Transcript: From Side Hustle To 7 Figure Empire

With Laura Klein, From Snotty Noses

From Side Hustle To 7 Figure Empire

Catherine Langman:

Well, hello there. It’s Catherine Langman here and back with another episode of our Productpreneur Success Podcast. And this week, I’m really excited to welcome a guest on the show. I have a Laura Klein from snottynoses.com.au with me today. How are you going Laura?

Laura Klein:

Hey Cath, lovely to be with you. I am really well.

Catherine Langman:

Fantastic. So, so exciting. And now, we were just having a little quick chat before hitting the record button and you reminded me that a year ago-

Laura Klein:

Yeah, it was this time last year where we connected in Sydney for the Online Retailer Expo down there at Darling Harbour. And we had a great couple of days down there, learning new ideas and maybe having a cheeky wine after it had all finished at 5:00 PM. But that was a year ago and I have been to that a couple of years running. And was looking forward to going again this year, and hello COVID-19. No online retailer events.

Catherine Langman:

No events at all.

Laura Klein:

It’s just been … It’s just the way it’s going at the moment so you just got to roll with it. What do they say? You can’t control the wind, you can only adjust your sails.

Catherine Langman:

I love it.

Laura Klein:

Something like that anyway. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. For those in our audience who don’t know Snotty Noses yet, how about introducing your business? And then we’re going to dive into your business journey.

Laura Klein:

Yes, sure. Alrighty. Well, I started the eCommerce store, snottynoses.com.au in 2013. I was a part-time school teacher on leave and I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids under four years of age. Life was busy and the best product I had ever used with the kids … You buy so many things when you have kids but I bought a battery-powered snot sucker a couple of … In about 2011. And honestly, it was just a life-saver. I felt like I was living in Snotsville. Someone was always sick or running nose. It was just awful. And this thing just helped. It solved the problem instantly.

Laura Klein:

And I told people about it for a year or two, telling them how good it was and then I lost one of the nasals and I had to get in contact with the distributor again. And he sent me my new nasals and said, “Oh, we’re looking for work-from-home reps, a little bit like an Avon lady. You buy a box of stock and you sell these snotties to your friends.” And I thought, “Well, I’ve spent the last year telling everyone about this product. I may as well buy a box of stock and sell it.” So, I did. That was July 2013. We’ve just clicked over our seventh birthday.

Laura Klein:

And I started with no website, no social media, no email list, no clue actually but I had a passion to help others with the most brilliant baby product I’d ever used. And so, away we went. And I sold one on my first day to my friend at playgroup and I went, “This is easy. Here we go.” Oh my, if only I knew. But it literally started from those humble beginnings. Within a couple of weeks, I got myself a website. Oh my gosh, I look at my original website, nonmobile responsive. I mean, just so clunky and chunky, and just awful. But I mean, Google and Facebook started from a garage and a dorm room so everyone starts small, everyone starts clunky. It’s just the journey and you can’t grow until you have … What? Big journeys start with small steps. So, away we went. And I sold a few and we got some momentum.

Laura Klein:

And after a couple of months, I thought, “Well, okay. I’m selling the snot sucker. That’s good, that’s fine. What other complementary products sort of sit under that banner of gadgets for good health and that can help your baby’s breathing?” And so, I approached some other companies saying, “I’d like to sell your products. And yes, that sounds good.” And sort of suddenly I built up a repertoire of around 20 products, all from different manufacturers and different distributors, and they all sold on my website. And they sold well. And away we went. I was still on leave from being a teacher. I was under a lot of pressure to suddenly make money, suddenly make a profit. It was just a little part-time side hustle and having no pressure made all the difference. If I made two sales a day, three sales a day, happy day. That’s really how it started and that was fine.

Laura Klein:

So, away we went and sort of the years rolled past. I think it was 2015, in my second or third year, when I started … I actually got myself a Facebook page for my business. Well done. And started branching out. And that’s how I connected with you, it’s through the AusMumpreneur group. And you just sort of start saying, “Okay. If I want this …” I knew I was on to something so I knew that the amount that we were selling was justifying to me that this product was needed and that we could really go somewhere with this. And I guess one of those, a bit of advice that I would always give to a business owner starting is, when you’re looking at your business or your product, work out whether it’s a painkiller or a vitamin.

