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Podcast Episode #002: Building a 'boring' DTC lawn enhancement brand

Jul 19, 2022

 --- Transcript ---

Good morning, or good afternoon or good evening, depending on, frankly, where you are.

I just wanted to jump into this tweet I put out yesterday that was saying you don't need a jazzy new idea to build a new direct-to-consumer business from scratch.


Today, what you need to do is find:

  • Archaic industries
  • Lagging companies
  • Companies with shocking customer service

And then use the tools available at your fingertips to do an incrementally better job.

And you'll rapidly chip away at your competition.

I got a few people coming back to me like, well, could you give us an example? What do you kind of mean?

So today, I put up a tweet of basically like, what, what do we do kind of where I would start what I kind of mean by that.


So first example was a well, let's let me talk through an example of a boring dark consumer business. I wish I had the time to start and say this follows on from yesterday's tweets.

If you're interested in this tweet, I'm gonna link it below in the show notes.

Frankly, if you have any questions related to this episode or any other, just jump on Twitter, tweet at me, or try and send me a DM; I'll be honest, I do have hundreds of requests that I really do need to get back through. But I promise I will; I will try to get back. You have a better chance probably of just commenting at me. But I will, I will always do my best to try and get back to you and answer any questions or comments or anything you have. So please don't ever hesitate.

With that. Let's jump into this.

So an example of a boring dark consumer business that I wish I had time to stop is, and this is going to focus very heavily on brand and no product because I think that's a mistake a lot of us tend actually to make if we get so obsessed.

And this is for new and existing merchants because I must admit, I find myself guilty of doing this too.

And I work with a lot of clients that get into this trap where they become so focused on the product that we kind of forget the business and the brand that we're in, we forget that customers are not buying products, they're buying solutions.

The only reason they're buying our product is that they perceive that by buying it, they're going to solve a problem in their own lives.

Hopefully, that makes a little bit of sense.

I'm going to talk through this and elaborate on it. Hopefully, it will make a bit more sense.

So lawn and backyard enhancement brand was an example throughout.

And notice I'm not talking about a grass care brand. I'm talking about a lawn and backyard garden enhancement brand.

This is for customers that want to design and develop a beautiful backyard for hosting for entertaining. And this can be with friends and family, or frankly, it could just be with, you know, their significant other, or honestly just for themselves got up something that they want to take beautiful photos off and stick on their Instagram.

These are all problems. These are all emotional problems that are perceived audience, and customers are having they want a beautiful garden they can show off and they don't know how to do it. They don't even know where to stop. Well, maybe they do. And they try, they stop it there.

And they've tried that brand, and that brand or they pull different products. But there's no single brand.

So they know really that I can find that it's taken control of this, and is offering to solve all these problems.

So what do I mean? I'm going to talk you through it.

And the first product that is going to take in is grass care, a guaranteed way to help your grace look perfect. Let's say, "how can I guarantee that?" let's talk you through it. 

We could actually just sell the best quality product that we could find that we know works. And it wouldn't take too much googling just to find a supplier and find a product and white label that does a really good job.

Or, we can go out and make our custom formulas.

But I don't think we need even go down that route. Once we have validation on the market. And in time year two, then release versions 2,3,4 or 5 is not where we need to go. But we're going to take this stuff out, though, because something you know that's available through your landscape right now, but what isn't, and you can go out of your local store and buy lawn care products, but none of them feel personalized.

So I would take this a step further by guaranteeing that you could enhance this grass care offering by having prospects literally go into their backyard and photograph their grass.

And we'll go they could do this on top, send you their address, which you could then jump onto Google Maps, switch to satellite view, zoom in, work out the dimensions of their garden. And there are tools that you can overlay on Google Maps and extensions that you can do this to determine the size of the garden and exactly how much product that they would need based on their lawn size based upon the current season based upon where they are geographically because of different grasses grow in different places and they grow at different rates and different.

There are so many variables, just in lawn care, that we could really make a considerable effort actually to personalize a plan for our customers.

So just around grass care. And remember, this is not our business.

This is one of the products that our brand sells that makes a big difference, the mighty tweak, but we are not a grass care company. We are a backyard enhancement brand.

Stick with me. We could actually take that a step further.

That is something that we could turn into a subscription. So again, if we know based on a customer's geography, we know the current status of the grass, we know frankly, with a little bit of research, how long it's going to take for that loan to become, quote-unquote, perfect or not.

But we can take it a step further by upselling. Because if the fear is of wastage, or of getting it wrong from the customer's point of view, we're going to tell them exactly how much we think they need, how often they should apply it, what the process is, what the method is, we could then actually upsell this grass care by partnering with and hiring a local landscaper to go out and apply the product for the customer.

