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NOTABLE! [Progress] Sanctus Nutrition - Supplement Company (and first real entrepreneurial pursuit)

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Brewer07

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You can see my introduction thread here for more on my background. This will focus solely on my company, Sanctus Nutrition.

Background - Why I started a nutritional supplement company
  1. I got the idea from a startup incubator I was a member of in Fall 2016. My original idea (in the medical apparel industry) had merit but I wasn't 100% into it. When I couldn't find supplements that met my standards, I grabbed this idea from the incubator and went to work.
  2. I'm a pharmacist and I f*cking love nutraceuticals. I could talk this stuff all day. I've been dropping money on it since I was 16. I can work on this stuff 18+ hours a day and not get sick of it.
  3. I was unhappy with what was available on the market. I couldn't find the products I wanted to use myself. Being in the incubator helped me realize it doesn't take special credentials or permission to start a supplement company: it's something I could do. Like, right now. So I did.
The company: Sanctus Nutrition
I make nutritional supplements with zero artificial sweeteners, zero food dyes or colorings, no proprietary blends, and with ingredient dosing backed by science.

My first product is a pre-workout called Focal Force. I built the pre-workout I wanted to take, that I couldn't find elsewhere. I wanted a pre-workout with:
  1. Zero artificial sweeteners or food dyes/colorings. Every product I've found that claims to contain "zero artificial sweeteners" still contains "natural flavors", which is total BS - those are anything but natural.
  2. Proper dosing. For example, PurePump meets criterion #1 (no artificial flavorings, etc.) but their dosages are too low. Their product contains 2g L-Citrulline when the science backing its use requires a dose of at least 6g. It also lacks some other good ingredients I want before I lift.
  3. A low enough dose of caffeine for safe use in the evening without wrecking my sleep. Most pre-workouts have a minimum of 200 mg of caffeine. I've seen some in the 400mg+ range which is a great way to wreck your adrenals. No thanks.
  4. No creatine. I prefer to cycle it, and I prefer to take it post-workout (which, currently, data is starting to back more vs. pre-workout) when I do use it.
The Journey: Where I've Been
February 2017:
  • I had a formulation in mind, bought the individual powders off Amazon, bought a micro-scale, reassured my fiancee I wasn't dealing (illegal) drugs, and got to work.
  • I started off experimenting on myself. I began telling my friends what I was doing and made them samples. I combined our experiences and feedback to keep making tweaks to the formula.
March 2017:
  • I got up at 4am every day to make the website before I went to the gym and worked at my day job. I put in 20+ hours to make a super shitty Wordpress website that I can't get to look halfway decent.
  • After searching around for names, I settle on Sanctus Nutrition. "Sanctus" roughly translates from Latin to "pure", which reflects my mission of making pure supplements. I got the idea to look for Latin names from Tim Ferriss' podcast with John Crowley while on an airplane back from Italy. This was the trip that sold me on being an entrepreneur. I want to take trips like this whenever I want, and go wherever I want, without having to ask permission.
April 2017:
  • Website still looks like shit and I'm tired of doing web design.
  • I hire someone on Fiverr to design a mock-up label for $40 for my "Focal Point" product.
  • I make an Instagram account and immediately get banned for following 300+ people in 2 minutes. Whoops. Lesson learned. A week later, IG re-instates my account. Crisis averted.
May 2017:
  • I realize "Focal Point", as a nutritional supplement, is trademarked. I had searched TESS but somehow missed that. My $40 label is useless.
  • I change the name to "Focal Force".
  • Key lesson: I've been very open about this entire experience since day 1. I'm soliciting feedback on Facebook. I'm making posts on my personal Instagram about opening a bank account and starting a business. This leads to a friend, a very talented graphic designer, offering to do my designs pro bono. Not just the package label, but an entire brand identity package. HUGE WIN!
  • I start taking pre-orders at a small scale. I convince a friend to buy and I earn my first $1 on my own, ever. Three more friends buy and I make my first $100.
  • I give up on Wordpress, nuke the site, and jump to Shopify. The design looks 3000x better. I pat myself on the back for not getting caught up in the sunk cost that was trying to make the site happen on Wordpress.
June 2017:
  • I run my first true "promotion". I discount the product 30% and flood Facebook with posts. I go completely vulnerable: I talk about why I started the company, why I'm making this product, what I want it to offer to people, the effect it has had in my own training. Shortly after, I get a Shopify notification: a sale. Ten minutes later, another sale. The promotion gives me my most successful week, and I've now made my first $500 without the product being in a single person's hands.
  • I finalize the formulation, sign an agreement with my manufacturer, and production begins. Goal launch: July 28th. Likely launch: August 4th.
  • My Instagram account just reached 500 followers. I'm getting good engagement on posts, but none of it is leading to sales. Nearly all of my sales are from friends, or friends of friends.
My wins so far:
  1. Earning $500 in pre-sales. Yes, these are basically all from friends. In the past, I've attempted business ventures not even my friends would buy, so this is a big success for me.
  2. There are two local, independently-owned pharmacies who have expressed interest in selling my product.
  3. I have a local gym signed on to sell my product. One of their owners is working with me as an affiliate. I have another local Crossfit gym interested in trying the product once it arrives.
My Pain Points:
  1. From day 1, the plan was to attack using affiliate marketing. Get IG influencers to sign on to promote my product, and pay them 15% of sales. There have been several problems with this approach:
    1. I am not the only one trying to use the Influencer Marketing approach. I knew this coming in. My goal was to fly under the radar by approaching accounts with followers in the 15K - 50K range. These influencers are either 1) already working with another supplement company, or 2) monetizing on their own and not interested in affiliate marketing. I'm having to work in the 1K - 10K range, with little success. Because..
    2. Very few people are willing to endorse and market a product they have not tried. This is obvious. Until my product is ready, I'm not sure how to make progress here.
  2. Finding my customers. My product doesn't taste as good as other supplements. I don't offer "Blue Cotton Candy Raspberry" or whatever BS flavors. This doesn't matter to me, because I chug it in two seconds. I need to find others who feel the same way. I know they are out there, but I have to be more targeted in my marketing. My market is not everyone who takes pre-workout. I need consumers who care about their health more than taste.
  3. Keeping momentum until production is finished. Focal Force won't be available until late July/early August. I've built some good momentum on pre-sales, but I can't just keep running promotions for 20 - 30% off. I need to develop more ways to keep people interested and talking about my brand.
My Next Action Steps:
  1. I've built up a list of Influencers who are willing to sample it once it arrives, so there is potential. There's also potential they'll hate it, or have a "meh" reaction, so I can't be complacent here. I've reached out to 92 people so far, 23 agreed to give me their email address to receive details, and 15 have agreed to sample. 92 isn't enough. I need to reach out to 1000 people, at least. I'm using Ninja Outreach to find IG influencers in the health space. This needs to be a bigger priority. Ideally, I need 100 people ready to receive samples the day the product comes in.
  2. Find my most efficient marketing channel. I've experimented with Reddit ads. They are great at driving traffic, but have resulted in exactly zero sales. My IG following is growing, but again, zero sales. I've ran a couple of Facebook re-targeting ads to try and capture initial visitors from IG/reddit. Zero conversions from this as well.
  3. My conversion rates are 4%, but again, this is all from friends or friends of friends. No random people or strangers are buying. I need to establish trust as a brand. As a beginner, I do not know the best way to do this.
My Goals:

For the next 8 weeks:
  1. Have my product stocked in 3 local businesses on launch week.
  2. Make $1000 by the end of August.
  3. Have 10 Influencers signed on as affiliates by the end of August.
For July - September (Q3):
  1. Sales of $5000 total.
  2. Gain 5 local businesses who agree to stock and sell my product.
  3. Have 20 Influencers signed on as affiliates.
This is a long post. If you've made it this far, I really appreciate you taking the time to read it all. As a beginner entrepreneur, I am open to any and all feedback. It's why I'm here.
 

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Brewer07

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Hi,
I read the whole thread and congrats on your progress. I'm also working on a health supplement product but I'm still far from where you are.

I guess you have an insurance for the products that comes directly from the manufacturer. But if you fill those small containers yourself, hands them to someone who has a problem and sues you, does your insurance covers it ?

I'll be honest...the whole insurance thing is muddy water to me. I have an LLC and a lawyer on retainer but beyond that, I'm clueless. Sorry, I know that isn't very helpful.

Is this Beeketing thing on your website real-time? If that's the case, you're selling a lot by now!

It is! Although I'll admit, some of those "sales" are influencers I sent free product to. I register them as "sales" in Shopify but discount it 100%, as it still gets me a discount on shipping.

But - I did break the $1,000 mark last night! :praise:
 

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I literally only just came across this thread today. I probably missed it previously because it had Supplements in the title and I thought it would be another gold rush thread.

Thoughts from skimming it:

1) The fact that you're a pharmacist is what made me take the thread seriously and made it stand out from other "me too" supplement startups. As others have said, this could be front and center in your marketing. Your story could be the main selling point.

2) Customer avatars. I'm not a fan of doing this before getting customers. I think spending too long on this before you're making sales is a distraction and potentially blinkers us from who might really want our products. Now you have customers, can you describe the people you *actually* have? We have customer avatars in my team - and they're actual customers. I don't have to describe them, I just say their name and my team knows that person is never going to sit through a 60 minute webinar. Imagine selling business coaching or tips to @Vigilante or @MJ DeMarco for instance. Would they go to a seminar about how to make money online? If your market is people like either of those two business owners, then imagine them as people you actually know and what they would and wouldn't react to favorably.