Laura Klein:

And the reason I use that analogy is I’ve got a painkilling product, you just need it. When your baby is so sick and congested, and they can’t blow their nose, price becomes irrelevant. You just need a solution and you need it immediately. It’s the painkillers, the Panadol that you need to take to stop your back aching. Whereas if you’ve got a product that’s a vitamin, it’s nice, it’s cute. “Oh yeah, that might look good.” Or, “Yeah, I might buy that.” But there’s no compulsion to buy it now. It’s discretionary spend. And boy, in the age of COVID-19, no one’s got discretionary funds. So, that could be one of the reasons that we’ve managed to survive and thrive during COVID. But that painkiller versus vitamin analogy, I think is a really good question to ask yourself. Have I got something that is going to work? And we knew we did. So yeah.

Laura Klein:

After I met you in 2015, we started looking at sort of expanding the business. I was still working part-time as a teacher. I had gone back to teaching by then. Still had little people at home with me during the day. So, wrapping parcels at the kitchen bench whilst serving Vegemite sandwiches to toddlers. I mean, that’s how-

Catherine Langman:

It’s glamorous.

Laura Klein:

That’s how … Glamor, wow. High flying, I call that. But that was good and that was okay. I met you and you started talking about email marketing. And my first idea was, “I’m not going to bug people with an email. Truly, who wants to listen to what I’ve got to say?” And once I got over that and I realized that if I find the right tribe, they want to hear my message and they want to hear my helpful tips, and they want to connect with a real business of a real mom, all of those sorts of things. And then away we went. We set up some automated sequencers to welcome them when they first come to our website.

Laura Klein:

And then the money is in the followup. It costs a lot of money to acquire a customer so what are you going to do? You want to go back to them and say, “Well, do you want to buy something else?” And that was where I realized that I couldn’t be a one-trick pony with this business. I couldn’t just have the snot sucker because someone would come and buy it, it lasts for years and years. They’ve got no reason to buy a second one. So, that was not a sustainable business model and I realized that within the first couples of weeks on that.

Laura Klein:

So, having these other ancillary complementary products just was a no-brainer, and that is what continues to give us a revenue stream by selling these other products, which are the ultrasonic vaporizers, the breathing essential oils that go in them. Those things are consumable so they run out. People are going to come back and buy those. You might only need one snot sucker but you need a couple of vaporizers. You want one in your child’s room and then you want one in your own room, and then you want one in the lounge room, and then you want to get one as a gift to a friend. That sort of model is extremely sustainable and scalable, which has worked in our favor.

Catherine Langman:

I know the answer to this but for the audience, because I think the way that you guide your decisions about what products to add to your range is quite neat and intuitive, tell the audience how you do that. How do you tie it all together?

Laura Klein:

In choosing the product range?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Because you’re very deliberate with … You’ve got your tagline that really guides that.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. They had to fall under the umbrella of gadgets for good health and good sleep. I have been approached by so many different businesses saying, “We’ve got these lunchboxes and we’ve got these cute hats for babies, and we’ve got these feeding products, and we’ve got these bath type products for babies.” Because they know that my target audience is moms sort of between the ages, sort of, 22 to 40 with young children. That’s my target market. And they are the most targeted consumers in the world. I mean, moms are just such powerful consumers. But I’ve said no to those bath products, the cutesy nursery items and all of that. It had to be products for good health and good sleep, and they had to be practical. I am a practical person by nature so I wanted the painkillers not the vitamins. Does that make sense? That sort of …

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. That’s how I decide.

Catherine Langman:

But I think it’s so easy for people to kind of just say yes to all these things because it seems like a good idea in the moment. And without that sort of guiding light, like you have with your tagline, to really guide that product selection. And so, what you’ve been able to do is really differentiate and stand out in the marketplace because you’ve got this very cohesive range and you’re the place to go to for good gadgets for good health and good sleep.

Laura Klein:

Yes.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Sniffles and sleep. And if you ask any mother, that’s life. Sniffles and sleep is all that matters. Other cutesy stuff, it’s fine. There are a lot of amazing businesses that sell lunchboxes and toys, and all of that, and they are amazing businesses. But they’re doing their thing and I have got to stay in my lane. And I think that’s really important, that you stay in your lane. You look sideways occasionally but you need to just niche it down a little bit. What’s that saying? A niche is an inch wide but a mile deep. You can still grow and scale beautifully if you keep in your lane. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. I love it.

Laura Klein:

We sort of rolled along nicely with some growth sort of hitting that … Without giving too much away, but hitting that seven-figure in revenue by 2018, which was really nice. And of course, you get contacted by media. They love a million-dollar mom story. Good old Sydney Morning Harold and all of these different … And we put press releases out there. I’m not shy about sort of saying, “We’ve done this and we’ve grown to this.” And I seem really proud of that. So, I do use a PR platform that allows me to send a press release to all sorts of media outlets, news channels, newspapers, et cetera because that gets you traction and they’re really looking to … They want those good news stories. They want to tell your story.

