The journey of launching your subscription box is SCARY!
I remember when I was in that launch phase, I was pretty terrified. It’s hard to know what to spend your time doing, and where to spend your money. I get it friends, I was there too!
I launched my first subscription business, The Dapper Dog Box, three months after I came up with my idea. Did I make mistakes during my pre launch? ABSOLUTELY I did. But guess what, sometimes done is better than perfect. Now, I am here to teach you what to do so you can avoid my mistakes. Below are some of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs do when launching their subscription box business.
1. Spending too much money on a logo
I see this so often and it really hurts my heart. When you are in the process of launching a business or a brand, have the mindset that things will likely pivot and you arent married to a logo. You might change your business direction or even worse, totally pivot the business. Head on over to Fiver to get a super affordable logo. I got my logo for DDB done for about $20.
2. Spending too much $$ and time on a custom website
Why is this a mistake?
1. Website design is expensive and complex. Unless you are a master coder, just skip doing anything custom on your website this early on.
2. You don’t have analytics and data yet, so why spend money on a custom website when you can use Cratejoy’s free themes. Give yourself 6+ months, look at your websites bounce rates, look at the customer journey stats THEN spend the money to make your website a masterpiece. Until then, stick with the free version and look at your analytics to see what pages your customers are going to, which have high and low bounce rates, look at your exit rate on product pages.
3. Spending too much time and money on expensive boxes
I am a little biased on this one, because I am a stickler for amazing box design. With that said, there are affordable ways to have a beautiful box without the crazy and long term investment of getting your boxes printed from a box company with print plates and dye boards
- Lowest Cost Option: White/cardboard box with a sticker
- Use white boxes and have a super cool sticker created. If your box is not a high end box, this works fine. This gives you flexibility to really dive deep into understanding your customer and what they love about your box. Then when ready, you can easily make the financial investment to buy designed boxes. You can buy white boxes from Uline and stickers you can get from stickermule and other companies.
- Lower Cost Option and Flexible: Digitally printed Boxes
- Get digitally printed boxes from companies like Boxup, Packable or Packlane. ALL of these options do not require a pre designed box art work. You can design your ideal box right on their platform with colors, fonts, logos. These boxes are digitally printed onto the corrugated cardboard boxes. Depending on your location, size of box and quantity, these will cost around $2 -$5 each but you can order small quantities to test and see what you like.
- Play around with designs, fonts, colors etc. This is a great option for when you are just starting out and do not want to spend a LOT of $ in ordering a huge quantity of boxes or investing in print lates + die boards ( which I will explain in the next option)
- Below is my first ever Dapper Dog Box, I had mine made with Packable and Boxup.
- Most expensive and NON flex option: Custom Corregated Boxes
- Friends, this is an investment. It will cost you a lot of money upfront, but it brings down your per price box significantly. Hence, you need to buy large volumes, in the thousands to make this work. This option is only for those who have been in business for a bit of time and know exactly what they want for their box. Just for reference I didn’t do this option until I was 1.5 years into my business. I knew exactly how to design the box for my ideal customer and because I had 1.5 years under my belt,
- Custom corregated boxes are made with print plates and dye boards and a hand crafted design of your box. These types of boxes are created at local box companies, custom packaging companies. I have used NW paper box in Portland, OR and had them shipped to my location in Seattle. At around 2-3,000 quantity these cost me a little more than $1 per box. So yes the cheapest option but you have to be able to pay a few thousand dollars to buy your print lates and dye boards. Once you design your artwork you cannot change it so this is why I recommend this option for the super serious and invested sub box owners.
- With that said, with this option the sky is the limit in creating superior and creative designed boxes. Below is my upgraded box that I had made by NW Paper box in Oregon. I would consider this box to be a little masterpiece:) Something I was extremely proud of.
4. Not validating your box idea
You might think your idea is stellar but have you made sure your ideal customer is on board? Here are a few easy ways to validate your idea.
Find 20 people who fit your ideal customer persona and interview them. Tell them what your ideas are for your business, ask them their feedback, their thoughts what they would suggest differently. Once you talk to a bunch of people, you will quickly see your initial idea pivot into something else. Be open and listen. Its not about what you would buy its about what your customer would buy.
How to find people?Facebook, facebook groups, instagram, your own network, ask friends.
5. Having a poorly designed landing page
When you are trying to build your email list and build traction, your landing page needs to look really good. Cratejoy offers a landing page/pre launch page that is easy to customize. Things to remember.
- Your Logo
- Your hero/banner image should be a sneak peek of your product, or the idea of your product. If you don’t have images of your box & products, you could look for lifestyle images or an image that would align with your ideal customer. If you need ideas on how to create your landing page, refer to my post on a subscription box pre launch strategy, section that says ” DESIGN AND COPY FOR YOUR LANDING PAGE.
- Your copy should be super short sweet and to the point. A few words for the main header, then a subsection of a sentence, then a call to action
- Lastly, your email opt in. If you are using cratejoy, you can connect mailchimp to this very easily.
