Episode 34: Charlie Bowes-Lion

I didn’t want to stop recording. Loved what Charlie shared about community building and launching the brand Wild. It was nice to utilise the podcast platform in order to get a brand owner on, who’s brand I’m fascinated by. Charlie shared some nitty gritty tactics him and his co-founder went through to get Wild off to a flying start.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How to build an active community group before launching
  • How to validate your product idea at scale
  • How to utilise a community to understand your customers language and embed that into your future copy
  • What content strategies are driving a huge amount of free traffic
  • How much education plays a part when dealing with a new niche
  • How to treat your customer exceptionally, elating them at every turn

I’ll definitely be having Charlie back on to pester him more on the subscription side to their business, fulfilment, why he’s not on Amazon, communication services, and the importance of data going forwards. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss the release.

Connect with Charlie on LinkedIn here. Go find out about Wild here.

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Click here for the RAW unedited transcript
[0:00:01] George Reid: Welcome to It’s Always Day One. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned Amazon consultant. Each week on the podcast, you’re going to hit industry experts, brand owners on Amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions you should be asking yourself about your Amazon business. Now let’s jump in. Good morning. Good evening, Charlie. I hope you’re doing well. I’m really excited. States have Charlie on from Wild Really kind of found these brand very fascinating brand. As soon as I saw him on the Internet, I think a friend of mine, Charles in Stone, pointed them out on jumps onto them. Because I think what What Charlie and his team has developed is a fantastic product. First and foremost, they’ll get into it, but also the kind of the way that they’re going about my business. I find very interesting, which will also tackle Charlie. Johnny, give us 20 32nd overview about yourself and what you’ve been doing over the last couple of years.

[0:00:56] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yeah, I George. Thanks. Thanks very much for having me. Eso Wild was set up about two years ago now and officially launched April last year are sort of overall mission, I guess, is to remove single use plastic from the bathroom on. We started by launching a natural deodorant product in reusable packaging, so you get a case on Da Refill, which is biodegradable and compostable. Andi I am one of two co founders for the company, and I look after a while, the marketing and tech side of things.

[0:01:36] George Reid: No, it’s well, thank you very much for the very short intro. I think one of the reasons why I jumped onto you guys was just the mentality. What you’re doing here. I love the kind of consumable product I love that you keep. That is, what’s the What’s the case made out off? Just kind of paint a picture for those listening?

[0:01:54] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yes, so the case is made out of aluminum, and we designed it took us about nine months to design, but we designed it to be kind of social. First, uh, concept by which I mean it’s It’s like highly shareable. Hopefully, it looks great. It’s the kind of thing people want to take pictures off and showing their instagram s Oh, that’s that’s aluminum, and obviously there’s a sort of slightly larger upfront cost to buy that. And then the refills themselves are made from bamboo pulp so that they should compost in your kind of garden. He within 6 to 12 months,

[0:02:30] George Reid: they essentially, for those who will probably at some point going Google this whilst listening, they just slot into the animal, um, tube. And then you could have just popped him out. The whole experience looks very enjoyable. I’ve never played in one year being in Australia, but certainly want to have a go. Uh,

[0:02:47] Charlie Bowes-Lion: yeah, exactly. Right. So it Z, once you finish the reef or you can just take it out and the next one in

[0:02:53] George Reid: on where did where did the idea initially come from? What was driving? Did you Did you hear a kind of a murmur, or was it a very kind of big noise and people a big kind of Nishi could see emerging what was kind of driving it? We’re doing a lot of validation during that launch process or