So we're a backyard enhancement brand.

And our first product is a grass care product.

And the upsell, initially the product offering is just a hyper-personalized solution where a customer is going to send us their address and a photograph of the yard. And we're going to use Google satellite imagery to figure out exactly how much product they need. We're then going to put them on subscription based on the geographic location based on what we think they need, we're going to design a plan for them.

This is not the sort of thing that I mean, initially, you may have to do it yourself.

Or, frankly, you could just kick this out to a virtual assistant and have them do this for you.

So almost immediately, you're 10 steps ahead of all your competition by just offering this little tweak on your service.

And it's not a huge one. We're just saying we're going to spend an extra 5 to 10 minutes with every customer to assess the garden, assess their location, and determine how much they need based on the size of their yard and the current status and state of their garden.

Then we gotta take a step further, then we can upsell them, the customer to use a landscaper. If they want to they can do it themselves or they could hire a landscaper.

We can put a nice margin on that we can partner with landscapers to go in and do it for them.

Then you once a quarter, we're going to send them a text message and an email, maybe even pick up the phone and just check in and see how we're doing.

Then have the customer send us another photograph because then that gives us the chance to assess if the method that we've provided is working; are we providing too much product, are we providing too little, or other things that we could tweak in order to make the experience even better.

At the same time, we're going to get them to send us a photograph of their garden and how it looks now.

So we had the photograph initially when the customers reached out, so that's our "before". Then in say three months time, they're gonna send us another photograph.

That's our offer. And now we have social proof; we have this flywheel of content coming in that we can then use the social proof as testimonials, and as adverts. Whether that's on Facebook ads or Tik Tok, or anything else, we have this now rolling portfolio of content coming in of before and afters for our customers.

We're now building trust, and we're building trust with existing customers too.

So rather than have to go out and acquire new customers, we've got very personalized service, we've got people on subscriptions, we're going to check in as a genuine caring business once a quarter to see how they're getting on (or more frequently or less frequently depending on how things are going).

And just make sure that we're helping them to stay on top of their lawn to make their garden the best possible thing that they can so that they are proud of it. We're going to solve that problem for them.

The second product, so we're a lawn and garden enhancement brand, we are not a grass care company – that is just the first product and first offering that we're going to give our customers – then we're going to move into other things.

So our second product could then be something like a fire pit. And again, we can approach this from both sides. So we can actually offer a small fire pit, which is something akin to a little FLIKR fire pit.

I don't know if you've heard of them. They're a little concrete base or about six inches in dimension with a little hole in the middle that you pour fuel into. And you ignite that. They're absolutely gorgeous, pack a ton of heat, that look fantastic.

Now that is great for a little like tabletop thing in a small garden.

Or we could go the other way, frankly, both. And so a larger fire pit, you know, you could say like six to 12 people around.

So we're going to hit both sides of the market.

Because again, we're not just catering to people that want to buy fire pits we're catering to people that want to enhance their backyard, they want to host great parties, they want to just be able to share this thing and show it off.

That's what we're going to help them to do.

Next product, we can go and say so we've got grass care kits, we've got firepits... we could go into speakers.

This is something that we could just go into Alibaba and find just a beautiful looking, well-made, high-quality outdoor speaker system, Bluetooth alto speaker system.

We can either buy one off the shelf and just rebranded it as our own, or we could work with a designer to make something very unique to us.

Or we could go and partner with another brand and buy their products wholesale and just sell them at a commission. You'll get to take an immediate 30-40% margin on that product without ever touching it, without ever having to design it, manufacture it, or anything else.

And that's where we could even start, you know, maybe we could stop.

If we're going to run this brand, hypothetically, we could go and partner with a brand and then in, say, three to six months' time, once we've actually proven that this is something our customers want, then we could take the time to go out and design our own product and roll that in.

So we're a lawn and backyard enhancement brand. We've got grass care products. We've got fire pits, we've got speakers.

Next, let's go into pizza ovens.

That's a really simple product again to manufacture; very simple, just make something easy & high-end that works really well. Make it a premium product that comes with a great warranty.

And now we've got 4 products.

We're a backyard enhancement brand that sells at a personalized level; we sell beautiful firepits, we sell speaker systems, we sell pizza ovens... 

Let's go into lighting. We can create really nice fairy lighting to go out in the garden, and floor lighting.

And again, there's a service that we could then partner with local industries to go out and install it.