- Use graphic below as a resource on how a winning landing page should look like.
6. You haven’t factored in shipping costs
Shipping will take up a huge chunk of your overall costs. make sure the product you choose to ship is not heavy or breakable. The bigger the box, the more it weighs, the more expensive your shipping is.
My best advice for you my friend, is to keep your package as light and small as humanly possible. If that means pivoting your business/product idea a bit, its worth it I promise.
7. Not spending time building your email list
Building your email list is crucial. Email is still one of the most effective ways to market your product and has one of the higher ROIs of all channels. Here is a few ideas:
• Host a giveaway: You will learn soon enough that people LOVE free stuff. Here are a few platforms that you can host giveaways on without even having a website.
Rafflecopter, Wishpond, Vyper, PromoSimple. You can also accomplish the same type of giveaway using a landing page builder from your email provider, mailchimp.
- Build a landing page with a special offer. This can be anything but make it good so you ensure people actually give you their email. Emails are sacred to people and they need a good reason to give one. For subscription boxes you could offer a FREE 6 month subscription or two 3 month subscriptions as a potential prize. You can build out multiple offers and see which one has the best conversion rate, and then stick with that one.
- Leverage your social media channels. Add your landing page offer in your bio of your channels. Make sure you make your Instagram and Pinterest business accounts and optimize your profile. That means include searchable words that your ideal customer would use to find your service. For example. Patchwork Pet Dog Toys, the instagram profile includes “ plush dog toys, it includes a call to action, it includes the link to start shopping.
8. Bad product images
During your pre launch, you need to have really nice looking product images. Images are what will sell your boxes, get people to sign up for your email list and get people really excited about your business. Here are a few mistakes I see with product photos.
- Pictures that are too dark because of poor lighting.
- Pictures with distracting backgrounds, think laundry, kids toys, that christas present thats still sitting in the corner of your living room, and the list goes on.
- Pictures with bad quality. Unless your iphone camera is outstanding, get proper images taken by people who own a camera.
Here are better ideas to get amazing quality photos that will SELL out of your products.
- Go on craigslist, nextdoor.com or websites like that and post that you are looking for an affordable photographer to take pictures of your product. Grab some sample products, a few of your boxes ( if you have them) and find a location that makes sense for your product and business.
- Locate a few small influencers on Instagram. Using hashtags that align with your ideal customer, pop those in the search bar in IG and start browsing. Look for people posing with a product, that is a sure sign of an influencers or someone who takes brand images. Reach out to them and ask if you send them a free box if they will take a few images for you.You do not need to pay people, so dont reach out to someone with 1 million followers. For more details on this, download my free guide on 15 steps to launch a subscription box, I go into more detail on how to. get product images from influencers.
- Below are examples of product images I got from working with influencers, in exchange for free product.
9. Not getting social
Social media channels are the easiest way to not get in front of potential customers, but it’s an easy way to start building up your pre launch buzz before you launch your business. For channels, go where your customer is, period. Instagram is the easiest channel to use for pre launch, but facebook and pinterest are also super effective.
You might be thinking, if my business hasn’t launched, what content do I post? You can start posting a few different types of content, for example I launched a dog subscription business. When I was starting out, I started posting pictures of cute dogs with teaser posts that we were launching a dog subscription box soon and for followers to stay tuned for giveaways and
launches. I made it fun for people to follow the account before I had anything to sell. Not the prettiest feed back then but here is a glimpse of my initial first few posts for The Dapper Dog Box Instagram. I grew this from 0 – 42,000 followers in less than 2 years, eventually building out over 30% of my customer base from this one channel.
Here are some of my first posts on instagram. Again, I had no idea what I was doing, but I showed up everyday and knew I would figure out how to build an audience of engaged and loyal followers which would turn into customers. I played around with captions and hashtags trying to find my ideal customer. I didn’t have any professional product images at this stage, so I got creative and created my own. I also built connection by using images and stories of my beloved black lab Asha, who was the inspiration behind my company. Using personal stories evokes emotion and that build connection and trust with people. Always remember, people buy from brands and people not from businesses. So don’t be shy to share images of YOU, tell your story of why you started your business and why.
Fast forward a year later, I grew The Dapper Dog Box Instagram to over 42,000 loyal followers and turned Instagram into my #1 channel to acquire customers.
10. Poor copy that doesnt address how your product solves a pain point
Building a new brand is really all about solving peoples problems. You need to know what your customers problem is. You need to knowhow those people describe their problems. You then need to use that language in your marketing and sales copy.
Your copy on the emails, social media posts, your landing page and your website should always tie back to the customer, not your product. Make your customer the hero of your story. That means, when you are creating copy address the results of the product or service over what it does.
Here is an exercise: Fill in the blanks below
My Product solves _________________ Pain Point/problem for my customer
My customer describes _____________ problem as _____________
Are you interested in starting your own subscription box?
I want to help you launch your business without the stress and worry I had to go through. With my step by step approach you can launch your first box business in less than 3 months. Click here to learn more about how you can get started.