[0:03:11] Charlie Bowes-Lion: yeah, so good question. There was a couple of things that really led us, I guess Thio to the bathroom in particular, and thio having a focus on sustainability. So in terms of me personally. I was previously running a kind of small. I call it like a side hustle company called Climate Cups, which was reusable coffee cups on water bottles on Do. This sort of really took off in a kind of great way, but in a way I wasn’t really prepared for. And it was just became really clear that people really wanted Thio have more sustainable options. On Dis was around the time when they started bringing in kind of charges for plastic bags in supermarkets. So it was all everyone was becoming a little bit Maura, where David Attenborough was starting to dio Blue Planet, Siri’s and starting to focus on plastic waste and climate change on git was in the paper almost on a daily basis at that point. So the consumer was sort of starting. Thio demand a better Siris of choices from from what they were wanting to buy. On a same time, my business partner who was hello fresh they had seen like a huge shift on customer queries from, you know, basically zero people were asking about packaging maybe five or six years ago, Teoh a huge amount off, um, customer queries coming in about, you know, their packaging, how much of it was recyclable or whether it was eager, friendly on dso on. So we we both felt very strongly that sustainability was a really good starting point and we sat down and that’s what we focused on initially, Um, And then from there, we tried to think of the area of the household that really needed, um, the most change. So you know what? What wasn’t happening in terms of innovation, in which department? And it looked like most of the household, including the kitchen. We’re actually getting quite a lot of attention, but the bathroom, um, really wasn’t. And on the thing about the bathroom is most people in their kitchen have, like a recycling bin and a normal been and maybe a calm pastas. Well, but in the bathroom, you typically have won bin and you just chuckle you’re wasting, and if you think awful, the single use plastic in the average bathroom you got shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, deodorant. So on. Um, there’s a huge amount of stuff which just goes directly into your bathroom been and then straight in tow. Probably your your normal rubbish, and I think the stats something like 80 plus percent of off kitchen waste gets recycled, but only less than 50% off bathroom rates gets recycled. And that’s already a 50% off a small percentage that can be recycled. Um, so, yeah, that that’s what led us to the bathroom and then natural deodorant. Specifically, we felt that that bean seem like great success stories over in the US, a couple of companies absolutely nailing it with a very standard kind of natural deodorant that that worked, but in sort of plastic packaging and there wasn’t really anything over in Europe s. So we felt we could kind of take a, you know, some some examples of good formula is try and make them better in terms of the deodorant itself and then create the sustainable packaging and refill methodology that basically made it a product that was good both for your body but also for the planet

[0:07:02] George Reid: that that design pros, you’ve gone filled. I’ll come back to packing a bit because I found the topic quite fascinating. If you’re talking about the iterations you’re going through with the actual product, what were you doing into himself? Getting in prospects, Hands or potential customers. Hands what? Your target market hands as soon as possible. Were you doing that to create a feedback loop to help determine what you wanted? What, you didn’t want what they wanted, what they didn’t want? Was that something you were doing? What did that look like?

[0:07:34] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yes. So this is like a huge advantage off being a e commerce d two c company. We we Obviously, as you mentioned, we have these, um, social groups that we set up that you know, we’ve got our sort of usual instagram and our usual Facebook groups, and they’ve got tons follows. We also have ah v i p customer group, which, as well, over 1000 sort of customers in at night on bond we every single stage of everything we’ve done from developing the packaging, even Thio kind of choosing the design we put We put that out to customers to see what they want. So you know, every cent we create every color case we create the original design of the of the of the cases. They all went into those groups and we asked people thio do a poll. Um, people are amazingly like responsive in our in our VIPs group, for example, I think, you know, if we put a pole like we get 23 400 answers within half an hour, if not mawr on but kind of direct feedback, I guess from customers is so valuable because we instantly find out what issues are. Or if people love something we know we know we can like, document that or whatever it is. Whatever we want to know or need to know, we find out instantly, whereas if you, if you’re not D to see, obviously don’t have that direct connection to the customer and maybe you do sort of customer groups of 12 people, but it’s not. There’s nothing like the sort of volume of data we can get. So, yeah, when we when we originally were designing the case, I think we had six different designs. All that looked completely different. Onda. We put that out into this group and we just got people to vote on it and there was a clear winner and and that’s what we went with

[0:09:32] George Reid: on How did you go about so like day one, you’re still doing the designs. What were you doing then? To create that group? How did you go about going right? We haven’t. We’ve got no idea at this stage, right? We want to get a good design. So we need to get some people who are in our target inside of the pipe group. What? What did that process look like? How are you approaching of you running Facebook ads? Was it word of mouth? Was it cold? Emailing? What was it?

