Welcome to the Back to the Basics series! (5 of 6)
Julie Ball walks you through the process of carving out your subscription box concept to provide you with some clarity on the box idea you want to launch.
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Hey everybody. And welcome back to subscription box basics. If you are new here, let me be the first to welcome you. This is Julie speaking. I am the head coach here at subscription box basics. And I've been taking over the mic for a six week series called back to the basics. If you're listening to this episode, this is episode five of six. So make sure you go back and listen to the first few episodes as well in this little series. Renee, we'll be back on the mic. Joining me again in just a couple of weeks. But for now I'm rolling solo and I'm getting you back to the basics. It's super important. To start with a good foundation. When you're launching a business. And today we're taking a very, very important step. We are going to be carving out your concept. This is one of the most important things you'll do. And one of the most fun. Because you actually will take that idea and start putting it on paper and building around it so that eventually you can bring that baby to life. So let's jump right into the episode. Carving out your concept is actually one of my favorite things to do and talk about with my students. And you probably have all these great ideas that you're thinking about for your subscription box business, but we really need to get it all on paper so that you can get some clarity and move forward with your box business. That being said, you might want to get a pen and paper for this if you're going to do the work as we go. And this shouldn't just stay in your head. This is actually the beginning of your business plan. Let's start with your basic offering. We need to talk about the overall niche of your box. So a niche as we're using, it refers to like products. Services or interests that appeal to a small, very specialized section of the population. We're not going to use broad terms like women, for example, as an audience. We're going to go a little bit deeper. For example, Sparkle, Hustle, Grow, yeah, it's for women, but it's specifically for women. business owners. And if you want to take it a step further, it's made even more specifically for women business owners that are newer to business, a newer entrepreneur in mind. And you can serve a niche best when you can really, really clearly define it. So what's your niche? Who are you going to serve? Instead of just choosing a niche for moms, for example, maybe it's moms with young kids or homeschooling moms. So you get the point, get a pen and paper and start writing down your ideas. Then when you think you've got it niche down again niche down and niche down one more time Once you've figured that out We need to actually create an ICA if you haven't heard of that before it's refers to your ideal client avatar. Some people may call this a persona. In any case, it refers to one, that's right, one very specific person that is your ideal target buyer. Write down everything you know about them. And it may seem weird at first, but it's super helpful to establish this clarity because when you create your product, And when you strategize your marketing efforts, you can imagine that you are talking directly to this one person. So using your pen and paper, write down, what do you know about them? Is your ideal customer male or female? How old are they? Do they have kids? Where do they shop? What hobbies do they have? Tell us more characteristics about your ideal target like Maybe their occupation, their household income, their favorite restaurants What are some of their habits like going to the gym or travel? What makes them happy? What do they do in their free time? All of these things are really important because by putting them on paper and really thinking about it, you're going to get this clarity, not only around your marketing, but you're going to gain clarity about the brand in general, and ultimately what products to put in your subscription box. I promise you that this exercise will prove helpful in creating a box that really serves your audience well. And I feel like there's this common misconception about marketing that the larger the audience, the better. That you maybe want to please the masses, but friends, that will just make your life more difficult. The more focus you have on a specific audience, a specific niche. The easier it will be to solve their problem, delight them with your product and ultimately make that next sale. Think about it. If you see a product that literally feels like it has your name all over it and you think that was made just for me, doesn't it make it so much easier to pull out your credit card and buy it with no remorse? And that's my point. So if you need to pause this episode now and work on your ICA, your ideal customer avatar, and when you've written. And everything you know about him or her, and even given that person a name, then unpause and listen to the rest of this episode. Next, let's talk about the major pain point that you hope to solve with your subscription box. This is really important because when you start advertising your box, you're not advertising it for you. You advertise it to show your audience that you solved this major pain point that they have. You solve this problem. So using Sparkle Hustle Grow as an example, one of the major pain points that we solve is that there's a lot of clutter out there when it comes to business training and when it comes to what are the best books for business and self help, it's really scattered. So what we do, one of the major pain points that we solve with that is that we dig through the clutter and deliver the best of the best when it comes to business training and personal development. Another pain point we solve, and this is just to help get your brain moving, another pain point we solve is that you can be really lonely from working from home, especially if you are a solopreneur. Our box provides a community of like minded women business owners which you can lean on for support and celebrate big wins and simply grow your network and be a part of a community and not be so lonely. So, once you've identified some major pain points or even just one major pain point that you hope to solve with your subscription box, then tell us how you're going to solve that pain point. What are you going to do? You're going to send what on a monthly basis that's going to help them get through what problem and then how you're going to do it. So, again, if you need to pause to think through and brainstorm those major pain points and how you're going to solve them, then pause the episode. And unpause when you're through with it. The next step is one of my favorites. Write down a list of the products or brands you'd like to carry. So what will you fill the box with? What's going to delight your customers and solve that pain point you identified? Think about what your niche and what your target audience would just love to receive. What are some of their favorite brands? Some of their favorite types of products? Write them down. I personally like to go shopping, and I will grab samples of potential items from my box. So, I can not only experience the products myself, but also mock them up in a box. But, if you don't have the budget, just snap pictures of potential items when you're out shopping. Pictures can be helpful as you plan out your boxes, especially because you can poll your audience on what they'd like to receive. You can use those pictures on social media and say, would you prefer... Product A or product B. And so to keep this organized, maybe add