Andy wanted to die. His cheek was swollen like an angry red balloon, and he grazed it with his fingertips just to feel the throbbing intensify. For years he had been sitting in his quiet supplement store watching products that never moved and customers that wouldn’t look him in the eye.
“Why am I doing this?” he thought as he read his monthly sales totals. Soon he would lock up shop and prepare to go to his bartending job, then collapse and start again tomorrow. What had started as an entrepreneurial dream had become a nightmare, with a few dollars a day in sales and thousands of hours trying to find some kind of traction. The mugging just added insult to injury.
Andy had been stabbed in the face in a bar fight months ago, and the scarring and nerve damage had left him broken. Where would a man as defeated as this go, much less his business?
Well you might know Andy better as 1st Phorm Supplements, one of the most dominant names in the industry today.
This is the story of how a tiny supplement store became a fitness giant. Like many startup owners, Andy started as a young man excited about owning his own business. He and his business partner sunk their savings into the first year’s rent and used credit cards to buy the supplement products. Then came several years of waiting to take off.
Business is hard, and a lot of hitting the big time is being patient and aligning strategy with resources. That means preparing for success before you get there, and putting in the long hours to make it. Andy put in the hours, but his life would get a lot harder before it got easier.
Andy was walking a friend home from a bar one night when an intoxicated man started yelling racial slurs. What happened next was a testosterone and booze fueled altercation that spiraled out of control. By the end of the night Andy was in the hospital with multiple stab wounds to his face and back.
Fast forward a few years later, and Andy was shuffling through the grocery store, his eyes on the floor, trying to avoid attention. Praying he wouldn’t have to interact with anyone, he rounded the corner only to bump baskets with a strange figure. As he looked up, his eyes couldn’t process what he saw. A disfigured lump of a person with no face stared back at him. In shock, both slowly realized that they were feeling the same emotions. The horror at each other’s appearance, and the shame of knowing that they were misshapen.
“What happened to your face?” the stranger said with just a hint of warmth.
Andy couldn’t believe what he had just heard, but then he chuckled, and both of them started laughing out loud in the grocery store. It was the first genuine laugh he’d had in a long time. As he stood there and laughed Andy felt connected to someone that truly understood the pain he was feeling.
It turns out that stranger was a woman, and she had received horrific burns in a plane crash. Her husband and children had also died in the accident. As Andy pushed his basket back to the car an overwhelming feeling of relief washed over him.
“I am so damned lucky.” Andy thought as tears filled the corners of his eyes.
“I could have it so much worse, but here I am wallowing in self-pity. I can achieve anything I want to.”
Supplement Superstore was on a different track now, as Andy became more bold and aggressive with how he marketed his supplement products. The scars were a part of his brand, and people remembered him by his face as well as his positive attitude.
That 1 supplement store grew to a line of of supplements doing over $150 million in revenue in 2018. Every supplement company is challenged to stand out in the market, and Andy shows us how to stand out when marketing our supplement products.
Your brand is your most important marketing asset. As you grow and your employees change, the relationships your customers have with individual employees will evolve.
Andy learned how to use his scars as his personal brand. People recognized him everywhere he went, and he used that opportunity to talk about his supplement brand.
Your business needs a brand that is uniquely defined to your goals and personality. No one else in the world is like you, and your customers need to see that the first time they interact with your business. That means clearly outlining your values and how every channel of communication can send consistent messaging.For small businesses, that can be as simple as you taking the time to craft every email and social media post so that the voice is the same. It may seem like a small detail, but it makes a big difference for people remembering who you are.
The advantage that Andy leveraged to scale his supplement brand is vertical integration. He added several new supplement stores in the Missouri area so that he had a whole chain of retail locations. Instead of focusing on scaling laterally, his next move was to launch his own brand of supplement products and control every step of the supplement distribution process. This has several advantages:
- Complete pricing control
- Consistent product
- Exclusivity in the marketplace
Andy built a brand with die-hard fans that loved his product. That demand drove his audience to his stores and eventually online, where 1st Phorm really took off. As the brand scaled, he moved manufacturing in-house. Controlling all of these costs means 1st Phorm can focus on consistently manufacturing an extremely high quality product in volume. They have set the expectation that their customers will receive the best, and they deliver on that.
Your business has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. You may not be able to compete with 1st Phorm in high-end athletic supplements, but your experience and expertise makes you better than them in other areas. We’re not here to tell you what you should or should not do in your business, only to show you what others have done and been successful. If you’d like to learn more about how to get your supplement brand off the ground or take it to the next level, reach out to us anytime.