[0:10:01] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yeah. So I guess there’s a couple of different elements to this. So we originally launched, like a no off the shelf test product because we needed to prove, um, Thio at the time, some slightly skeptical investors that this idea had legs. And, you know, there was there was basically a gap in the market for us to come in with with this idea. So we launched has brought out we sold about ВЈ100,000 worth of it. Onda kind of proved our point, But in doing that, we obviously created up a bit of an early seed audience that most of what most of whom are kind of still with us today on Ben, Originally, very originally, we launched the idea on a Kickstarter on. Be honest, The Kickstarter wasn’t an overwhelming success. Like way got the money we wanted, but it was sort of a small amount, and we probably didn’t it very well. Um but it did mean that we had this, like, initial group of maybe 6, 700 backers who then wanted to follow us on socials Onda from there, we then did a lot of organic marketing. So, you know, you could spend tons of money off them, paid ads and getting traffic, and we could have built up following that way. But it’s expensive. So what we did, we went joins every Facebook group, every Twitter conversation, every Cora question, every reddit thread. Um, whatever it waas we needed to do or confined moms that you know, all these things that where people were interested in this kind of thing. And we explained what we were doing, why we were doing it and what we wanted to achieve. Andi, I guess we just held conversations in In this case, we probably must have joined 500 Facebook groups. There’s a lot out there, you know, you can start going local like in terms of London plastic waste Brixton or something like There’s there’s there’s tons and tons of groups like that. So that’s that started to build up our own social groups quite considerably. And, you know, we certainly had several 1000 I guess, before we even launched product. And that was the original audience that we tested ideas on and and got that original feedback from

[0:12:33] George Reid: I Love That stretches a whole a grunt work. Some of that. The more menial tasks where you go. We’re going through every possible avenue on where you interacting Lett’s go down into the Facebook groups, for argument’s sake. We sat you during the role. Where you outsourcing that to a V A of sort Where you how, Then, on top of that, how you interacted? Was it wild interacting? Or is that you as an individual

[0:13:01] Charlie Bowes-Lion: at both? So way we did it in House set was myself, and at the time I think we had two employees on by co founder Andre Way would do a sort of we called it para on something which I unfortunately had from my my head hunting days. But it’s basically like sales almost see, we just for a now we went out. We absolutely tried to smash the groups. We post as while we post this ourselves. We just engage with people. So people would you know, some people criticize some people would love it. Some people would ask questions and whatever, whatever was asked, we would reply and just try and generally get the conversation flowing on. Bit’s no, as you say, like it definitely is grunt work like it’s not an easy task. And we did this, Um, in a period of time when we obviously weren’t selling anything because we haven’t launched our product yet on DWI did it for a while on dit just kind of worked on. Basically, what happens is that probably four out of five groups do very, very little, indeed. But then you get one group that suddenly, you know, you might get 60 people liking and commenting, and some of them then come and follow you and later become customers. So in a way, it was like a preparation for a pre sale, almost as well as a starting to build up our community

[0:14:31] George Reid: on what thistle is. Well, validation for you going. We want as much validations we could possibly get that this products of winner, obviously pre doing that 100 k off the shelf product, which did validate quite substantially. But was this additional validation or