3) Related to the above... your market is NOT a demographic, but a demonstrated cashflow. What are people *already* spending their money on that indicates they care what they put into their body, and are interested in working out? You mention keto already. What other diets or ingredients are people *already* spending money on that indicate they are already trying to solve the problem your product also solves? (See how creating an avatar of a body-builder might exclude those people... and how you would have blinkered yourself from the outset?)

4) I've never done work in the supplement space on AdWords. I expect there's a lot of guidelines. I expect if anyone can satisfy them then it will be a pure offering delivered by a qualified pharmacist. I mention AdWords because of the search intent behind a visitor. Try paid search. Go through the free lessons in my course to understand the online buying lifecycle, how to do Keyword Research, and how to analyse the Google Search Results Page.

5) You've mentioned landing pages not converting etc. Landing pages don't convert - people do. It's about getting the right person to the right offer at the right time. It's about having the right messaging for those visitors. You can't judge a landing page in isolatation, you have to judge the visitors hitting your landing page... what were they looking for? what enticed them to click through? what do they hope to see on the page? I created a thread: The biggest landing page mistake

6) Have you considered a subscription business? I've just finished "The Automatic Customer" and thought it a short and great read. Your market might be people interested in improving their health in all sorts of ways. Would they want your product on a monthly basis? Russell Brunson had a supplement business... I think he mentions how he studied other peoples sales funnels and copied their structure (one-click upsells, ongoing subscriptions, etc).

7) Someone mentioned forums. I use forums a lot and created a thread: How to use forums (and Facebook groups)
I believe @Scot has had a similar experience in Facebook groups.

6) I've been into fitness and a casual gym-goer for over 20 years. I haven't lifted weights in the last year, but plan on getting back into it again. I've never taken supplements, but want to be healthier and eat better. Would I take them? Maybe, but I don't want to spend any time doing research and going down the rabbit-hole. Would I subscribe to some email list telling me about simple healthy eating and fitness tips? Maybe. If you were to try and market to me, what would you do? What do I currently spend my money on that indicates I'm interested (and doing a bit of) healthy eating and fitness? Where is my attention currently?

What would go through my head seeing your ads:
  • (These are written harshly so you get an idea of what might be going on in other people's minds. Please don't take offence if you think differently - this is for OP's benefit):
  • Do I GAF about the taste? No... I'm a full-grown man and things I eat don't need to taste like sweets or ice-cream. Why are you even talking about how it tastes? Does it do what it says on the tin?
  • Do I want to look like some dude with a six-pack and muscles? No... I consider focusing on "trying to look good" when I'm married with 3 small kids both a self-indulgence and a vanity. I spend more time taking my kids to sports activities than I do on myself. I'd like to spend more time on myself, but at the age of 46 it's about being light, flexible, and strong.... not having a six-pack or lifting Xkg bench-press. Photos of half-naked six-packed men make me think the product isn't aimed at me.
  • Do I want to see pictures of young ladies in gym gear? As a married man old enough to be their dad? Have a guess? Photos of young ladies make me think the product isn't aimed at me.
  • Do I have time to read labels and create diet and exercise plans for myself? How many parents in jobs or running their own business have the time or inclination to do all that research? Would I rather just have one source I trust and snap-buy from them instead?
7) Who already has your customers? I'm doing work for a startup delivering healthy meals. Their market are interested in their health and are cash-rich and time-poor. Does that seem like a demonstrated cashflow to you?


I'll add more as they occur to me.
 

Brewer07

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Sorry for going a little AWOL - over the past two weeks, I started a new "9-5" and traveled for orientation...oh, and I launched my product!

I fulfilled every order by hand. Was it a pain in the a$$? Yes. Was it completely surreal and worth it? Absolutely.

Each order contained:
  1. Product
  2. Free promotional "cool-it" towel
  3. Instructional card for use - this is somewhere I want to differentiate my brand and products. Other supplement companies squeeze directions into tiny font on the back of the label. I have this on my product (legally required and dumb not to include it), but also provide a card with detailed instructions on how to use the product and get the most from it. On the back side, there's a link to sign up for my affiliate program and earn $10 for each friend they refer.
  4. Promo card for 30% off their next order.
I'm at $998 in sales. I got a very nice boost Monday due to some launch posts on social media.

Next steps:
  1. Collect feedback from current customers.
  2. Develop relationships with local pharmacies and gyms
    1. As mentioned, I currently have two local pharmacies who have agreed to stock the product. My goal is to have them supplied and ready to go on Monday, August 21.
    2. I have three local Crossfit gyms who have agreed to try out the product and promote and/or sell to their members if the gym staff like it. Goal is to make these deliveries by August 22nd.
  3. Get actual product photos to replace the stock images currently on the website. My goal is to accomplish this by August 24th.
  4. Get promoted on social media by current customers.
  5. Get product samples into the hands of social media influencers. I need some help here and will be posting seeking this forum's feedback about it very soon.
For any Fastlane member who wants to try it out, use the coupon code "FASTLANE" for 20% off your first order - my way of saying thanks for all the great advice I've received here! Link to product.

Product pictures:
IMG_3492.JPG IMG_3493.JPG IMG_3494.JPG IMG_3495.JPG IMG_3496.JPG IMG_3497.JPG IMG_3498.JPG IMG_3499.JPG
 

Denim Chicken

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The ad set looks like every other bodybuilding ad. I would try doubling down on your USP.

My personal approach for branding would be to go PURE/Medical route.

Have you seen RX bar branding? Their packaging is simple, it says "3 egg white, 6 almonds, 4 cashews, 2 dates, NO BS" Those are the ingredients.

all-flavors.jpg


For your ad, I see maybe a clean countertop with good lighting, a couple pharmaceutical measuring devices, a scale, etc. and various powders highlighting the "pharmacist-developed" aspect of the product.
 

Brewer07

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I'd fully embrace the fact that your product doesn't taste as good as the unhealthy alternatives and use this as a differentiating factor. That reminds me of Buckley, a cough syrup that tastes horrible. The marketing team behind it turned the awful taste into a feature. Their slogan: It tastes awful, and it works!

Alright @smpaq (and others), I brainstormed some tag-lines similar to Buckley's "it tastes awful and it works". I wrote down literally everything that came to mind as soon as it came to mind, so please don't hold back on critique.

  • Tastes like eh. Works like DAMN.

  • Tastes like shit. Works like DAMN.

  • Unusual taste. Unusual results.

  • Choke it down. Rev it up.

  • Tastes different than the rest because it works better than the rest.

  • We tried to hide the taste. You won’t hide the results.

  • Forgettable taste. Unforgettable results.

  • Forgettable taste. Unforgettable workouts.

  • With a taste like this, you know it works.

  • Different taste. Different supplements. Different results.

  • Different taste. Different pre-workout. Different results.

  • Unique taste. Unique pre-workout. Unique results.

  • Unique taste. Unique supplements. Unique results.

  • It tastes like that because it works.

  • Suck up the taste. Bask in the gains.

  • Trade taste for real supplements.

  • Trade taste for supplements that work.

  • Weird taste? That’s how you know it works.

  • You know it works as soon as you taste it.

  • Doesn’t taste great. But you’ll look amazing.

  • Trade in flavor for supplements that work.

  • Strong taste. Strong lifts.

  • Strong taste. Strong gains.

  • Strong taste. Strong muscles.

  • Workouts so good, you’ll survive the taste.

  • Workouts so intense, you’ll survive the taste.

  • Workouts so good, you’ll forget about the taste.

  • Workouts so intense, you’ll forget about the taste.

  • What the hell is that taste? The glory of quad-busting squats.

  • Why does it taste like that? Because it works.

  • “Why does it taste weird?” “Shut up and lift.” (I envision this as two people, with the response coming from a much more ripped individual)

  • Get over the taste. The results are worth it.

  • Get past the taste to get past your bench plateau.

  • Crappy taste. Happy body.

  • Want insane strength? Give up the blue razzberry pre-workout and try the real stuff.

  • Real men don’t need blue cotton candy pre-workout. Real men use Focal Force.

  • Drop your pansy cotton-candy pre-workout. Try something heavier.

  • It’s like 190-proof pre-workout. You’ll know it works from the first sip.
 

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Thank you for sharing your journey, no matter win or lose.

I'm a big fan of the value array you are targeting; no colors, dyes, artificial sweeteners, etc.

Thread watched, plus some rep for sharing.
 

Brewer07

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Thank you for sharing your journey, no matter win or lose.

I'm a big fan of the value array you are targeting; no colors, dyes, artificial sweeteners, etc.

Thread watched, plus some rep for sharing.

Thank you! I've noticed some of the bigger supp companies starting to enter this area. They're still using "natural flavors" and underdosing their ingredients, so I'm not worried. Actually a good sign - it validates the market.

Agree with @Sully1994 on the pics. Sure, it'd be ideal to have product and model in the same shot. But not necessary. You can use high quality model shots with product in foreground. All it takes is some basic photoshopping. Plenty of supp companies do it. Eg. the pic below (just an example, not saying yours should be identical).

