Burly, tell us what you are working on!
Right now I’m working on a hat company called Snappies. It’s still young, but the reception has been better than expected, which is awesome to see. I’m a hat guy, I love hats, so really the idea just came from me wanting to design a hat I’d want to wear. I wear my hats backwards, and I always hated how plastic snapbacks pressed and cut into my forehead. I decided I’d try to make something better. And really, that’s it.
So what’s the vision for Snappies?
From the get go I didn’t want my hats to be just another cap with some logo nobody has ever heard of embroidered on the front. If you’re not trying to make something unique, then really, why bother? What makes my hats a little different is the back closure. I got tired of cheap, plastic snapbacks and wondered why that was the only option. Why are all these $40 hats using cheap plastic? So, I decided to create something different and use leather and brass in place of plastic for my snapbacks. Not only does it make my hats different, but it’s more comfortable to wear (especially backwards) than a regular snapback. The best part with the whole process is seeing people love what I share and support the brand. It’s an awesome feeling to have someone send photos of them rocking my hats. My motto not only for Snappies but myself is “Live Different”, and I try to stick to that with every hat and everything I do.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve always been interested in creative things (graphic design, photography, etc.), and for me, being an entrepreneur is the ultimate form of creativity. You get to make something that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
Who were your biggest influencers?
I always admired my dad for leaving his comfortable engineering job to start a car business when he was young. He didn’t follow the conventional path and I always knew I wanted the same.
How have you enhanced the customer’s experience?
I make sure to listen to every customer and fan. Every email I get with suggestions for hats – however far out there they are – I take seriously and I communicate that. The best thing in the world is seeing fans engaging with the brand, so I go out of my way to make sure I add that little touch to let them know they are important.
What types of digital marketing have you implemented in order to help grow your business?
Reddit and Instagram have been good to me. They’re great, free tools to get your message out there and connect with people. Reddit can be really helpful with sharing ideas and getting honest feedback. Growing my email list has also been a priority since day 1. It’s so valuable to have that connection with people and can be a powerful tool if used right.
Did you experience failure along the way?
A failure I had was actually getting my hats produced. I underestimated just how specific I had to be with my manufacturer about every detail of each hat. Things I thought were obvious or straightforward weren’t necessarily so. This caused unnecessary delays and costs with my hat designs. Pro tip: if you’re working on getting something custom manufactured, spell out every detail, dimension, material, etc.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
Like I said, I love being creative and trying new things – that’s where the fun is. In the future I plan to have a whole range of different hats using fabrics and materials not normally used on hats. Anyone can get a cotton cap, but for me, that’s boring. Kind of a broad answer, I know, but that’s where I have my focus – on giving people something unique they can sport.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
You have to believe in yourself completely. I believe that 100%. It’s not the smartest or luckiest guys that make it the furthest, it’s the ones with grit. It’s the ones that keep going when everyone dismisses their idea that turn out to be the most successful. There isn’t a single entrepreneur who hasn’t struggled or faced roadblocks. The key is to believe in what you’re doing and use that as fuel for when times get tough. Along with that, have fun. Life is about the journey, and the same is true for your business. If you’re not having fun along the way, then why are you doing it?
Have you come across any marketing tips or tricks to share with others?
Relationships are key, especially when you’re first starting out. Team up with other organizations or businesses so you can potentially reach their customers. This is what the really successful entrepreneurs do. It’s very hard to go it alone, so use the influence and reach of others to boost your business. For instance, Snappies teamed up with a non profit dog rescue where we donated a part of our proceeds from one of our hats. Not only was it awesome to give back and know I was helping others, but it exposed my brand to a lot of new people I otherwise wouldn’t have reached.
Teach us something!
A/B test everything! You’d be amazed what turns out to be the best performing ad, copy, image, whatever. Even something as small as the button color on your website can have huge impact. Play around with it, see what works and then double down.
While working on your project, tell us something you’ve learned.
This may be a little old school, but don’t discount old ways of marketing. I put up a few flyers around a college campus and I still get traffic and sales from them. Seriously, who types in URLs from a flyer? Well, apparently a decent amount of people.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
Every day I try to do something that helps my businesses, even if it is by the smallest amount. You don’t have to land a million dollar sale every day, but just try to do at least one thing that pushes you forward. Never slack, it’ll come back and bite you.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
For as obvious as it is, it’s surprising how many people mess this up, but focus on your audience. Really know who your customers are and what they want. Don’t just assume or have the if-I-build-it-they-will-come attitude. Focus on your target audience, know what they want, and then give it to them. It’ll make your life much easier.
Recommend a book!
It’s a classic, but “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.
Connect with Burly on twitter.
I’m Adam Akers, I’m in charge of strategic partnerships at MWI. We are a full service digital marketing agency, and 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!
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