"Sell wherever your customers are." That usually means online.
But what if you're not targeting the millennial who grew up in a digital-first world? What if a large segment of your customers belong to a generation that's used to shopping without the internet?
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll hear from an entrepreneur who created his own balm and how he marketed it to a segment of 60-and-over customers by focusing on educating them about the ingredients that go into his products.
Dylan Jawahir is the owner of Battle Balm: a 100% all natural and herbal analgesic balm specifically developed for contact sports.
With the older demographic, I think building rapport is really important. Maybe open up a booth at a farmer's market and invite people to come in and talk.
Tune in to learn
- How to educate customers on the science and ingredients in your product
- How to sell to the 60-year-old and up demographic
- How marketing and PR changes when you go from direct-to-consumer to business-to-business
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
- Store: Battle Balm
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Slack, Notion.so, Printful, Mailchimp, Zapier, Wholesale Zero
Felix: Today I’m joined by Dylan Jawahir from Battle Balm. Battle Balm is 100% all natural and herbal analgesic balms specifically developed for contact sports. It was started in 2013 and based out of San Diego, California. Welcome, Dylan.
Dylan: Hey Felix, how are you?
Felix: Good, good. So tell us a bit more about this balm. How does it work?
Dylan: It’s a topical pain reliever. It’s 100% plant-based, steeped in traditional Chinese medicine; completely herbal. We source 20 different ingredients for our formulation. It’s a … In the topical analgesic industry, we would be comparable to some of the other brands that are in there, like Tiger Balm, Flexall, Icy Hot; basically used for any sort of muscular soreness, aches and pains, typical everyday body pain.
Felix: Got it. Now how did you choose this particular industry to get into?
Dylan: I’m an acupuncturist and an herbalist. I went to school for acupuncture and Chinese medicine. This balm actually sort of sprouted out of my practice, my private practice. I was seeing a lot of pain patients. I was looking for something that … a topical product that I could believe in, something that … I knew all the ingredients to, I knew where they were from; and something of higher quality than what I saw available on the market.
Felix: Now, you mentioned that there were 20 different ingredients, so it sounds like obviously a very extensive process to develop a product like this. It wasn’t just like you slap a couple things together and put it on to the market. You had a formula that you created. What was the process to come up with that?
Dylan: Battle Balm actually … It took about two years before we hit the market. There was a lot of research that I needed to do; basically looking at what the competitors were offering in that space, checking out what was available in the ancient Chinese texts. I had some textbooks with [inaudible 00:03:04] … formulas in it. I looked and compared different formulas, and tried to figure out what are the key components that I could use to put together a well balanced formulation for today’s athlete.
Felix: Got it. How were you able to decide what goes in, what should come out? What was going on to create the formula?
Dylan: Nowadays, we have a lot of technology available to us to do testing on … active ingredients in plants … and being able to pull out the constituents of the plants that are going to be effective. There’s been research done. There’s tons of research out there. Herbal medicine is no longer like this … sort of … vague conglomeration of … empirical formulations. There is science behind it.
What I was able to do is I was able to use some of the herbal textbooks that we have, checked out what kind of chemical compounds were in these products, or in these plants, and figure out how they were absorbed by the body and what was good enough for us to put in our formulation; and what we didn’t need in our formulation. I was able to sort of narrow down the list.
Felix: Can you just do something like this like in home, in your office? How do you … Do you have to work with … contract that kind of development out to an outsider? How do you even begin the process of creating a balm?
Dylan: This is a … this is funny. I think most businesses are begun in a garage or in a kitchen. We’re no different. The traditional methods of herbal preparation is … a lot of times, they boil things. They steep herbal teas, which I’m sure you’ve had an herbal tea before; like chamomile, that’s sort of an herbal concoction. There are different ways to prepare herbs that you could do in your home because that’s sort of where people would do it traditionally.
