How to Build a Brighter Future with Josh Snow

Today I’m joined by Josh Snow. Who, if you haven’t heard of him, you definitely have heard of his award-winning, number one tooth whitening brand in the world. Snow Tooth whitening!

Adam: Josh, I’ve always been super impressed with how you’ve done, what so many people dream to do, which is made the eCommerce thing work. Even with competitors like Amazon who are trying to force people to buy everything through them, and then here is you killing it with what you’re doing, man. How did you make this happen?

Josh: Well there is no secret. I figured that out. There are no shortcuts. But there are smart cuts. That’s a book I read years ago and I love that terminology. But when I started Snow, I had already built and sold several businesses, mostly in ad tech, eCommerce marketing, an agency, and eCommerce for the garage door space. I was already in these areas, but two of my best friends at the time were building Tuft & Needle, the mattress company, the first bed in a box. 

Smart Cuts To Success in Life

I was thinking about it at the time, I’d always been obsessed with, or not obsessed? I was obsessive a little bit when I was younger. Because I started in business when I was 13, whitening my teeth and having a wider smile just made me feel more confident.

It was something that I dabbled in as a consumer for 10 years at the time. I was also undergoing jaw surgery, so I was spending a lot of time around dentists, oral surgeons, and it just happened to be the timing.

I had this idea for cosmetics and oral care merging on a big scale. There were players before that were doing it. Some that have tried it were dentists that were like, “I’m going to create my own teeth whitening brand and it’s going to be luxury.” But I just felt like that area was lacking. 

What to do when people tell you it’s impossible

Then all the odds were pretty much stacked against me from the name being Snow. Like “You’re never going to get that trademarked.”

We now have the trademark and the username, the verification, all that stuff, and it didn’t come easy, It didn’t come from the start. But it was this vision that I had that oral care, such a massive industry consolidated with just a few players and they have got great products. 

It’s not that there aren’t great products out there and they’re not accessible or affordable. You can get toothpaste pretty much anywhere. It’s the number one sold retail product, but the elevation of what people are putting into their bodies…

If they’re they’re going vegan or paleo, keto, gluten and free, and these are preferences no longer intolerances. The taste of the modern consumer, we have choices now, even in cosmetics, and skincare. You can get your acne treatment from one brand, your eyeliner from another, your toner from another. 

How to upgrade your brand from good, better to best

The choices that consumers have and all these other industries, I just felt like it was lacking inside of oral care. If I want a good, better, best, how do I upgrade to the best? What does that mean? Is it better ingredients? Is it better packaging? Is it better for the earth? Is it better for me, like better results? Like what does that mean?

I wanted Snow to be looked at as the Dyson or Apple of oral care in the way that we thought about product development, packaging,  marketing, and storytelling. The names of our products, the service that we provide. 

That was the vision in the beginning. They didn’t know how big or anything like that. I just knew, Hey, a lot of people have teeth, all the odds are stacked against me. I’m looking for pretty much an impossible challenge in my life because I had the kind of shiny stuff at the time, the cars, and, I’ve been fortunate to be financially successful in my space since I was a teenager.

I have gone through that phase and made money, I’ve lost money and been screwed over a hundred plus times and all of that stuff. I got to a point as an old soul where I was like, I want something that I could potentially do for the rest of my life and grows with population growth.

Would the future You Be proud?

Where if I’m even remotely successful, the future me would be proud of the work that I put in and it would be a vision, and a mission pure enough that it could attract other “A” players that have a chip on their shoulders and want a reason to work with other great people. 

That’s what I was seeking. I needed a vehicle for that and happened to be oral care. It happened to be Snow amongst many of the brands that I run.

I founded Snow and was very intentional from the beginning. From me taking a $60,000 a year salary to me putting millions of dollars of my own money into the business and bootstrapping the first hundred million in sales.  

Everything was intentional and probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever face anything of that magnitude of difficulty in my life. I’m ready for it this time around, but it takes a lot to build a Snow.

That’s not just me saying it as a founder very quickly, six months in, Snow became about the customers and the people and the community more so than it became about me. 

I was never really the reason people bought the product. I simply wanted to elevate the industry and find innovative ways to do it. We’ve got a product that everybody can relate to and the result is you smile.

The Right Question: How many people can we help?

How many people can we help smile and feel more confident about their smiles? That’s the mission I can get behind. It’s got an infinite goal and we just continue to push out new products and new lines. That’s where we’re at today, but the vision was just oral care, big market. 

I’m at a place in my life where I need a big challenge and I want to do something on a public forum because it’s something I would’ve liked to follow. I wish I could have followed Steve Jobs on Instagram and seen behind the scenes while he was building it.

All of that versus after the fact. I want to be an example to do that. I don’t care if anybody watches or anybody does it. But I feel like I need to journal this.

