By Nik Sharma
Today’s newsletter is going to be a summary of my Ecom World presentation (most-watched presentation) with some additional commentary.
If you’ve launched a brand, you know that the zero to one, the beginning, is tough. Getting proof that what you’re putting out into the world is actually needed, and convincing the first 1,000 or 10,000 customers to try you out is, hands-down, the hardest part of building a brand.
Once you get past that stage, I don’t want to say it becomes easier, cause it never feels like it does, but as you scale your marketing, you have a lot more options than you did. At your disposal, you have the ability to light up:
- Paid media (social, search, display, native)
- Trade marketing
- Influencers & creators
- Organic social media
- Forums & communities
- Word of mouth/referral
- Out of home & experiential
- Partnerships & integrations
- Earned media
- Affiliates & Bloggers
- Customer-generated content (UGC)
- Long-form content & SEO
The problem is, you can’t begin to push heavy on some of these until you’ve established a clear product-market fit, and you’ve built a community of early customers. Well, I guess you can, but you’ll be one of those brands spending outrageously on paid media to get your first set of customers, versus going into paid marketing after you have an initial customer base.
These are 8 Sustainable Growth Tactics that I believe do an incredible job, not only in acquiring customers but also in building brand equity. The more brand equity you have, the further your ad dollars go when you run campaigns.
Build a community. I know… you’re probably rolling your eyes thinking, “If I had a dollar for every time someone has mentioned the word community, I’d retire today.” But, it’s true. With building community, you don’t need to hit some kind of a KPI, and nor is it something that will happen overnight, by hiring a consultant, or just by activating a new piece of software. Building community means making consumers feel like you’re doing something right by them. It takes quality, consistency and good intentions, over a period of time. It’s not done overnight, but 3 years down the road, you will be so ecstatic to have this community of consumers around your brand.
Create content that supports your audience. The reason creator brands like Feastables or Chamberlain Coffee do so well, is because they are constantly creating content that supports what their customer wants to see in the first place! Other companies that do this well are Levels Health and Ritual. Their sites, their emails, and their social content is all stuff that their best customers find fascinating. It acts as a vehicle for retention (when people consume the content, it’s a reminder of “Oh shoot, I should also place another order”. It also acts as an acquisition channel! Back when I was at Hint Water, we used to use Quantcast Measure’s insights tool to see what exactly our customers were into, and then build a content calendar for the next month based on that, alone. You, too, can use Quantcast Measure for free — it’s a simple pixel that lives on your site.
Collaborations & partnerships. I like to call this “The Pitbull Strategy”. The way Pitbull (the rapper) rose to fame was by doing collaborations with other artists, sometimes much bigger than he was. When JUDY and Poo~Pourri do a JUDY for your Booty kit, or Snif and Good Time Hotel do a collaboration scent, both brands get to tap into new audiences. The cost of the partnership is the effort that goes into making it happen. After that, each brand’s list gets something they’d be interested in — another product launch! If I were to buy a brand today, I would grow it mainly through collaborations with other brands.
Viral stunts. Going viral isn’t something you can predict with content, but if you have the means to blow something out of the water or the ability to create huge amounts of FOMO with product drops, it’s worth trying. Brands like SKIMS and Feastables have built businesses off engagement coming from social media, and sometimes the commentary that’s generated from it. On the other hand, a business that started with no following, Last Crumb Cookies, built its business off FOMO-inducing drops of their $150 cookies. NUGGS, MadHappy, and CoinBase have all used this same tactic recently to drive enormous amounts of traffic and engagement.
Smarter financing. There are better ways to scale your marketing than by spending the dollars sitting in your bank account. You’re likely already using some combination of credit lines and credit cards. If you’re not, then I highly recommend looking into companies that give you better payment terms so you can have a negative cash-conversion cycle. Companies like Wayflyer or Parker (credit card) are perfect for this.