I started off there, and really … it kind of became like, okay, … can we steep this herb for two hours to see if we can pull out a higher concentration of active ingredient from this herb? How long do we need to cook a product or an herb before it burns? There was a lot of trial and error in the actual formulation of it, and testing it. Yeah, I guess it started off in the home, and now we have a space. We manufacture it there.
Felix: What was that transition like to get into … to go from your home into a space? When you say ‘space,’ are you still manufacturing this in-house, or are you able to hire outside help to create this? What’s involved there?
Dylan: I create the formulation. I do a lot of the manufacturing of the formula myself. Then I also have another person who helps me along with it. Right now, we’re trying to keep things under wraps because … we list all of the ingredients on the product label; but the actual process itself is our intellectual property. That’s something that I’m not really ready to give up at this point.
I have a tight wrap on how the process of creating Battle Balm.
Felix: Yeah, and I’m sure other entrepreneurs have gone through this or are going through this, too, where they have some secret sauce, some kind of intellectual property that they want to protect, because that’s the core value that they’re offering with their product. What steps have you taken? What steps do you recommend other people take to make sure that they have control over their intellectual property, to make sure that doesn’t leak out?
Dylan: It sort of depends. I’m really interested in trying to maintain control of the quality of the product. We’ve looked at outsourcing manufacturing of Battle Balm to different locations; some domestically, some internationally. I just worry about the ability to keep the quality consistent and high enough to my standards. I’m somewhat of a … I’m somewhat OCD when it comes to making sure that the product is perfect before it leaves the warehouse.
I would say for others, other entrepreneurs, find out where your value is. I think that’s super important. If you really feel like you cannot outsource the manufacturing without losing the quality that you want to have, I would say to try to keep it in-house. It’s obviously a little bit more legwork, for sure, when it comes to doing something like that; but if that’s where your … if that’s where your focus is, I think … and that’s where your value is, I think that it’s important to maintain that. It’s probably easier than to outsource it.
Felix: Yeah, when you think of a balm or any other product that involves a lot of ingredients, you … I would at least typically think that that is where the value is; but you’re saying that you put the ingredients out there, you list them, you make it available for customers. Of course, and potential competitors can also see what the ingredients are. You’re saying that the value that you’re offering is in the quality that comes out of the process, which you keep tight control over and you essentially want to keep under wraps. How did you identify that that’s where the value was, rather than, let’s say the ingredients.
Dylan: You know, I’m very much into transparency. I think that in this day and age, transparency is important for a business to … represent themselves ideally. We’ve got nothing to really … hide from our customers. We want them to know full well what is in the product so that they can look it up themselves and say, ‘Oh hey, I’m allergic to this, that and the other thing. Let me see if it’s inside of the Battle Balm product.’ We want to have that sort of open communication with our customer base so that if they do have questions or concerns, they can contact us or they can read the label and just find out more.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and because you are transparent and you put all the science and the ingredients out on full display, do the customers understand that the ingredients, the science behind it? Or, how do you educate them to make sure they understand the value of a specific type of ingredient that you’re placing in your product?
Dylan: I would say that most of our customers are not … quite interested in reading a full list of ingredients. They’ll probably look at a few of the ingredients, and then compare it to what they’re already using. If they already have a product, and they can side-by-side compare our product to one of our competitors. I think … that’s a reasonable expectation for our customers. We also market our product towards the acupuncture community, and the traditional Chinese medicine community. Those customers are much more savvy when it comes to knowing what ingredients are in Battle Balm. I think for those customers, it provides a lot of value.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and one thing I’m noticing about … when I introduced you, I was looking at your site, and the copy and the messaging, and the marketing that I see present here was that did you start off essentially targeting an audience of people that are in contact sports, and martial arts, or other kind of sports that required this kind of … I guess therapy for any injuries or any muscle soreness; and then broaden your reach from there? What was the process behind identifying the market to market your product towards?