Laura Klein:

And then when you can put it on your website that you have been in the Sydney Morning Harold, the Melbourne Age, all of these, Channel Seven, Sunrise, all of that, it just gives … When a new visitor comes to your website and they see those badges, it doesn’t count for everything but it counts for something. They say like, “Well, this must be a fairly reputable business if they’ve had this sort of contacts in the media.”

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:12:18]

Laura Klein:

The million-dollar mom story, they always love that. I always say to people though, “Please remember that’s revenue. Oh my God, it’s not profit.” I mean seriously, I am not retiring to the Bahamas any time soon. Oh gosh.

Catherine Langman:

You’re not? Dammit!

Laura Klein:

No. No.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Not this year anyway. And everyone who runs a business knows that revenue is one thing and profit is a completely other set of numbers. And you need to keep your eye on both and make sure your numbers work. Because if your numbers don’t work, you have a hobby and you don’t have a business.

Catherine Langman:

Absolutely. Hear, hear!

Laura Klein:

It’s brutal but it’s true.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Does that sort of sum up sort of where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown? And that it’s slow and steady wins the race. There was really no magic overnight fix or trick. Working with email was one little part of it. Getting an incentive popup on my website was another little part of it. Getting some good Facebook and Instagram followings and doing some authentic post, that’s another part of it. There’s so many bits and pieces. It’s like cooking a stew, there’s so many bits of pieces that go into the pot. There’s no [inaudible 00:13:32]. Google Ads is another word, Facebook ads is another whole world. All of those things are all pieces of the pie that you need to get right.

Laura Klein:

And if you don’t know how to do it, for goodness’s sake, go and get some help from somewhere. Teach yourself lots of stuff but then go and ask experts for help. And pay some money to get someone that you know and you trust, and that’s been recommended to you. That’s how I came to work with you because someone had said, “Yes, she’s the email marketing lady. She knows her stuff for product-based businesses.” And it’s absolutely true.

Laura Klein:

And also, go and stalk some other businesses as well. Go and join up. If you see a really good business online, go and sign up to their email newsletter. Oh my gosh, just see what they put out there. I mean, I know one of your clients has been the Active Truth girls. I love signing up to their newsletter and following them on Instagram. I love watching what they do. Do I copy it? No. I don’t copy it. No one can copy you. But you see an idea and then you go, “That is really cool. That’s working well for them.” You don’t copy the exact idea but you tweak it and you-

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. You just take inspiration from ideas that other people do.

Laura Klein:

Absolutely.

Catherine Langman:

I think what I’ve always admired of you over the years is that you really have … You’re very keen to learn the next new strategy that might complement what you’re doing. And you are very good at just putting your head down and getting it implemented, and you’re very consistent from then on. It’s not like you … You’re not the kind of person that just is chasing shiny objects or some miracle overnight, wand-waving solution to whatever the problem is. You’re very good at-

Laura Klein:

When someone finds that magic fairy’s address, please tell me where she lives because it doesn’t exist.

Catherine Langman:

Somewhere with Santa Claus, I think.

Laura Klein:

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Chilling out, social distancing up in the North Pole, [inaudible 00:15:30] together. Oh gosh. Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

But you’re so good at being very … You are very consistent and I think that that’s been one of the key things to your success and your growth over time, is because you haven’t been chasing that miracle cure. You’ve been very diligent and consistent at implementing and just keeping stuff going all the time.

Laura Klein:

Yeah, that’s it. And always learning new things as well. There’s always new things to … I love listening to your podcast and there’s a couple of other Australian and American podcasts that are just so good. I still sign up to free training courses and webinars. But I tell you what, if I’m not getting value from them within the first five minutes, I bail or I unsubscribe. If they’re not my people and they’re not talking my language, that’s totally fine. They suit someone else but they just don’t suit me. But definitely, keep learning. And also share and collaborate as well. As I said, when I read someone … Even [inaudible 00:16:28], I’ll see what they’re doing on social media and I’ll be like, “Oh wow, that is such a cool idea.” So, I might give something a crack and then someone might see something that I’m doing and learn from that. And what was I saying to you the other day? One of my favorite sayings, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

Catherine Langman:

Isn’t that so cool?

Laura Klein:

Seriously, just help someone.

Catherine Langman:

I love that.

Laura Klein:

Oh my gosh, you get something out of it as well. You absolutely do.

Catherine Langman:

Definitely do. Yeah. Wholeheartedly agree with you.

