Brand Founders Share Lessons They’ve Learned About Perfecting Their Pitches
In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 12 founders and executives: How have you honed your brand pitch?
- Julianne Robicheau Founder, Robi Luxury Skin Care
Practice! I took part in a three-day education program hosted by the not-for-profit Forum for Women Entrepreneurs where we worked on our business the entire time. We used a solid hour to perfect our elevator pitch and, then, practiced it multiple times a day to really get comfortable with it.
I also pitched it to friends, family and business partners, and asked for their feedback. It’s important to feel confident when pitching your brand so make sure you choose language you feel comfortable with and know when to tweak it for different audiences. If you know your brand well, it’ll just come naturally.
- Maya Crothers Founder, CircCell
I wish I could say that we had it down day one, but the truth is that the brand story and sales pitch have taken years to refine. Our original message was not working. Not only did we need to refine it due to lack of performance, the industry is changing so rapidly that keeping up with this change and guessing the coming direction made the evolution of the pitch even more challenging.
In the end, it was only after several years of refinement and trial and error that we got to a point where we felt comfortable with who we are and confident about our sales pitch. Young brands and indie brands, in my opinion, have to be nimble this way or they cannot survive, particularly in an industry experiencing so much change so quickly.
The actual honing process included pitching to distributors, buyers, spa directors, press, end users, potential investors and anyone else who would listen, and data from Google Analytics and other digital tools. You can tell when the pitch is working. It's that human connection that you can feel and see come across in body language and, of course, digital analytics come across loud and clear.
When it comes to pitching brand partners to onboard them, we stick with the hard facts. For a few reasons, actually. 1.) We understand that our future brand partners have busy schedules. So, by coming prepared with real metrics allows us to jump right in. 2.) Facts don’t lie. We’re able to provide brands with a unique snapshot of what consumers think of their fragrances. 3.) As our subscriber base grows, we found that our fragrance community is extremely engaging. They want to try new things and they want to provide feedback whether it’s via a survey or just by way of our customer service department. This helps us dive even deeper into the mindset of the consumer.
- Vaughn Wolfe CEO, Bamford and Wolfe
You have to be aware of niches in the beauty market and be different. It’s also important to deal with the public. Go get yourself a market stall and get your product out there. Reports and statistics only take you so far. Starting simple and, then, building your brand from feedback is the best way to go forward.
- Evelyne Nyairo Founder, Ellie Bianca
We started by engaging a branding expert and, after countless hours brainstorming the perfect line to encompass the values that Ellie Bianca stands for, I had a breakthrough moment while on a morning run: Kind to your skin, kind to the earth, kind to women.
With that, our fundamental pillars were born. Next was developing the key messages for each pillar. Through customer interactions, we have discovered that people resonate stronger to a specific pillar and that helps us now steer the conversation on what he or she values. In the end, it’s all about empowerment. Don’t limit yourself and, then, you will receive.
- Ellie Trinh Founder, Skin Probiotics
I drove to Dallas five times hoping to be on “Shark Tank.” I camped out all night at the pitch venue in freezing weather waiting for a wrist band. There were always anywhere from 400 to 600 people by early morning and the line wrapped around the block. By 10 or 11 a.m., we are called in groups, and the pitch begins with four to six junior producers.
You are allowed about two minutes to pitch and demo. I often got more time – up to 20 minutes once – when I engaged the producers. Afterward, you wait for two to four weeks to get a call, or not, for the next round. I got to the next round twice and spent a couple thousand dollars on professional 10-minute pitch videos and a background check. Then, you wait one to months for a call, or no call. Nerve-racking.
In the end, I did have two junior “Shark Tank” producers become loyal customers and order my products every month. The bottom line is “Shark Tank” chooses on product and, more importantly, entertainment value. Sadly, I lack in the entertainment value department.
Then, Jillian Wright [co-founder of IBE] called about competing in Race for Shelf Space at the BeautyX Retail Summit in Dallas. I was given a pitch coach who was so helpful and encouraging. The Race for Shelf Space event pushed my tiny innovative company into the limelight.
We had so many people visit our booth at the IBE Dallas expo. We brought four to five times more products than suggested, and we sold out. We also won the audience choice votes and Amazon approached us.
By nature, I am a bit shy, but being in Race for Shelf Space has given me so much self-confidence and much needed exposure. So, who needs Shark Tank when I got IBE?
- Nathaly Millan Co-Founder, Zue Beauty
I think a pitch will never be perfect. It just evolves through time and starts acquiring different shapes, colors, flavors and textures. What I mean is that a pitch should always be carried by passion and emotions. It still has to be structured, but it should always be carried by your passion as founder. Once there is passion, the pitch will start portraying who you truly are and what your company stands for.
Just a tip to start working your pitch: What makes your pitch great is being able to portray your passion and your emotions in an organized manner so you can clearly show the retailers or your customers what makes your brand different and why they should support it.
- Dennis Gross Founder, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare
Being able to explain how and why our products work in a scientific manner is our most effective selling point. Done this way, as a company, we end up educating as the most effective way to sell. All of our products are backed by science and our sales pitches reflect this. Consumers are becoming highly interested in clinical skincare and do their homework. They want efficacious products and often come into a retail store asking for specific ingredients.
- Michelle Ranavat Founder, Ranavat Botanics
The best way to nail your pitch is to practice it. I can’t stress how important it is to interact with your customer, and pitch over and over again to see what resonates. Eventually, you will form something that you are proud of that works, too.
- Kristin Voss Owner and Creator, KVossNYC
I was selected to be an entrepreneur presenting on season two of “Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch.” You have just 60 seconds to convey to the judges and potential investors what makes your brand special. That's not a lot of time. I spent at least a week writing, rewriting and rehearsing it. And, then, I rewrote it again.
It's not an easy task to whittle down all the years of hard work and amazing products that I've created and still touch on the different successes and triumphs of the business into that little bit of time. You truly have to select every single word so carefully. I think I did OK – maybe even nailed it – because I left with an amazing deal and four new investors in my company.
- Marie Drago Founder, Gallinée
I am slightly ashamed to say I started my sales pitch on my friends and family. After that, I have to say that doing demos in stores helped a lot to get straight to the point and focus on what the customer needs.
- Prudence Millsap Founder, Beauty by Earth
It’s always being perfected, I guess. We feel we have a pretty good argument as to why people should use natural and organic skincare products, and, with that, the products should really sell themselves. We are always learning how to educate people on the benefit of switching over and that is our biggest sales pitch.
If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].