I launched my first case study last week about how to blow up your business by being authentic on social media, which you can check out here if you haven’t already.
Next stop, I want to talk all about product businesses and how you can design a great product which your audience will find absolutely irresistible.
As a reminder of what this series is all about, I’ve had enough of bland businesses and big brands with no heart behind them other than making money. I think it’s high time we hand the spotlight over to businesses who are all in for making a change and who stand for more than just maximising their profits.
If you’ve checked out last week’s post about how to build a banging business and be authentic on social media (you can check it out here), you’ll be familiar with the format. Basically, I take a piece of business theory, talk through why it matters and then talk through the key ways they’ve grown a successful and profitable business. As part of this, I’ll include takeaway questions for you so that you can apply some of the lessons to your own business.
This week, I want to look at how to form a successful product business. There is a massive wave of people getting involved in services businesses (coaches and designer), and it’s easy to forget that you can also make money from products businesses.
The key to a successful products business is to know exactly who will be wearing/using your product so that you can target it directly at what they need. This means you can then make decisions about your product’s look, feel, price and marketing based upon your image of your ideal customer.
This involves knowing your ideal customer as well as you know yourself. What makes them tick, what turns them off, and what they’re missing from their lives which only you can fix.
However, I get that there’s lot of theory about profiling your ideal customer floating round, so I’m going to pick a product brand which I have recently fallen in love with to show how they make it work.
Welcome to Metal Marvels. This is an online story for jewelry, and you can check out their site here. They are a brand ‘for bold women who break the mould,’ and they’re all about living life on your own terms without fear of judgement.
Their flagship product is their Expletives collection of bangles, which is all about booting the boring mantras and replacing them with mantras as unique as you, branded onto your bracelets.
If you’re not too sure what this means, check out this screenshot which shows what they offer:
As someone with a partially submerged swearing side, I’m a little bit in love with them…
So, summing up, we’ve got a jewelry collection which stands for values of female strength, empowerment, and living life on your own terms. So far so great, but how do they make their product irresistible to their audience?
1. They own their journey without censoring it.
On the About page, the founder Katie Seller admits she started Metal Marvels ‘with big dreams and no solid plan yet for making them happen.’ Some businesses are too afraid to show any weakness so act as if they were on a mission to success from the beginning. Metal Marvels shows it’s ok to start off with a dream, as with hard work you can get there even if at the beginning you’re unsure how. they don’t pretend their product is perfect and they don’t filter their journey to make it unapproachable.
Instead, they have devised a product all about female empowerment and living a life authentic to you, and make it irresistible because of what it stands for: liberation.
Your homework: Think about what journey has led you to start your business, and whether you have been honest with your audience about this. Have you shown them any vulnerability in your public posts, or have you tried to present a superwoman image?
2. They aren’t quiet about their beliefs
As you’d expect from someone who started an Expletives collection of bangles, Katie isn’t quiet about what she believes in. She’s sick of being told that ‘lady-like’ has one definition, and that if you’re yourself then you’ll get judged. Her jewelry is the physicial manifestation of her beliefs, meaning her brand is totally in line with the revolution she wants. She supports strong women, vocally and consistently – just look at her blog post from April.
It would be easy for her to produce a range of ‘safe’ jewelry and say she wants to represent strong female values, but she goes a step further and follows it through from values to product without apologising for who she is. She says it herself, that if you don’t like it then tough, she’s not going to change her mind to please anyone else. Her product is all about being the strongest version of yourself, and by living that herself she only enhances her product and makes it more irresistible.
Takeaway: What do you believe in? Are your products or services truly meeting a need for your audience and helping you make the world a better place? If not, what products or service could you provide which would link in with the revolution you want to see in the world?
3. You can make money with strong opinions
The traditional business model is that as a business you can’t express your opinions on anything vaguely controversial otherwise you’ll lose customers, rub people up the wrong way and generally be a burning disappointment. However, what you will end up with if you stand for nothing is a bland product where no-one will rave about you to their friends, and you’ll drown amid a sea of other options.
Metal Marvels proves you can have strong opinions and still succeed. Katie as the founder is vocal on social media, doesn’t hide behind stock images and isn’t afraid to be herself. She’s not a cookie-cutter jewelry maker, and neither is her brand. On the Metal Marvels site there is a ticker which pops up whenever someone places an order. I’ve not got any data on the sales or profits, but judging by how frequently the ticker popped up while I was browsing, I’d say they’re doing pretty well.
A truly irresistible product stands for something strong. What that ‘something’ is, is up to you, but it HAS to be powerful enough to keep your audience engaged.
Takeaway: Think about what opinions you have about your business. Are your audience aware of them? If they’re not, then what’s holding you back from expressing yourself fully? Don’t let your business become beige.
4. Your language reflects your brand
Katie swears on her bracelets and is unabashedly honest about it, both on her social media and on her website copy. She doesn’t try to cover it up, because she knows that if someone is going to buy a bracelet with swearing on it, they’re going to be comfortable with swearing elsewhere on her website.
It doesn’t feel gratuitous or insincere or attention-grabbingly desperate. Instead, it has the same tone as a private conversation in a public place, and helps the engagement of her community. She’s not playing it safe, but she’s not doing it for shock value either. She knows that her audience don’t care about curse words and will fall over themselves to wear bracelets adorned in them; if her audience had been full of women who want delicate gold chains, then she’d have had to tailor her product accordingly.
Takeaway: Think about the language you use to communicate with your audience. Does it feel authentic to your brand and unique to you? Are you expressing your thoughts and products in a way your audience can relate to, or are you playing it safe because you’re afraid to scare off potential customers?
5. Social media
As you’d expect from the rest of the above, the Metal Marvels social media is unabashedly bold. It contains the antithesis to uncutesy mantras, with photos of purchasers wearing their beautiful bangles, and behind the scenes snaps of pop-ups where they’re on sale. It puts the product in the context of its surroundings and means potential purchasers can see how it looks in real life. There’s no regimented filter of Instagram-friendly green juices, just a ton of visually appealing content which draws in viewers and gets them interested in the brand as the next step towards eventually making a purchase.
Here’s a snippet of one of them:
Your homework: Look at your social media content with a fresh pair of eyes and consider how unique it is to you. Were someone to stumble across your Facebook or Instagram pages, would they know instantly that it was your brand and what product or service you are selling? Is your social media tone consistent with the business revolution you want to create, and does it complement your product or service? Are you posting your own images and ideas, or are you hiding behind stock photos which have only a tentative link to your brand?
I’m going to leave you with my favourite Metal Marvels quote, from their About Page. Such a clear summing up of the brand.
“You’re a bad ass, own your life, conquer it & make it your bitch. We’re here to make sure you look gorgeous while doing it” – Katie Sellers, Being Boss.
Here’s to businesses that make waves.
YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR REVOLUTION.
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