Shark Tank’s Beardbrand Talks Marketing
Eric Bandholz is the co-founder and face of Beardbrand, a men’s grooming company. He is from Greenville, SC but currently lives in Austin, TX. His hobbies include: browsing Reddit, traveling the world and getting distracted with new business ideas. Eric’s favorite quote…“Haters gonna hate.”
Why did you decide to get into marketing?
Well, I have a degree in marketing because I wanted to get into sales and that was the closest thing to a sales degree. It turns out, no college thinks sales is a worthy degree. No one teaches it, but seemingly everyone has been a sales rep at some point. I found that sales is a lot of fun, but kinda gets repetitive for me after a while so I shifted focus into the creative side of marketing. I love telling a story and uniting a community.
Who or what were your biggest influences?
First off, I lean very heavily on my two business partners Lindsey Reinders and Jeremy McGee. They are both accomplished business people with brilliant strategy and vision. Also, Tobias van Schneider is probably one of the best designers and business people I know. His style is so impressive and talents so vast that it makes me wonder what I’m doing with my life. As I stated earlier, I’m a big fan of branding, storytelling, and creative and he’s the best. From there, I’m a big fan of learning from the community and picking nuggets out from a wide variety of people. I go to a good amount of networking events and conferences and always try to keep an open mind. Having close relationships with other business people has been a godsend.
Was there a defining moment when you picked this career?
I wouldn’t say I really picked marketing as a career, but I did pick entrepreneurship. However, you can’t have a successful business without being able to communicate your products and services to your intended audience. In other words, for me to be a successful entrepreneur I quickly learned I needed to be a successful marketer.
What marketing initiatives are you working on right now?
Hmm, we are always working and testing different things. I’m really in search for the right strategy that is scalable and will help grow our business to the next plateau. I’m currently getting frustrated with a strategy to drive our audience to our email list because it’s not working as I had hoped. Another thing we are trying is promoting certain videos that convert well. I’m only a couple of days into that, so the jury is still out. Finally, I’m hopeful for a better process of working with influencers and telling our story to them. It’s not something we’ve implemented to our best abilities, but we will be able to do that soon.
What digital marketing channels have you implemented in order to help grow your business?
We have pretty extensive coverage when it comes to our marketing techniques. We do content marketing on our blog, have an email flow, and a mediocre Facebook/Twitter/Instagram organic strategy. We convert well with branded search PPC, but are still trying to figure out how to optimize non-branded search. Currently we are avoiding paid Facebook and Instagram although I’m sure there are opportunities there. Our most impressive platform, in my eyes, is YouTube and I love our ability to educate and entertain our audience. Getting up to 4 videos a week has been no easy feat.
Which specific channels have been most effective for your business and why?
I’m a huge fan of YouTube, it’s such a wonderful social media platform. It’s the only one out there that truly promotes active creators and even pays you! Holy shit, it’s awesome. Right now we are generating about 2 million views a month and have over 228k subscribers. We are gaining 15k subscribers a month and will hopefully continue at that pace.
How does your company use data to determine marketing strategies?
Oh, this is one of our weaknesses. We aren’t as much of a data driven company as I think we should be. Most of our decisions are still driven by emotion and gut feel. To me, it allows me to feel more connected with our audience and stay authentic, rather than sell out for better numbers. There are a few key metrics that we keep an eye on to help make our decisions to maintain a campaign or to pull a plug. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is a big one for PPC and email list building. YouTube has a nice suite of analytics. We look into the view count and average watch time to help shape future videos.
Which tools does your company use to manage marketing initiatives?
We are using Klaviyo for our email marketing, Hootesuite for our social media management, Google Apps to manage our metrics, ZenDesk for improved customer support. I’m sure there are a few others, but we try to keep things pretty basic around here.
What is the biggest benefit of partnering/working with an agency? How do you form great partnerships with your agencies?
You know, I’m pretty good at the 35k foot view of strategies, but I can’t get into the weeds to effectively take advantage of that knowledge. By not personally having those skillsets it’s hard to hire people and train them up. Then you compare hiring an expert vs an agency, and that’s when you’ll find an agency can fit your budget. Since we’ve started the business, we’ve wanted to stay lean and the flexibility of working with an agency vs hiring within has been nice, as well as the professionalism and lack of needing to manage them. Communication is always a challenge, but great agencies have very good processes for keeping conversations moving forward.
What are you most excited about in the marketing industry?
I get most excited about the intangibles of marketing. For me that means the user experience and how they can connect with the brand. How the packaging looks, the experience when they open it, and the interactions with our team means a bunch. It’s really the only advantage we have over a company like Amazon. Yes, they are cheap and have everything on their platform, but their boxes look like shit and the experience you get from their customer service can be hit or miss.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Hah! That’s like asking if dolphins swim. Of course we’ve had plenty of failures. It seems everyday is a failure and we are always striving to learn from it. I’d like to think if we can take a lesson away from the mistake and the business didn’t crash and burn, then it wasn’t a failure (instead a learning experience). I think my biggest lesson over the years is how “not good” I am at business and how not everything we do is a home run. It’s a very humbling experience, but we are getting better everyday.
Give the readers the best marketing advice you have.
If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you won’t stand out and you won’t outpace your competitors. Be unique and work hard to swim against the current. There is no one right way to market your business, so you gotta find what works for you and your business.
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bit of knowledge that you’d like to share?
The Netflix Culture was a blueprint for us when it came to building a team. It’s a focus on core values, freedom, accountability, and only working with the best team members. Very worthwhile read.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
I like to head to the local coffee shop and grab a cup of coffee to clear and set my mood. It probably doesn’t have me performing at my peak, but it makes me happy and enjoy life. That’s really the most important thing anyway.
Are there any books you would recommend?
I really don’t read much. Save your money on books, and invest in networking events and taking out smart people to lunch/coffee.
Connect with Eric
I’m Adam Akers, and I’m in charge of strategic partnerships at MWI. We are big believers in business karma. Of course we partner with companies when it’s a good fit, but we love to help everyone out by sharing information and helping them gain exposure. If I can help in any way, let me know!