How can you be “fast and furious” when launching a crowdfunding campaign? What is the best way to find consumer pain points to optimize your messaging? Crowdfunding, social media, influencer marketing, HSN, brick and mortar… we talk about it all in this interview with the founder of The Big Squeeze, Steve Galante. In the next 20 minutes, you’ll learn from successes, and mistakes, that they’ve made over the past several years. If you’re an inventor trying to find your footing in the marketing world, you don’t want to miss this podcast.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
Why marketing should never be an afterthought when creating a new invention
How to utilize crowdfunding by putting a high-quality video on the campaign to help propel your product to success
Finding consumer pain points to optimize your messaging
How influencer marketing led to over 8 million views of one video
And so much more!
You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.
Or, watch the full video interview!
For the listeners, go to bigsqueeze.com to learn more about their innovative product and receive 10% off with code "harvestgrowth."
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Visit HarvestGrowth.com to set up a free consultation.
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!
Jon LaClare: [background music] Crowdfunding, social media, influencer marketing, HSN, brick and mortar sales, we talk about it all in this interview with the founder of the Big Squeeze. In the next 20 minutes, you'll learn from the successes and from the mistakes that they've made over the past several years.
Welcome to another episode of The Harvest Growth podcast. We're focused on helping consumer product companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs harvest the growth potential of their product businesses. Today, I'm really excited to speak with Steve Galante. He's the founder of the Big Squeeze. You can check it out at bigsqueeze.com. We'll get into more about what his product is, and his story behind it as well. It's done by the company that he owns called Product Evolutions. Well, Steve, welcome to the show. I'm so glad to have you on today.
Steve Galante: Thanks, Jon.
Jon: If you could, for our audience, for those who haven't heard of the Big Squeeze yet, describe what it is and what it does.
Steve: Sure. It's an ergonomic tube squeezer. It allows people to get everything out of either a plastic or metal tube. People aren't aware, but you're actually wasting quite a bit, anywhere from 10% to 25% in some cases, in tubes. You can squeeze it out, pinch it, or rub it along edges of a counter and that works great a lot of times. When it comes to metal tubes, especially, you need a tool to really push everything out. It's just easier and it saves time. I came up with an ergonomic model, because the ones that I've seen on the market, we're just very cumbersome to use and just didn't do the job.
Jon: What are the most common products that people use the Big Squeeze for?
Steve: Everybody says of course toothpaste, but the real value is in higher-cost products and those would be pharmaceuticals, oil paints, cosmetics, and hair dyes, actually, for hairstylists. They go through a lot of use on a daily basis.
Jon: Absolutely. I'm envisioning there's just two basic types of squeezing products. There's the really cheap ones that we can all think back to the plastic ones, just for toothpaste, that are chintzy, break all the time, maybe don't squeeze so well, and then like you said, some very expensive ones that are used for squeezing paints, cosmetics, et cetera. How is yours different? How is it better than these competitors?
Steve: I was really focusing on ergonomics and ease of use. There's been a product-- what started it all was the Tube Wringer. It's been around since the '70s. I found out about it because my dad's a dentist and he used it in his dental office and we actually had one growing up. It works well, but, I found it very difficult to use. The spent tube actually runs into your knuckles and it just was annoying, and it's just ergonomic. It just wasn't comfortable in your hands. It puts your hands in an awkward position.
I thought like the can opener. Everybody knows how to use a can opener. I wanted the same kind of ergonomics but as a tube squeezer. Also, very few people knew or know about the Tube Wringer. I want to make something that was fun to use, fun colors, it worked well, and it had the ergonomics that made it feel like it fit in your hand really nicely.
Jon: Great. I know a little bit about your background. You're an engineer by trade and to develop this product, that side you get. The marketing side, we'll talk a bit more about that as we go through the conversation, is what you had to learn along the way. One of the first things you did to really get this off the ground was a Kickstarter campaign, just a few years ago, back in 2017. Tell the audience a little bit about how that went and what you learned, both the upfront phase, as well as afterwards, how you moved into grow beyond Kickstarter.
Steve: Kickstarter, there's a lot of work that goes into a Kickstarter just to get started and a lot of money. You really need a good video and I definitely spent some money on that. Probably in retrospect, I would have liked to try to scale down and been a little bit more cost-conscious. It is important to get the video right and get it out there. It's nerve-racking. You're putting everything out there and you just don't know how it's going to work.
