Carbonnique’s Pre Launch Strategies Geared Them for Success – Here’s What They Did
Carbonnique is a luxury facial roller brand whose launch strategy landed them instant press and a demand that led to them completely selling out of their inventory. We sat down with co-founder Marta Pichlak-Miarka to get a behind-the-scenes look at her killer pre and post launch strategies.
Nail Down Your Brand Story First
Press opportunities aren’t worth anything if you’re not prepared. Before reaching out to editors for PR, the founders of Carbonnique prepared answers to possible interview questions. “Having our story written down earlier in a form of Q&A meant that we were able to respond really quickly without putting additional effort into editing,” Miarka shares.
Having a list of prepared answers also makes it possible to go with the flow and apply for last-minute opportunities. “The story in The Zoe Report was literally put together and released by the journalist in a couple of hours because we could quickly respond to her questions.”
Pro tip: Not sure where to reach out to journalists? Try PRowly. “We are using to PRowly to reach out to journalists and editors and usually journalists get back to us with questions about why we started the brand, what is unique about us.”
Start with Small Batches to Make Quick Adjustments
Carbonnique launched with a small batch. That way they could sell DTC and send it to a single retailer and get feedback from the first customers before investing in a major nationwide or international launch.
“We could have definitely ordered more products to have more freedom in what we can do. But we launched with a small batch because we wanted to collect customer feedback and improve our product before we signed for a mass production run. As a result, we sold out in just 3 months.”
Starting small also helped them quickly make any necessary tweaks in their next batches after getting feedback from focus groups. “I think it’s all about preparing and testing in a real market environment.”
But what happens when your small batch of products sells out? After four months, Carbonnique found their inventory was completely empty which they used to their advantage. “We decided to use this opportunity to build a waitlist of consumers who will be looking forward to the moment when we are back in stock,” Miarka explains. “We created a waitlist by implementing ‘notify me’ buttons that trigger automated flows in our email marketing engine.”
Employ Focus Groups and Surveys
Before launching, it’s important to test the concept to make sure your product has market demand. The Carbonnique founders allocated funds to conduct mass surveys. “Surveys are where we ran our quantitative research. I think we had like 500 surveys completed and it was not friends and family. The results helped me validate that our product was in demand and not just friends and family telling us stuff we want to hear.”
“One of the first things we did before launching our brand was marketing research and focus groups. I spent a lot of time reading and analyzing social media conversations about our category with the help of social media listening tools like Brand24.com. We organized focus groups to get a better understanding of consumer pain points and category barriers. This was incredibly helpful and to this day is informing our marketing and content strategy. We also used quantitative studies to validate our approach and brand positioning. Even if you don’t have a marketing research background or don’t have access to professional research panels, you can use a combination of google surveys and Amazon Mechanical Turk to run a professional and representative marketing study, which is what we did.”
Miarka shares that she was surprised to discover her target customer was not who she imagined it would be. The surveys and customer feedback being a part of her pre-launch strategy helped her understand her demographic better so she could pivot. “We definitely learned from customer feedback on who our products resonate with the most. It turned out that we got the biggest engagement from skincare professionals, estheticians, and makeup artists who helped us spread the word about Carbonnique. We are now planning dedicated activations for these groups of professionals and if we knew that before we would spend more time on that group for our launch.”
Build the Right Team
Running a business is never a one-person effort. Miarka shares how her launch strategy of prioritizing growing a team from the beginning is what helped Carbonnique grow and prosper.
“From day 1 I knew that I will not be able to build the brand on my own. I wanted to have a team of people with complementary skills. My co-founder is a dermatologist and I am also working with a team of advertising experts who have helped us bring the brand messaging to life. You might think that if you have a good product it will do the job, but I don’t think any brand today can afford to ignore what type of messaging and creativity they are putting in front of their clients.”
When it came to what she outsourced first, Miarka shares what she found most essential:
- Photos and videos: “We invested in a professional photo and video shoot because I felt that as a brand, we need to put our best foot forward.
- Copywriting: “We invested in professional copywriting and hired a writer who has put our brand positioning into advertising copy.”
- Brand strategy: “We are also working with Aggie Burnett Creative on our content strategy to make sure that our brand has a clear voice, that we are prepared to pitch media and retailers, and that we have educational content that will fuel our SEO and advertising strategy. Aggie is a great marketing strategist and she immediately understood our needs and was able to translate our brand positioning into the right words that resonate with our consumers.”
- Lead magnets: “Our ‘skin quiz’ that we designed many months before our launch was used to build our email list before the launch and nurture our customers with educational content.”