Dylan: When I launched Battle Balm, I had very little money. For me to reach out to a broad demographic, which is not possible and nor was it reasonable. The name ‘battle’ in Battle Balm is because of where we found and created the formulas from. The ancient Shaolin martial artists who used herbal medicine for their injuries, their aches, their pains. Battle Balm has sprouted from that. It sort of follows that lineage; so hence the name ‘battle’ in the name Battle Balm.
It was only fitting for us to seek out the combat … sport industry. We reached out to them initially, and we really … We gave away a lot of samples to combat fighters. In San Diego, there’s a huge MMA … A lot of professional fighters live down here because you can train 365 days a year. That was our … initial target market was the combat sports. You know what? Those guys deal with a lot of pain, day in and day out; training, fighting. If our product was successful in that industry, then we knew that it was going to be successful elsewhere.
Felix: Got it. From there, you’ve expanded, you recognized that because this is going to work on the types of customers that are essentially power users that are going to need your product the most, and if it works for them, it can work for people that probably have way less injuries or way less pains and aches. How did you know when it made sense to expand your targeting beyond combat sports athletes?
Dylan: Funny enough, we did a lot of … like I said, we did a lot of targeting towards the MMA crowd. We started to get a big following of the 60 and over crowd. We never marketed towards them. We never advertised towards them. It just sort of spread by word of mouth. When we started crunching some of the numbers from the customers and the sales data that we gathered, we realized that there’s another market here.
It wasn’t originally planned out to be that way, but I would probably imagine that 20 to 25% of our customers are over 60 years old. They’re the ones that deal with arthritis, … and they just want to get back to their normal everyday activity. Battle Balm is a all natural product. It can be used in conjunction with most of their medications without any harmful side effects.
Felix: This is happened organically. You weren’t actually targeting people that are 60 and over. I’m actually really interested in your ability to reach an audience of 60 and over. It’s typically … a demographic that people will stay away from, because they think that they’re not online. It’s hard to reach them at scale, and cheaply through online advertising. What’s been your secret to reaching out to them, beyond the word of mouth that you’re saying that has already worked for you organically. Are you able to target them with online ads?
Dylan: I would have to say no.
Dylan: I think that for us, we … have a hard time reaching out to them as well online. Word of mouth seems to be the number way to reach them. … I still run an acupuncture clinic, and I practice part time now. I see a lot of older clients come in. They tell their friends about Battle Balm, and that’s just how it spreads. It’s comfortable for them. It just seems to be the go to way to reach that demographic.
Felix: So this started off essentially one person at time that was coming to your clinic. They were being introduced to your product. They were spreading … The product worked for them, and they were telling their friends and family about it.
Dylan: Yeah, they just … That’s just how it spreads. It’s reasonable to assume, because … a lot of the older crowd, they communicate with one another on a fairly regular basis. I think a lot of them aren’t so tech savvy. If someone tells you something, I mean you’re more likely to believe it than if you read it online, or in the newspaper.
Felix: Got it, so I guess the key lesson here is that to reach people that are 60 and over, you have to be … have a presence, a physical presence in the place they’re already visiting; like places like your clinic, or any other retail stores that they are visiting. Did you have to change out the way that your packaging or marketing, or branding the product to make it more appealing? I mean the name, again, the Battle Balm name, you wouldn’t think that would be that attractive towards people that are 60 and over. Did you have to change anything about the way you presented the product to get them to be more … I guess open to trying it?
Dylan: No, we haven’t changed anything; anything as of yet. We do have something coming up in 2018, which would be one that is geared more towards that crowd. It’s going to be our silver edition. It will probably have a few more … nutrient rich ingredients to sort of help support skin health, as well as fight pain, yes.
Felix: Got it. Not too much to say about on advertising towards 60 and over. What have your learned though about what people that are 60 and over, what do they care about? What do they care about, not necessarily about products, but about the companies that they’re buying from? What can entrepreneurs learn about how to position their company, if they are to try to market towards an older demographic?
Dylan: I think with the older demographic, I think building a rapport is really important; maybe opening up a booth at a farmer’s market and inviting people in to come and talk. I think that’s really the … is the best way to reach that demographic.