On the copy, you're telling me a lot of what it IS but not what it DOES. Hit me with some benefits, man! Pharmacist-developed is a strong credential, but I'd save that for your product page. Slap people in the forehead with what it's going to do for their workout/physique/etc. in your ads.

P.S. Fellow Incubator member here. I'm the one from the calls who was on the other side of the world ;). Really like this change of idea for you! Nice work.

xe3i3vbky6nxrxkagryf.jpg

What's up? Good to see you here! I remember you from the progress threads. Hope you are doing well! Send me a PM and let me know what you're working on.

Thanks for the feedback re: copy. It is not a strength of mine. I will test ads using benefits-focused copy instead of product-focused.

Good call on photoshopping some stock photos. I already have my product mockup so that shouldn't be hard to do.

Try testing product only shots. There's two benefits to this:

1) you can use product mock ups instead of photos of the actual thing. Now you don't have to worry about bad lighting. Thanks Photoshop!

2) it's pretty tough to not alienate one side of your audience when your model is half naked, (regardless of gender).

I noticed your gender click ratio swung heavily towards the female side.

Let's reverse things. Guys commonly click on pictures of hot women advertising female oriented products. Why? Because they're hot. They're not interested in the product being advertised .

It's possible that we have a similar situation going on here- just from the female perspective.

Food for thought!

Definitely going to try some product-only ad runs and see how they perform.

I can combine this with SYK's advice above - use stock photos of both males and females, and segment on gender (ex: target female model+product towards men, male model+product towards females).

What are your thoughts on shots featuring both a male and a female? Try it and see how it goes?

The ad set looks like every other bodybuilding ad. I would try doubling down on your USP.

My personal approach for branding would be to go PURE/Medical route.

Have you seen RX bar branding? Their packaging is simple, it says "3 egg white, 6 almonds, 4 cashews, 2 dates, NO BS" Those are the ingredients.

all-flavors.jpg


For your ad, I see maybe a clean countertop with good lighting, a couple pharmaceutical measuring devices, a scale, etc. and various powders highlighting the "pharmacist-developed" aspect of the product.

Yes, I've seen RXBar before, really good branding IMO. I like the approach you described - since I've been making this myself, I have powders, scales, etc. around the house. I'll work with this and see what I can develop.

Feedback To-Do:
  1. Photoshop high-quality stock photos with product in foreground. Run test ads.
  2. Re-write ad copy to be benefit-focused.
  3. Try gender-targeted ads.
  4. Try pharmaceutical/medical/pure approach with ads.
 

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I'd be careful with the taste thing.

Whenever I'm looking at sup reviews NOBODY comments on the results because it is so subjective and almost impossible to attribute any gains to the actual supplement. However EVERYONE comments on the taste, and for a lot of people, taste is the deal breaker.

They take the sup because the health mags tell them it's required, not because one brand gives better results than the other. And therefore taste is high on the list.

Out of those lines I would probably opt for something like "Forget your cotton candy pre-work out. This is for the real lifters"

Plays on the mind without drawing too much attention to the taste (or lack of)
 

Brewer07

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Updates

Podcast

I appeared on my first podcast - you can check it out here: Digging Into Keto, Sanctus Nutrition, & #ABZZ(with special guest Dr. Alex Brewer).
  1. It went well, but generated very little traffic to my site and zero sales.
  2. The host agreed to send my contact info/details to other podcast hosts he knows, so that's a positive.
Influencers/Social Media Outreach
My Instagram account (Sanctus Nutrition (@sanctusnutrition) • Instagram photos and videos) has grown to over 1,100 followers. I've started reaching out to users following me who have a large follower base, offering to send free samples once the product arrives. My goal is that, if they like the product, I can bring them on as affiliates and get some shoutouts/"social proof". So far, I have 14 persons with sizable followings who have agreed to sample the product.

Wholesale
I have two local pharmacies who will be stocking and selling Focal Force. I have 3 gyms who are interested in trying the product and potentially selling it/recommending it to members. There is a 4th gym I'm visiting today - I'm sponsoring an event they are hosting this weekend, and foresee them being agreeable to sampling Focal Force.

Blog
I wrote a blog post about the science behind my product - check it out here. This didn't receive as many views as previous posts. My first 2 posts received the most traffic, while the past two have barely generated any. The only channel I promote them on is via Facebook, and I think my friends may be fatigued from my posts.

So, in all, a bit stagnant. Honestly, I'm at a bit of a hold until the product arrives next week.
 

Brewer07

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I had numerous comments recommending I make a video and take product shots reflecting the professional/pharmacist-developed aspect of my product. See attached for some photos I took inside a pharmacy.

30-second clip:
View: https://youtu.be/5_bZRn6JQJY

60-second clip:
View: https://youtu.be/sR_n7ktKWHM


Not sure we'll ever use the clips, but they were fun to shoot. They would need a lot of editing to be usable in ads IMO but I'm not an expert here - feel free to chime in with feedback!

More updates - had my first $1K month! Now offering free samples via the website. Looking to add a protein next.
 

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Argue

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Hey @Brewer07,

This is my feedback.

Part 1. The Website

ZcAWN7K.png


1. The copy is bad. There's no personality. Just scientific jargon about clinically this and that. Talk with me as a friend, not my chemistry teacher (I hated chemistry lol)

2. The image should be different. Emphasize more focus on your bottle. All the attention is on the female.

3. This is a bad button. What does I want better supplements mean? First, you need to add color to the button for contrast. Next, change the text to something more friendly. Try grab yours now, for example.

eUx3CwX.png

1. This is bad copy. It's just a bunch of jargon telling me I deserve better supplements. Why do I deserve better supplements? What's in it for me? Add more life and personality to your copy. Instead of the above, try: Our drink turns you from geek to all-star. Stop training like a wimp and start training like a UFC champion. Conor McGregor agrees.
(This is really bad, but I'm trying to get my point across that adding real life to your copy will be beneficial.)

Part 2. Examples of a Successful Brand

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1. When I land on G FUEL's site, there's personality. Look above at their copy. It is brilliant. They're using DJ Khaled favorite line: you smart, you loyal, to persuade the reader. It's funny, resonates with the young crowd, and it converts.

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2. When I check out their about page, it's organized. The "our story" tells us in a few sentences about the creation of their product. It has personality, it resonates with the target market, evokes emotion.

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3. Your about us section has no life, sorry. It just talks about jargon, 300 mg of ginger, etc. Spark life into your copy, share your story on how your product was created in a fun story-telling way that evokes emotion. It should resonate with your visitor. Instead, it doesn't and scares them away.

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4. G FUEL does a great job at executing in a few sentences what the product can do for their customer. On your site, I can't say the same. The main idea on your site is how natural your ingredient is. Remember, what's in it for the customer?

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5. G FUEL does an excellent job with their CTA. Notice how the box is border red as if we entered the wrong email. I suggest adding a CTA to your site to collect emails. In exchange, your readers can read your newsletter.

Part 3. Conclusion

1. I know it's not fair to compare a mega brand like G FUEL with yours, since you're just starting out. But, take some notes on what they're doing. I bet it will work.

2. Currently, your does not resonate. Go back to your buyer persona, and find out what they like to do for fun, what music they listen to, who are their favorite celebrities. Then incorporate that into your site.

3. For example, g fuel caters to the gaming community in a fun way. With Focal Force, try to be fun and engage with your target market who say stuff like cross fit is life, do you lift bro, etc. I really don't know because I'm not sure who focal force is for.

4. Your website can be a huge success, I believe in it and I love your progress. But it's going to be an uphill battle. You need to reimagine your product in a fun, exiting way that resonates with your customers. I honestly believe the problem is your copy. There's no life to it, just numbers and ingredients on how great of a supplement it is.

5. You can still make this work. I think instead of building up sales at the moment, focus more on your content marketing. Build more awareness through your social media. Also, create a twitter page. I tried searching but couldn't find a twitter page. Engage your market with stories, pictures on how to's, etc. Look around at successful brands and see how they're doing it. Take some of their ideas and create your own for Sanctus.

6. I'm not writing this feedback to be mean. Im writing this feedback from a consumer perspective. I know you and g fuel are different but take some ideas from big brands and try to incorporate their "formula" into your own. I genuinely hope this can help spark some ideas and get things rolling. After all, take this advice with a grain of salt.

P.S. I wrote this really quick, sorry in advance for any mistakes or inaccuracies.
 
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Ika

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I came here and expected a complete beginner jumping on the supplement-train - and I am positively surprised!

Not only is your product based in a real-world need, but you've already put in hours and thoughts.

And you already got rewarded: 500$ in sales!

Great process and great plan.
Thank you for writing it down and sharing so many details.

If I find the time I will try to take a look at your website and give some feedback.

I hope you are keeping us up to date with how your plans turns out!
Sounds like a promising journey.
 

Brewer07

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Took some time to be with my family as we experienced a loss. Worked 11 hour shifts at a pharmacy last week while I’m in-between jobs and needing cash, so the business went on the backburner for a few days.

Sales have been very slow in July, but I have managed to surpass the $700 mark. Product should ship out from the manufacturer to me next week!