You have to get sales fast and furious. You have to get your network. You don't just turn it on and hope that people come to you. You have to have sales ready to go, have to talk to all people, your friends, your co-workers, your family, and really get it out there perfectly, have a couple hundred people ready to buy within the first hour, because it's that attraction.
The other thing was I priced it too high. Even though I was successful at it, I priced it too high and it didn't drive the load-- Oh, sorry, it was the goal. The goal should have been a much lower goal. I think I had it at $25,000. It should have been $5,000. If you set your goal lower as a dollar amount and you hit it sooner, then it starts to just snowball. That was the challenging part, it's trying to get to that goal.
That would be my biggest suggestion, is do not price it too high. You might need more money than what your goal is, but the sooner you hit it, the sooner your success, and people want to jump on the bandwagon when it's a successful product. Nobody wants to be a part of a product that's kind of going to make it. You really want to be on the exciting part of hitting that goal.
Jon: I know, especially in Kickstarter, because they know if it doesn't hit the goal, typically in a lot of campaigns, it doesn't launch at all, you get your money back as the investor or the contributor in the Kickstarter campaign. For sure, you want to hit that. There's so many people that wait in the wings like, [unintelligible 00:06:18] they watch it and when it hits the goal, then I'll jump in and invest. That's what really steamrolls that growth.
A couple other things I'd like to talk about that you addressed. One is the cost of the video. Within Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaigns, as you mentioned, it's so important to have a high-quality video. What I like about your video, particularly, is it can be repurposed, and I've seen how you've used part of it on your website today as well. Obviously, some things you do in your video are going to be very crowdfunding specific, like talking about raising money, you're not going to do that forever.
A lot of the B-roll or footage that you shoot of the product and you used, if you spend money upfront to get it to be beautiful footage, you can later use that for marketing footage on your website, in a Facebook campaign, in your Amazon page, et cetera. It's ultimately money well spent in the upfront phase.
I can see that we are video marketers, we don't do much in the crowdfunding space. That's not our world. It's not a selfish way of saying that, but we've helped a lot of people come out of crowdfunding and grow beyond their businesses at that point. When they have great video footage already, oh, it makes it so much easier for that next phase of growth afterwards.
The other piece too, I think I'm going to put this in our show notes is, you talked about it being fast and furious. That's a great way to describe it. It's such a different animal, the launching of the Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign because as you said, you explained it so well in a short amount of words, you've got to have this big audience ready to go as soon as you start your campaign to have quick success, unlike other marketing channels, on Amazon, on Facebook, you can go slowly. You can take and learn, optimize as you go, et cetera, you just don't have that luxury if you choose to do crowdfunding to begin with.
After you got your raise, you met your goal, you've achieved at least the minimum of what you needed or wanted to be at. Talk to me what happened next. Where did you go after Kickstarter, after your campaign ended, what was the next step to start growing this business?
Steve: I did reach out to Indiegogo, and it turns out with Indiegogo, if you've had a successful Kickstarter campaign, met your goal, you can then sell on Indiegogo. This was a few years ago, so I don't know if they've changed anything.
Jon: Yes, no, it still works that way.
Steve: That was really helpful. It drove more sales. I was still working the Kickstarter after the campaign, but Indiegogo. I started getting other companies, reaching out to them, and one was Zulily, I know I was on that, and Touch of Modern. They do a specific selling campaign for X amount of weeks. That was really helpful, you get a bump in your sales.
Probably the biggest one, I held off at first, Amazon. The sooner you get your product on Amazon, you'll get constant revenue, and that is key. You need to get it out there. The sooner you can get those reviews coming in, the sooner your product starts to improve. Anything like that. Amazon, it was definitely a game-changer. I've been doing Amazon Canada.
Another thing that we found success with is influencer campaigns. That's been very good. You got to get your product in the right hands, people that are going to talk about it. Make sure that they're posting on Instagram or Facebook. The sooner that happens, then you can drive sales to Amazon, and your website, and definitely get in there.
Right now, I'm working towards brick-and-mortar. That's my goal right now, is to increase the brick-and-mortar opportunities, and just get it out in front of more people.
Jon: Fantastic. You talked about influencers, I want to dive a little bit further into that one. We get a lot of questions about influencers as a way to grow your business as a secondary strategy, whatever you want to call it. Some people wade into those waters and never find success. Others, it's gangbusters and really turns around their business. You've had some success there. What tips or advice do you have for businesses that might be considering an influencer style strategy?
