Davies Roberts is an inventor and the founder of Flare Audio, the sound technology company who retail headphones, earphones and much more. After rapid initial growth he’s now all about maximising profits. Flare Audio are turning over around £4m per year, and profitability has doubled in the last 12 months.
2020 eCommerce MasterPlan Growth Series sponsored by Omnisend
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Explosive Growth to Strategic Focus
Following their startup boom, Flare Audio recently moved into a larger facility to better accommodate the business. Davies’ last conversation with Chloe was in the midst of their explosive growth and the past year they have shifted attention to getting everything under control and maximizing profitability.
The resulting focus on operations, efficiency, and marketing consistency has allowed Flare to focus on their goals while remaining healthy in their ledgers. Even though their early success was largely due to the ability of Facebook to advertise to such a huge market— over 170 countries—Davies says they are pulling away from the wide net approach and strategically nurturing growth in countries which are more efficient—and ultimately profitable—to ship to.
According to Davies, making a better product is the best way toward increased profitability. This desire to continue improving meant that Davies and his colleagues put their time in on the social media platforms, keeping a close watch on the needs of their customers this past year.
The team not only listened to direct feedback from their customers, but they also paid attention to the conversations between consumers on public social networks. That kind of attention to detail illuminated an underserved market of people looking for easy to use, effective and comfortable sleep earplugs.
By really listening to consumers, Flare was able to fill a hole in the market with Sleeeeps, a simple but well thought out and executed product. The bigger implication is that the cost of acquisition was greatly reduced which, Davies says, counts as a win in his bid for profitability.
Marrying Development and Profitablity
Davies admits that driving R&D isn’t the first thing most people think of when they are looking to increase profitability. But, he says, being open to criticism and flexible to change ultimately evolves the company in a more productive way.
He also points out that business doesn’t always happen like you plan and while the team had some ideas about parsing out some of their ideas along an extended timeline, major opportunities came along that made them expedite those developments. Selfridges approached Davies about building out a sustainable speaker system that Flare had simmering on their back burner.
They jumped at the chance to develop and test the product with such a high profile client even though it wasn’t the most ideal time from a business accounting point of view. And like a lot of successes, once they were finished at Selfridges, other company’s came knocking.
Flare skyrocketed on a single product and Davies says he was always hyper-aware that it was a single SKU keeping the company alive. Part of the R&D focus is on creating a diverse product line so that many products are delivering financially for the company.
Even those products that might not have an economic ROI, Davies keeps on an eye on the brand awareness they bring.
Scaling With Rapid Growth
Scalability can be tricky for businesses who do so well right out of the gate, but developing products alongside customers has allowed for a more dynamic business model and Davies says their big customers have been game to working alongside him and his team to get everything dialed in on a constrained resource and time schedule.
Davie’s dream is to develop and perfect technology all along the ear. He wants the company to be a global leader in developing better sound. In order to do that, he says they are going to need a growth product and a new discovery product with broad appeal.
Davies is driving the company not only towards cutting edge technologies but is also passionate about creating accessible products that are socially and environmentally sustainable.
Unlike most retailers, Flare uses Google, Facebook and Twitter ads. It takes a certain amount of patience, but Davies says that they have had a bit more space to test and learn from each of the platforms.
Typically the team starts with a specific product, message, demographic and creative and they run it first on Facebook and then on Google—documenting the success and CPA’s on each. As one goes up, they pull back from the other and vice versa to maintain a balance.
When they run the same ad on Twitter, Davies says they aren’t expecting the exact same results. Few people click on Ads in Twitter, but he says they do go google products they see on the platform.
Asked why FB has been so powerful for the company, Davies doesn’t hesitate—look alike audiences and reach. Using FB technology to build and capture data from lookalike audiences allows for better segmentation which in turn, leads to better audience targeting.
Using look alike and some demographics, Davies says the team is now focusing on specific countries and doubling down on their efforts in that particular geographic region. The goal is to create a coheive advertising matrix so their brand awareness becomes more and more familiar to consumers.
Google Ads hasn’t been the company’s best fit, largely because of the unique nature of Flare’s products. The outcome is that they have struggled in their efforts to show up in google search. Recently they have found some success in the UK with Smart Display Ads.
Twitter is an unusual platform for retailers, but Davies is a fan. Even though he likens Twitter to Billboard advertising, he does have some evidence it works. Davies unwittingly ran a marketing experiment whilst on his vacation in Cuba.
When hi IP address showed up in that region, all of his facebook and google ads were shut down and they went dark for 10 days. In his duress, Davies ran some Twitter ads and the company was able to track the revenue coming in from that experiment. He says that getting your keywords right can make Twitter really useful and completely worth the effort.
Flare is selling direct, wholesale and on marketplaces and Davies says that it all comes out pretty even. Having strong social presence meant that retailers have approached them first.
While their margins are higher when they sell direct to consumers, he points out that they don’t have to do any sales or customer acquisition through their channel partners and those partners are helping grow their brand.
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Davies admits he’s not much of a reader, but says that picking up some Keto cookbooks has completely transformed his life for the better.
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Facebook accounts for 75% of Flare’s sales and Davies says people don’t use it to its full potential. Refining your customers is the best way of targeting anyone ever in marketing and Facebook is an amazing tool for that.
Tool Top Tip
- Fresh Desk—Flare was struggling to amalgamate everything in one place and Fresh Desk makes that possible.
Growth Top Tip
- Find your unique product and don’t follow a trend. Find something that’s not being done well, develop it and sell it.
- Facebook Ads, product and changing the world of audio with Davies Roberts of Flare Audio
- Keen Footwear’s Kristina Smith: Adwords, Email Marketing, Partnerships and more
- How to make your Facebook Ads Successful in 2019 with Amanda Perry
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