Specific updates:

Product Page
I re-did some copy, and I re-structured the page to include tabs. Check it out and let me know what you think! My goal is easier navigation and less scrolling.
Link: Focal Force Premium Clean Pre-Workout

Facebook Ads
I ran two recent test campaigns, one July 9-12 and the other July 10-13. Both campaigns were set to run in California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, targeting people age 27-30, both genders, with interests related to Crossfit. I used the same images for each, attached below. The ads differed in the copy, which I’ve attached and you can compare below.

Campaign #1 reached 755 people and only generated 6 link clicks, with a $3.31 cost per click.
Campaign #2 reached 1,917 people and only generated 13 link clicks, with a $1.61 cost per click.


I haven’t tried any more subsequent tests. I’m at a bit of a loss for what step to take next here. I need to be advertising my product to continue generating leads but all campaigns I’ve attempted have been complete failures and I’m not sure what mod to make next. I know $20 isn't much to run a test, but over time it adds up.

I’m thinking I need to try @Denim Chicken's advice and stand out vs. looking like every other bodybuilding ad. Go the “pure/medical” route with ad photos. I’m reaching out to my photographer to find a good time to take high-quality shots.

Also, I could try running engagement ads instead of targeting link clicks. I'm not sure what the point of that would be, but it was recommended in the FB ad tutorial video posted on page 1.

Return Policy
I’ve drafted my first version of Sanctus Nutrition’s return policy, which I’ve included below. Let me know what you think. I also want a catchy name for it, something besides “Satisfaction Guarantee” or “Money-Back Guarantee”.

Placement also needs to be decided – currently, I have it in the product FAQ tab and in the footer menu. Should I include it elsewhere, somewhere more prominent?

Our Return Policy
We wholeheartedly believe in the products we’ve created, and we want you to try them risk-free.

For your first purchase of any product sold directly from Sanctus Nutrition, we’ll refund your purchase if you’re not satisfied - no questions asked. No forms to fill out, no waiting, no bullshit.

Just email hello@sanctusnutrition.com with the subject line “Refund” and include your name, email address, order number, and PayPal or Venmo account where you’d like to receive your refund. We’ll refund your money, no questions asked, and you can keep any unused product.

To protect against fraud, this policy is only valid for first-time purchases of products ordered directly from Sanctus Nutrition. This is redeemable up to 60 days after purchase.

For subsequent purchases, we’ll refund your money for any product returned unopened and unused. Visit Sanctus Nutrition and include your name, email address, order number, and put “I’d like to return my purchase” in the body. We’ll be in touch shortly with instructions on how to return your product.
 

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Brewer07

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Hi. Great thread. Your execution is really inspiring. I wish you all the success you deserve. Rep +.

Just quickly checked your website and I kind of got confused at first on the About page. The text colors feel odd, maybe you should make the titles orange and the text black, instead of the opposite.

Also, have you thought about targeting the "casual lifters" ? By that, I mean those who just want to get healthy, not massive nor strong. Instead of advertising on how your supplement help strength gains, you would talk about how it improves health : heart pulse, blood flow, joint health etc. without the unhealthy ingredients of the mainstream supplements.
Maybe this market is worth exploring, as they would probably care more about the ingredients than bodybuilders and powerlifters.

Good call. Just changed all body font to black for each page.

Casual lifters are likely a better target for me vs. the more "hardcore" set. I'll work to incorporate this into my next advertising attempt - thanks for the insight!

I'm facing issues with finding a manufacturer for my supplement line. I'm currently doing this in house but it's a pain for scaling. What is the minimum order quantity your manufacturer is asking for your custom blend?

500 units is the lowest they'll go.
 

Brewer07

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Two "scripts" I'm seeking feedback on:

Script #1 - "Story" Vid on Sanctus Nutrition. This is just me speaking about the company, why I founded it, etc. I've received feedback from this forum and from outside opinions that this is something I should create.

Why are you making this video? What do you aim to accomplish? Why should it exist?
  • To tell the story of Sanctus Nutrition.
  • To introduce myself and my background, and how that affects the company.
  • To explain why Sanctus Nutrition exists and what it contributes.
Intro
  • My name is Dr. Alex Brewer
  • I’m a pharmacist, and I wasn’t happy with the pre-workouts available on the market.
  • I knew other supplement companies were under-dosing their products.
  • I wanted to avoid harmful ingredients like artificial sweeteners and food colors.
Focal Force
  • What is it?
  • How did I choose the ingredients?
  • What sets it apart from other pre-workouts?
Main Point #1
  • Benefit: better workouts - more endurance - less soreness
Main Point #2
  • Benefit: increased mental focus
Main Point #3
  • Benefit: feel better - healthier body
    • Focal Force powers your workouts without harmful ingredients, because it is naturally flavored using ginger and monk fruit. It contains zero artificial sweeteners and zero food colors.
    • Low caffeine content means you don’t feel like a tweaking meth addict.
Summary/Conclusion
  • Focal Force gives you better workouts without harming your body
Call to Action
  • Check out Sanctus Nutrition to find more information on Focal Force.
  • Sign up for our newsletter to receive up to 20% off your first order

Script #2 - Interview with friend - he is a fellow pharmacist and an USAW certified coach. He recently started a coaching business. We're working closely together to help each other out. Many people are unfamiliar with olympic lifting, so I want to have a discussion that allows him to introduce the subject and tell people what they can gain from it. This will be a recorded Skype discussion.

Outline
  • Introduction
    • Antonio Booker, PharmD, USAW Certified Coach, and CEO of Blackbird Barbell
  • Tell us how you got into weightlifting and, specifically, what made you pursue olympic weightlifting
  • What is olympic weightlifting?
    • Give an overview of olympic weightlifting
      • What is it?
      • What are common movements?
      • What is the end-goal? What are you looking to achieve by engaging in olympic weightlifting? (Size, strength, explosiveness, all of the above?)
    • Who should engage in olympic weightlifting? Who should NOT?
    • What is the most common myth you hear about olympic weightlifting?
    • If you could only do ONE olympic movement for the rest of your life, which would it be, and why?
  • USAW Certified Coach
    • Describe that certification to us.
    • Why did you decide to pursue USAW certification?
    • What is the certification process like? What did you have to “complete” or prove?
    • Why should someone train with a USAW coach?
  • Your clients
    • Who is your “typical” client?
    • Who is your youngest client? Your oldest client? (Don’t need details, just looking for an age range)
    • Is there a certain age where people should NOT engage in Olympic weightlifting?
    • What do you look for in a client? Do you ever turn applicants down?
    • Why should someone train with you?
  • Blackbird Barbell
    • What is Blackbird Barbell?
    • What encouraged you to start Blackbird Barbell?
    • What is your vision for Blackbird Barbell? Where do you see it 3 years from now?
  • General exercise & nutrition recs
    • What is your current weight and body fat % (estimates are fine)?
    • What do your lifting numbers look like? (bench/squat/deadlift, can also insert additional lifts like C&J, etc.)
    • What does your diet look like?
    • How do you juggle being a pharmacist who works 12-hour shifts, a coach and business owner, with eating healthy and training? What would you say to anyone listening to claims to be “too busy” to eat healthy and work out?
    • What supplements, if any, do you take and why?
  • Where can people find you?
    • Website? Instagram? Facebook?
    • If people are interested in your coaching services, where can they find out more?
  • Parting words
Let me know your thoughts! Are there certain subjects you would add or remove from these videos? How should I market them? How I do draw views to them? I'm really struggling to gain traction outside my friends/Facebook feed.
 

MidwestLandlord

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Thank you for not holding back and being honest -> this is why I get so much value from this forum.

No problem, and thanks for the reps.

Most of what you wrote should be answered by those here with much more ecommerce experience than I. So I'll let them answer most of this.

However, there are a bunch of threads here that will answer some or all of those questions.

My comment was written from the customer point of view, as I'm pretty close to your ideal customer I think.

Our target is health-conscious 29-34 YO men, high income, weightlifters -> is this narrow enough? We've had sales from people outside that demographic but that's who I picture when I think "target customer".

These are the people actually buying?

What pain points does someone like that have, how does your product help those pain points, and how do you communicate those benefits to your customers?

Someone like that is:

Massively busy
Worried about aging
Worried about continuing to look good naked
Concerned about unhealthy ingredients in supplements
Swamped with ads about other supplements (usually from the "bro" crowd)

How do you market to solve those pain points?

Fix the website first. Always, always, always, one step at a time.

Read cashvertising as someone recommended up-thread.

Read every thread @SinisterLex has written about copy.

Explore other threads about websites and product pictures.

Take notes when you talk to @Andy Black about PPC/adwords. (I've talked to him too, time well spent)

I won't bullshit you, I didn't do anything fancy - just rounded up to $25.

Would you price differently? I'll run at $24.99 and see how it performs.

I'm just uptight about pricing.

(I see you already changed it to $24.99. Nice.)

TL;DR

I wouldn't worry about social proof and all that right now. Get the website fixed and then build from there.

You know you picked one of the most competitive markets ever, right? :hilarious:
 

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Jedwab

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Hey Alex!

Firstly, well done for getting the project so far. I can feel your frustration.

Your issue is obviously not product quality as the people that have tried love it, and it seems like an excellent product.

Before I go into this a quick bit about me - I am a female 42 year old Crossfitter, and I see your avatar is a Crossfitter so my feedback is in that context. I have read most of this thread but skimmed over some things, so please excuse me if I am repeating what anyone else has said.

