Billion dollar playbooks? We can do better.

Quick thing about me: I don't like playbooks. Don't get me wrong—they can actually work. But when you lean on advice, you abandon creativity, and whittle away your uniqueness. You become, well... programmed. And over time, you swap inventiveness for predictability.

The most groundbreaking startups are largely products of intuition and risk. There is no prescription that can kickstart the innovation they manifest out of thin air.

They are a work of art and personal conviction. Playbooks get in the way of that.

Welcome to 10x Consumer, where we'll focus on a different kind of learning: thought-starters. We'll use short prompts to help make sure you ask the right questions and stimulate your creative side—but through the lens of innovation and scale. As an exited bootstrapper, an insider to "Big CPG," and a venture capitalist.

Ready for the value? Below is where you'll get it, in a no-bullsh*t format you can expect from future letters.

The first series of thought-starters is pulled largely from one of my most popular Twitter threads, lovingly updated for 10x Consumer.

A checklist of thought-starters that took us to a 9-figure acquisition.

🌀 Product, Pt. 1: The Star of your Business

☑ Nail a pricing strategy

☑ Root product development in customer intel + shopper data

☑ Substantiate claims with studies and trials

☑ Consistently test + iterate; development is never done 

🌀 Product, Pt. 2

☑ Research + incorporate third party data; monitor + explore trends

☑ Quality check vendors and logistics partners like your brand depends on it

☑ Source ingredients that give you an edge on performance, not cost

☑ Expand into categories that are not just opportunistic, but construct a larger brand narrative 

🏗 Distribution, Pt. 1: The Key to Volume and Accessibility

☑ Prove product channel fit before expanding distribution

☑ Rigorously test & cut new wholesale accounts

☑ Maintain an expansion mentality

☑ Analyze & target growth on a regional level 

🏗 Distribution, Pt. 2

☑ Gather + leverage sales data to ladder up to bigger accounts

☑ Monitor + pursue international opportunity

☑ Support wholesale partners with promo dollars + trade spend

☑ Selectively flood promo to capture what your business is capable of when awareness is higher and SRPs are lower

🧠 Data, Pt. 1: Leveraging Customer Insights

☑ Take pride in challenging prior assumptions

☑ Conduct regular surveys and clinical trials

☑ Identify the brands customers are switching from and the value of trading them up

☑ Monitor seasonality 

🧠 Data, Pt. 2

☑ Segment + layer customer data sets; don’t over-aggregate

☑ Separate core customers from horizon targets

☑ Collect shopper data everywhere that customers buy

☑ Center decision making in the customer journey 

☑ Understand your enterprise value is as important as your revenue numbers 

🗣 Sales and Marketing, Pt. 1: Improving Your Value Proposition

☑ Protect market share like nobody’s business

☑ Lobby for increased SKU footholds in retailers you disrupt

☑ Merchandise the hell out of retail

🗣 Sales and Marketing, Pt. 2

☑ Generate customer leads every day

☑ Increase ad spend & test new platforms/venues as sales grow

☑ Optimize landing & product pages for conversions; A/B test everything 

🛰 Omnichannel, Pt. 1: Meeting Customers Wherever They Shop

☑ Use online ads to boost offline sales

☑ Prioritize DTC loyalty with exclusive channel incentives & products

☑ Ensure channel differentiation with SKUs optimized for size, price, customer profile 

🛰 Omnichannel, Pt. 2

☑ Leverage DTC data in retail pitch decks

☑ Gather customer requests for retail placements and send to category managers

☑ Enforce MAP (minimum advertised price) policies

☑ Focus on attribution to tell stories about customer journeys from online impressions to offline checkouts

📣 Media, Pt. 1: Developing Trust, Community, and Virality

☑ Create a content arm that reduces barrier to category entry

☑ Build community by identifying what your customers are already talking about, then incentivizing them to do so on your platform 

📣 Media, Pt. 2

☑ Lean into UGC—everywhere

☑ Design content that educates and engenders trust

☑ Bolster SEO with organic, referral, & longtail content strategies 

🙋 Brand, Pt. 1: Elevating and Protecting Your Voice/Image

☑ Develop brand equity that is resilient to discounting/promotion

☑ Tell your story in consumer & trade publications

☑ Refine brand rigorously & don’t be afraid to renovate 

🙋 Brand, Pt. 2

☑ Show customers contextual use cases; not just flashy product shots

☑ Execute brand & design with 100% consistency across channels

☑ Never abandon your “right to win” audience to prospect new cohorts 

☑ Build a community on social; not a product showcase

💸 Finance, Pt. 1: Managing and Improving Cash Flows

☑ Aggressively manage inventory & cash flow

☑ Negotiate vendor contracts, pricing, & payment terms on the regular

☑ Become increasingly profitable (!!!)

☑ Consistently improve your COGS (cost of goods sold) 

💸 Finance, Pt. 2

☑ Evaluate VC/PE when speed and optionality is paramount; stick to debt funding or profitability when consistency is paramount

☑ Invest profits back into the business 

🤝 CX, Pt. 1: Helping Customers Help You

☑ Develop a loyalty program ASAP

☑ Never give up on “lost” customers

☑ Consistently rewrite CX “scripts” and improve customer support metrics, particularly time to respond and close tickets 

🤝 CX, Pt. 2

☑ Retention at delivery is crucial—go overboard with support

☑ Get on the phone with customers regularly

☑ Identify and reward top customers/ambassadors

☑ Show off your CX on social 

⚔️ Competition, Pt. 1: Don’t Ignore It; Rise Above It

☑ Break down competitive products, ads, & distribution strategies

☑ Don’t attack competition

☑ Identify their potential partners—and beat them to it 

⚔️ Competition, Pt. 2

☑ Sell everywhere they won’t

☑ Strategize opportunities to take market share

☑ Don’t compete on the same value proposition 

🧑‍💼 Hiring & Partnerships, Pt. 1: Building Teams and Networks

☑ Wine & dine whenever you can

☑ Gradually increase competitive hiring practices; no C-suite on day one

☑ Form ambitious, harmonious cultures that challenge hierarchy

☑ Rally around mission every day 

🧑‍💼 Hiring & Partnerships, Pt. 2

☑ Pay people what they’re worth (or more) 

☑ Give early partners opportunities to scale alongside

☑ Lock in rock-solid legal counsel & insurance 

And lastly,

☑☑ Get lucky constantly

☑☑☑ Do all this for years to suddenly be seen as an “overnight success” 

That wraps up the first issue of 10x Consumer. Thanks for reading. If you liked this newsletter, please forward it to a friend and spread the word on social.

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