[0:14:48] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yeah, I guess we did it at different stages when we when we very first started to grow audience that it was validation. But, you know, it’s still it was still fairly small levels of people say it wasn’t like, Oh, it’s gonna work because 100 people have followed us today. Um, I think later on, when we were still doing it between the kind of off the shelf launching and our our own product launch in April, it was MAWR. It was more like trying to create some awareness and noise on an organic level. And, you know, there’s so many channels now that you could do paid marketing over. People don’t really think of organic marketing outside of like S E O and Link building. But there’s there’s still a huge amount that could be gained from, you know, creating interest in in different categories. And, you know, this season I’ve done it before, even on channels like Google Plus which that doesn’t exist really anymore. But was seen as a bit of a failure. But still there were huge audiences of like 100,000 people in various niche subject matters that, you know, you could imagine if if, if there’s 100,000 people in a group that’s titled, um, natural beauty or sustainable beauty, those people are gonna be pretty interested in something that’s like directly targeted at them. So it’s just a case of doing some research and being a bit patient and obviously not being spammy or, you know, you’ve got to put the evidence you’ve got to engage with people you’ve got. Thio do it in a way that’s very genuine, So not like just trying to get people to click through Thio your own group or whatever it is. It’s got to be conversational Andi without really having an ask. And then if you do a good job, people will come anyway.

[0:16:39] George Reid: Scaling up to where you are now with the wild type group, which I think is very well managed, s a lot of the time you’re still asking them poles quite regularly. What are the what are the kind of core things you are looking to obtain from that group? And how powerful do you think it is for your future growth?

[0:17:00] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Um, it’s I think it’s incredibly powerful. I don’t know how many people are in it now. I think it’s around. Maybe 1500 or something. Um, it says you have to request the joint. So you know you have tow basically be accepted. Um, it Z only a sort of positive platform. So it’s not like a place to go and complain about staff. We have really great customer service team for that. And what it’s really used for is, um, twofold. Firstly, insights on our behalf. But secondly, it’s a just a chance for us to like delight customers and go that extra mile and provide, um, the occasional, you know, exceptional bit of service. So, for example, maybe, um, I don’t want to give away too much about what we’re about to do for Valentine’s Day, but maybe maybe a Christmas. We sent a whole lot of them Christmas cards and some of them like a free refill, just to sort of say, thanks for being a supporter. Or maybe it’s that we offer them an exclusive kind of this guy or maybe exclusive access to a product 24 hours before we release it elsewhere. So there’s like benefit for them, and they hopefully feel like we care about them and a sort of give it tryingto make it worth their while being part of our sort of little V I p community on. Then on the flip side, they love to talk about it, and way had this great thing. In October, we released a toffee apple sent which you may think so. I’m strike slightly strange and it probably WAAS, but people absolutely loved it and it literally sold out in hours on, we have to make more and again that then sold out and as, um, Andi was a limited edition, so we don’t We stopped selling it, and we’ll probably bring it back next Halloween. But people were so desperate toe try and get their hands on some. They were started, like trading for it in the group when it was almost came like a live marketplace. It was it was amazing. But yeah, and then and then, you know, people love to feel, I guess a part of the brand and feel feel like they’ve had a direct decision in in what we’re making, and that’s a pretty amazing thing. If you think there’s 1000 people like that who you know, go and vote on something and then two months later we have created what they voted on on. It’s not because we were like, we want to create this It was literally because they suggested it. So certainly was sense. We, um we asked him the other day what, what, what sense they wanted to see. And there’s some absolutely bizarre suggestions. And I think, but by a country mile lemon meringue came like talk, which is just something we never, ever would have thought off and probably something that, personally, I wouldn’t well. But obviously that some people do want Thio and, you know, we’re probably going to make that night and, uh, it’s yeah, it’s just it’s just hugely useful for us. Thio not just going like base. Our business decisions off what we think but also have have a community of people who can inform us about what they actually want, and then we can interpret that on bring it to reality.