I take a variety of supplements, pre workout NOT being one of them, but have done in the past. I care about what goes into my body and pay attention to diet, chemicals, sugar and all that sort of stuff that can potentially f*ck with my hormones, head or well being. I feel like since turning 40 things are getting a bit harder, and still being competitive with the 20 somethings and trying to "hang on" (laughing here). I could potentially be a good market for your supplement, simply because I care about the "no added" crap stuff and could use something to boost my performance , until I'm ready to empty my denial cupboard and give in to being "good for my age" rather than " she can still give the young' uns a run for their money". This is all a bit tongue in cheek, but with plenty of truth in it. You could easily sell this to me. But I may not be your target market, and I think this is where things get confused, as I dont think you are marketing to your avatar. Let me tell you what I see when I hit your website. I have read your avatar description, with body builders being your 2nd target market so delivering the below in the context of this.

BRANDING

I see male brand, with two colours - red and black, both of which would appeal more to males, only the red is weird sort of terracotta so that confused me a bit ( needs to be stronger if keeping the red i think) . Currently it's not sexy, as there is not enough 'oomph' in it and frankly the branding is just OK.

Photos - Evan probably wants to see some males with six packs in their 30's, fist bumping or high fiving (a very crossfit thing) after smashing yet another successful WOD and the brand being a bit more upmarket, since he can afford to shop organically and has disposable income. Even if Even doesn't have a six pack yet, he probably secretly wants one. He wants to imagine himself completing a workout and looking like " that guy" who just smashed it.

What he sees instead, apart from the un memorable branding is guy in a middle of a cable exercise, who frankly looks a bit high. Then an image of a girl whose expression is pretty flat and emotionless. This is very confusing as if Evan is your avatar, neither of these are even remotely relatable.

Cross fitters don't even do cable exercises (or very rarely as supplemental work). Picture quality is also not great - underexposed , colour balance not consistent. Even if you have sold me on the pharmaceutical benefits, I'm still buying a dream - you need to sell the dream. Evan wants to take your supplement and visalise himself smashing workouts - you need to help him do that. Images are SO important in that field and really do need to be aspirational. If you are wanting Evan to buy you have to sell to HIM.

I would really suggest you hire a professional to take your images, it is well worth the investment. I had a quick google - Check out the link below for example https://www.saiterol.com/crossfit34
Or this guys gallery Rob Hammer is an advertising photographer based in San Diego, California. for examples of striking imagery.

So image quality is a biggie , but content of images is also a biggie - relatable, aspirational & relevant being the key words.

Your second potential target market of bodybuilders - MILES apart from Crossfitters, totally different things will rock their boat. You only need to read a few threads on the bodybuilding.com forum (yes I used to be a member) to get the idea.

So I think you need to decide if you are sticking with Evan - and if so get your website look sorted. I'm not saying just males, the crossfit market is full of women who like smashing workouts too and if you can help with that then a big hurrah to that.

I think 35 + is great age range to aim for too as this is where people generally will start seeing a decline in performance and maybe no longer be able to compete with the youngsters, so you are SOLVING A PROBLEM or at least a perceived problem. And people at that age are more body aware and have grown to care more about what they put into their body. I didn't give a shit in my 20's , with self awareness definitely increasing from late 30's onward and probably quadrupling since turning 40.

So in a nutshell , make it appealing to your avatar. No point writing such an excellent profile and marketing to no one in particular.

COPY/DESIGN

Most of it has already been very well said in terms of content - needs to be more succinct, sexy, and to the point. Front page is just too messy - white writing on black and then vice versa combined with those photos just all looks OK. But just Ok isn't enough. Image opacity needs changing as a minimum as the burned out highlights make your eyes go all over the place.

Fonts - I think you need a different one, cleaner and a sans serif if possible. This website is excellent for finding font pairings What’s Trending in Type · Typewolf. I'm really liking Brandon grotesque as a font right now, check it out Brandon Grotesque in action plus good fonts to combine it with | Typ.io

Font pairings are important - your logo font does not go with your website text font

So - home page needs better pics, call to actions are too small, better font and personally I think you need pics with your testimonials.

Shop section looks great, nice and clean but as you are only selling 2 products I am thinking you may be better off having a different layout as it makes it look empty, and i would remove the wording which says "2 products" as it draws attention to it even more.

One of the leading products here in the UK which many Crossfitters use is GLC2000, check out their website product page. Supplements – GLC2000

A recent addition to the popular products here is this - activ7,RECOVERY OIL,MOBILITY BUNDLES,BATH SALTS,ACTIV7 RECOVERY BUNDLES , this is being bought in my Crossfit box owners and resold to members - this is quite common here, not sure if thats the case in the US.

Your story page - messy, image quality comments as before, image placement all over the place. Some wording used not accessible to everyone ( like who will know what 'proprietary blend' means)

"Ok, I don’t like trashing other companies. I'd rather promote our benefits"
- just by saying that you look unprofessional, better wording would be " what makes us different" and use your USP.

"
what other company has a flavoring that ACTIVELY helps you recover?" - Blowing out someone else's candle does not make yours any brighter. Let other companies be, you just concentrate on what you are doing for your clients.

Your USP is your background and the resulting product - anything based on medical evidence/pharma/science has a bit of an automatic effect of establishing some trust. Tell me what problem you are solving and make me imagine the end result, paint a picture.

Current copy is bit of a turn off for me if I'm honest. The whole "LETTER FROM THE CHIEF CAESAR"...just no. I feel it needs a rewrite.

Blog - I would have all featuring images same height and width, looks much better and arrange like a grid if you can. Unless you are blogging regularly ( like weekly) I would remove dates, an idle blog never looks good.

Your blog posts are super long and full of knowledge, one of these can be probably broken down into 10 separate , smaller more digestible posts. People do not have the attention span nowadays! If you are sticking to cross fitters as a main target market, do some blog posts about that and how you can help with performance.

Lastly, make it clear that you expand each post by clicking on the image, as its not obvious.


My take on what you can do ( for what its worth)


I have a friend who has built a Crossfit clothing brand from scratch and I watched her to do it, She is doing ok, but scaling is really slow going. I believe thats because of her branding but that's another story. But I can tell you how she has done it -

1- She joined a Crossfit gym and involved herself in the community
2 - Sending out free clothing to athletes that are most visible firstly in the local community in return for Instagram mentions and tags
3- constant activity on social media, showing a variety of crossfitters wearing her clothing
4- Stands at various Crossfit competitions - they take place almost daily
5- Becoming a sponsor for an athlete that now has qualified for the Madison Crossfit games

She is extremely tenacious BUT I think scaling will be an issue for her as the brand IMHO opinion her branding will be her failing. But she is definitely got herself visible. She has spent a lot of man hours doing a lot of legwork, and ultimately it was for free ( well not free as the other side of the coin she hasn't spent money on advertising).

So my question for you would be what is your ultimate aim and how patient can you be with scaling? Because if you do it the way above it takes time, but the ultimate end result could be the same ( and you may not wish to get involved in the community to get an inside look)

If you want to scale faster then my strategy would be different, but it depends on how much money you have available or can find.

First I would sort out your website - easy fix, essentially it could be done in less than a day if you can sort photography.

Secondly I would reach out to people who have medium established names or are 'up and coming".

The only issue is that knowing who these people are is not easy if you are not that world or "bubble" whatever that may be. So reaching out to friends who ARE and are able to point you in the right direction would be the way forward. Offer to sponsor them in exchange for promotion. This means Insta tagging , FB posting and would involve giving away free product. I would also at that point make sure I get plenty of feedback and some measurable results - this could be done in all different ways, for example -
* promo video going into gym with athlete, filming a workout ( WOD), hoping they smash it and getting direct feedback straight after as in ' how did that feel compared to usual' type thing

If you can get a couple of well known names in the community to become your ambassadors/or you become their sponsors is a good start - but for the to WANT to, when they look at your website they need to think ' yeah that looks great' and initially they are actually willing to give it a try and then b) if they love it they will actually want to promote it. Ego plays a part here too - an 'up and coming' athlete will be to a degree flattered to be approached in this way, ie. as an ambassador.

I would happily put you in touch with a couple of people who fit these criteria in the UK but I'm guessing the UK market is not what you are after, due to shipping costs.

Thirdly I would definitely get yourself into Crossfit competitions - Not sure if its within your budget , but we have the Cross fit games starting in August - obvs this is the largest Crossfit event in the world, so thats aiming high - I had a look at vendor booths, here is a link CrossFit Games | The Fittest on Earth , as you can see sold out with waiting lists, but this could be an option for next year . You could just attend for a day, give out some free samples CrossFit Games

Local competitions are great, they always have booths, and not that expensive, here is a website with some listed but loads on google The ULTIMATE List of CrossFit Competitions For 2018

Get as much out on social media & get social proof. Lots of legwork and networking, create some hype and some buzz, get people a bit excited.

My personal feeling is that at the moment you are throwing money at ads for a product with not enough people raving about it, your website is completely lost in the "sea of average", and you are banging your head against the wall. I think you need to put some of the passion you have for the scientific side of things into your marketing side. And if you can't, hire someone to do it for you and 'spread the love".

I would look at getting yourself on a few podcasts as a guest, there are many out there ( like 100's) associated with fitness and nutrition ( do not have to be cross fit related at all), because you can play up the 'no added' card. If you can't get on as a guest, then you can buy sponsorship slots.