Once again, you can do it manually, or you can upsell, and hey, we'll come out and do this for you.

In fact, we could do that with the speaker system.

So we've got lawn care, firepits, speakers, pizza ovens, lighting, let's go into heat lamps....

There are so many ways that we can take this basically, anything that we can do, we could go to furniture... anything we can do to help our customers solve the problem of enhancing their backyard into a beautiful entertainment space is something that we're helping with.

We're not a grass care company, we're not a fire pit company, we're not a speaker company – we are a backyard in enhancement brand helping our customers to just have a beautiful space that they can entertain in.

We can take this a step further and we can then start to build a community around this, and we could do the community aspect either before even selling a product while we're launching these products or just the whole way through, and what's this community going to be? – again it can be paid or it could be free it could just be you know, a Facebook group or a Slack group, a discord... which again is just educating our customers around how to build a beautiful outdoor entertainment area and the best way to build that space, the best way to host, the instructions for the perfect barbecue, instructions for perfect way of the garden, whatever the case may be.

And yet this is not a complicated business at this point.

We are selling products that really already exist.

We might redesign them. You might not.

We just might just take things off the shelf and white label them the whole time, we are becoming the brand that builds your back garden.

And again, this I think this is really where so many people go wrong is they start obsessing over products rather than what the business solves.

So the business is helping our customers – I apologize, I'm repeating myself a lot I know because I really want to get this through to you – we are enhancing the backyard for our customers.

We are not a firepit company, we are not a grass care company.

We are a back yard enhancement company.

Big difference. Big, big, big difference, I promise.

So okay, how would we grow this?

The simplest way, in my mind, is really just to go and partner with local landscapers and partner with Facebook groups.

Build a community of folks that love entertaining in the garden.

And again, you can leverage like I already said: Facebook groups, TikTok Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts... just put out content on like the best way to spruce up the garden, for entertaining on a budget, you know, start there, and then bring people in and sell them on just gorgeous looking backyards, you know, that's something you could curate really easily.

And then drive people to your website.

You're creating awareness, you're creating trust, you're creating a community around these topics, and then you're driving people back to your website.

At this point, you haven't even touched Facebook ads, or any sort of paid media. You don't need to until you've actually validated this market.

So if this is something you wanted to sell on a very tight budget, where really like, you wouldn't even need to buy product originally if you didn't want to or be a very low-cost investment to get this started.

It's a "boring business" that you can move over to a direct consumer model, leverage technology that currently exists leverage resources, such as virtual assistants, to actually carry out the personalization.

Leverage services like Alibaba to find the products, or you probably could drop ship a lot of this just to prove the market, to begin with, and then actually turn it into your own product over time.

The whole time, I really want this to come through, like the whole time you're just building trust with your customers – just over-deliver, create something so special, so personalized with customer service is great. And just modernize this industry.

This is just like it's one little thing. I'm talking about just backyard enhancement. I'm not talking about anything else. This is not complicated.

None of these are particularly technical products.

You know, it's grass care products. It's chemicals, really simple. It's firepits, I mean, it's a block of concrete and some fuel that goes into it.

A speaker system. I mean, been around for a long time, very easy to buy a Bluetooth speaker, pizza ovens, again, very rudimentary, there's no tech in that at all, lighting very rudimentary, we're looking at LED lights with a battery in it and heat lamps, these are all products that already exist. All we are doing is collating customer trust and building a brand around this product.

And that's a wrap. I'm gonna leave it at that today. I know I'm probably going over the 10-minute mark, but I hope this is helpful.

I hope it makes some sense. If it doesn't, as I say, please honestly just jump on Twitter, shoot me a message, tell me like "I don't understand what the heck is going on?".

If you do, and frankly this is something want to run with just jump into my DM's and ask me as many questions as you like.

I will put a few resources in the show notes. I will link to the tweet that kind of inspired this conversation today.

And I'm gonna stop there.

I think the biggest takeaway I want you to kind of take from this today is around building a brand and not focusing on the product but focusing on the solution. Focused on what we are trying to provide for our customers. And taking an industry that has not been updated in forever.

To my knowledge, and certainly from just a very quick assessment of "are there any competitors doing this sort of thing"?

No, is not in the US, not UK, not in Australia. No one's really owning this area.

When to say owning I mean, if you had 1000 raving fans that were just coming back and buying every single product on a rolling subscription, you would have a very, very, very, very profitable business.

I mean, there's a 7 or 8-figure brand right there. There really is.

I hope this helps. As I say any questions just shoot me a DM, pop into Twitter, send me a comment, and I will try to help you as best I possibly can.




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