Laura Klein:

And sometimes when things aren’t going so well in your business and you are scrambling and you’ve had a door closed in your face so you need to find a way through the cat flap really quickly, it’s those relationships that you might have established, whether in person or online, or on social media, those business relationships, they can give you that one little nugget of gold or that tip or, “Look, I would try this person and why don’t you do that?” And it just comes back tenfold. What you give out will come back to help you at some point. And my journey for the last 12 months, boy, it’s been interesting. We’ll talk about that in a sec, but there has been those little tidbits of information that you’ve given me and [inaudible 00:17:41] Success has given me. Those little bits saved my bacon when my back was against the wall about 12 months ago.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. And you just really need to have those trusted contacts that you can talk things through and just through that conversation, you’ll end up with the ideas. Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. For sure.

Catherine Langman:

You have been on a bit of a rollercoaster over the last 12 to 18 months because you had this amazing growth and you really were scaling up and then what happened?

Laura Klein:

Well, it all … Look, it was just a situation where I was selling the snotty product, well, from another distributor in Australia, for all of those years. And that was fine. But obviously, when you’re buying from a distributor, you’re not going direct to factory. So, your profit and your margin, and your control of that product is a little bit compromised because you’re dealing with an Australian distributor rather than a factory direct. And relationships in business, it’s never personal. It’s just a business thing, things change. And in February last year, a few things happened with some pharmacy contacts et cetera. And the relationship I had with that Australian distributor just soured, it just did. And I realized that it wasn’t going to be workable for either of us moving forward. But that meant that I needed to scramble big time and find my own supplier, my own factory and create my own snot sucker.

Laura Klein:

I was the master of my own destiny and I could control the future and the scale of my business. And by going direct to factory, which I have, in Taiwan, I am now the Australian distributor of my new product called Snotty Boss. And that opens up a new channel to me, which is wholesale to pharmacies. I launched in March this year, that was a full year and a bit of research and development to find this new factory, make sure that I wasn’t going to completely ruin my business by going with a product or a factory that wasn’t great. But it turned out that it was. And that was a full year of research and development.

Laura Klein:

And again, it’s those business contacts. I have a doctor friend and an electrical engineer friend. And when we were looking at this factory and this factory, and this factory, we bought so many samples, oh my goodness, off Alibaba. That’s how we find these people, buy so many samples of different snot suckers. And they came to Australia and we pull them apart, and electrical engineering friend was looking at it saying, “That’s not good quality. Plastic or electrics, or wires. Yes, that one’s the one.” And so, we had to go through the process and it just takes time to find the right manufacturer, but I have. They had a prototype that we took. I guess we’ve taken the base of that and made it our own product, added things, changed things. Obviously, labeled it Snotty Boss as the new product.

Laura Klein:

And it was produced and it launched, and it arrived in Australia in March this year. And away we went. We’re no longer selling that original product from the other distributor. We’ve now got our own. And that just makes the books looks a lot nicer because I’m going direct to factory. And then we’re sort of able to onsell it to pharmacy, et cetera, as a wholesale channel and then keep our retail channel through the snottynoses.com.au website. Quite a journey.

Catherine Langman:

I’m sure now that it’s launched and it’s going so well, you’re probably … Well, as you say, it makes the books look really good but it must be very exciting and a big relief and everything. But a year ago, that must have felt like a massively risky decision to make.

Laura Klein:

Daunting.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. I really had no choice because when the relationship with that initial distributor soured, I was pushed off the cliff and I had to find my parachute on the way down. When your back’s against the wall, you scramble. And yes I had some really sleepless nights thinking, “Everything I’ve worked for, he’s going to withhold stock from me. He’s not going to supply stock anymore. This is not good. I’m going to have no …” And that was coming into winter of last year and that’s our busiest time obviously. So, I managed to sort of hold on and smooth it over for that year while I sort of … In the background, I was getting my own ducks in the row and getting my own product launched. But that’s just the way it sort of had to be.

Laura Klein:

And of course, the difference with my product is that it’s a medical device. And so, with that comes so many more registrations and policies. You have to be compliant with TGA and as you would expect to. My goodness, it’s a medical device, for sure. And again, that gives parents such confidence in the products we sell being high quality. But you have to do your due diligence and you have to have the certification and all of that to make sure it’s legal and it’s safe, and it’s medically registered, and all of that sort of stuff. It’s not for the faint-hearted but I did it.

Catherine Langman:

This may be a question out of left field and it might not be something you’ve ever really thought about, I don’t know. But when it comes to having the guts and the confidence to keep going and pushing ahead even though it is a big scary decision, and to really back yourself, what do you … Is there anything that you do that you know that you actively do to try to-

Laura Klein:

Other than drink a few glasses of red wine every night?