[0:20:22] George Reid: Yeah, I completely agree with everything. You said that like I’m actually part of the group and felt that be beneficial anyway. And I study kind of these sorts of groups on a regular basis. I think the activity I’m seeing inside is second to none. Any listeners were evolved, obviously want Go buy some wild deodorant because it’s a good product. But to like, just if you’re studying and looking toe, understand a benefit to the community. If Charlie hasn’t done a good enough job already of explaining it, go inside and have a look as to why on be just the the whole kind of vibe in It’s just fantastic, like you put a thing up today, 16 hours ago. Which kind of case with Wild make next and you have hundreds of votes very, very quickly on that just gives you such validation. And then again, that some things I love about the toppy apple one does not simply let go of toppy apple, and it’s got like someone spooning out the file drops of their toppy apple, which is great, like huge engagement on there because you’ve got something like 8% of people have liked it to your appear. You’re constantly front of mind your community vibe is brilliant. And then the final piece I like that you’ve done recently is how would you describe it to a friend? And my take on this was getting an understanding of the language that people use to describe your type of product and then incorporating that language into your messaging at some point, Your copy. What was your kind of mentality behind that?

[0:21:49] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yeah, that that’s going on. We wanted to understand. It was it was lectures, he said. It’s from a copy perspective. So we wanted to understand, Um, what kind of copy resonated with people and how people viewed us as a company? And, um, if we’ve got the wrong answer, we obviously would have had Thio try and change how we get our messaging across. But I think we got the right answer, which is, um, that were a natural, sustainable product that really works on bond. It’s just yeah, sometimes it’s about validation, and sometimes it’s about helping us to articulate ourselves in the best way, because for a product like us is, it can be quite difficult because we’re not. It’s not like we we’ve come into a market and we’re sort of stealing a share. We’re really creating the market from scratch. Were pretty much a first mover on bond. With that comes a lot of education. So Onda problem is, there’s there’s like education, about a lot of different things. Is education about what a natural deodorant is? How does it work? Like what? What kind of amount of time does it take for it to start working all these sort of things? And then there’s education about sustainability, like Why is it a refill? What can you do with the packaging? How do we cut out waste all that kind of stuff? And then on top of that, there’s a stigma from, you know, kindness. Um, niche natural deodorants from the last sort of 20 years that haven’t really worked for people because they haven’t been very good. And luckily for us, the sort of science and technology has come on a long way in the last couple of years. But being able to convince people to give it a go s so that they can see for themselves that actually it really does work, and it’s gonna work as well as your antiperspirant. And whilst there’s no element of salt in it, and it’s not. It’s not an antiperspirant, and it technically doesn’t stop you sweating. In that sense, there are ingredients in it that can reduce your sweat or, you know, some moisture out of the air on their all natural ingredients. And you know, the health of your skin And, um, yeah, just a Z. You could see I could go on that. There’s a lot of different learning points that way have to try and get across and trying to do that in a phrase concisely is difficult. So that’s why I kind of copy validation like like the like the question you just mentioned. It is really helpful

[0:24:23] George Reid: on, and it’s time and I’m a massively agree with the industry. And I worked with a natural deodorant person about two years ago. One of the challenges they faced waas education on the product. And if you’re not educating the product, particularly when it comes to Amazon, it invites negativity on those negative reviews. Convey be really kneecapping the business eso. By education of through education, you can ensure more positive experience now, with that being said, one of twist a little bit onto content, massively blowing out my 20 minute time cap. I’m trying to keep these days, but it’s good stuff. So how important? Waas and is content for you right now, one of the sort of things you’re looking to tick off with the different types of content available. So give you an example. When I think of images, I’m thinking infographics. I’m thinking lifestyle. I’m thinking product shots. I’m thinking shots where they’ve got pretty backgrounds. I’m thinking about all these different kinds of things. If I’m looking to create some content that someone or advise on content, what are you thinking from your side on the content piece?

