My first business, Mirror Lake, failed succeeded failed. The business did get to a state of profitability but failed as an investment. That means we were making a profit month-to-month when we sold the business, but never covered our initial capital. I’ve decided to share what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong. Each post will be an independent lesson so don’t worry about having read the previous entries.
Mirror Lake is a laundry and press service done differently. It was a new concept in Kuwait. The idea was based on a subscription model where you get scheduled pickups once a week at a fixed time slot. For example, you could be subscribed to pickups every Monday between 7 and 9pm. You don’t have to pick up the phone, use an app, or do anything. We’ll pick up your laundry every Monday, of every week, between 7 and 9pm. Drop offs would be 24 hours later (in this case, Tuesdays between 7 and 9pm). Here’s where things get better: you pay a flat-rate monthly fee in exchange for filling up your weekly laundry in a bag we provide. You don’t have to worry about separating colors from whites or dry cleans from regular wash clothes. We’d take care of it.
Right after we declared the launch of our business, we set up our social media accounts. Our target customers were almost all on Instagram, so our main focus was there. We didn’t have a full-fledged strategy, but more or less followed the teachings of Gary Vaynerchuk’s popular book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Gary explains in his book how you should not always set out to be selling with every post. Whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Instead, you want to set up the posts as a jab, jab, jab, and then a “selling” post – a right hook. With people bombarded with social media accounts, each shouting louder than the other, we felt that this combination/ strategy was something we’d want to implement. What we missed though was that, while this was a great social media strategy, it was more important for us to educate people about our service and how it works as part of those jabs. In the early days months, people were calling with no idea of how the business works. My partner and I would spend five to ten minutes per call explaining to people how the service worked. It wasn’t until six months later that we actually got around to creating an explanatory video. Needless to say, this delay alienated potential customers early on, and certainly affected our sales during the first six months. After posting the video to our Instagram account, people would still call asking about the service, but more or less already have an idea of how it worked. They just needed confirmation that they did, in fact, understand the service properly. Calls lasted a maximum of five minutes after the video was posted.
Here’s what you need to do if you’re launching a novel product or service: invest in educational marketing, especially in the beginning. The idea might seem crystal clear in your mind, but it isn’t to your potential customers. Try this combination for your social media strategy: jab, educate, jab, right hook. For example, let’s say you were launching an innovative product. The first post would be touting the craftsmanship. The second post will explain how to get started using the product. The third post would be the product in use. The fourth post would be related to the price of the product and how you could buy it. Don’t underestimate the value of educating your customers. It might take them several seconds to make a call on whether or not they’d spend more time exploring your product. Chances are, they wouldn’t spend much if they’re confused from the get-go.