Catherine Langman:

I’m sure that’s good for commiseration.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. I guess talking and connecting with people like yourself and [inaudible 00:23:46] and all these people that sort of said, “You can do this. You really can. Keep searching for that factory. You’ll know when you find it.” I’m a big believer in follow your gut. We saw some samples of different snot sucking prototypes and I just knew I couldn’t put my name to it. I wouldn’t use it myself as a mother so there’s no way that I’m going to manufacture it and sell it. No.

Laura Klein:

I had to just keep working through it until I found that factory. And our relationship with them has been amazing. I don’t know where … I had no other choice. Yeah. I had no choice but to just sort of say, “I am going to have to do this.” And could I have done that in my first year of business back in 2013? Probably not.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Laura Klein:

Had the knowledge or the confidence and wouldn’t have had the capital to be able to pay. A factory order, when we’re talking at this scale, it’s not 1,000 bucks worth of stock. You need some capital behind you to be able to put … We’re talking bulk orders here so I couldn’t have done it before I did. And people always say, “Oh, don’t you wish you’d bought out your own Snotty Boss years ago?” And I say that, hindsight, it’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? But I didn’t get to where I am without making all of these little journeys and some mistakes, and all of that along the way.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. I suppose you know how to sell this stuff now. You’ve got the audience there and you’ve got the sales and marketing in place and …

Laura Klein:

Oh yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. That’s awesome.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. So, we launched in the middle of the pandemic. There we go. 30th of March this year. And I’m based in Brisbane and so … I mean, I love a good bit of PR. We had a big launch party, set to South Bank in Brisbane and we’re going to do a flash mob all dressed up with these beautiful babies all dressed up in these costumes and all the rest of it. Hello coronavirus.

Catherine Langman:

That all had to be put on the back-burner.

Laura Klein:

Eight days. Eight days before we launched, the whole of Australia went into shutdown and it was like, “Oh gee, that’s not good. But again, one day closes, find a way through the cat flap. That’s okay, we will just …” I literally launched with an Instagram stories video on my Instagram page. I was on my back deck. I had the product there, I was surrounded by cartons of these products and I said, “Guys, it’s here. I’m so excited.” And of course, I’d been leading my audience up to that journey. They knew I was cooking something but they didn’t know what I was up to. So, building that little bit of anticipation and all of that.

Laura Klein:

We literally launched on Instagram that day. Sold some that night and it was like, “Whoa, here we go. Happy day.” Now, there was a price difference between the one I used to sell and the new Snotty Boss because there’s a manufacturing cost difference. It was only a $20 price point difference and my product is still under $100. And I think that’s a bit of a sweet spot for parents to keep it under $100. And honestly, that little bit of a price rise, no one’s even blinked. It just is that’s what you pay for a premium medical device and people are absolutely happy to pay for that. Can you buy cheaper ones? You bet you can. Do they last? No they don’t. Do they work really well? No, they don’t. In every market and every product [crosstalk 00:27:21]

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Yeah, yeah. And there’s cheap everything and there’s premium everything. We may not appeal to all parents but I think if we should have said to you, “$79 for your baby to breath instantly better, sleep through the night for every time they’re sick.” People would … “Where do I … Shut up and take my money. Really?” Yeah. That has sort of worked well for us. So, away we went.

Catherine Langman:

And was this launch just in Australia when you did this year?

Laura Klein:

Yes.

Catherine Langman:

Yes.

Laura Klein:

Yes. Initially was. Yep. So, just in Australia. And that’s where my business has always been. Snottynoses.com.au obviously indicates that we are domestic, and that’s fine. But it’s sort of a nice upside or an unexpected upside of COVID is once I launched the Snotty Boss, we instantly started getting inquiries from overseas. Moms overseas who followed us on Instagram or Facebook. “Can you send it to Singapore? Do you ship to New Zealand?” Da, da, da. And after getting … Da, da, da. After a week or two, I said to my customer service girls, I said, “I think we’re going to have to go international. I wasn’t expecting to do that in May but I think we’re actually going to have to. Oh my God, how do we do that?”

Laura Klein:

So, I taught myself how to build a secondary website that just sells Snotty Boss, if that makes sense. My Australian website sells that suite of complementary healthcare products but our standalone snottyboss.com is not international. It runs as a completely separate website. And boom, we have launched internationally. We now ship to New Zealand or Hawaii. We even sold one to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. Canada, UK. I mean, the Northern Hemisphere is in summer at the moment so it’s mainly actually New Zealand. And we’ve got us some Facebook advertising to New Zealand so that is just going extremely well. But that’s the good thing, my business is a little bit seasonal so again, you have to be smart about that. So now, when we come out of winter in September, in the Southern Hemisphere, well, winter in the Northern Hemisphere kicks in.