Felix: Are they … once they try your product for the first time, or they’re telling their friends about it, are they then re-buying online or are they still coming to you in person, or into your clinic to buy directly from you?
Dylan: Some of them, they’re not too … willing to share credit card information online. There are people that even call me to this day for an order.
I just tell them, “Hey, you know what? Just call, leave a message. If I can’t answer the phone,” and I’ll call them back and fill the order on the phone … the 80s way, I guess.
Felix: Got it, so they don’t have to actually come in, but they are more willing to share their information over the phone rather than online.
Dylan: Yeah. A lot of times, they just want to talk to a person, you know what I mean?
Felix: [crosstalk 00:19:19] Right. That makes sense. I think those are great lessons for anyone that wants to market a product towards an older demographic. You mentioned earlier about getting started for the first time by giving out a lot of samples to your core, your early target audience of combat sports athletes, mixed martial artists. Can you say a little bit more about what was the purpose of giving the samples?
Dylan: In the beginning, we wanted to reach out to the combat sports industry. We didn’t find that they frequented the farmer’s market or a lot of trade shows. It was again, making phone calls, sending emails, trying to connect with gyms to ask them if they had heard of our product; and then to ask them what they were using. Then, we sent samples to say, ‘Hey, compare us to what you’re using right now, and we’d love some feedback.’ It wasn’t just giving away free samples. We were definitely reaching out and gathering data. Did it work for you? How long did it take? What did it do compared to your current topical pain reliever? It was … a way for us to gather data as well. So not only giving out free stuff.
Felix: Right. I think that’s obviously super valuable, especially early on. When you were taking this approach, were you just going into gyms and talking to … walking up to people and talking to them, asking if they wanted to try your product? How were you able to get someone to try your product for free, but then also be willing to give you feedback; I’m assuming days, weeks later?
Dylan: Yeah. I think … Since in the beginning, it was me. I was very psyched about the product. I was really excited to tell anybody and everybody about the product. I was definitely the best person to go in and talk to people. Yeah, you just stop into the gym.
You say, “Hey, you know, hey you guys.” I’m also a martial artist, so I train, so I kind of … I’m more comfortable with a gym setting. For me, it was just walking in and talking to the guys, and getting them comfortable with what it was. I think … I approached them in a non-salesy, non-pushy type of way; which is basically saying like, ‘Hey guys, we have some product here that we think is going to be really beneficial to your training. Here’s why,’ three reasons why, give them the product, and then … I’ll check in, in a week or so.
Felix: You were checking in by going back to the location, at the gym and then talking to them, or were you
Dylan: [crosstalk 00:22:14] Yes.
Felix: … that follow up.
Dylan: If they gave me an email address, I’d follow up by email. I would also go into the gym, too; just to say ‘hi.’ I think a lot of times, … it’s nice to connect a face with a name and a product, in this case. By seeing my face, I think it just kind of registered a little bit more with these gyms. Then, it wasn’t sort of like a … it wasn’t like we had some sort of fly by night company that was just going to be in and out, and trying to sell them anything. It was like a discussion. We’re a legitimate company. We’re trying to build our brand. We have something that we think is great. Let’s talk. Let’s see how we can partner up.
Felix: Right, so that other entrepreneurs out there can get a sense of how to plan for an approach like this, what was your success rate between giving your product for free to someone, and then actually getting feedback from them? Was it like 50% of people responsive, or being helpful, or lower, higher? What were your percentages?
Dylan: I’d say we were … I mean, probably about 75% success rate. If I didn’t get a sale from visiting, I did get valuable feedback.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), 75% as in 75% of people would end up buying, or would end up giving you feedback?
Dylan: 75% would end up buying.
Dylan: They would at least buy something. You know the price point’s … The price point of our two ounce tin is about $20, so it’s not really a huge outlay of cash for someone to try a product. That in itself gave us a little bit more leeway. You’re not like walking in and trying to sell like a $10,000 item. $20 wasn’t really a big deal for people to purchase.
