mobile-first?

  • Do your PDPs tell the full story in case someone clicks from a tagged Instagram post for the first time?

  • Does your website tell a story or just sell a product?

  • Would someone who has never heard of your brand have to leave your site and use Google to understand the brand or its efficacy?

  • Does your website make users take extra steps to add their products to the cart if they want to get in and out quickly?

  • Do you sell the product on your site, or do you leverage customer feedback, reviews, testimonials, and earned media to help sell your product?


  • Do you deploy different edits of ad creative for different channels? For example, using a different creative for Snapchat vs Instagram stories?

  • Does each piece of creative answer these 3 questions for a customer:

    • What is it?

    • Why does it matter?

    • How will it help me better my life?

  • Are you diverse in the people you feature in your ads?

  • Does the creative feel modern? You can earn or lose trust right away based on the look & feel.

  • Does the ad creative feel native to the gestures of the platforms you're advertising in? For example, with TikTok you swipe left vs swiping up with Instagram stories.

  • Would your ads do well with engagement if they were posted organically?

  • Is the product variant you're showing in your ads in stock when people click and get to your site?

  • Does your creative feel consistent with your brand from a visual standpoint?

Customer Acquisition

  • Are you segmenting your audiences properly? Website visitors, ad engagers, video viewers, scroll-depth audiences, etc?

  • Are you cutting up your customer list properly and creating targeted lookalikes? High LTV customers, high NPS customers, fastest subscribers, longest video-viewers, high AOV, etc.

  • Are you running retargeting campaigns segmenting different steps and pushing different messaging? Someone should see different messaging and creative at the stages of hitting the site once, selecting a product, adding it to their cart, and beginning the checkout process. This should also match your site-abandon emails.

  • Are you running DPA ads across different platforms?

  • Are your DPA ads just plain, or did you use a platform like Enriched Catalogs to catch someone’s attention?

  • Are you targeting specific audiences with specific messaging and continuing that messing into your website?

  • Are you leveraging landing pages, listicles, and more paid-media-only site experiences?

  • Are you using a proper new-customer offer to introduce the brand the right way?

  • Are you replying to every single comment on paid media ads?

  • Are you leveraging affiliate channels to help lower your overall acquisition cost?

  • Does the AOV you're pushing match the paid channel a user comes from?

Brand + Story

  • If someone saw your ad and didn't go to your site, would they understand why you exist as a brand?

  • If someone went to your site without seeing an ad, would they understand why you exist without clicking around much?

  • Do you communicate WHY you exist on all the main pages: homepage, reviews, product pages, FAQ, collections page?

  • Do you communicate your WHY on your organic social media channels? Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest will quickly become the "Google" for Gen Z.

  • If your brand was a person, what kind of dinners or parties would they be invited to? Is that different than what you initially thought?

  • How do you set yourself apart from competitors that might sell the same thing? 

  • Are you emphasizing that advantage enough across your platforms?

  • Do you have a founder story incorporated into the brand? If no, then why not? Sometimes you don't need one, but it helps.

  • What stops a customer from switching to another company for the same product?

  • Why did the company start in the first place?

  • Is that communicated properly? That's a huge point that people will relate to.


  • Is your brand's unboxing experience something that people look forward to? Be honest with yourself here.

  • If you offer a subscription, what do you put in the box to get people excited to track their package and build excitement for its arrival?

  • Are you leveraging instant re-order capabilities like Batch within collateral or on the box/product packaging itself?

  • Is there anything in your box that encourages someone to share something with a friend?

  • Is it worthy enough for someone to post on their IG stories? Is it pretty enough?

Customer Service

  • Are you responding within 24 hours? How about 6 hours? 2 hours? Within 1 hour?

  • How much of your customer service is automated through using macros with Gorgias or software like Certainly?

  • Do you see the AOV go up after someone converses with customer service?

  • Do you see the LTV go up after someone converses with customer service?

  • How do you collect customer service inquiries? Is it just email, or also Twitter/Instagram/Facebook DMs?

  • Can someone text a phone number for customer service?

This is usually what we start with, and from there can identify low-hanging fruit opportunities. Feel free to email me what you answered and I'd love to help you find those opportunities or see what I can do to help make them happen.

On to some fun stuff...


Vendor of the Week:

Landing Pages by Sharma Brands — Yes, the same landing pages that we put out!

The most common question I get is: Can we hire Sharma Brands to build us a landing page? Well, now you can.

Over the last couple of years, we've built landing pages for brands like Milk Bar, Caraway, Haus, JUDY, Immi, Eight Sleep, Poo~Pourri, Hydrant, and others. We've driven over $25M in collective revenue through our landing pages, and we're opening a beta opportunity for 4 brands to test building pages for us.

