FearLess Revolution's Alex Bogusky knows a little something about bringing a vision to fruition, both from the advertising agency angle—being co-founder of Crispin Porter + Bogusky—to recently launching a natural supplement of his own. But from a consultant standpoint, what really piques his curiosity is the entrepreneur behind the product, an individual who just might be more important than his/her brainchild.
The product pioneer comes in all shapes and sizes, arriving at the decision to bring their idea to the table for innumerable reasons. "It is a bit of a crazy thing to be an entrepreneur," says Bogusky. "The odds are against you, chances are not good, and yet, I do think that the entrepreneur matters more than the idea that the entrepreneur has. You see a lot of average ideas become very successful just through sheer force of will. And then there are great ideas that go nowhere."
Person over product
The most successful entrepreneurs have an "unnaturally committed approach" to their idea. "It's not necessarily a great trait, socially, but it is a good trait for an entrepreneur,"says Bogusky.
The degree to which marketing plays a role, then, leans on that entrepreneur's background. However, "If you're bringing your product to the market, you're marketing to some degree. But it can have a very small role in some companies," Bogusky points out.
In terms of marketing budget, he doesn't think there's an ideal, but on the flip side sees a lot of companies make the mistake of thinking that social media means they don’t have to spend any money.
"It's sort of penny wise, pound foolish because many of the ideas they have would be much more powerful if they spent a little bit of money," he says. "I think there's almost a fantasy that you can market now without any money, and if you look under the hood of people who use social media well, they probably won't tell you, but they're spending money."
Social media marketing musts
With social, Bogusky thinks that marketing dollars have converted from a media expense to more of an operations expense. One thing's clear: Social media is the new norm.
So much so that Bogusky sees Facebook Pages trumping web pages for a lot of small companies. In other words, neglecting to establish a Facebook presence is getting close to as big a faux pas as having no website at all. "That's been a trend probably for the last year, and I know a lot of small companies that aren't even bothering with a traditional web presence and just pushing everything through Facebook."
Bogusky also advises employing a social media dedicated person within the company. "It's a hungry beast; you've got to have somebody participating in it pretty much full time."
Why this company?
From a consulting perspective, Bogusky suggests that any entrepreneurs entering the natural products industry take an introspective look and ask: Why are you doing what you're doing? "I don't care about companies, I care about people," he remarks, adding that if you dig a little and spend time with the entrepreneurs, most companies have a world-changing, fundamental reason for being.
"That's what I like to spend my time with when doing any consulting, is what does world-changing success look like? What does the world look like after you've been successful and this company's been successful?" Once captured, the answers to these questions will help propel the marketing "because you don't leave behind, really, the big idea," he says. "And I think that most people are almost shy about their real idea. Their real idea is so audacious that it's difficult to tell everybody. But if you do, that's the ultimate marketing."
Bogusky's book, Baked In, confronts this very topic—how to go about baking the marketing into the product. "For most people, that great idea is in there, and then they just don't push it through in every way that they can. And I've actually gone back and read the book to remind myself, am I doing this, what else can I be doing over here? he says of taking his own advice with his natural supplement, Skoop.
Come up short on staying true to that why this company concept, and the level of authenticity and distinction suffers, too. "For everybody in the day to day, it's really difficult not to just get into this mode of emulating what other people are doing. You begin to just fall into the category conventions," and, according to Bogusky, that's the worst thing you can do.