Steve: We work with influencers. We pay them for every sale. The hard part is it's difficult to track that because if it goes to Amazon, we can't track that. It has to be through our website, through a code of some sort. It's not that influencers are looking just to gain funds that way. It's also they need content to their audience. They're also excited just to show a new product. You just have to keep trying and finding more and more influencers. They don't have to be influencers with 100,000 followers. We've had success where-- I think one influencer, she was a hairstylist. I think she only had like 1,000 followers, but she threw a video up on TikTok and we've gotten like 8 million views.
Steve: Even with 8 million views, you think that you would sell 50,000 units. Not the case. It's one of those things in marketing. People have to see a product five, six, seven times before they consider buying, most people. It's just the constant working on getting more exposure, focusing on more exposure. It's a long game. That's the key to entrepreneurship. It's a long game, not a short game.
Jon: Yes, absolutely. You mentioned TikTok. Again, we get a lot of questions around that. TikTok is one but there's so many different marketing channels to choose from. How do you decide where to go first? Right. The nice thing about incorporating influencers into your efforts, again, maybe not everything that you're doing, but all of a sudden now if you have no expertise on TikTok, you find an influencer that does, and all of a sudden you get 8 million views.
I will say, no matter how good you are, unless you've got a massive following, of course, which can be very expensive to hire that type of influencer, but if you spread the field out, some will take off and some won't. It's hard to predict, but if you put the net out there and give enough opportunities for influencers to really take this on, a couple of them are going to pop. You'll get that one with 8 million views.
It's hard to predict in the beginning what that's going to be. It's much more difficult if you try to do this on your own and make one video, we've got to make millions of views behind this, the odds are against you. If you can cast this wide net, now all of a sudden, you get more chances to "go viral" or really start spreading your message out there. It's a great way to think about it. It's more of a PR approach in many ways.
What's been the hardest part? I guess, maybe what surprised you as you launched this business? You were coming in it from an engineering perspective.
Steve: Yes. It's funny. As an engineer, you think, "Okay, I'm going to make this great product, and it's going to be an improvement and I'll make it with some fun colors." What you don't realize-- you think that the engineering part, overall, the technical, getting the tooling made, getting the manufacturing. Do I make it in China? Do I make it in US? All those decisions, fulfillment, that's going to be the hardest.
By far the hardest part is the sales and marketing. Getting the product made, that's essentially the beginning. It's not the end, it's the beginning. Now, that's when the hard work begins. That's when you got to figure out if you can't do the marketing and sales, who are you going to team up with? How are you going to find somebody that is not going to rip you of, I've experienced that before, and take you for a ride. You got to find a team or a person that is willing to work with you and build that marketing plan, build the sales pipeline. Find somebody that you can trust. That's probably one of the best pieces of advice.
You really need somebody, if you're not in marketing or sales. It definitely helps to have somebody. For me, I'm not into social media. I need somebody that's going to post social media for me because it will never happen otherwise.
Jon: Well, it happened well. Even if we do have the time or take the time to do it, if we don't know what we're doing, it's not our world we spend every day in, then having somebody that knows what they're doing can save you a lot of money in the long run, just by avoiding mistakes that we might make on our own.
Jon: If you rewind, and you're launching a new product today, think of something beyond the Big Squeeze, the next product, what would you do differently in your product launch?
Steve: On the technical side, one of the mistakes I made was not doing enough analysis of the parts and it beat me in the end. It was only going to cost a few hundred bucks to do more of a technical analysis, the strength of the parts. I skipped that thinking, "Oh, yes, it's plenty strong. Don't worry about it."
Make sure, going in, that everything is correct. If not, it's going to cost you a lot more on the back end. That's definitely key. Like I said earlier, just be aware that there's going to be a lot of other components to it that are going to surprise you. The cost of XYZ is going to cost more than you thought. Definitely estimate, your costs can be higher. Even though your revenue, you might have assumed that you're going to have this much revenue. Back it off, have a plan on not having all the cash to get there.
Being cost-conscious with everything. Obviously, you want to drive the cost down, but you might have a little bit of extra savings in there so that when things don't go as planned, be prepared.
Jon: Yes. Before, you talked about the importance of marketing, and how that surprised you. It's really a double-edged sword, if we think about it, the importance of product quality and the importance of good marketing. You really need both. No matter how good your marketing is, if you've got a crappy quality product, people are going to buy it, send it back, or tell others about it, especially in this world. Word spreads fast, especially for bad products, if there's problems with them. It's that importance of having both of those two.