Influencers on insta sponsor posts , so look into that - I came across one yesterday who charges $1000 per post but thats not unreasonable for her reach at all.

If you can get some people to trial your products from local boxes, feature them on your blog, everyone likes a bit of ego massaging and exposure - target top athletes at individual boxes.

Lastly - re purposing. it costs money, but this company s a good example https://www.content10x.com/
They can re purpose a blog post , a podcast a video - anything really.

There is so much you can do , but it is legwork and a bit of time, with some avenues being quicker than others.

Because it doesn't matter how talented you are, how great your product is , if no one knows you exist you are basically f****d.

Good luck and I hope some of this helps. I'm very straight talking so no offense meant in any way - and at the end of the day all of the above is just my opinion. And you know the saying - " Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one!", so feel free to ignore me.

By the way was just about to buy the caffeine free one to try but its sold out!
 
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Brewer07

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@Brewer07 .... good work ! I read through your original post....not so much of the rest. My Wife and I talk about how we can't find good supplements that are pure...no dye #, sucralose, etc. I mean, some things they put in just don't make sense when you're trying to stay on top physically and health wise.

So I'm wondering if your market may be the 30 and over, or 40 and over. The ones who are educated with $$ and will pay for what they want.

Just a thought. Keep up the good work.

Yes, aiming for a more affluent & educated crowd. I completed a "customer avatar" exercise, based on a recommended by Clay Hebert. I'll C&P it here, let me know what you think.

"Evan is a 31-year-old male living in San Francisco, California. He grew up in Colorado and has always been very active. As a child, he played numerous sports – football, soccer, snowboarding, skiing – and while he was never the best at any sport, he wasn’t the worst, either. He’s not what we would call a “natural” athlete, but his athletic ability is above average. He fears being fat. He’s self-conscious about his stomach and borders on body dysmorphia. His mother’s side of the family has always had issues controlling their weight, and many relatives suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and similar metabolic disorders.

After high school, Evan attended college at the University of Washington, where he doubled-majored in marketing and communications. He’s the outgoing type, and wanted to pursue a career in marketing, preferably for a tech start-up – he isn’t an IT guru, but he’s always been interested in computers and technology. He dreams of becoming Executive Vice-President of Marketing for a large tech company. Growing up during the dot-com era and coming of age in the era of social media, he sees a future where technology is the foundation of civilization. He may not be a programmer, but he knows where the money is, and refuses to be left behind. Evan is considered an “early adapter” in technology trends. He’s been a user of Dropbox, Google Drive, Trello, Uber, and Instagram since their early days. He bought a drone before they became a public nuisance. He owned Fitbit’s first model, and buys a new one each time the company releases a significant upgrade. He reads TechCrunch and Ars Technica daily.

During his undergraduate studies, Evan strayed a bit from his healthy lifestyle. He still went to the gym, but it was equal part social time as it was workout time. He still loved hiking, rowing, swimming, and being outdoors, but it often took a backseat to his campus obligations and partying. Evan joined a fraternity and served as president his junior year. He was active in Student Activities Board, eventually landing the role as the main planner for campus activities. His biggest claim to fame? Bringing _______ to campus for a concert his senior year in 2007.

Evan graduated UWash with his bachelor’s in marketing and communications, and immediately entered the one-year MBA program at the University of San Francisco in 2008. This was the prime time to be in San Francisco – while the economy was down, venture capital began flowing into technology start-ups.

During his MBA, Evan began getting serious about his health again. He was an early adapter of the “Paleo Diet”, and drastically cut back on sugar, white flour, starch – any food that “comes in a box”. He switched from Bud Light to red wine, with an occasional IPAs or tequila. Evan started lifting weights consistently again. He noticed how much better he felt, how his mood improved, how much more he could focus on his work.

He joined a Crossfit “box” in 2014 and considers it one of the best decisions he has ever made. He loves the social aspect – it’s where he met several of his close friends, including a member of his wedding party. He works out because he cannot imagine life without physical activity. He considers it a blessing to have a fully-functioning body, and wants to take advantage of this blessing as often as possible.

Evan prefers to shop local whenever possible. He goes to the farmer’s market down at Pier 37 nearly every Saturday morning. His other grocery needs are fulfilled at Trader Joe’s. He’s a regular at Blue Bottle Coffee and Four Barrel Coffee, and will support Philz Coffee from time to time. When he isn’t shopping local, his taste trend towards newer brands, He wears workout clothing from Myles (an atheleisure company founded in San Francisco) and Rhone, dress clothing from Mizzen+Main, and dappers down with a custom-fitted suit from Indochino.

Evan has eclectic taste in music. His interests range from Moon Taxi to Kendrick Lamar to Passion Pit to ODESZA. His music choice often changes depending on the setting. He’ll blast Eminem in the gym, then listen to Father John Misty on the bike ride home. He’s always considered music an integral part of his life, and often uses it to “control” the mood he wants to be in.

Evan currently works as a senior marketing manager for Dropbox. He lives in San Francisco’s Mission district in a recently-built apartment complex with his wife. The 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment features an open floor plan, an earthy color palette based on grays and burnt sienna, and trendy decorations found on Etsy. Numerous “smart home” devices can be found throughout the apartment. The Nest thermostat is set to kick the AC (or heat, in the winter) on just before Evan arrives home from work. He gets his morning weather report from Alexa. Sonos wireless speakers are present in every room. Even the lights are controlled from his iPhone."
 

Brewer07

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Facebook Ad results are in. Not pretty.

I ran three separate ads from July 2 - July 5 (ended this morning @ 9 am).
  1. Ad Set 1: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in nutraceutical pages.
    1. Reach: 1,657 (79% women, 20% men)
    2. Link clicks: 15 (87% women, 13% men); 0.87% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
  2. Ad Set 2: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in bodybuilding.
    1. Reach: 3,718 (67% men, 33% women)
    2. Link clicks: 18 (68% men, 32% women); 0.44% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
  3. Ad Set 3: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in Crossfit.
    1. Reach: 2,087 (66% men, 33% women)
    2. Link clicks: 20 (65% men, 35% women); 0.87% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
The copy & CTA for all three was the same. 3 different pictures were used across all the ads.
  1. Picture 1 result rate: 0.67% (4,489 reach, 32 link clicks). Performed best with the Crossfit Ad Set (1.20% result rate).
  2. Picture 2 result rate: 0.64% (2,515 reach, 17 link clicks). Performed best with the Nutraceutical Ad Set (1.94% result rate).
  3. Picture 3 result rate: 0.52% (751 reach, 4 link clicks) - turns out this was NOT used for Ad Set 2 (bodybuilding).
Here are the 3 pictures used:
Picture 1: [GALLERY=media, 42]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 1 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]
Picture 2: [GALLERY=media, 43]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 2 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]
Picture 3: [GALLERY=media, 44]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 3 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]

This was in conjunction with running a 20% off sale with no coupon code required - prices were marked down. Zero sales.

Lessons learned:
  1. If Facebook marketing was as easy as throwing together a campaign, spending $60, and making a lot of money, everyone would do it. I'm keeping that in mind because I get down on myself very easily and I'm pretty bummed I made $0 during this campaign + across the 4th of July holiday sale.
  2. Men responded slightly better to the shirtless vs. shirt pictures compared to women, in terms of result rate.
  3. Response rate was lowest amongst those with interest in bodybuilding and related areas. This isn't really surprising.
Next steps:
I am open to advice! Also, if there are additional metrics that would help you advise me, let me know and I'll post them.
I'll be exploring Google Adwords today and aiming to have my first campaign up and running.
 

Sully1994

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Facebook Ad results are in. Not pretty.

I ran three separate ads from July 2 - July 5 (ended this morning @ 9 am).
  1. Ad Set 1: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in nutraceutical pages.
    1. Reach: 1,657 (79% women, 20% men)
    2. Link clicks: 15 (87% women, 13% men); 0.87% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
  2. Ad Set 2: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in bodybuilding.
    1. Reach: 3,718 (67% men, 33% women)
    2. Link clicks: 18 (68% men, 32% women); 0.44% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
  3. Ad Set 3: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in Crossfit.
    1. Reach: 2,087 (66% men, 33% women)
    2. Link clicks: 20 (65% men, 35% women); 0.87% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
The copy & CTA for all three was the same. 3 different pictures were used across all the ads.
  1. Picture 1 result rate: 0.67% (4,489 reach, 32 link clicks). Performed best with the Crossfit Ad Set (1.20% result rate).
  2. Picture 2 result rate: 0.64% (2,515 reach, 17 link clicks). Performed best with the Nutraceutical Ad Set (1.94% result rate).
  3. Picture 3 result rate: 0.52% (751 reach, 4 link clicks) - turns out this was NOT used for Ad Set 2 (bodybuilding).
Here are the 3 pictures used:
Picture 1: [GALLERY=media, 42]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 1 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]
Picture 2: [GALLERY=media, 43]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 2 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]
Picture 3: [GALLERY=media, 44]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 3 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]

This was in conjunction with running a 20% off sale with no coupon code required - prices were marked down. Zero sales.

