Part 3: For Skin with Melanin
Conversion Campaign: Jan 1, 2017 - May 15, 2017
  • Spent: $8.2k ($7.8k to FB & $400 to IG)
  • Impressions: 3,330,533 - $2.46 CPM
  •  Web Site: 165,048 Sessions (139,894 Unique) - $0.049 / session
  •  Free Sample Subscribers / Emails: 7,190 - $1.14 / email
  •  System Purchases: 890 - $9.21 / purchase
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The business plan for Prescribd that I financed consisted of Travis Adams and Kaeya Majmunder functioning as the primary operators and me in the background providing financing and back-end business operations support.  
Kaeya and Travis had modeled the business after Proactiv. 
The twist was that the ingredients would be "all-natural" vs "artificial benzoyl peroxide" and that the channel would be "influencer-driven social commerce" vs. "infomercial." 
The plan was 10% market share in 5 years.

The fundamental hypothesis behind this model was that social influencers posting on Instagram would drive sales.  So starting in October, a test campaign was formulated to target a group of influencers to see what type of traffic and sales they could drive.
Branding Campaign: Influencer Summary
Evolution: Skin with Melanin
By early December, LaLa's FB Live broadcasts had reached over 6.2 million impressions and had generated over 733,539 views.  In addition to that, LaLa had posted some native content on her Instagram and FB that had gone viral generating another 5+ million impressions and 2.9+ million views.
Despite all the traffic being generated by LaLa and other Instagram influencers, sales simply didn't occur.  By early December, we had only shipped several hundred units.  Had we been selling clothing, we would have already sold hundreds of thousands if not millions worth of merchandise with the amount of traffic and engagement generated.  At this point, it became clear that building a skincare brand required a lot more than some paid Instagram shout-outs and that Travis and Kaeya's expectations of world domination were completely unrealistic.  Mistaken over-enthusiastic assumptions are a reality of any start-up and generally speaking, some type of pivot is usually a requirement to achieving product-market fit.  In this scenario, a team needs to come together and work cohesively towards a pivot.  However, something had also occurred between Kaeya and Travis and they were no longer working together in a productive manner.  Additionally, LaLa had disengaged from the team and had stopped consistently doing her Facebook lives by early December.  At that time, I talked with Travis and Kaeya about coming up with a go-forward plan as a prerequisite for approving an additional capital call.  After waiting two weeks and not receiving an acceptable go-forward, right or wrong, Kaeya came to me and told me that she was effectively done. Another team mate also echoed Kaeya's sentiments at the same time.  After assessing the situation, I concluded that there was still potential for this brand and team.  I held Travis, as CEO, responsible for the situation and together with Kaeya (each co-founder had an equal vote), a decision was made to terminate him (NOTE: there's probably another 1,000+ word essay on dealing with this issue as it could have been handled better, but that's for another time).  With this action, I made a conscious decision to take an active role in Prescribd.
Brand Building 101: Find Your Niche
In my experience in bringing B2B technology solutions to markets filled with incumbents, I have always found that absent an existing brand and trust (which is generally held by the incumbent), acquiring customers is a function of proper targeting or relevance (is this something that the customer needs/wants) and building trust.  When going to a new market with an offer, the one tactic that has helped me overcome a lack of trust due to newness has been specificity.  In summary:
Building a Customer Persona / Avatar
In order to establish specificity and build credibility, we had to decide upon a niche to tighten up our messaging.  We started by asking our existing customers what they liked about the product. 
We then used Facebook's data analysis tools to better understand our customers behavioral patterns and preferences and built out a target demographic.
Additional industry research concluded that the target demographic was a good market to go after
And seeing that someone else had raised over $33 million to jump into this market confirmed that it was the right place to be (though we still had a lot of work to do to define our niche to ensure that we didn't end up in a red ocean)
Using our target demographic, we then organized focus groups and recorded over 50 video interviews to gain a better understanding of our target customer's needs and wants.
Based on this information, we adjusted our messaging to fit their needs.
And built out and executed on our paid marketing strategy.
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