Felix: So you gave them the product for free. You came back in a few days, a week or so. You’re asking, ‘How did you like the product?’ What were you actually asking? How was the conversation? What kind of questions did you want to make sure you’re able to ask these potential customers?
Dylan: It would usually go like this, ‘HOw did you guys like the product?’ They would answer, ‘You know, yeah, we got a chance to test it out. We do a lot of muay thai fighting, kickboxing.’ … ‘How did you use the product?’ One of the … big questions for me was how did you use the product? ’Did you use it for pre-training? Did you use it for post-training? Did you use it for … injury? Did you use it for post-surgery? What did you use it for? Then, that would kind of open up a little bit more dialogue. I had a lot of professional fighters like to talk about their injuries, and so-
Felix: A badge of honor, right?
Dylan: Yeah, exactly. ‘Did you like it? Did it work for you? What did it do? What did you not like about it?’ I’m big believer in positive and negative feedback being important. Without being … too direct, I would ask them, ‘What would it take for you guys to either carry this in your gym or to buy wholesale from us, and just give it out to your fighters? Like what … what would it take?’ The discussion was really pretty open. Like I said, if you go into a gym or someplace and you’re trying to really hard sell somebody, I think people really … They pick up on that quickly. If you’re actually trying to help someone, and you approach them as such, I believe it’s much more well received.
Felix: Right. So I like that question, which was, ‘What would it take for you to essentially buy this product?’ What kind of responses were you getting?
Dylan: We’d get responses like, ‘Oh, your product doesn’t fit what we’re trying to do.’ Or, ‘It’s too expensive.’ Or, ‘We already buy from so-and-so.’ ‘We already buy something else from Brand X, Brand Y.’ ‘This product hasn’t been proven by us.’ … It would be … It would run the gamut, or we’d … or I’d get a response like, ‘Yeah, we’ll try a couple of cases of your product, and we’ll see what happens.’ I say, ‘Sure.’ We’d throw in a couple of t-shirts, some swag for your fighters, or your members, gym members.
Felix: Yeah, I think the immediate reaction a lot of times, when you are working on a product, especially in your case where you spent two years developing this product; and when you are going out there to introduce your baby to the world. People are coming back and saying, ‘Oh, it doesn’t really fit,’ or ‘It’s not really proven yet.’ I think the gut … the instinct, the reaction is to defend it to some degree, right? You say, ‘Oh, no, no, no,’ then you kind of try to cover the objections, or at least respond to the objections. What was your process? Did you end up doing that? Did you end up … How do you take that kind of information, and what do you actually do with it? Do you respond right away, or do you go back and fix it, I guess, or address that feedback internally first before you come back? What’s your approach?
Dylan: I try to be very zen about the thing. When I’m in discussions with somebody, 97% of conversation is unspoken. It’s in body language, … eye movement. You have facial expressions. I would try to figure out exactly what it was that they were telling me, and … if it was something that was a realistic reason, like a real reason for them not to use the product, then there’s nothing I can really say about it. But if it was sort of a, ‘Yeah, it just doesn’t fit,’ I would always want to work with the group, the gym, or the … gym owners, or the managers of the fighters. What can we do together to make this work? I’m always willing to negotiate just about anything and everything. A lot of times, we would come to a reasonable agreement that was mutually beneficial.
Felix: So two things there that you mentioned, was that in some cases there were responses they gave that were essentially equated to a hard ‘no,’ where there’s no way to overcome it. Can you give an example of that? What are some things that you should really just stop pressing once they give this type of response?
Dylan: I’m not quite clear, like when they say … Are you asking me that … when they say ‘no,’ like, ‘no, this product is not for us.’ ‘No, we don’t want it.’
Felix: Yeah. Well, you mentioned that in some reasons that these locations gave you … what was a reason that would basically mean that ‘Okay, there’s nothing else that we can do here.’ Where there examples that you can give that … of a reason that someone gave that made you realize, ‘Okay, I should move on to another location, another potential customer?’