Focus On One Step at a Time
After selling out of their first inventory in three months, Carbonnique was ready to start focusing on the next steps of growing their brand but had some difficulties with finding the right channel that attracted the most growth.
While many entrepreneurs want to put all their eggs in different baskets with a million different goals at a time (i.e. launching in several retailers or being on all the social media channels at once, etc), the best launch strategy is to focus on only a select minimum number of goals at a time so you can truly concentrate and show up. Miarka warns, “As a brand founder you will be tempted to try many different things in your marketing and communications efforts but unless you have raised capital prior to your launch and your advertising budget is significant be very mindful about when you should be are spending.”
With a limited budget, Carbonnique also had to focus on where was best to allocate their marketing funds after some trial and error with platforms like Facebook. “The Facebook algorithm needs a runway to optimize your spending and we definitely made the mistake of running campaigns that were too small meaning we couldn’t properly draw conclusions about our true cost of acquisition and ads performance,” Miarka shares.
“We also tried Pinterest ads which delivered high traffic to our site, but again the ad impressions were too small to give us meaningful insights. Each platform, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Youtube requires a dedicated approach. As much as you are tempted to be in each of those channels, make sure you master one channel before you jump to the other.”
Today, the Carbonnique team found that their efforts are best paid off on growing their email list organically and creating new retail partnerships.
Secure a Retail Partnership
Whether it’s with an e-commerce marketplace or a physical storefront, securing a partnership with a retailer is a sure way to get exposure and sales right out the gate.
Before their launch, Carbonnique established an exclusive partnership with ONDA Beauty, a luxury niche retailer that matched the clientele they envisioned. “Our conversations with ONDA Beauty, a retailer that has been our exclusive partner for the launch, started very early in the product development phase. The ONDA beauty co-founders saw our 3D printed prototype in plastic many months before we had a ready-to-sell product.”
Looking back, Miarka says that having found the right partnership was a pivotal key to their early success. “As a small brand with limited resources, we wouldn’t have been able to get exposed to such a unique community of clean beauty enthusiasts that ONDA team has been building for many years. At the same time, ONDA beauty is still a niche retailer and therefore we were able to get the team’s attention, resources, and joined marketing efforts.”
Get All Your Pillar Content Ready Before Your Launch
Launch time is hectic. You never know what kind of urgent matters and issues will come up during your launch. To minimize the tasks, free up your time for any emergencies, and provide you some calming mental reassurance, it’s essential to get at least your pillar content completed. Pre-launch is a time to be proactive and “set it and forget it” in advance with as many tasks as possible so you won’t be left juggling endless tasks on what feels like a neverending to-do list. “All these pieces of content are critical in our media outreach and retail partnership conversations as well as building the main pillar of our social media strategy. Thanks to these pieces of content, I am confident we are sending the right message to our consumers.”
After my time helping the Carbonnique founders, they had a foundation of evergreen content that they could use to attract leads from Day 1. “Aggie helped us with the critical pieces of content for our brand launch. We built a founders journey story, we created a 101 user manual, which describes in detail how to use our beauty tool. We also worked on a couple of blog posts and a skin quiz that helps our customers build their personalized beauty routine depending on their skin type and skin concerns. We created a one-page brand summary and editor’s pitch.”
Set Up Your Content Calendar
Once you have your pillar content ready, plan to make the most of it. One easy way to do that is with an optimized, detailed content calendar. With one piece of content, you can repurpose it for everything, from newsletters to Instagram stories, there’s so much you can do to recycle it and get it in front of a maximum audience.
“It will give you peace of mind if you prepare your content and social media strategy upfront but be flexible and post what feels right at this very moment.”
Nurture Relationships with Early Adopters
Carbonnique didn’t have a dedicated influencer strategy before launch and didn’t plan any product seeding since their inventory was small. “Our influencer strategy developed organically as our IG audience was growing and we interacted with our audience. With the knowledge that we now have, we are more active in our direct outreach to people who we would love to try our roller when our second drop arrives. Definitely don’t underestimate the power of DMs and those early relationships you can build with people who are your early adopters and early followers. We spend a lot of time with our community via DMs which really helps us grow our CRM list. ”
The Takeaway: There’s No Such Thing As Being Too Overprepared With Your Launch Strategy
“The best thing a first-time brand founder can hear is ‘Oh, my goodness you’re so well prepared when you start conversations with retail partners or journalists. And I was so thrilled to hear that from my retail partners today! Do yourself a favor and take care of your content ahead of time. The peace of mind is priceless. Working with Aggie is a real pleasure, she delivers on time and will use all her experience as an editor to help you build content that women want to read.”
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