[0:25:33] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yeah, so there’s a Z. Imagine there’s different types of content which have different purposes. So in terms of the sort of mawr imagery, it’s for us. It’s, um, telling Ah, a bit of a brand story on bat brand story for us is essentially it’s like we have a cornerstone rooted and sustainability and everything. We do need to come back to that, but outside of that, our brand name is wild, and we take that literally in both meanings of the words. So you know, within nature, natural settings, um, doing stuff outside, allow that kind of stuff and then also Wilder’s in a little bit, kind of crazy and pushing boundaries and very colorful and trying to fight to do things that maybe other brands wouldn’t do or haven’t done. And this is like a process where we definitely haven’t Excuse me. We haven’t, like got there yet. We’re still on our way toe developing the brand to where we want it to be. Um, but that’s the kind of vision s Oh, that’s the kind of imagery side of things. And then, obviously, on the website, you know your imagery. Is there really a ZA conversion toe Attn Least on the home page? You want to get people to buy on. To do that, you have to show them something that they want to buy. So, um, it’s it’s very much conversion based, but outside of that, the stuff that becomes maybe a little bit more fluffy, there’s There’s like Way published a block. Probably once every couple of weeks on each blogged might tackle a subject. So, you know, why should you switch to natural deodorant or what do we How have we made our patrons sustainable or what’s our charity partnership with on a mission like on how many trees that we planted, that kind of stuff or it might be, You know, here are our top five recommendations for sustainable brands that you should check out this year s Oel, that kind of content. And while stike I think that sort of thing could get a bit forgotten because in a company that’s sort of just selling product. It seems like a bit of an afterthought. And you’re like, Oh, many people reading that, I don’t know, But, um, shop if I do this great thing where they give you some stats, um, on on your sort of articles and blog’s. And we’re constantly in the top 1% of most read blog’s on for Shopify sites on, they get literally get thousands of views. And when people come on to the website, um, they’re very, very often go on to to read at least one of the blog’s, if not mawr, on DNA. Normally, it’s the education pieces so often, Why does the natural, diligent work or, you know, learning more about our sustainability credentials? Andi, I think those, um, types of thing really helped to push up your conversion rate because it it that that is education of the market. If they spend, you know four minutes reading for 500 words on really understanding what a natural decision is and why it’s beneficial for you. Um, then they’re much more likely to go on and buy and and we see that through our site conversion rate like it’s it’s considerably higher than pretty much anyone in the market, but certainly higher than most people on guy think that comes from content and our ability to successfully educate. But as I said, there’s way more we could be doing, and a lot of it at this stage becomes about the resource that we have, and I’m much time we have to create stuff, but you could go much further than we have, and we hope to be able Thio and I think if you do a really good job of off content, both imagery on sort of blog’s and copy Um, if you know that, then then it’s It’s unbelievably valuable and even if you get an extra 1% converting on your website because of it at scale that contained in tow, kind of millions of parents,

[0:29:49] George Reid: particularly when you start getting into the conversation of our lifetime value and a lot of your products around subscription. But I fear if we did into that topic, we could be here for another 40 minutes. So what happened? Yes, is we put a pin in it now. But, Charlie, I’d love to have you back on in the future for a follow up. Because I know there’s lots of things left on the table that I would like to dig into mawr really like your mentality. And you shared Cem Cem Brilliant value there. But thanks for the 30 minutes today. I really appreciate it. Hopefully, it’s enjoyable for you would love to have you back. So

[0:30:23] Charlie Bowes-Lion: thanks very much for having me. And yeah, pleasure. Pleasure toe. Come on,

[0:30:27] George Reid: Charlie, Have you got that?

[0:30:28] Charlie Bowes-Lion: Yes.

[0:30:29] George Reid: Hey, guys, just a quick one. If you are enjoying the podcast on either have some actionable next steps or new ideas, I’d really appreciate if you could one subscribe to the show and leave us a review. Thes are really, really important to us. As you probably know, being in the Amazon world, Aunt to if you’re looking for additional support with your brand head over to the website. It’s always day one dot co dot UK. We’ve got links to other resource is as often our guys speak soon.

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