Catherine Langman:

It’s just kicking in.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. I can sort of see that that will be, that international website, will be a nice little revenue stream to keep it sort of more evergreen for the whole year. Does that make sense?

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. It’s brilliant. I love it.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. So, totally unexpected and I did it myself, I launched it and away it went. So yes, we are now international.

Catherine Langman:

This is a great example of someone seeing an opportunity they didn’t necessarily expect and just running with it.

Laura Klein:

Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much. And that goes for wholesale as well. I know we’ve had some … Can I quickly talk about my wholesale to pharmacy?

Catherine Langman:

Totally. Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. Through the end of last year and early this year, I was actually contacted by some pharmacy agents and they are people who represent a number of different brands that sell into pharmacy. They’re a really good middleman. They have their connections with the good priced pharmacies and the chemist warehouses, and the Terry Whites of this world and they’re representing a number of brands. And they sort of indicated … There was a West Coast and an East Coast agent and they sort of said, “Look, we’re really keen to have Snotty Boss as part of our portfolio.” “Great, great. Sounds good.” We were ready to sign a contract with them literally in the first week of April and everything shut down. They just came to me and said, “Laura, I’m so sorry. We still believe in your product but we are scrambling here. We laid off all of our reps. We have no reps calling on pharmacy. Everything’s shut down. We’re really having to just honker down and ensure your own business survives.” And I totally get that.

Laura Klein:

But it suddenly meant we had no channel, no foot in the door to get into any pharmacy. Again, that was really unexpected and unfortunate. Again, what am I going to do? Not even try to get into pharmacy? No way. Oh, we cold-called. Again, I set up a wholesale portal on my snottynoses.com.au website. Taught myself how to do that. Got the wholesale portal. Again, just for Snotty Boss because that’s the one that I’m a distributor of and I have control of. And myself and three of my team members literally looked up Yellow Pages online for pharmacies in Australia and there’s five thousand of them, and we just cold-called. “Hi, this is who we are.” We’re not trying to sell them anything but we want their email address and a name so we can followup with an email, get them on our database and get Snotty Boss in that way. And guess what? It worked.

Laura Klein:

We now have landing inventory-wise, some price lines, a lot of independent pharmacies. Maybe had we gone with those agents, the West Coast and East Coast agents, maybe we could have been in more than we currently are, but that got taken off the table and there was nothing I could do about that. That was my COVID challenge. I picked myself up and said, “Right, I’m going to have to do it myself.” And of course, now I’m not also paying them an agent’s fee. The maths on that looks a little bit better as well. But I knew I had a good product and we would work it out. We just have done wholesale that way. Now, will that stay that way? I don’t know. I don’t know about the future, whether we might sort of consider working with a pharmacy agent in the future. But that’s the way that we’ve managed and scrambled to get through now.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah. That’s very cool. Well, I mean, on the plus side, at least pharmacies haven’t closed there. One retail store that stayed open so that’s good for you and …

Laura Klein:

Yeah.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

I mean, for us it’s been a good time to be in sort of online [inaudible 00:33:21] healthcare that’s been sustainable through COVID and then pharmacy still has people coming in. And even though … Thankfully COVID hasn’t affected children much. There’s a very low infection rate in children but children are still getting … They’ve got old common cold, the rhinovirus. They’re still sick or going around because they’re still at daycare and they’re just kids. They’re little Petri dishes. There are germs everywhere and they are going to get six to 12 head colds in their first year or two, and Snotty Boss is just the solution.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, so cool. Before we finish up, I know that you … And you’re a very creative marketer actually but you’re really great at being able to find ways to build your audience and really engage with them. And I guess I’m thinking particularly on social media, that you’re really good at doing it on email as well and with your content, and the tech tools that you use, and the people you collaborate with. What about sharing a few of your ideas that have worked for you over the years and give people a few practical tips?

Laura Klein:

Yeah, absolutely.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. Well, I think first and foremost is I’m a mom and a business owner and I can’t separate the two. I am Laura and I run Snotty Noses so you will see my face on our Facebook pages, on our videos, on our website, on our Instagram stories. It’s me talking, it’s not highly produced. It’s raw and it’s real and that is what people love. They want to see the behind the scenes videos. I think my Instagram stories are eye-wateringly boring because that’s what I do every day. Other people apparently don’t. They like to see us unloading a pallet of stock, reefing out sacks full of parcels out to the Australia Post van when they come and collect every day. That’s interesting because it’s real. And I talk on my email messages, I guess it’s in a sort of … It’s not a professional tone but sort of that more … It’s more just human to human. It’s just one mom to another saying, “I’ve got the solution that can give you the transformation that you’re looking for in terms of dealing with your Bob who is sick and sleepless.” [crosstalk 00:35:48]

Catherine Langman:

But you also really understand their problem, right? I think-

Laura Klein:

I’ve been there.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, exactly.

