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Follow me, I’ve got nothing.

September 22, 2017

A brand started following me on Instagram the other week which is always nice.  Feeling a bit like indulging in some time-wasting I decided to have a look at what they were all about so I spent a minute or two scrolling down through their pictures and they were beautiful pictures of an enviable lifestyle. Pictures that were perfectly captured on exotic (and what looks to be expensive) locations featuring attractive young models having fun. Then I checked their bio and my jaw dropped, over 18,000 followers and yet the brand hadn’t even launched yet. NOT EVEN LAUNCHED!!!!!!!!!!!

Eighteen thousand people are happy to follow nothing because it looks like something they want.

Oh My God.

It’s not like this is news to me, I’ve had people actually tell me about how they have achieved a similar level of ‘success’ before actually making a product.  How they use this HYPE to get people to part with their money and pay for goods before they are even made sometimes. Some brand owners who I’ve spoken to don’t even know how on earth they are going to deliver on their promises in order to fulfil this (cue a few tense conversations with a cosmetic chemist or manufacturer).

So this is how business is done in 2017…..

I want to say a couple of things about this from my perspective which is based on me having worked with start-ups and growing-up businesses for nearly 20 years.

  • This strategy is risky and the risks increase if you lack experience of the industry you are ‘disrupting’ – the more of an outsider you are, the more likely you are to trip up, get frustrated, over-promise, burn bridges and under-deliver – none of this matters of course if you want to just make a quick buck and then leave but if you want to pass this down to your children then take care.
  • It strategy will only get you so far. People who will flock to nothing because they think it is something usually have only a transient relationship with a brand and unless you’ve got the stamina to keep feeding the machine and delivering then it’s going to start looking like a sham very quickly.

 

  • Numbers are vanity, repeat dollars are sanity.  The golden rule in business is that unless it is banked and accounted for and the returns period has expired you can’t bank on it.  Repeat customers dollars are worth more than new clients as you have a higher degree of certainty that they are not going to return the goods or complain.  So, a solid customer base of reasonable size is much better than a large customer base that comes and goes as it pleases.

  • This strategy can be expensive.  Not all of us live in glorious places, have models or famous people as friends and have an awesome photographer on staff and so for us a PR company is needed. These companies can cost you anything but figures from $2000 to$10,000 per month are not unusual and most will insist (and rightly so) that you sign up for 3, 6 or 12 months – they need time to work their magic.  I have no judgement to make about this spend but do make sure you take a step back and budget for this while knowing how much stock you have to turn over to pay for this and everything else in your business.  Start-up costs can be disproportionately high compared to business running costs but if it going to cripple your cash flow for the next 5 years to launch and make it impossible for you to pay yourself the salary you need then the business might not long enough to break even.  Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  • Don’t make the mistake of breaking the law.  Overstating claims because ‘everyone else does’, talking about benefits that you have no evidence for or over-stepping your product category boundaries (selling a cosmetic as a pharmaceutical for example) is running the risk of being a fraud.  Just because someone else is saying their lip balm cures cancer doesn’t mean you can too.   My advice would be to get advice before you post anything that could be seen as misleading and if you are not a good judge of that because you are very excitable then get someone with experience and no emotional attachment to look at it first and if they recommend a professional regulatory consultant do it and listen to them not your PR company. PR companies don’t necessarily have experience in cosmetic, pharma or food law.

The bottom line is that Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Blogs have made setting up a brand with international reach much easier but that doesn’t mean it has made running an international business any easier and nor does it mean you don’t have to know and respect the rules.

Happy Instagramming and if you want to follow me I’m amandathechemist

Amanda

 

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2017 9:48 pm

    Really sound advice, which I appreciate as one of those new brands just logging in all my social media handles! I would be happy with a few hundred ‘likes’ before I get serious product out there. It is truly incredible how hype hustles though. I do wonder if those nthK of followers are ‘bought’ somehow. The social media world is totally saturated so it baffles me how a virtual brand with nothing yet to sell can make its voice heard so loudly. The proof is in the product and ultimately, it will sail on or fail once folks get their hands on it. As you say, without some cash coming in, it’s nothing! Great post. I’ve spent many happy, instructive, food for thought hours on your blog over the months. Such a valued resource for me. Amazing you manage to keep it all going.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      September 22, 2017 11:26 pm

      Hi Liz, thanks for the feedback and what a great brand name you have! I think the main thing is have SOMETHING to sell and make sure that something is good. By good I mean honest, heartfelt, whole and true. If you have that then why not put your money behind it and pay for some likes – that’s advertising after all 🙂 I’m just slightly concerned that people may be jumping the gun here and missing the point that selling NOTHING to people who don’t realise that’s what they are getting is somewhat fraudulent. I’m really glad you are getting something out of the blog. I’ve been writing it for a while now (10 1/2 years) and it is so great to know that it is helping people navigate their way in this crazy world. Good luck with your endeavours x

      • September 22, 2017 11:33 pm

        Thanks so for your kind and thoughtful comments. I know what immense effort running a consistent blog takes; I’ve had various blogs on and off the go since 2002, and appreciate the depth you put into each and every post. I am getting my ducks in a row first before I’ll feel totally confident that I can run headlong into social media. As there’s no such thing as a free lunch, I am mindful too of the vagaries of social platforms that can ban, block, delete accounts at whim. As you say, honest and heartfelt are the key. Thanks for the wishes. I hope to make some ‘real’, not just virtual, ripples come early next year!

  2. October 19, 2017 9:07 pm

    “Don’t make the mistake of breaking the law.” Love it, you hit the nail right on the head. There are so many unscrupulous companies that don’t get policed! Great post Amanda! Consumers beware.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      October 22, 2017 10:13 pm

      Thank you Eunice x

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