Dylan: Yeah, you know if someone approaches and says, ‘Hey, it’s not in the finances for us to do.’ That’s … I mean there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room around that. I would always try to look for an opportunity in that. ‘Okay, so it’s not in your finances, well what if we were to possibly trade social media … posts or tweets, or … pictures with your pro fighters here holding up the product?’ There’s value in that for me, so if you are willing to trade that for some product, that would work out.’ Bartering is important early on, because a lot of time you don’t have extra capital to spend.
Felix: Yeah. I like that approach where you’re not going. They’re just looking for one outcome, and just hard set on ‘I need to sell this product. I need to exchange this for cash.’ You’re going into these discussions with a potential customer, potential distributors, or different locations, and you’re essentially seeing what kind of outcomes could come out of it, and then taking what makes sense … anything that will essentially move you one step closer to towards eventually a sale.
Dylan: Correct. I look at it as … If there’s a way that we can work together, let’s try and find it.
Dylan: I try to be pretty flexible on what type of partnerships I enter into. I feel like that also, it takes the edge off of selling a product. You’re not looking to exchange product for money anymore. It’s how do we work together?
Felix: Right. Now, based on this feedback that you were getting, were there any kind of feedback that made you make changes to the product itself, the marketing, or the messaging of the product?
Dylan: Interesting. … Interesting question. I wouldn’t say … that we’re quite willing to change the message of the product. We reached out to combat sports, to the combat sports industry. This … product and the … emotions and feelings behind the initial launch of the product was geared towards that industry. As we start to branch out into other industries, like say the crossfit industry, extreme sports, power lifting, … Once we start reaching out into other industries, I think the message is going to have to change to be a little bit more all-encompassing. That’s something that we’re looking towards doing in 2018 … that’s on the table.
Felix: Got it. Now, I want to talk a little about the timeline for your business. Do you remember how long it took to go from the first sale to your first 100 sales?
Dylan: Let’s see, first sale to … 100. One to hundred. I believe the first sale happened … It was the first sale was in my clinic. It was a cash exchange. The 100th sale did happen on Shopify. I would imagine it was about … eight months before we hit 100. It was a while.
Felix: Right, what about the next order magnitude up to 1,000 sales? Did that happen faster? What was the … How long did it take to go from 100 to 1,000?
Dylan: Yeah, that was much, much faster. I would say that was on the order of another eight months.
Felix: Wow, that’s awesome. Did the source of traffic and sales change when you went from the first one to the first 100 compared to the 100 to 1,000?
Dylan: The source of the traffic? Yeah, you know, I can only sell so many of the product in my clinic. We also list our products on Amazon, on eBay. We list on a couple of other websites. We also sell our products in clinics, too. … The traffic had changed. In the very beginning, it was mainly my clinic; and then through our website. Then, more of the sales started coming in from Amazon, and eBay, and other websites. They would do promotions, and they would sell our products.
Yeah, the sources would change. Now it’s sort of leveled out. We get … I imagine probably 30 or 40% of our sales are through Shopify. We get about 30 to 40% through … direct wholesalers calling and ordering. Then, the rest of it is through other online retailers.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and you mentioned that these other online retailers; I’m assuming you’re talking about like Amazon, eBay. They would run promotions for your production?
Dylan: The ones who would run promotions would be the smaller online retailers.
Felix: Got it.
Dylan: Amazon and eBay, you have to advertise through them.
Felix: Right. How are these promotions set up? Did you reach out to them? Did they do it on your behalf? How do you set up a promotion with an online retailer?
Dylan: A lot of times, they would ask us for permission; ‘Hey, can we discount this 10 to 15%. We want to run a sale for the month of August,’ and we would agree to it. I mean, I’m pretty easy when it comes to moving merchandise. I’d be okay with them doing it, but it would be like a members only thing. We have a minimum advertised price online. You cannot advertise lower than the minimum set, but to your members, you’re allowed to discount the product. You just would have to log in to get a discounted price.