Earned media finesse. One of the most common questions I hear is, “How can I get more PR?” Well, just reach out! Everyone needs content, and if you can go to editors with flushed-out ideas of how your brand fits into what they write about, is entertaining to their audience, and is culturally relevant, then you’ll win. JUDY, Haus, and Caraway have all executed this really well, and not only does it help to build the brand, but it also makes their paid media channels more efficient. You don’t need to have a PR agency to do this, you can go direct, or just hang out on Twitter. I’ve noticed tons of editors love Twitter, and if you’re posting content there, they will ping you for quotes or inclusions because you’re more top of mind. You just have to be in their face.
Alternate distribution (Wholesale & B2B). Companies like Hint Water, KIND Bar, and even Brightland have successfully done this. It’s not just getting into wholesale (B2B2C), but it’s also getting into the B2B world — restaurants, office kitchens, airlines, hotels, etc. These orders are much higher dollar amounts and have a lot more margin baked in, given you’re not shipping and wrapping everything individually — it’s absolutely worth a shot if you have the operational and financial capacity to support doing it.
Creating content for existing platforms. Whether this means putting on a Netflix show like Bake Squad, with Milk Bar’s founder, or becoming a character on Bravo’s Summer House, like Kyle Cooke, you’re creating content for an audience that already tunes in. The eyeballs are there, you are just helping a network, a publisher, or a media company by supplying the content or contributing to the creation of it. On a very small scale, this could mean you’re a contributor for an online publisher. You’d be shocked as to how much media companies are always looking for new content to put into their library — take advantage of it!
If you didn’t get a chance to see any of the Ecom World presentations, they will be available for replay soon and I’ll link to them in next week’s newsletter.
Now, on to some fun stuff…
Vendor of the Week:
Parker — The credit card you should be using for advertising, with a 60-day, interest-free, payback.
I first heard about Parker in a Slack group with about 60 other founders of brands, spending 6-figures per month. A friend of mine has net-30-day payment terms with Facebook, and then he uses Parker’s credit card and gets another 60 days on top. That means he has time to acquire customers, make his revenue, get a second purchase out of customers, and then pay for the ads. It’s genius.
Simply put, Parker is a credit card for eCommerce brands. They offer 60 days to pay off ANY transaction with no interest or fees, AND they offer credit limits up to $5 million dollars. Essentially, you can 10-30x your card’s limit and get access to credit at no cost.
After hearing about Parker, I asked them for a deal for my newsletter subscribers, so here’s what you’ll get when you sign up for a demo using this Calendly link:
- $500 sign-up bonus ($500 divided by your CPA = that many new customers on me).
- Up to a 60-day payback, interest-free, on EVERY transaction.
- 3% cashback on all your ad spend for the first 30 days while using their 60-day payback card, for the first $300k in spend.
Essentially, if you spend at least $300,000 in ad spend, this is an opportunity to get $9,500 on the house. Just schedule a call with them using this Calendly link, and let them know Nik sent you!
Jobs of the Week:
- HOOX — Junior UX Designer
- Wild One — VP of Marketing
- Sharma Brands —Junior Video Editor
You can find other exciting open roles on my job board!
Event of the Week:
Branding Bootcamp with JT Barnett & Tom Boyd
Everyone has loved the Hashtag Paid events with JT, so I wanted to highlight another upcoming one on Mat 17th (9 days from now).
Booking a consulting call with JT can not only be expensive but can also take months (even my portfolio companies haven’t been able to get JT on a call — he’s too busy!).
Sign up for free to JT’s Branding Bootcamp with #paid by clicking here!
Question of the Week:
What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned today?
The best answer will get a $50 gift card to MadHappy in their email!
Brand of the Week:
Marc’s Magic Rub — The tastiest blend of seasonings for your meat and veggies.
A friend of mine put me onto Marc’s Magic Rub, and after reading into the story, I loved it even more! The founder is a woman named Lindsay Klein and her dad was Marc, who lost his life to cancer just 3 years ago.
Marc had always put together this incredible blend of garlic, black pepper, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, and more… and it is so tasty. My order just arrived today, and I’m going to use it to marinate chicken for tonight! You can try it here on Amazon!