4: How Can Others Help Your Business?
Welcome back to Update 4 on Air Vinyl Design! What's to follow in this update is the start of a few experiments I'll be doing to grow sales and build brand recognition. Until now, I've been hustling to market and promote Air Vinyl on my own. This has definitely been helpful for me to learn about my target customer, while at the same time, building a solid foundation in social media advertising. With that, I wanted to look towards outsources some of this work to professionals who can not only help build my sales, but more importantly, teach me about building a brand. I'll be sharing my first impressions of 3 different business providing unique value-adds at an affordable price for people starting their own business. Let's get to it!
At the beginning of this update period, I had a phone call with Gadget Flow - an online curator of new and emerging technology products. Basically, a product discovery platform.
There are 2 parts to their business: sharing products with their followers and finding products to promote to these followers. What interested me about their service is that their audience overlapped well with my target customer: people interested in adopting and supporting new technology product (such as AirPods). Their following is mainly on iOS as well, so they are more likely to own Apple AirPods. Their service ranges in price from their Basic Package ($280) to their Platinum Package ($5,299). Since we're bootstrapping this thing, I was looking at the Basic package. This allows you to get your product listed on Gadget Flow's page and also have them promote your product one time on their social media channels and daily email newsletter. The estimated number of impressions (remember, this is the number of times people see your advertisement) is estimated at 70K-120K. After discussing with their sales team, they estimated the total number of clicks to my site to be between 450-1000.
Gadget Flow has amazing case studies on businesses that were able to build substantial revenue by advertising with Gadget Flow. I would definitely recommend reading through a few of these if you want to learn a little more about building early advertising traction.
For Air Vinyl, I think the service may be a little too expensive given the low cost of Air Vinyl as a product. I was able to negotiating the cost down to $196 by explaining that the lower cost of my product means I need to convert a larger percentage of the clicks into sales, but I still think that the cost-benefit for this service isn't there for Air Vinyl just yet. However, if you're running a crowdfunding campaign or have a product selling for $20+, I think this could be a very profitable service for you.
This company really got me excited after hearing about what they provide and how they help grow new businesses and products. Lightning Launch helps inventors and new businesses with development, licensing, and distribution. They have a good amount of experience in product development and distribution and have an interesting business model: they're very exclusive! You can't just reach out to them and pay for their services. Instead, they have product managers that interview you and then pitch your product to their founders. If they like your product and think it's a good fit for their services, they will accept you into their program.
As of writing this blog post, I don't have any information on pricing, however, I did go through their initial interview process. Even if they don't select you, they still reach out after their review to give feedback on your product and business - which is valuable on it's own! During my interview I went over the fundamentals of Air Vinyl including my sales numbers, competition, how much product I had on hand, etc. I also sent them free samples of the packaged product so they could have it in front of them when they pitched Air Vinyl to the founders.
My meeting is scheduled for May 9th (today), so I should be hearing back this afternoon to see if I was accepted. I will share that with all of you in Update 5!
Something that a lot of people look to when they start a product based business is to grow a social media backing around their brand. Building true engagement with organic followers can be very powerful. When you launch a new product, you can get it in front of a targeted audience automatically and continue to advertise to this audience daily. Something that a lot of people do is pay for fake and inorganic followers so that they are perceived to have a large audience. To me, this is not an effective use of your funds - having a following of fake Instagram accounts is not going to help build your business. Fake accounts don't make real purchases. So how do you build a real following and get your brand recognized? Let's meet Brodie Nero and his business, GramSurge.
I was still a little skeptical of this service at first because I assumed it would be a "pay for instant followers" kind of deal. However, that's not what GramSurge does. Brodie started this business within the last year to help people grow their Instagram organically and coach people on how to post quality content and engage effectively with people. On the backend, GramSurge goes out and starts engaging with accounts that are specific to your market using your Instagram. Their goal is to help grow a following of 10K in 6 months using this combination of active engagement and content coaching. The cost? $65 a month, which totals $390 for the 6 months I signed up for. Let's take a look at my current Instagram analytics prior to starting with GramSurge.
A lot of people are interested in growing their social media following, so I thought it would be a cool experiment to share the results with all of you. Think of me as a guinea pig testing out this type of service for you. As always, I'll be sharing all of my sales and website traffic, so you'll be able to see if this type of marketing is effective for converting real sales revenue. Prior to starting this service, I'm sitting at 447 Instagram followers and on average I'm seeing 70-90 clicks through to my website each week. Let's see how these numbers change after working with GramSurge. Remember, the important thing is that people are clicking through to the site and purchasing product.
In Update 3, I set a goal of doubling my sales to 14 each week - unfortunately, I fell short of that target. I sold 5 decals in Week 5 and 10 in Week 6, for a total of 15 decals. So this was in line with my previous average. Even after falling short, I'm still optimistic that I can achieve this goal. I think the 14 sales each week goal is a strong one and something I really want to achieve. Success comes in steps, and even after falling short, you still need to hustle to get back up. Some slight hiccups in production resulted in a delay of some of the designs (mainly the New York design), but now that they are all available, I want to hit hard with some more social media advertising and draw in more customers.
I'm planning on releasing a full quarterly report on the financials of Air Vinyl at the beginning of July, but I wanted to share a starting point statistic for April, the first full month of operation. During the month of April, I sold a total of 27 decals for a total revenue of $161.78. This is my monthly baseline target to beat so now let's get some month over month growth!
The past 2 weeks have been filled with a lot of forward progress. I launched 4 new products and got to interact with other businesses that can help grow Air Vinyl in a substantially way. With some exciting progress forward, also came a few short-comings. Failing to hit my sales goal hurt, and getting only 5 sales in Week 5 really had me discouraged. The production problems with the new products that were delivered didn't help either. Starting a business can be mentally straining and it's easy to let your issues drown out your achievements. Stay strong, stay positive, and keep pushing forward! All of your wins build upon each other, so keep powering through and continue making progress towards your goal!
Thanks for reading and, as always, remember to share any feedback you have by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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