Felix: Got it.
Dylan: On the online seller’s website.
Felix: I see, so is that how it usually works where you have a minimum advertised price that are setting to be fair across all your retailers and all of the … Amazon, eBay, as well? Do you then … Or do you have flexibility in allowing the price to dip below that as long its behind like essentially a wall?
Dylan: Yes. As long as it is not advertised, they’re allowed to drop the price to whatever they’d like to in order to move merchandise. That’s fine, I understand every product has a lifespan. In order to … bring the new, fresher product in, sure, it’s just part of the … cycle.
Felix: Got it. Now how are you able to … are you able to say what retailers you work with, or how are you able to identify what other retail … online retailers to … reach out to them to carry your product?
Dylan: At this point, … I don’t really … I’ve kind of taken a step back from that … from that sort of work. So I can’t really elaborate on who exactly. I’ve got a team of people that work for me that are working on that aspect of it.
Felix: Got it, very cool. So now when you go to these bigger platforms, like Amazon and eBay, what’s your role there in terms of driving traffic to your product pages and sales?
Dylan: We have a product page for about Battle Balm on say, Amazon, that we designed; but we’re actually looking more to stepping back away from individual customer sales, and selling to wholesalers. For us, we would eventually want to get back into just pure manufacturing, and then having all of our products just distributed. We’re in the process of stepping away from dealing with individual customers.
Felix: Got it, and what’s the decision behind that?
Dylan: It’s just a … from a … business standpoint. If we can move more product, it’s just easier for us. … I know where my strengths are, and like I said before, I want to keep the intellectual property in-house. If I can focus on the manufacturing and making sure that the quality of the product is high, then I can go out and do more of the public relations type of work. That’s sort of what I’d rather be doing anyhow.
Felix: Got it. So when you are shifting over to working with a … selling directly wholesale to retailers, your marketing is going to be focused more on PR? Is that what you’re saying?
Dylan: Our marketing is going to be geared towards people who are going to be buying our product in bulk. We’re looking at gyms, medical offices, people who are selling our product on online retail stores like Amazon and eBay; and basically shifting our focus away from the individual customer towards the wholesale customer.
Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and how does that change your marketing and PR?
Dylan: The PR, I’m very willing to go and … talk to individuals about the product. I love interacting with our customers. The PR is going to be mainly for us to put a face on the brand. That’s kind of my next step.
Felix: Got it.
Dylan: We’re going to be working, … trying to work with a lot more high profile influencers in multiple industries. I think it’s important for me to present the product to them personally. That connection to me is very, very important.
Felix: Got it, so these are … You’re talking about like face to face meetings, or one-on-one meetings with … essentially the big players in the space, the different retailers that you are trying to get your products into.
Felix: Got it. Now, I want to talk a little bit about your … the website, the way that it’s set up and the kind of tools that you use for this. Was this a site you had designed in-house, you hired a team to help you build out the site?
Dylan: I have a couple of designers that work for me. They’re the ones that have put together the website in a fashion that I would have never dreamed possible. I have a talented team and … they tell me sort of what the … what things … like what websites should look and feel like nowadays. They sort of catered our website to look and feel like a premium, professional website.
Felix: What kind of changes have you and your team made onto the online … onto the website with strictly to design in a way that looks modern or design in a way that looks … the way sites should look, as you worded it?
Dylan: I was the first one who designed the website. I have to admit, it was pretty awful. When my designers came in and streamlined everything, one of the first things that they did was to make the website user-friendly on multiple devices. I’m a laptop guy myself, so if it looks good on the laptop, … it’s fine. But there’s so many of our customers and … people who visit the website, that visited on a mobile. So making sure that it was very platform friendly was super important. Allowing … people to purchase the product with just a few clicks, that was also very important. I really … commend the Shopify platform for really allowing us so much versatility with what we could do with this website while giving us a template to work with.
Felix: Right. Now, did you design … did you guys have a … picked a specific theme for the site, or was that all done custom?
