Whether you’re a start-up or an established brand, the beauty competition today is fierce! A great product is simply the price of entry into the marketplace and the marketplace is filled with great products. Not only do you need fabulous product, you also need innovation. You need a “hero” product that can stand on its own which connects to the consumer emotionally and quickly. But that is just the beginning…you also need an amazing story.

Without a USP (unique selling proposition) that you can explain in 25 words or less, you’re doomed. Without a story that the consumer can connect to and identify with, it’s virtually impossible to get into the game.

This is why I suggest that you spend a great deal of time, thought, energy, and creativity on your story. You have to know what your brand’s DNA is so that you can educate the marketplace about it. You have to definitively identify your target user. Yes, I know you want to sell the product to anyone with money, but that doesn’t qualify as a target. The target should be tightly defined. If you create a great brand story, it will attract users outside of your demographic. Just don’t start too broadly.

Distribution and access to the consumer are the next key elements after brilliant product. You must have a multi-channel strategy, with enough funding to adequately support the channels. You must have a strategy to seamlessly integrate the channels, so they work synergistically. Building alliances and partnerships here is worth the effort. Approach your retail target with your product and brand story up front, before you’ve produced thousands of units. They may see a different angle – something you don’t take into account. Create these partnerships and take advantage of the retailer’s insights to mold your product/brand story.

And, of course, no conversation about product marketing can take place today without addressing social media. It’s the most direct route to the consumer. 60% of beauty consumers today are influenced by beauty blogs. Only 22% are influenced by magazines. That shift has happened in a few short years.

Do I need to emphasize that it’s important to have sufficient funding? Seems pretty obvious, but the number of under-funded launches is mind boggling. It takes time to get traction. We launch between 8,000 and 12,000 beauty products each year! Talk about clutter and confusion…so make sure you can go the distance without taking out a second mortgage. Self-funding is not ideal, but that’s a topic for another day. Look for collaboration opportunities: Borba and Tarteteamed up to launch a vitamin infused lip gloss. Everyone wins!

You should surround yourself with a team of experts who know more than you do. Don’t scrimp here. You’ll need resources, a network of advisors and your own personal, trusted “board” of friends and supporters. Perhaps most important – you must LOVE the process. There is no end. It’s never finished. It’s never enough. Lean to enjoy the journey.

And, finally, make sure someone is responsible for the “reality check.”

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