Each page has a flat fee of $5k per page and you can find all of the details here: Landing Pages Beta Opportunity.

Brand of the Week

Milk Bar — The world's greatest cake.

What fascinates me most about Milk Bar isn't just their heavenly Birthday Cake and Cake Truffles, but also their ability to be such a fast-paced omnichannel brand.

They started with a few stores, then added these mini grab-and-go style retail locations, then online/DTC, and now they're expanding quickly into retail with shelf-stable dessert products.

At the same time, they push brand marketing heavily. You can find everything across every touchpoint staying consistent, and their founder on Netflix's The Chef's Table and Bake Squad.

If you want to eat paradise, try their Birthday Cake Truffle Pops!

That's all for today!

I hope this email was helpful today and it helped you find something you could add or change to drive incremental revenue. It's the start of a new year, so let's start the year off the right way — with 9 hours of sleep and feeling hydrated going into tomorrow.

As always, you can just reply here and I see everything. Have a great week!





It's not you...it's me Unsubscribe

Key phrases

Older messages

Roundup: The top 10 tactics you loved most in 2021

Monday, December 27, 2021

Happy Sunday! I hope you've got a steaming cup of hot chocolate or something aromatic like Haus's Ginger Yuzu over some ice, and you're ready for the last Sunday email of the year!! But

How we drove sell-through at Target nationwide

Monday, December 20, 2021

Happy Sunday! I hope you're feeling healthy, hydrated, and ready to talk about driving some retail sell-through with digital tactics. If you were forwarded this email, you can sign up for free in

The [Updated] Landing Page Formula by Sharma Brands

Monday, December 13, 2021

Happy Sunday! I hope you're relaxed and ready to dive into what makes a good landing page convert. Before we get into it, there are two quick announcements: The Bodega, a marketplace with my

Case study: Launching a product with TikTok

Monday, December 6, 2021

Happy Sunday! If you're reading this email, I hope you're not drinking tap water. Sit back, relax, kick your feet up on that ottoman, and get ready for another case study on how we raised the

This bootstrapped business does $100,000 per day

Monday, November 29, 2021

Happy Sunday! I know it's a holiday weekend, so I appreciate you even opening this email today. It's one of the longer ones I've written, so grab your Olipop and kick your feet up.

How I'm Beating the Market Crash & How You Can To

Saturday, January 22, 2022

We haven't even reached the eye of the storm yet. Nearly the entire entrepreneurial world is getting tossed around like a rag doll. What am I talking about? The bloody crash. Cryptos are down a

The Latest From SaaStr: 7 Changes You Can Make Today To Grow Faster

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Since SaaS compounds, even doing just 5% better now can compound dramatically over time. To view this email as a web page, click here saastr daily 7 Changes You Can Make Today To Grow Faster By Jason

Why VC is booming in Europe

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Also: Don't miss our 2021 annual report on US VC; Our healthtech analyst weighs in on Lyra Health's $235M round; Global M&A Report coming next week... Read online | Don't want to

Bitcoin’s quest to become the gold standard

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The year 2022 could be a defining year for cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

SaaStr Annual 2022: Back in person in the Bay Area. Join 10,000 SaaS Professionals This September

Friday, January 21, 2022

Save $300 til Jan 31st. To view this email as a web page, click here saastr annual 2022 Hey SaaStr Community, We're back — SaaStr Annual 2022 will be this September 13, 14, 15 in the SF Bay Area.

Progress, humanism, agency: An intellectual core for the progress movement

Friday, January 21, 2022

Also: Meetup in SF, Feb 26; Five Questions with James Pethokoukis View original blog posts Roots of Progress Meetup in SF, Feb 26: Progress Studies + Effective Altruism There will be a Progress Studies

Update: Crypto Business podcast with Michael Stelzner

Friday, January 21, 2022

Hey, Reader! We've got some exciting news. Not only did we launch the Crypto Business podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, and Amazon Music—we did even one better. I realize so many of you

EdTech lessons used by Google and Dropbox

Friday, January 21, 2022

EdTech lessons used by Google and Dropbox By EdTech – we're talking growth mentality. Which is great when you're in it. Our copywriter (hi) knows that can be more elusive these days. And

Top ecommerce trends to watch in 2022.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Dive headfirst into expert tips and actionable advice for the year ahead. To view this email as a web page, click here BigCommerce Blog Newsletter Ecommerce changes fast — which is why we're

Jan. 21 - BH Cosmetics files Ch. 11 | Aerosoles acquired by American Exchange

Friday, January 21, 2022

BH Cosmetics files under Chapter 11; Aerosoles footwear brand to be acquired by American Exchange; André Leon Talley, 'always at the forefront of inclusion,' dies at 73; Hims & Hers to sell