Laura Klein:

You bet I understand it. And that’s where … I mean, so many of us that have started a business, it’s because we had that same problem and then we found a solution for it. That’s how … You need a personal connection to your business. If you’re just going into business to sell [inaudible 00:36:08] because you think it’ll make you a lot of money but you’ve got no heart or passion behind it, well, good luck to you. But I don’t think it will work, I really don’t.

Laura Klein:

We do stories every day. I love influencers. I have a tribe of probably about 80 to 90 influencers that I work with. And I love a micro-influencer and they’re between 3,000 and 10,000 followers. But they’re Australian moms who’ve got a beautiful page, they have a real connection with their audience and they’re really happy to do a product to post or product for stories pop. I’ll send them Snotty Boss and they’ll do a couple of stories for me. And then the key here is they end up loving the product so much that they put up other stories for free. They just keep raving on about the product. It’s an evergreen sort of thing and they create photos and they create videos for me. And that’s content that I can repurpose at any point.

Laura Klein:

A story that [inaudible 00:37:11] put up in February … Not February because we hadn’t launched then but in April, about the Snotty Boss. I put that on my stories back in February. Well, I might roll it out again in August because the content just lasts forever, the videos and the images. You’re not sort of paying them or gifting them product just for that one post that they do, hoping it will generate 1,000 sales because it won’t, but it gives you a little bit of exposure and it gives you social proof, and it gives you content that you can repurpose. I love influencers.

Laura Klein:

And we work with some bigger ones as well up to the 50,000, 60,000, 100,000 followers. And they’re also just awesome, awesome, lovely people. And some of those … There’s other ones that are in the millions and you get an email saying, “It’s $5,000 for me to pay to be part of this collaboration.” And I’m like, “No. I’m good. I’ll stick with my little micro-influencers that are probably a better connection.” But every business is different. And for business, those micro-influencers work really well.

Laura Klein:

I do a welcome … Well, not I do. I don’t. But my team do a … We send a welcome DM message to all of our new followers on Instagram just a, “Hey, how are you? Thanks so much for following us.” Yes, it’s manual. Don’t even try to automate Instagram by using one of those apps. Oh my gosh, you’ll get your account banned.

Catherine Langman:

No. You’ll get in trouble with that.

Laura Klein:

Yep, you will. One of my staff might spend 30 minutes every day just sending 60 new DMs like, “Thanks for following us.” Not a sales pitch. They don’t want to buy from you, they just want to say hi. It’s those little connections that are nice.

Catherine Langman:

Do you get some conversations out of that?

Laura Klein:

Yeah. Absolutely. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, my friend told me about you and da, da.” “Oh, that’s great.” It’s just-

Catherine Langman:

That’s cool.

Laura Klein:

Yeah, it is nice. We do giveaways. Giveaways, it just is such a great way to get engagement, either on Facebook or Instagram. Probably once every six weeks we’ll do a giveaway on Facebook and then six weeks later, a giveaway on Instagram. Sometimes it’s just me, sometimes I collaborate with one other influencer and we’ll do the giveaway together. So, she’s posting to her platform about it, that works well. What else do we do? My keys and my magnets. Do you want to hear about my keys and magnets?

Catherine Langman:

Yes, please.

Laura Klein:

Okay. I always think … It cost us just as so much to get a customer. So, when you’re sending them something, you better deliver and delight. And I get things ordered here all the time. Some from very big businesses actually and some from little businesses. And it will arrive in a white box, with a white invoice and my product. And I’m like, “Are you actually kidding?” It is boring, it is not personal, and you’re missing an opportunity to introduce your brand, make a connection with me and potentially sell me something else. So, no. We include a brochure of, “You bought this. Now, look at all these other fabulous products.” We include a fridge magnet, a little … It cost me I think 10 cents for these magnets because we ordered thousands of them. And it’s a fridge magnet with some little owls on it saying, “Snottynoses.com.au.” I want that customer to put that magnet on their fridge so when their mom friend comes over for a play date, they’re looking at their fridge going, “Cute magnet. What’s snottynoses.com.au?” I mean seriously, it’s such simple marketing but why wouldn’t you?

