Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Leslie's 5 Big Growth Tips from the "Bare" Billionaire

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Leslie Blodgett, CEO of the billion dollar cosmetic empire Bare Escentuals, at our monthly NAWBO San Francisco dinner series and hearing her journey about how she grew the business, grew a son, kept her marriage intact and eventually sold the company for $1.7 billion. Yes, BILLION with a B!! 

 Of course I was thinking about all of you the entire time and made sure to note her biggest take-ways, so here are the best golden nuggets she shared to grow (and sell!) the business of your dreams: 

1. Be a rebel. 
Bare Escentuals’ primary product was a mineral based foundation to make the skin look smooth and even. At the time, popular foundations were liquid based, cakey and thick. Her product was a loose powder, light and silky. Even though her product was superior in many ways, the market was used to liquid and when she was told it would never sell, her inner rebel told her to keep going… all the way to the bank! She also bucked conventional wisdom when she started selling her products on QVC and infomercials instead of at cosmetic counters. Powdered foundation sold over TV where you can’t even test it? You betcha! In fact,a year's worth of in-store sales in less than an 1 hour, and the rest is history! 

2. Let the community build it. 
Once the company started getting traction with sales, Leslie started spending time in online forums where customers were talking about the products (think old school Facebook). She would literally stay up all night answering questions, getting feedback and new product ideas. Over time, the forums and message boards became so integral, she started naming products after top contributors or adding items based directly from their suggestions. Talk about crowdsourcing! At Bare Escentuals, customers had a real voice in creating products that they wanted and loved, and ultimately became raving fans, evangelists and loyal buyers of the everything the brand offered. 

3. Create a BFF experience. 
Once the online community had taken on a life of its own, she decided it was time to take the relationships offline and so they went on Lady Gaga’s tour bus (literally, it was Lady Gaga’s she said!) all around the country meeting their online community in person. It created an amazing experience for everyone involved resulting in what she called the “BFF experience”, when all of your customers feel like BFFs (best friends forever) of the company and each other. Pretty darn awesome. 

4. Distribution channels sell stuff faster. 
As I shared earlier, selling on QVC was her real tipping point. Bare Escentuals was a small bath and body company with 6 stores in 1994, and now has over 6,500 distribution channels – their own stores, retailers, and online – which are in essence thousands of salespeople offering their products 24/7. To grow big, you have to have multiple distribution channels – not just your own website. Hmm, think about it. Where else can you offer your products and services? 

5. Focus more on doing than planning. 
Leslie admits that now when people ask her for advice, she always tells them that they need a great plan, but confessed to us that she actually never did! She said that she was just passionately and tirelessly focused on DOING. Doing sales calls, doing customer interviews, doing product development. And as much as I love strategic planning, I have to agree! DOING, or executing, almost always trumps planning as long as you at least have a clear vision about why you are doing all that doing!

The entire evening was beyond amazing, but hands down, my favorite A Ha moment was definitely about letting the community build it. As an expert, there can be a lot of pressure to always create the right content or have the best answer, when sometimes, it’s just as valuable or even more valuable to listen and source ideas from your community – aka “there’s wisdom in the group”. 

Just this week I was on a call with a member of my Accelerate! online training and community for women entrepreneurs, and she was asking for my feedback on a book that she is thinking about writing. I was happy to share my personal experience and then at some point it dawned on me to ask her if she would like me a to create a new training module about how to write and self-publish a non-fiction book that becomes an Amazon bestseller, and she responded, "absolutely!" Each month I add 4 new modules (foundation, marketing, sales and money), so adding to the existing 25 modules with exactly what the community wants makes my heart sing! 

In fact, I would love to get you involved too! Post in the comments below the subject you would like me to create a module around (each 15 minute intensive module has an ebook, audio and printable download), and I will select the most popular request, create it for August, and share it with all of you as my gift! Also be sure to share your inner rebel stories like Leslie Blodgett’s below to get everyone fired up and on their billion dollar path (why not you too?!?), along with the module you want to see, and I can’t wait to create it for you! 

As always, until next time...

Be Profitable & Be WELL! 

 XO, jgw

P.S. This Friday is the last day to sign up for SUMMER SUCCESS: Designed, Developed & Done, my private and customized program to make sure you have both a fun AND productive summer, and finish that pressing product, workshop, book or new business that you want to do but need someone to help you get it out of your head and into the world! Yay! To learn more and even watch the video again, click here.  
Friday is it, so if you’re on the fence… JUMP! And I’ll always be there to catch you! xoxo

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