Dylan: It started off as it theme, but I would say probably at this point, 90% of it is custom.
Felix: Got it.
Dylan: A custom, fully custom website.
Felix: What about applications? Do you use any applications? Any Shopify apps, or even apps off of Shopify that you use to help run the business?
Dylan: My team, they’re all over the place. For communications, we use the Slack channel to communicate. We also use an app called ‘notion.’ It allows us to sort of organize our thoughts, and data, and we can tag on another, and [inaudible 00:43:50] … useful for us to communicate with one another on a non real time basis.
In Shopify, we use MailChimp quite a bit. We also have t-shirts that we sell. We’ve linked up with Printful, so it’s a print on demand … application. That’s great for us. We use Zapier, another app that I really, really like. Zapier has kind of helped us sort of … automate some of the interconnectedness of the apps that we run in the background, and collecting data, and what not. That’s also a great app. Wholesale Hero, that lays on top of our website and allows our wholesale customers to just go directly online and purchase. They get their wholesale pricing and it’s fantastic.
Felix: Yeah, so you mentioned apparel, and t-shirts, and using Printful. I think this is a avenue that a lot of other brands want to take that might not be focused specifically on merchandise, but they want to sell merchandise on top of what they already sell. Any lessons learned from this approach; because your merchandise is not the core value of your business. The core value of your business is the product and the … I guess essentially pain relief that it offers, but you are now also selling merchandise. Any tips that you can offer for other entrepreneurs that are in the same position where the merchandise is not their core offering, but they want to essentially add on as a … along with their brand?
Dylan: Yeah. I think there are quite a few apps out there now, and companies out there that will do print on demand for you. Shopify makes it super easy for us to link up with Printful. … When working with another company to do merchandising, I think having a good designer is very important. A lot of times, the design needs to be well thought out, dimensions need to be perfect on your design before you send it off to the third party to print.
For me, being a non creative type, I didn’t understand how detailed printing a design was from the image that’s created to getting it on a t-shirt. Sometimes you can send a design that is … 13, 14 inches tall in the artwork itself, and the print house will print it at 6 inches; something that you may or may not have wanted. Those types of things are really important. Getting samples, extremely important, to see the print quality; and to make sure that the design house is actually doing things to the standard that you want.
Printful is a great company to work with. They ship fairly quickly. They offer samples at a discounted price. It’s just … I would have never … decided to take this on if it wasn’t so easy. If that makes sense.
Felix: For sure. What we can expect or what can you reveal about what to expect in 2018 from Battle Balm?
Dylan: In 2018, we’ve got a lot of stuff in store. We’re running an Indiegogo campaign. We’re going to try to crowdsource funds for us to expand even more. … I may … dabble with the idea of Shark Tank again. They had contacted us a couple years back, and I just wasn’t ready to … get on the show and maybe get eaten alive. We’ve got … slightly more streamlined packaging coming. We’ve got pre-printed tins that are coming. We’ve got a nice … actually a beautiful new metal tin that the products will be shipped in. We’ve got some new products on the horizon. Like I mentioned earlier, we’ve got the Battle Balm silver edition, that’s going to be geared specifically towards the older crowd; which I believe is going to be a big hit.
We also are spinning off our CBD brand. We had a … it’s Battle Balm plus CBD product on our website for a little while, but due to rules and regulations that are not completely … static, we are going to launch another brand in 2018 with CBD enhanced pain relief.
Felix: Very cool, so BattleBalm.com is where you go to check all of this out. B-A-T-T-L-E-B-A-L-M dot com. Thank you so much again for your time, Dylan.
Dylan: Great, Felix. It was wonderful talking to you.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peek for what’s in store the next Shopify Masters episode.
Speaker 3: Just go straight from Kickstarter to Indiegogo, so if someone saw like an old Facebook post, they could still have a way to buy their product, even if the Kickstarter ended.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the eCommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com/Masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial. Also, for this episode’s show notes, head over to Shopify.com/blog.