Laura Klein:

We also do a thank you card like, “Thank you so much for shopping with us.” And I really mean it, you’re supporting me and my family, and my staff and allowing me to employ people because you shop with us. I’m seriously saying thank you. And I attach a little teabag. It’s an organic vanilla and chamomile tea and I send that away as well. And the amount of social media comments or Instagram stories, “Oh, they sent this product and they sent this tea as well.” Isn’t it lovely? We get more shout-outs about the tea than even the product. I used to just buy regular sort of grocery brand organic tea and then I collaborated with Tracey from MaterniTea and said, “Look, can I buy some samples off you and I’ll put them in each of my parcels?” And she was like, “Yeah, great.” So, she gives me a discount on the tea samples that I buy, the little individual [inaudible 00:41:19]. And I’m promoting her brand by putting one in the hundreds, thousands of parcels going out here every month. That’s called win-win.

Catherine Langman:

Your customers love it. They feel really surprised and delighted, and looked after, and welcomed and everything. And then MaterniTea, the tea supplier, she’s getting something out of it as well because she’s being introduced to your audience, which is great.

Laura Klein:

And who are also her ideal customer because she does sort of lactation and pregnancy, and sort of mothering type tea. She’s getting eyeballs on her business. And we’re not competitive. We still got the same target market but we’re not competitive. It’s a no-brainer.

Catherine Langman:

I absolutely love that idea.

Laura Klein:

Yeah. And I’m just going to mention as well that sometimes your greatest evolvement in business can come from a not so nice experience, and that is like a negative comment or a negative review, or a negative bit of feedback. And you’re like, “Oh my gosh, oh, that’s terrible.” I always go back to those people and try and [inaudible 00:42:28] but one of them sort of was about not having a referral program because we have a welcome code, like a coupon code for our initial customers that they can use once for their initial purchase.

Laura Klein:

And then she’s like, “Well, I tried to use that code and it didn’t work.” And I went back to her and I said to her, “I’m so sorry. Thanks for understanding. It’s just for your first purchase.” And she came back, she said, “Well, ain’t I more valuable? I’m a followup customer and you’re giving me nothing.” And I went, “Yep. That’s actually a great point. I need to get a referral program. I need to say thank you and harness the power of referrals and giving you points every time you shop with us so you can then cash it in for a $50 voucher or something like that.” That referral program that we use, smile.io, came from an initial negative feedback of, “Why are you only offering a discount to new customers? Why aren’t you rewarding us every time we spend?” That’s been … Yeah, it’s really, really good.

Catherine Langman:

And that’s gone on to be a good strategy for you then in generating the repeat purchases ongoing.

Laura Klein:

Absolutely. Yep, absolutely. And a great way to [inaudible 00:43:36] a grumpy customer. Their parcel arrives and Australia Post look like they’ve kicked it from Brisbane to Melbourne. It arrives crumpled and you’re like, “Oh my God. It left here in pristine condition.” And then it arrives there and the box is ripped. That drives me mental, but you can’t do anything about it but you can say, “I am so sorry. Thank you for your understanding, your patience on that. I’ve just added 250 bonus reward points to your account just to say thank you.” And it instantly changes from a grumpy customer to a, “Wow, that’s actually really nice.” That rewards program, offering … I throw out free rewards like it’s confetti. Just give them some reward points and say, “Look, I totally understand. It stinks that your parcel arrived and it was a bit crumpled or that this happened or this happened.” Because things happen, nothing’s perfect. No business runs perfectly every day. Throw some free reward points to someone and they’ll love you.

Catherine Langman:

I absolutely love it. And it’s such a great note to end on as well, just really drawing attention to how important it is to keep our customers coming back for me. Because the repeat sales is really where your profit’s going to be. We want to work [crosstalk 00:44:50]

Laura Klein:

Yeah, it is. The money is in the followup. Yep, for sure. For sure.

Catherine Langman:

So good. Now, before we do finish up, let’s share where people can go to find out more. I’ll obviously put all the links in the podcast show notes but do you want to share your web address and social media handles as well?

Laura Klein:

Sure. Snottynoses.com.au. Sign up to our email newsletter and you can find us on Facebook and Instagram at Snotty Noses Australia.

Catherine Langman:

Fantastic. Awesome. Well-

Laura Klein:

Come and watch one of my cool little stories of me rabbiting on about something.

Catherine Langman:

So good. You are a gem worth sharing all of your stories. And such great ideas that you try lots of different things. Maybe some of them don’t always work but a lot of them do and I really-

Laura Klein:

Oh, completely. Yes. That’s one of my other favorite things. If you’re going to fail, just fail fast and then move on. Don’t dwell on it.

Catherine Langman:

Yeah, don’t dwell on it. Yeah.

Laura Klein:

Just turn the corner and keep going. Yep.

Catherine Langman:

I absolutely love it. Thank you so much for being so generous with sharing all of this with us today. Really, really appreciate it.

Laura Klein:

Thanks Cath, lovely to talk.