The Bulletproof Business Formula
While the world of ecommerce is full of opportunity, building a business always comes with risk. The landscape is constantly changing, especially online. Store platforms evolve, advertising channels like Facebook have disruptive updates, and consumer trends fluctuate. Not to mention, world events can change everything as we saw with Covid in 2020.
One lesson we’ve learned over the years is that anything can happen, and even the most thriving brands can be disrupted. With that awareness, it’s so important to be intentional about building a business that can succeed no matter what.
In this post, we will walk through the key elements of what we call the bulletproof business formula. While it’s impossible to guarantee success or predict what’s coming around the corner, this formula can help you avoid disruption and continue to find success in an ever-changing landscape.
Who is the Bulletproof Business Formula For?
If you’re a large, established company, you might be thinking that you’re already as bulletproof as can be. We encourage you to keep reading. History has shown us that no business is invincible, so this formula still applies to you!
If you’re in the beginning stages of your ecommerce business or are quickly growing, this model will be extremely important for laying a solid foundation. Utilizing these principles early on can help build a more resilient business and potentially avoid the pain of rebuilding in the future.
The Bulletproof Business Formula
There are seven elements of a resilient business that make up the bulletproof business formula. These elements include:
- Great product offering
- Amazing marketing
- A system for fan-creation
- Constant innovation
- Diversification wherever possible
Let’s walk through each of these and explain it in detail.
Is your business following a trend or is it focused on a purpose? Building a brand based on purpose and staying true to it rather than hopping from fad to fad will make you much more resilient. It means you have the highest chance of being “relevant”, no matter what time you’re selling.
Being purpose-focused does not have to mean you are a giveback or philanthropic brand, but it does mean you need to have a “why” behind what you do. For example, Groove Life began by selling silicone wedding rings. From the beginning, they have differentiated themselves from other brands on the market (and the cheap rings on Amazon) by leaning into their purpose: supporting people who live an active, adventurous lifestyle.
If you’re not purpose-driven, you are vulnerable to disruption and easily commoditized. Your product will be easy for others to knock off and winning and retaining customers will become very difficult. This is not just a nice to have— it’s a smart business strategy!
Defining your purpose naturally lends itself to the next element, which is branding.
Dialing in your brand is extremely important because it’s the only thing that will differentiate you from your competition long term. Anyone can recreate your product, but your brand and the connection it helps build with customers will be what sets you apart.
It’s also extremely important, if not necessary, for conversions (acquiring customers) and lifetime value (keeping customers). Without branding, your product could be bought from anywhere and customers could try a different company’s product next time they need something. Branding tells a story, relates to the customer, and creates loyalty. This is why we always preach “selling your brand”, rather than simply selling your products.
3. Great Product Offering
Purpose and branding are foundational, but you’ll also need a great product to sell. The product will need to provide more value than it costs. That does not mean you should lower your price or become a brand that discounts constantly! It does mean communicating with the customer about why your product is valuable. Explain how it will change their life in some way, along with the features and benefits. We strongly recommend offering a warranty or guarantee (which automatically adds perceived value) and of course amazing customer service.
When synergy exists between the purpose, the brand, and the product, customers are more likely to connect with you, trust you, and continue purchasing from you. It’ll also fuel your team’s energy to create more products that lead to a healthier product line.
4. Amazing Marketing
No matter how awesome your brand is or how valuable your product may be, you won’t have a successful business without amazing marketing. Marketing is getting increasingly difficult for a variety of reasons. Increased privacy measures to protect customer data make it harder for platform algorithms to find your target audience and track the ad results. Additionally, the market is so competitive and saturated that it can be hard to stand out. This means your team will need to consistently test compelling messaging and creative and be present on multiple platforms (not just Facebook and Instagram). Doing so will help bring new customers into your world on a consistent basis, feeding the top of your funnel.
Note: If you need an expert to help navigate the world of marketing, our team can help! Contact us here.
5. A System for Fan-Creation
If you want long-term success, you’ll need more than just traffic and one-time customers. You’ll need to create real fans of your brand. These are customers who truly love your story, purpose, and product. They will come back to buy again which creates recurring revenue and increased lifetime value. They can also serve as your own marketers as they tell others about how much they love your brand.
Creating brand fans requires investment on your part— customer service, a great warranty or guarantee, hassle-free returns or exchanges, a valuable product that does what it’s supposed to, engaging content, and more. However, this investment is worthwhile because fans are essential for maintaining stability, even during a downturn.
6. Constant Innovation
Innovation of all kinds often gets put on the back burner. Market research and product development (which includes improving your existing products as well as releasing new ones) are extremely important. But don’t forget innovation will be needed in other areas of your business as well:
- Your acquisition system (your marketing)
- Your conversion system (your store)
- Your customer maximization system (email marketing, loyalty programs, customer service)
These three systems make up a framework for healthy ecommerce growth (and sustainability). More than likely, you have areas of vulnerability in one or two of the systems. Do you ONLY sell products through your website? Do you ONLY advertise on Facebook and Instagram? You’ll need to innovate in these areas if you want stability. This leads us to the next point below.
7. Diversify Wherever Possible
Similar to creating a diverse portfolio of investments, diversification has been a cornerstone for ages. The goal of diversification for an ecommerce business is to make sure you are not overly reliant on any one thing for success. As mentioned in the innovation section, consider diversifying your product line, marketing channels, and sales channels wherever you can.
One way to identify your vulnerabilities is to run “fire drills” for worst-case scenarios. If Facebook shut down your ad account and it took a week to get it back up, where else would your traffic come from? If something broke on your ecommerce store, are there other places people can purchase from you? If there is a supply chain issue with one of your main products, are there other complementary products you can push in the meantime? Think through these situations ahead of time and start diversifying now. Wait until something happens and it’ll be too late!
Building a Brand to Stand the Test of Time
Building a bulletproof business requires awareness of where you’re vulnerable and a willingness to invest in things that aren’t going to have an immediate return. When times are good and your brand is thriving, it’s easy to put things like innovation, diversification, testing, or other improvements on the backburner. But we have seen time and time again that the brands that have the forethought to invest time and money into those things early are the ones that have the means to survive the downturns.