Lessons learned:
  1. If Facebook marketing was as easy as throwing together a campaign, spending $60, and making a lot of money, everyone would do it. I'm keeping that in mind because I get down on myself very easily and I'm pretty bummed I made $0 during this campaign + across the 4th of July holiday sale.
  2. Men responded slightly better to the shirtless vs. shirt pictures compared to women, in terms of result rate.
  3. Response rate was lowest amongst those with interest in bodybuilding and related areas. This isn't really surprising.
Next steps:
I am open to advice! Also, if there are additional metrics that would help you advise me, let me know and I'll post them.
I'll be exploring Google Adwords today and aiming to have my


Facebook Ad results are in. Not pretty.

I ran three separate ads from July 2 - July 5 (ended this morning @ 9 am).
  1. Ad Set 1: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in nutraceutical pages.
    1. Reach: 1,657 (79% women, 20% men)
    2. Link clicks: 15 (87% women, 13% men); 0.87% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
  2. Ad Set 2: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in bodybuilding.
    1. Reach: 3,718 (67% men, 33% women)
    2. Link clicks: 18 (68% men, 32% women); 0.44% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
  3. Ad Set 3: ages 25-30, both genders, interest in Crossfit.
    1. Reach: 2,087 (66% men, 33% women)
    2. Link clicks: 20 (65% men, 35% women); 0.87% result rate.
    3. Sales: 0
The copy & CTA for all three was the same. 3 different pictures were used across all the ads.
  1. Picture 1 result rate: 0.67% (4,489 reach, 32 link clicks). Performed best with the Crossfit Ad Set (1.20% result rate).
  2. Picture 2 result rate: 0.64% (2,515 reach, 17 link clicks). Performed best with the Nutraceutical Ad Set (1.94% result rate).
  3. Picture 3 result rate: 0.52% (751 reach, 4 link clicks) - turns out this was NOT used for Ad Set 2 (bodybuilding).
Here are the 3 pictures used:
Picture 1: [GALLERY=media, 42]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 1 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]
Picture 2: [GALLERY=media, 43]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 2 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]
Picture 3: [GALLERY=media, 44]Facebook Ad Test #1 - Picture 3 by Brewer07 posted Jul 5, 2017 at 12:05 PM[/GALLERY]

This was in conjunction with running a 20% off sale with no coupon code required - prices were marked down. Zero sales.

Lessons learned:
  1. If Facebook marketing was as easy as throwing together a campaign, spending $60, and making a lot of money, everyone would do it. I'm keeping that in mind because I get down on myself very easily and I'm pretty bummed I made $0 during this campaign + across the 4th of July holiday sale.
  2. Men responded slightly better to the shirtless vs. shirt pictures compared to women, in terms of result rate.
  3. Response rate was lowest amongst those with interest in bodybuilding and related areas. This isn't really surprising.
Next steps:
I am open to advice! Also, if there are additional metrics that would help you advise me, let me know and I'll post them.
I'll be exploring Google Adwords today and aiming to have my first campaign up and running.

First off, love what you're doing with this . The industry needs more clean pre workouts that don't have ingredient lists a mile long.

I think the weak point in your ads is the pictures. They are too dark, and don't look professional. Honestly I would find a more ripped model too. You are selling a supplement that allows your customers to reach an aspirational level of fitness- otherwise why bother taking it ?

Keep up the good work and keep hustling!
 

Brewer07

Bronze Contributor
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This will work nicely in your promotional video, it will broaden your target audience to generally everyone who is looking to being healthy, whether by simply eating healthier and incorporating this into their regime for energy and additional health benefits etc.; athletes, who require the additional boost of strength prior to playing/competing in their sports and bodybuilders/powerlifters prior to their workout. - Just a thought. :)

Major congratulations on your journey thus far, you are definitely pushing this huge, and the great thing about it is that it is 100% healthy with no crazy, harmful or harsh ingredients. Keep up the great work.

Thank you for your advice & input! I've got some airport downtime tomorrow & Sunday, I aim to use it to begin scripting/brainstorming the video.

Is it just me or is the testimonial pic for Stuart P. a female?

Yup - that's her name. Don't worry, I did a double-take when I first met her too. :playful:
 

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Brewer07

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Updates:
  1. Surpassed $1500 in sales
  2. Big wins:
    1. Got a shoutout on social media from a fairly big name in the keto space. He "loved Focal Force and is going to mention my company in an email blast this week. This lead to a relatively big spike in traffic and a bump in sales. I'm offering a first order discount code for his followers which will be included in the email. He also referred me to several other big names in the space, all of which have agreed to try out my product.
    2. Shipped my first international orders (one sample, one full product).
    3. I appeared on a podcast a few weeks ago. The host trains numerous clients, and he requested a batch of samples to give out to his clients.
    4. I joined a fundraising effort (Home) with a bunch of independent brands to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Each brand has agreed to donate a portion of each September sale to help Houston rebuild. This is awesome because 1) I've been wanting to get involved in charitable pursuits, and 2) it legitimizes my brand by putting it on the same page with names like TaylorStitch, Myles, SeaVees, etc.
    5. I've got a friend who is close with an IFBB pro who has tentatively agreed to partner up with me. I'm meeting with him soon - I plan on paying him to refer more bodybuilders to work with me as affiliates.
  3. Sticking points:
    1. Generating traffic. Other than the spike in traffic from the shoutout mentioned above, traffic is barely at a trickle. I get boosts from my email list when I post blogs. I need to get SEO hammered down, get my product listed on Google, etc. to start driving more traffic.
    2. Grassroots selling - I've gotten no where with local gyms and with local pharmacies.
    3. Affiliate program - none of my affiliates are generating sales, or really driving any traffic.
    4. Video - I'm slacking on this. To be honest I am discouraged from making it because of point #1 - I don't know how or where to promote it.
All in all September has been a weird month. Lots of ups and downs. Not where I want to be with sales but I am generating momentum and expect an uptick in October with my company/product being promoted by others with large audiences.
 

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MidwestLandlord

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I second everything @Andy Black said in his epic comment above.

Here are my random thoughts, hopefully they help.

Me: 35 years old, male, lifter (NOT a body builder), runner, outdoor enthusiast with a high income.

I would not buy this product from you. I love the idea of it, but your site would not convince me to buy.

1) Who is this targeted at? Who are you selling to? Women? Young men? Middle-aged men like me? Hipsters? Crossfitters? Bodybuilders? Your thread here makes me want to buy, your website does not

2) The "spin the wheel" pop-up would of made me bounce instantly if you weren't a member of this forum

3) The "Billy Bob in Florida just bought this" pop-ups are annoying, and shows a girl's face with male names

4) Why is this "girl holding the bottle and smiling" everywhere it seems? She's cute, sure (have her ditch the engagement ring if you are using sex to sell this). But again, who is this product selling to? Women?

5) I wouldn't buy when you only have one product, without some sort of social proof seen elsewhere

6) The price is OK. I wouldn't even flinch paying $39.99 for it. But NOT because of the website, only because of your thread here

7) I hate ginger

8) I would never see a product like this from any bodybuilding related marketing. You couldn't pay me enough to go to bodybuilding dot com. I would see this type of thing on male self-improvement influencers though. (Aaron Marino comes to mind for sure. And if he recommended it, I would buy it...even though I hate ginger)

9) Your cup in the "gear" section is $25 even. You did good on the $39.99 for the supplement, why the odd price on the cup? ($24.99? $19.99? $24?)

10) Low caffeine is a big selling point for me. (adrenal fatigue sucks)

TL;DR

I would buy this, as it hits on pain points I have ran into with other pre-workouts. BUT, I would have to be sold on it through better copy, better pics, social proof, or mainstream availability (If I saw it in Target, I'd probably buy)

I read this whole thread before going to your site.

Boom! Yoga pants!

Am I in the right place?

Amazing progress, but learn to sell it.
 

Andy Black

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I just came off a "quick" call with @Brewer07 where we were going to check out the competition on AdWords.

Part 1 of the call is below, where we discuss this progress thread, how he's currently making sales, and how he may scale it. (@MidwestLandlord gets a mention too.)


Part 2 of the call is a video where we do keyword and competitor research.
We've dropped that on the inside of the forum:

 
Last edited:

Brewer07

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BF/CM Review

Goal: $500 in revenue
Our offer: 2 bottles of Focal Force Pre-workout for $50 (regular price: $39.99 per bottle)
Reasoning: this was targeted at existing customers. I highly doubted any new customer would purchase 2 bottles before ever trying the product. Was I correct? Keep reading..