You mentioned being careful with your money. It's another area to think about where-- I think you mentioned two things. One is be careful with your money, the other is maybe we should have done that test to prove it out in the beginning. Set up priorities. You can't do everything, you just can't. There's not enough resources or time to be able to do that.
You've got to pick your battles and find out which areas are you going to make sure that this is going to be a great quality product, it's going to be loved by consumers, and then making sure I've got money left over to market it in a good way so these consumers hear about it. Everything else is fluff or noise in the background. Some costs, if they can be avoided, can help you to focus on the right things in your business.
What resources would you recommend? What has helped you in terms of books or podcasts or seminars or whatever it might be that has been helpful for your business that you'd like to recommend to our audience?
Steve: Definitely The 4-Hour Workweek helped me there. I'm forgetting the author's name.
Jon: Timothy Ferriss.
Steve: Yes, that's great. It just really helps you focus and realize that you can get a lot done in a very short amount of time. Now, are you going to get there to an actual 4-hour workweek as an entrepreneur? Definitely not the beginning. Don't expect that. Maybe over the years, you could get there. He has a lot of good advice, to try to hone in on what's important and focus on the things that are going to move the dial. That was a really good book to read.
Jon: Yes, I agree. The crux or summary of that book is not about getting to four hours. It's about building systems that work for you, whether that's through employees, or he talks a lot about virtual assistants, people that aren't necessarily W-2 employees on your payroll, but how do you use other resources to help grow your business and keep supporting your business so you can sit back and focus on.
In his life, he talks about taking time off, vacations, et cetera. In a lot of CEOs' minds, "The less I can spend in the minutiae of the business, the more I can spend on the strategy of it and really even catapult the growth even further." A lot of great learnings in there even if you read the title and you think, "Well, I don't think I want to work just four hours a week or whatever, there's more I want to do with my life even in terms of work, et cetera," there's still a lot of great nuggets in there. I appreciate that. Is there anything, Steve, that I didn't ask in this interview that you think could be helpful for our audience?
Steve: Like I said earlier, there's always going to be items that catch you off guard. For me, it was the fact that marketing and sales, that was the really important part that I just assumed it was the easy part. That's actually the harder part. How do you set up your sales channels and have a strategy going in. When I first started, I thought, "Oh, this is a product for everybody. Anybody could buy a Big Squeeze." Well, at the price point, it retails for, MSRP at $39.99. A lot of people that are just squeezing it for toothpaste aren't going to buy it, because realistically, it doesn't make all that much sense, the break-even period is going to take a while.
When you start to realize, "Okay, what are my markets?" Pick a market, pick one, maybe two. I picked artists and hairstylists because they use not only a lot of items in a tube, but is expensive. Really hone in, try to pick one market, who's going to buy it. Don't just make a product. At first, I just made a product, thinking that people are just going to buy it because it makes sense, it saves you money, it saves you time. Well, there's got to be more than that. Hone in, understand your market, understand the people, the age range, male, female, really dive down and figure out what your market is, and then go after that market.
Then slowly add into another market. You can go from there. You have to really be focused on who you're selling it to because as an engineer, I just didn't think of the marketing. I was like, "Oh, the competitor has been out there for 40 years. Well, they've been able to do it for 40 years. Why can't I do it?" Well, that's not a good enough business plan. That doesn't cut it. Luckily, I've lucked out, because I've been able to find my market after the fact, but focusing on that market.
Jon: That's good. I think, to add to that, the words I like to use are pain points. Find these big pain points where-- in your world, you found that it's truly saving money, making it easier, but the products will really save them a lot of money, the more expensive products like hairstylists, like paints, artist tools, et cetera. Great way of saying that.
I do want encourage our audience, this is a great product, at a minimum, check it out at their website, bigsqueeze.com, and if you use the promo code, harvestgrowth, one word, then you'll be able to save 10% on any purchase that you have from their website. Please support Steve and at least check it on his website. Again, the URL, discount code, everything's in the show notes.
Also, be sure to check out harvestgrowthpodcast.com to see other episodes we've recorded. If you liked this episode and you want to learn more about how you can profitably grow your consumer product business, please subscribe to our show and leave us a review at iTunes or Google Play. Steve, thanks again.
Steve: Thanks, Jon.