We asked the members of the 2020 Female Founders 100 for their best advice about winning and thrilling customers. These are the highlights.
Tata Harper Skincare
You should know who you’re targeting even before you start your company. What values does a customer have that would make them want my product? What problem am I solving for them? What needs are not met? As soon as you understand those things, it’s vital you’re in every place your customer will be.
From [former J.Crew CEO] Mickey Drexler, I learned uncompromising dedication to the product. From [Bonobos founder] Andy Dunn, I learned an obsession with the customer. Ayr combines those two ideas. You want excellent product delivered in a frictionless, seamless way.
the joy, laughter, and happiness, and allow that to guide you. I remember working on our first product, sitting with our crew of people, and getting excited and laughing about it. Once you find the joy, finding the customers comes easily.
Do not look to your customers to design your solutions. Look to them to define the problems. Our customers did not want a mirror that streamed workouts; they wanted to work out at home without compromise.
My sales pitch used to be angry, passionate, feminist. It didn’t work too well, because all the buyers are middle-aged men. Now, the sales presentation is about safety and increased productivity. It’s a pitch of empowerment.
We started with individual users. Once we were able to grow with them and develop a great ecosystem for them, we let the clients come to us and tell us what they needed.
Don’t forget the core of who you are and who your customers are. It’s very easy to see so much happening around you that you chase every opportunity and forget to put your core customer first.
The Honest Company
Constantly test from the consumer’s point of view, including your marketing and the ease of doing a transaction. You almost can’t test enough. You’ll never hit perfection, but you’ll hit about 80 percent, and that’s good enough.
Try to do one or two interviews with potential customers every day. That will change the way you think about your technology, maybe broaden the applications. And conversations with nonscientists will teach you to communicate in simple terms and summarize what’s important.
Last May, we had a come-to-Jesus moment. We wanted to make a statement in response to the abortion bans being put in place. Previously, we had tried not to be overtly political. We made a bra that said “Fuck your laws” on the band. There were some negative responses. But our core customers, our tribe, only fell in love with us more.
Run the World
Customer needs change all the time. Instead of just listening to customer requests, ask them, “Why do you want what you want?”
I want to make sure that the customer feels that I’m making good products and really care that they are getting something that works for them. I’m all about having women feel beautiful and powerful. It’s not that they have a yellow bra, but that how does that yellow bra make them feel?
We made the decision to focus on our best-value customers. It feels a bit risky, because you’re narrowing where you put your marketing spend, but it’s very clarifying.
Just because a marketplace doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean you can’t build it. Look at your business and say, is there a way to be in the same industry but extend it? We started doing custom work and working with brands. Then we started carrying some inventory and selling wholesale, and now we’re in the B2C business, and we’re finding there is real demand there.
Scout & Cellar
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I’ve been nimble and adapted my business hundreds, if not thousands, of times–being willing to listen to my customers as to what I wasn’t providing them and what they needed, and skating to where the puck was going instead of trying to sell them a puck they might not want.
From the November 2020 issue of Inc. Magazine