My spouse Jess and I weren’t planning on beginning an organization when the concept for Custom Neon got here into our lives. Jess was on maternity depart with our first child from a task that she beloved and absolutely meant to return to. I used to be already working a really profitable teeth-whitening e-commerce enterprise. 

However then, we tried to buy a customized neon signal for my son’s room and located it tougher than we anticipated. With my years of expertise in e-commerce and social media advertising and marketing, I instantly felt like there was a spot out there and that we had the potential to fill it. It felt like an concept we couldn’t not discover. 

I’m so glad we did. Inside three months of deciding to check the concept as a aspect hustle, we have been promoting $10,000 value of signage per week. By the tip of our first yr, we had introduced in a number of hundred thousand {dollars} in income, and we determined to each give attention to this full-time. Now, 5 years later, we’re averaging over $1 million in gross sales every month.

Wanting again, listed below are 5 of the issues that helped us develop to the place we’re right this moment. 

1. We discovered a method to take a look at the market earlier than we dove in

Earlier than we bought a single neon signal, I positioned adverts on Gumtree and Market to see if there was curiosity from potential prospects, utilizing generic neon sign imagery I found online. When individuals reached out that they have been , I advised them that the product was sadly not out there, however I’d be in contact if I bought extra in inventory. We have been getting a handful of inquiries every day, which can appear small, however this was only a native advert. It was a very promising signal for us to maneuver ahead. 

Nonetheless, we didn’t wish to make investments an excessive amount of upfront. We determined to make use of our personal marriage ceremony as an excuse to purchase just a few neon indicators that we might start to hire out as a method to acquire capital for the enterprise, which value us about $250. The goal was for the images from our marriage ceremony to reveal the ambiance and aesthetic that you may create with strategically positioned LED neon indicators, driving demand for comparable indicators from different engaged {couples}. 

It labored: Earlier than we knew it, the rental calendar for our preliminary indicators was full, and we had begun getting inquiries about customized indicators. It quickly grew to become clear this enterprise could possibly be a lot larger than the aspect hustle gig we anticipated.

2. We let UGC and phrase of mouth drive gross sales

Throughout the first 12 months, we didn’t must spend a dime on promoting, as an alternative counting on user-generated content (UGC) and word-of-mouth advertising and marketing to replenish our social accounts and get us in entrance of recent prospects organically.

We used the pictures from our marriage ceremony to seed an Instagram account. As we rented out the indicators, increasingly more prospects tagged us on their social posts, delighted with how impactful the indicators had been at their occasions. We encourage this within the apparent methods: Each time we ship an indication, we embrace a observe asking a buyer to share the ultimate end in all its glory and tag us. 

However I additionally assume the real pleasure now we have when posting about different prospects’ indicators makes individuals excited to share their expertise, too. The unbelievable, genuine photographs that our prospects take of our merchandise populate our web site, social channels, and extra (we at all times ask for approval first), and different prospects wish to see their indicators given the identical fanfare. It builds rapport with our buyer base that makes them wish to be model advocates.

Even as soon as we began investing in promoting, UGC performed a vital position. As an example, after we made our first commercial, we included a bit of photographs from actual prospects exhibiting off their neon indicators. Doing this demonstrated the scope of our merchandise, helped construct belief with individuals who hadn’t heard of us earlier than, and drove aspirational want for different prospects to make their neon signal goals come true.

3. We constructed our model with website positioning specialists

One vital partnership I have to point out right here was bringing on Matt and Teresha Aird as co-owners of the enterprise. They’re veterans within the website positioning, digital publishing, and advertising and marketing area with over 40 years of expertise underneath their belts and actually crammed gaps in my very own experience. They’d helped me exponentially develop my earlier startup, so when the Customized Neon alternative got here up, it was a no brainer to get them on board as soon as once more. As soon as Jess and I had taken issues so far as we might with social media marketing, we referred to as them up.

They overhauled our web site and really helpful a rebrand. We have been initially referred to as Neon Collective, they usually helped us understand there was a number of ambiguity in that title. We determined to maneuver to Customized Neon, an very simple enterprise title that clearly describes what we do. This no-nonsense branding was vital to ensure that us to understand our world ambitions.

Plus, having such a keyword-driven title, mixed with a complete website positioning technique, has allowed us to dominate SERPs (Search Engine Outcomes Pages) in an especially aggressive area. This, plus a number of work optimizing our conversion charges as soon as individuals landed on our web site, was a catalyst for development.

4. We gained new alternatives by increasing our target market

The pandemic massively impacted our firm. For a enterprise that had been so targeted on weddings and occasions, widespread lockdown just about worn out 30 % of our enterprise in a single day.

Fortunately, we had already begun working with companies as a further gross sales outlet, as that is typically the place the higher-yielding fruits are. When the pandemic hit, we heightened our focus there, shutting down the signal rental arm of the enterprise and pivoting advertising and marketing and outreach methods towards a B2B market.

To jumpstart this line of enterprise, we shortly started working in our area people, providing discounted and even free signage. This was useful to native companies determined to entice prospects and useful to us, as they supplied us with movies and pictures, which allowed us to overtake our website content material and key phrases to focus on enterprise prospects as an alternative of occasions.

Rising advertising and marketing spend throughout a downturn was a danger, however opening up our goal demographic actually paid off. We noticed a income improve of 163 % from April 2020 to Could 2021. This propelled Customized Neon from a seven-figure enterprise to an eight-figure enterprise.

I’d advocate all enterprise house owners assume exterior the field on the subject of income streams. How might you diversify your product to enchantment to a special demographic and get different audiences to note you? Generally, like in our case, this doesn’t truly contain altering your product in any respect however shifting your advertising and marketing technique to focus on a special purchaser.

5. We at all times made positive we weren’t scaling on the expense of our buyer expertise

In a earlier enterprise, I confronted fast development that was thrilling however unsustainable. I ought to have pumped the brakes, however I used to be too wanting to push on, so I employed quickly and reactively to fill the gaps. Consequently, we skilled delays and failure so as achievement, dissatisfied prospects, and a decline in income.

Now, I imagine it’s extraordinarily vital for companies seeking to scale to make sure that they do it in a managed method with environment friendly and secured provide chains. With Customized Neon, I used to be decided to scale with consistency and management. As we grew, we regularly assessed areas that wanted extra assets, plugging any holes with freelancers the place doable till the time was proper to make everlasting hires. This has helped be sure that orders could possibly be fulfilled and customer support ranges stored excessive at each stage of development.

Our development journey could appear quick, however we at all times ensure that to prioritize protecting our prospects glad above the rest—and that’s the sort of development that I’m happy with.


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