a folder in your cell phone, um, where you just use, where you just put product ideas. When I take pictures of possible items, I also take a picture of the back of the packaging as well as price tags or labels. If you remember from a previous episode, we talked about wholesale pricing. And as a reminder, that's the special price break you get when you buy products to resell. And if you remember, I told you that a good rule of thumb is a 50% price break when you buy wholesale. So if you take a picture of a possible item that costs 5 in the store, you will probably be able to buy it wholesale for about 2 and 50 cents. It's also good to have a picture of the back of the packaging in case you need to know that product's item number, which is usually by the UPC code. And this can help you when inquiring about a specific product when you reach out to that brand or the manufacturer. So write down that list of potential product items, pause it if you need to, and we are moving on to the business name. Let's chat about this. If you're like me, by now you probably have an entire notebook full of business name ideas, and this is where you need to go back and choose one. I know it's hard, but you gotta choose one that you're gonna move forward with. So a couple of tips for choosing a name. You want it to be unique. You want it to speak directly to the audience that you're serving so that when they read it, they're like, I know what this is, and I know this was made just for me. You want it to be easy to spell. And another thing you want to consider is has this name been used before? And I'm going to tell you how to research that. So of course you can do some quick Google searches to see if anyone is actively using that business name. You can check the major social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and maybe YouTube, for example. But another important thing to check is if it has an existing trademark registered. So I'm talking about the United States here. So if you go to the USPTO website, that stands for United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you go to their website, it's USPTO. gov forward slash trademark, and then choose trademark search, type in your box name idea in their search form, and you'll want to search all existing trademarks that are both live now, or maybe even the ones that have expired in the past, just to get a feel for it. If there are some business names that are very similar to what you have as your business name at this point, I would just highly recommend that you reconsider and try to get something that's a little more unique. Obviously, if someone has a trademark for that exact name, even if it's not, A subscription box, you will probably have a lot of difficulty, um, getting that trademark for yourself. And of course you want to check with a trademark lawyer once you get to that point. You could also check on LegalZoom where you can file for a trademark, but the point is you need to do the research up front so you don't have to change your box name down the road after you've already launched. This can take some time, but it is well worth it. So getting it right the first time and doing the research. Man, it's going to help you so much in the long run. So just brainstorm. Ask others. Just beware. Don't ask your mom if she isn't in your ideal target audience. Or don't ask your dad if he's not in your ideal target audience. If I asked my dad what he thought of Sparkle Hustle Grow as a business name, I'm sure he wasn't sold on it at first. In fact, most guys laugh or raise their eyebrows when they hear my business name. But whatever, they're not my target audience. When I was trying to think of a name for Sparkle Hustle Grow, I was really, really intentional that it would not only appeal to my target audience, but also that it was super unique so that I could earn that trademark without challenges. Okay. Whew. This may seem like a lot, but this carve out your concept idea is so important. All right. Moving on. Next. Once you've done your research, land on that business name and write it down. Then we're going to talk about domain names. Your domain means the URL or the address of your website. It's where you will send people when you want them to subscribe. So, like. SparkleHustleGrow. com is my domain. The exact name of your box might not be available, but don't panic. Or even maybe someone even has it and they want to sell it, like resell it to you for a very high price. But let's talk this through before you make a decision. If you want to use just your box name and it's available, great, easy peasy. If not, you can get really creative with your domain name. It doesn't just have to be your box name. I'll give you a few examples. There's a kid's cooking box called Radish. That's with two D's, R A D D I S H. And their URL is Radish Kids. See how they added the word kids after their box name? I think that was really smart because people immediately know that it's a box for kids. You could add the word boxes after your business name, like thinkoutsideboxes. com does. Or maybe you add monthly after the box name. This one's unrelated, but I like to use this as a good example. When I used to live in Rock Hill, South Carolina. We had this little local restaurant called Grumpy Brothers and their web address was eat at grumpys dot com. And I thought this was actually pretty brilliant because it was action oriented. It told you what to do. Eat at grumpys dot com. And that's really important in marketing is to tell the customer what to do. So in our case with boxes, it could be subscribe to yourboxname. com or join yourboxname. com or even add the word my in front of the box name to make it feel a little personal. To check if a domain is available, I recommend two places. First, simply type it in your web browser to see if it's live and in use from someone else. If it isn't, then head over to GoDaddy. com and search there. If it's available, yay! Grab it! Most domains I've searched for were under 20 a year to own, so it's not expensive. In fact, when I launched my business, Sparkle Hustle Grow, I used my credit card because I just, I started with a 0 budget. The cool thing is, if your domain is not available, GoDaddy will make a list of other similar ideas to get you started. In any case, go ahead and buy that domain that you've decided on. Okay, so, are you still with me? Because I know we've covered a lot today. We've narrowed down your niche, we've solved a specific pain point, we've brainstormed product ideas, researched and landed on a business name, and we've bought a website domain. Seriously. Go ahead and do your happy dance and call it a day.. I hope this episode was super helpful in getting you to really get some clarity and carving out that concept. It is one of the most important things that you will do during your prelaunch season. If you'd like today's training that I invite you to check out our box business plan program. It's basically going to walk you through the five sections of your very own business plan, similar to today. You can join at any time, but we do from time to time, have a live version with support where we have a Facebook group. And you can ask questions and just network with other people in the same stage. So keep your eye out for that. We actually have one scheduled for mid September, 2023. So if you're in the idea stage or the pre-launch stage, Stay tuned for more details. Thank you so much for spending this time with me today and be sure to join me for the next episode, the final episode of the back to the basics series, where we're going to be talking about product sourcing. I get asked about products all the time, so we're going to dive deep. I'll see you there.