Build a Community and the Sales Will Follow: Insights on Product DevelopmentMorgan Gertler
Have you ever turned to YouTube.com to learn a new skill or how to level-up your appearance? You’re not alone. Many people turn to this major video publisher to learn better techniques for everyday use. Joseph Andrew, co-founder of BluMaan.com, knew that there were men looking for better hair care products for their needs. Once he started building a community, he also learned they had a specific need he could fill.
Joseph has been on YouTube as an influencer of sorts for about seven years and has around 1.6 million subscribers. The majority of his content is men’s hair-related stuff. While this sounds very niche, it’s something that worked out well. Not all niche communities have large, interactive followings. But when Joseph got interested in men’s grooming, it was also a popular topic for other men too.
So I would say there’s been a lot of change that’s happened over the seven years, and it’s increasing as well. More and more guys are starting to take care of themselves. The important thing to recognize is, or what I always try to facilitate for people, is being the best version of yourself.
This idea can mean something different for everyone, but that also gives everyone the ability to do things that will make them feel more confident and look better. So if you’re a manly kind of guy, maybe you want to figure out how to shape up your beard in a way that doesn’t l0ok too scraggly, but still refined and still keeps that edge that you identify with.
A New Way of Marketing
Joseph explains that there are a lot of companies that market products with a specific idea in mind. Specifically: If we’re going to make a men’s product, we have to make it as manly as possible. Otherwise, they’re not going to want to buy it. And it has to be black packaging. It has to be really aggressive so that they’re going to wash their hair with this stuff.[Tweet “Here’s an article and podcast interview I enjoyed called: Build a Community and the Sales Will Follow: https://bit.ly/2K9aMEO”]
This probably isn’t shocking information. Marketing for men’s personal care products has always caught the eye of consumers for its extreme use of manly marketing tactics.
“And I think that’s quite an old way of doing stuff now. So you’re seeing a lot of new companies being a lot more creative and a lot more inclusive, I think.”
And that’s really what is important to BluMaan, understanding that its customers are taking care of themselves to be their best version. They aren’t trying to look like David Beckham or some other very manly, macho man.
When Is It Time to Start a Business?
Joseph feels that anyone who has a passion and an idea should move forward with it.
You don’t have to wait until you’re absolutely huge. In fact, it can often be an advantage to get in the door with a group of people who are really excited about what you’re doing.
That’s a pretty genius comment.
You don’t have to wait for perfection and you don’t have to be huge to make money or do something amazing. You can start small and have a very engaged audience. This was actually Joseph’s first-hand experience. It was an email exchange that went something like this:
“Have you ever thought about starting a hair product company from this?”
“Yeah, I’ve thought about it. But I’m in university right now. I’m studying media. I’m doing a lot of stuff. It’s not something that I’ve had the time to do.”
“Well, maybe we can work together and I can help you out with that.”
This is how Joseph got into business with his current business partner.
How Building a Community Ahead of Time was Crucial
Joseph and his partner had the advantage of a really strong hair-focused men’s community. So it made no sense to work with the community to see what they were looking for in the market. Instead of creating products to sell to them, they were specific to work alongside the community to find out some information:
What do you feel like is missing from the market?
What kind of hair products do you guys want to use?
What do you think could be done better?
This excites the community as well. When you intentionally try to make something that’s going to solve a need or a problem, people get excited.
It was a very community-driven project, which it still is, but especially at the beginning to get our first product out there.
Having a community allowed for input and learning that you can’t get without an audience.
Building a Community
Joseph warns that you can’t build a community without providing value. You need people who want to listen to you in the first place who respect what you’re doing. And as soon as you provide value, education, and information, then that can turn into a community because people want to hear what you’re saying.
BluMaan didn’t start with a ton of money, either. They partnered up with a company to do a little research and development and work with some samples. This led to conversations about what should change and why until it became the product they wanted. Then they put the product up for pre-order.
“We were able to fund the orders and then get it out there, and then we had enough money. So we’ve only done pre-orders for the first launch. And then all of our other launches, we’ve been able to back ourselves.”
The Beauty/Hair Care Industry
When it comes to beauty products, there’s the option to go white label, which is when a company already has a full range of products and they’ll sell them to you. That didn’t work for BluMaan as they wanted it to be personal. So the other option is to source potential manufacturers. The one that BluMaan used did free R&D as long as they had a minimum purchase order in the end.
Building a Community: What Channels to Use
There are definitely people who have become very successful through Facebook, but BluMaan found their initial success with building a community on YouTube. The culture of YouTube is very different from the culture of Facebook. Many people on YouTube already have it built-in that they’re looking for people who they want to re-watch and connect. Whereas Facebook is a lot more scrolling and continuing to move. If a video catches your attention, then maybe you might watch some of that.