Advertising methods:
  • Email – via Mailchimp
    • Friday AM
    • Monday PM
  • FB ads
    • One targeted towards men, 24-29
    • One targeted towards women, 24-29
    • Remarketing ads targeting past website visitors who left without making a purchase
  • Social media
    • IG business account
      • Post announcing sale
      • #SmallBusinessSaturday post - told my story (why I started business, etc)
      • Monday post
    • FB business account
      • shared #SmallBusinessSaturday story
    • FB personal account
      • shared #SmallBusinessSaturday story
  • Word of mouth
    • Reaching out to existing customers

Results:

$1,050 in revenue. (Had another repeat customer purchase 2 bottles at regular price early this AM, even after sale ended and discount didn’t work. So, technically, $1,129.98)

What worked:
  • Word of mouth and reaching out to existing customers
    • $600 in revenue came from existing customers that were contacted personally about the BF/CM deal.
    • $150 in revenue came from customers who had recently ordered a free sample – we followed up and personally suggested they check out our BF/CM special
  • FB Remarketing ads
    • Stats from Ad Manager:
      • Impressions: 793
      • Reach: 392
      • Link clicks: 30
      • Purchases: 11
  • I am pretty confident most of these “purchases” are people ordering a free sample. At the rate we’re converting samples to purchases, I’m very happy with our performance here.
What needs improvement:
  • FB ads (non-remarketing)
    • To be honest…I knew these were going to bomb. The ads were horrible. The audience selection was shitty. I went ahead and let my business partner run them anyway to prove a point
  • Email via Mailchimp
    • Friday AM email stats:
      • 22.9% open rate
      • $50 revenue (1 order) – repeat customer, personal friend of mine
    • Monday PM email stats:
      • 22.7% open rate
      • $50 revenue (1 order) – we hounded this customer outside this campaign as well.
    • Our open rate has been dropping as our list grows. I’ve noted several times here I’m not super confident in my copywriting abilities – lots of room for growth here.
  • Google Adwords Remarketing
    • 0% CTR Fri – Mon. Woof.
    • 1.49% CTR overall leaves a lot of room for improvement.
Closing Thoughts

My first BF/CM was f*ckING AWESOME.
  1. We DOUBLED our revenue goal. This was driven primarily by repeat customers which is a huge confidence boost.
  2. We got experience running FB ads and learned some lessons.
  3. I had a ton of fun hustling all weekend. I’m still riding a high from it.
  4. We've now had back-to-back record-setting months in terms of revenue.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped in to give advice - it really means a ton to me, and has helped more than you could possibly know. I'll continue to provide updates as I implement your suggestions.
 

susty

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1. They are not converting as well as I want them to.
2. The majority of people who receive a free sample do not reply to my follow-up emails seeking feedback. I email each customer 3 times seeking feedback.

I'm selling a product in a somewhat similar industry (think meal replacements, healthy snacks etc.), I faced the same issue for free samples.

To give you more context: I ran a FB ad, offering my target market a free sample in exchange for their email, address, mobile contact and honest feedback on the product. I got 70 leads over a very short period. I mailed out samples to 35 of these leads, along with handwritten messages and a discount code. I only got one sale on a small ticket item and feedback from about 5-6 other people. I think free samples work well when you have a physical booth/store and a face to face follow up with the customer, but not online.

I'll share with you my outreach efforts besides just FB and google marketing. Most of these efforts are at a fetal stage, so it's too soon to gauge whether they're working. I'm just sharing them with you so that you can spin-off some new ideas and keep going. Here's a short list:

1. Flyer distribution (in places where your customer will be at) - I'm just getting the hang of proper flyer design, I'll keep you posted on whether this works. For now, even with shitty flyer designs on normal A4 printing paper, it seems to be working alright (about 1-2% of recipients inquire about the product).

2. Influencer marketing on instagram - About 5 out of the 100+ micro influencers I contacted agreed to do a review in exchange for a free sample. I paid one high profile influencer some money to consistently post about the product on instagram over a few months and leave a detailed blog review. I'll be mailing out the samples this week, I'll let you know what my ROIs are for this. I have a feeling this should work out well for me, because my target market is very small and tight knit. Getting trusted 'insiders' in on the product should help a lot with credibility.

3. Reddit - Neither running ads nor posting organically on reddit worked for me. Of all the forums, I got the most flak on reddit. People were generally very skeptical, even when I kept self-promotion to a minimum in my organic posts. You should give it a shot anyway. There are very little places on the internet where you get easy access to a community of customers organized neatly into sub-reddits, actively discussing things that tie up very closely to your start-up.

4. Facebook groups - I took a similar approach to my FB/insta ads for these posts; I offered free samples in exchange for the customer's information and feedback. Although I didn't get any sales from this, some of the most valuable feedback on the product, website etc was from here.

5. Online 3rd party marketplaces (anything else but Amazon) - I'm in the process of listing the product on 3rd party marketplaces that are smaller, but also less competitive than amazon. Some of these marketplaces have more qualified traffic for my product. I'll post an update here if this works.

6. Pop-up booths - I've signed up for a couple of pop-up booths next month. Because my product appeals best to a niche market, I can't bank entirely on walk-in customers for sales. Many of the ads I'll be running from now will be to raise awareness and channel my target customers to the pop-up booth; I think I'll be able to do a much better job selling when the customer is in front of me.

7. Offline distributors - I've contacted about 50 small shops to carry the product on consignment terms with a 30-40% cut. 3 have tentatively agreed. Again, I have no idea if this will bring any notable revenue, but any sort of expansion to offline channels should be worth a shot.

8. Word of mouth - This has been the most effective approach for me. When I started the company, I reached out to my network and asked them to put me in touch with people who would find the product useful. Every person I followed up diligently with not only bought the product, but also referred another hot lead. I always hear conflicting advice on this matter, but I'll let you be the judge. Although I've stopped relying on first degree connections, I make sure I incorporate word of mouth marketing in my current outreach efforts, just because of how effective it is. For example, when I ship out a new order, I make sure I include a unique referral code with the customer's name, which entitles both the customer and up to 2 of their friends/family to 20% off their first order.


Before I wish you well, I'd just like to add that you should absolutely validate features with customers when you're building a differentiated product. I've pivoted my product about 5 times now, I would've saved myself a lot of pain if I just went to the market and validated a feature before building it; I wouldn't have added differentiating features that the market didn't care about. In your case, you could A/B test ads with your current selling point and other variations that are the industry norms (e.g. 'Energize your workouts with zero crash, jitters, or racing heartbeat' VS 'the most potent pre-workout formulation in the market). If the industry norms are significantly outperforming your main features/selling points, you know you've built something that people don't really care for. Some parts of feature validation can be very counter-intuitive. For example, I realized that people don't care much for the 'all-natural', 'organic' and 'non-GMO' labels in my niche only after validating them with the market, not by reasoning or reading papers on forrester.


I'm more than happy to share with you my startup in private. We're doing somewhat similar things and we're halfway across the world from each other, so it would be great if we can pool ideas and work together. All the best and keep at it!
 
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W. Sabria

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Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback! And no need to apologize, I'm not offended re: packaging and logo. I'd be offended if you weren't honest.

Are there specifics about the logo/packaging you don't like? Or is it just the overall impression leave you unimpressed?

I commend you for being so open to feedback -- not just mine but that of this entire forum. I was reluctant to step into the proverbial kitchen and tell you how to cook the steak, but I didn't see much talk about branding and this is something I believe in wholeheartedly. Having worked in the advertising industry for over two decades, I can tell you that consumer engagement must begin with trust. Your brand identity, product packaging and marketing materials many times make up the first impression with consumers. In your instance, while your product portfolio is limited to two SKUs, you have a few different stories to tell in your presentation: 1) your brand story (Sanctus Nutrition), and 2) your product story (Focal Force). In your case you want the brand to look established, professional, reliable and credible (based on science, with a particular mission, vision and values) while you want your product to be exciting, emotionally compelling (delivering a promise of specific benefits).

When I look at your website, here is what I see:

Logo - font is hard to read, kerning is very tight and does not look like an established brand.

Packaging - i like the product name but typography looks generic, militaristic and overall too masculine. Also, it is very copy heavy.

Colors - beyond the yellow and black, additional color(s) could be added to make more dynamic. (although I can appreciate that more colors on the label might have additional cost implications)

Website - move away from traditional looking serif fonts throughout. Go with something more modern looking.

While most consultants are notorious for telling you what to do vs. how to do it, I wanted to make sure you got your money's worth in my response. I spent 20 minutes playing around in Photoshop, imagining what I would do if I was tasked with a brand/packaging redesign. I've attached a comp of where I landed.

I simplified your logo and made it look a bit more medical in appearance. I gave more prominence and energy to the product name and simplified the supporting copy. I also numbered it with "1" to illustrate the sequence of the product consumption (as you build out your product line, you can add "2," "3," etc. And lastly, I added some a color gradient background with abstracted gym imagery to add more excitement and context.

I hope you like it. But I will not be offended either, if you don't. Know that you are free to take what you like and use it/whatever elements you feel suit you best. Best of luck!

focalforce.png
 

Argue

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@Brewer07,

When I think about Sanctus, this is what I have in mind.

ofwwl8L.png

I drank 2 Becks and came up with this mock up.

I agree with everyone else that you should use sans-serif. I suggest Poppins.

--> Link: Google Fonts

Pros:
  • Modern
  • Loads quick
  • Looks amazing and clean
  • FREE
Personally, I place product to the left. Copy aligned to the right. Button beneath copy. Converts well.

hMDqDtn.jpg


Fix your copy. Remove the check emoji. Use a sans-serif font. Do not align center. Replace logo. Add color to button. Remove girl working out. Home page needs to showcase the bottle.

Last, I do like @W. Sabria mock up. However, reminds me of this shirt.

02iTKOz.png
 
Last edited:

Waspy

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That product page is more like an article. I would cut that right down to the core benefits of using your product. IF they want more info after that? They can research it (hopefully on your website).

Ads, in my opinion, should follow through to a page entirely relevant to the ad itself.

If I see an ad which says "Get pumped with XYZ pre-workout" I want to be taken to the page with that product and a big old buy button. I wanna get pumped!
 

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