Influencer Marketing

Adam: I love that, and now you are the Steve Jobs of tooth whining! You’ve done it. You’ve been featured. I mean, Ellen Degeneres has had Snow Teeth Whitening, and countless celebrities. The Kardashians I see they’ve done it as well.

If I remember because you know, we’re buddies on Facebook I keep track. The question I have for you is, I know that influencer marketing has been a key component in the growth. But one of my favorite things that you say is if you had a hundred thousand dollars only to spend on influencer marketing. You are not just going to go out and try and haggle with Kanye West. What’s your technique?

Josh: It’s changed, you know, it’s changed. I’ve been speaking on the topic for years because I fell in love with influencer marketing because people buy from where they like and trust. We know that.

When you’re a new brand or if you’re a bootstrap brand or even if you don’t have a ton of resources to go out and tell everybody about your product or sample your product, how do you smart cut your way in business? 

You go to people that have millions of fans who like and trust them, who have that embedded. It’s just like when you do a retail deal, if you’re selling physical products, you get your toothpaste into Whole Foods or some big retailer, there’s influencer marketing there because millions of people, shoppers trust Whole Foods to curate that playlist of food, the playlist of brands and discovery.

That’s why they return and Whole Foods takes it very seriously. It’s a big badge of honor beyond the sales you get. It’s important. We look at influencer marketing in a multiple-faceted way.

How to adapt for a bright future

We’ve had to adapt. I’ve had to change the way I think about it, measure it, talk about it, and even teach about it because it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous nowadays because there’s a huge incentive to build up a fake following that does not purchase products. That you’re paying as a brand thousands of dollars to get in front of. 

Sometimes the influencer doesn’t even know that their following is not engaged like they think. So it was the wild wild west when engagement was really high.

You can get a post from a Kardashian or a Kanye West or anyone that had tens of millions of followers and half of their following would see it, they’d engage with it, they would discover the product. They trusted that influencer to tell them what’s cool because they want to be like them. 

After a while, it became commonplace, that, “Oh, if they’re posting something with a brand it’s sponsored, well, I’ll take a look at it. Oh, okay.” Then the Instagram algorithm said, “Okay, 50% of followers, how about 1% of your followers are going to see it now?” So now 1% of your followers are seeing it.

Micro and Nano Influencers

The stories disappear in 24 hours. So we went from spending millions and millions of dollars on large-scale influencer partnerships to saying, “Okay, we need to think about it as the 900 million Instagram users that don’t have 10 million followers.” Those are micro-influencers and even further nano influencers, which are even your own customers.

I go, wow, we have millions of users of our products. Why don’t we reach out to them? They probably have an Instagram. They probably have Facebook. If we had a hundred thousand of our customers, a thousand of our customers, and they have an average of a thousand people and they’re posting every week.

That’s a million people in their close circles, concentric circles that create a ripple effect of trust because remember, people buy from where they like to trust. 

They like and trust hopefully one of their family members If they’re following them and they’re a tastemaker in that space. It might be a dental hygienist, a family member and she’s known as the one that knows about teeth in the family.

She’s posting about Snow while she might only drive 10, 15 sales. But that’s kind of what some of the big influencers can drive because the reach isn’t what you’re thinking.

And then the affinity within that reach for people to actually convert. So we’ve turned it around. We only work with macro mega-celebrities that have global reach because we’re a brand that can catch that.

Now we have 19 channels online, we’re advertising, we’re retargeting retail. We’ve got the net, that’s just worthy enough to catch that kind of brand spillover. We also take that and we use that in retail. So our retail partners get access to those big partnerships. Our investors get access to those big partnerships. 

Our team members see that as a signal of, “Wow, that’s cool. You know, Mike, that’s my company with Drake.” And so influencer marketing works internally as well as to the customer,  but you have to be a big enough brand, or you have enough momentum that you can afford not making any money back the first month on a $500,000, Ellen Degeneres integration. How are you going to maximize that?

Are you going to be able to license it or run it as ads? Otherwise, the meat that makes the majority of brands money on Facebook today is user-generated content. These are free in exchange for product videos that are on their iPhone, that you caption and you run from your page, or even better, you run from their page.

You whitelist it. That’s what’s driving the majority of the D2C brands that are seeing a large return. Even the large ones like EverlyWell, Peloton, you name it. They’re using this type of format on Facebook and Instagram. They’re not going for just the big super celebrities.

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About Adam Lyons

Beyond his own portfolio of growing companies, Lyons is an advisor for over 500 brands across the US and Canada. Lyons has been featured on the Today Show, The Steve Harvey Show, Forbes, Bloomberg Business and the NY Post. He has been awarded 3 different ‘Wicked Smaht’ Awards due to his innovative business strategies and multiple 2 comma club awards. Companies he has worked with include PepsiCo, Nike, Nescafé, Discovery Digital Networks and many smaller brands.

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