How to grow your consumer brand with more sales – faster and make your company and its products more appealing to consumers and retailers, all with less risk.

Secrets I’ve learned from selling 1 company, building another 5, and crashing 2

My name is Ed Soehnel – pronounced “SONEL”

I employ uncommonly used methods to growing a consumer brand that can lead to more sales – faster – and can make a company and its products more appealing to consumers and retailers, with less risk.

I am a growth expert in consumer products and services. Over the years, the companies I have worked for has led to my selling 1 company, building another 5, but also crashing 2. I have worked with countless others in a consulting, advising or mentoring capacity.

Since 2008, my record is startup to $50 million and 32,000 retail outlets in 2.5 years. A second company I worked with we went from startup to $25 million in revenue in 2-years, and a third company went from startup to $100 million in revenue in 18-months.

My experience and mistakes over the years has allowed me to put together a better approach for growing consumer brands and launching products.

I use my approach in companies I work for, consult to and advise.  I also teach my approach to startups in venture capital funded accelerator programs.  And, I use my growth approach in a consumer brand that I co-own.

Who Can Use My Approach?

Anyone, from startups to established brands doing 9-figures in annual sales:

  • If you have an idea for a consumer brand and you want to bring it to market, my approach will help you;
  • If you are an existing consumer brand selling $100 mm a year (or more), my approach will help you.

What is The Traditional Approach to Consumer Product Brand Growth That Does Not Work As Well?

Most brands I see grow by developing a product, then pushing into retail or selling through other resellers, with maybe some direct-to-consumer online sales mixed in. This is a riskier approach that does not take advantage of modern tools available to help prove a product can sell – also called achieving product-market fit.

Brands are often undifferentiated and don’t capture consumer’s attention.  As a result, they are slow-growers, making them mediocre investments and amplifying the risk of failure from competitive pressures or the founder’s simply running out of cash and enthusiasm.

Here’s some of the common mistakes I see all the time from startup and established brands.

I have a product prototype and my family, friends and strangers I ask love it. I should bring this idea or product to market. Sure, I’ll make mistakes, but I will learn as I go. It will be fun!

Wrong! That might be a trap into thinking an idea solves a problem or need in the marketplace that may not exist. My approach helps you screen that out so you don’t waste time, money, and efforts on a bad idea. My approach will even help you refine the idea or help you find an even better one.

Our R&D and marketing have done the research and invested the capital to come out with a new and improved product, we’ve produced the packaging and inventory, and its going into sales channels. We’re finally on the road to seeing increased revenue!

Wrong! It will be 6-months – but it’s usually longer – before you know if this product just meets ROI requirements, let alone start adding meaningful net income to your company. That’s a lot of executive mind-share, staff time and money for a wait and see.

My approach will tell you far earlier, with a lot less investment, and with limited brand distortion, whether you have a winner, and my approach will tell you the degree of success you are likely to encounter, so you can plan your growth strategy with more certainty.

I’ve been at this for 3-years, now! I am barely profitable and that is on good months! I cannot live off the business and the grind has worn me out. Why did I get into this?

My approach helps you figure out ahead of time the right path to take so that the grind does not wear you down. With my approach, you’ll be much better positioned to sustain and grow the business. With my approach, you’ll also be much better positioned to raise money from investors – if that is what you want to do – because I have raised money from investors in past businesses, so I know how they think and what they look for, and I built that in to my approach.

We’re doing 10 million! We’re set.

Or…

We’re doing $50 million! We’re set!

Wrong! You are in no-man’s land.

You’re now on larger competitors radar and they want to use their significant resources to copy you. Smaller startups can move quicker than you and steal sales from your best and most profitable customers. Retailers might want to private label your category.

You’re already growing faster than the category average, but it’s not fast enough to stay ahead of this wolf pack.

Your operations are not built to handle more growth, your tradespend is eating up profitability, and you really do not have a handle of your analytics so you truly know what is working in your marketing and sales.

Yea, I’ve been there before.

My approach supercharges your growth, while giving you the operations and analytical horsepower to support that growth, and puts you more in the driver seat so you can arrest the tradespend problem.

And finally, my favorite…

Our sales are exploding with exponential growth. We have a blockbuster!

Wrong. Your marketing might just be replacing lost customers on a one-to-one basis. You are building a house of cards that will tumble-down at some point. And this usually happens after you have made the decision to invest big and scale up, which really puts you at risk of loosing it all.

My approach keeps you out of this punchbowl. My approach has the metrics to know early on if this product is truly going to be a sustainable blockbuster or just another bug that has ventured onto an 8-lane highway.

What Is My Approach?

My approach takes advantage of SAAS technology, data and proven marketing metrics to potentially generate more sales – faster – with better products and less risk.  I have fully documented my approach with a multitude of tools, methodologies and processes to help guide and direct.  There are 3 broad phases to how I grow a product in the marketplace:

  1. Phase 1 is R&D, which seeks to engineer out the risk to product failure and engineer in marketing so that the product sells;
  2. Phase 2 is marketing, which focuses on metric-driven direct marketing, selling direct to consumer, that understands exactly how to sell a product and drive revenue and potentially, positive EBIDTA at an early stage;
  3. Phase 3 is sales channel growth, focused on mainline retail/resellers, but with much better odds for success because of the marketing learnings in phase 2, which can also mean potential for reduced tradespend burden.

The Types of Companies That I like to Work With

I work with consumer brands, mostly physical products, but also service or SAAS companies.

My market focus:

  • Body care
  • Food
  • Green living
  • Natural lifestyle
  • Outdoors
  • Personal health
  • Pets
  • Supplements
  • Wellness

I like natural and organic products, but that does not necessarily mean I won’t work with conventional products.

My preference is companies that have at least one of the following:

  • Defensible intellectual property
  • Unique distribution channel
  • “WOW” product

And, they can target a sufficiently large market of qualified customers.

Maybe a company does not yet have one of these characteristics, but with my help, they can get there.

My Goals

I want to do the following:

  • Grow companies from startup/early stage using my progressive growth strategy;
  • Focus on fast growth for competitive advantage and shorter path to positive EBITDA;
  • Create category leaders with national brand awareness inside 5-years.

If you want to learn more, please contact me from this page.