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How Building a TikTok Following Before We Had a Finished Product Helped Us Achieve Seven-Figure Growth in Two Years

Learn how these business owners used an early version of their product to gain a following and how they’ve continued implementing this philosophy to grow before they’re 100 percent ready.

Apr 2, 2024 6 min readSmall Business
Photo of Sarah Forrai
Sarah Forrai

Co-founder of Contour Cube

I started dreaming of creating a tool for ice facials when I realized there was no easy and accessible tool out there. My mom and I were both obsessed with using cold temperatures to increase cellular turnover, reduce inflammation, and firm the skin, but I hated the experience of having to hold an ice cube in my hands for minutes at a time.

I was shocked to find there were no solutions on the market, so asked my partner, Lewis Battersby, if we could use his 3D printer to test some ideas. After a few months of rapid prototyping, we had created something I was pretty happy with, and we were curious if others would be interested in it as well.

Instead of doing more traditional customer research, we decided to manufacture a run of 100 of this sample product and sell it online to see what the reaction was.

We didn’t have much of a strategy when we posted the first video promoting the Contour Cube. I just stood in our living room explaining why I created the product and how to use it. We posted it on a TikTok channel I had created for a previous business, added a product listing for the Contour Cube on that other business’ website, and waited to see what happened.

@contourcube JUST LAUNCHED!!!! #smallbusiness #skincarehacks #learnontiktok #skincaretips #icefacial #iceontheface #skincareroutine ♬ original sound

Within days, that video had tens of thousands of views, and we had sold out of our initial run. The social proof was there, so we had to figure out how to keep riding this wave, improving our product while simultaneously growing our customer base. 

In the two years since, we’ve reached seven figures in sales, gained a loyal following of over 760K across social platforms, and built a business that has replaced both of our full-time jobs. Here are four moves that helped us grow from prototype to beloved product so rapidly.

We leaned into the scarcity to build hype

After the initial burst of popularity, we were tempted to hold back on promoting the Contour Cube until we could keep enough product in stock to meet demand. But we also didn’t want to lose the momentum that was building.

We decided to continue posting and find other ways to keep interested customers engaged while we were creating more product. For example, we added an option on our website to get an alert via email when the product is back in stock, helping us gain 20,000 customers who we could retarget two months later when our next run of units was manufactured.

We also stayed active in the comments on social media, responding to questions about when we would have the product back. This helped people feel like they weren’t being ignored and instead see that there were small business owners on the other side working hard to meet demand.

@contourcube We’re back in stock! 🧊 #contourcube #icefacial #beautyhack #skincare #iceonface #beauty #smallbussiness #iceontheface #businesstiktok #skintok ♬ SZAS VERSE KISS ME MORE - SZA FAN PAGE!

Ultimately, this early scarcity worked in our favor to increase demand. It enhanced the hype of the product such that customers were waiting anxiously for every restock and quickly selling us out again every time. It took us about six months to catch production up with demand.

I’m not necessarily saying other business owners should force this kind of scarcity, but I would also say not to be afraid to launch even with a small test run of your product. It may work out in your favor, as long as you continue to communicate with waiting customers every step of the way.

We fostered trust and loyalty by sharing our story

It can be hard to trust a new product by a new company—especially on social media, where there are so many scams. The early iteration of our sales page felt scammy, given it was posted on a completely unrelated website that we owned for another business, and many of our customers had never seen me or even heard of facial icing before. I was shocked at how quickly we were able to convince so many customers to buy from us with just a few TikTok videos.

Ultimately, I think people trusted us early on because of the authentic journey we shared with them on social media. One of our most popular early videos was me showing the process of from idea to 3D printed model to prototype — it gained over a million views in a day and was trending all over the globe.

Another winning video was when we brought my mom on to talk about the inspiration behind the product and show her using (and loving) what we created. She was so nervous to be on screen, but that authenticity actually helped humanize the brand, drove seven million views, and is still one of our biggest videos to date.

This raw content brought customers into our story, helped them see why things might still be a little rough around the edges, and made them excited to take a chance and invest in our small business. We have customers who have been in our corner from the start and are constantly motivating us as we grow.

@contourcube Our business journey! #SmallBusiness #icefacial ♬ original sound - boomerb_tv

Finally, adding educational content like how to use the product and different recipes you could make to freeze helped bring in customers who weren’t familiar with this practice before, helping us go even more viral in self-care spheres.

@contourcube The ultimate skincare secret: Contour Cube Tomato Juice Ice Facial 🍅 infused with a powerhouse of vitamin C. Experience the incredible benefits of this refreshingly cool treatment that will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated. #contourcube #skinhealth #icefacial ♬ Rock and Roll Session - Canal Records JP

I now recommend other small business owners start filming every step of their product development and growth journey. You can set up your camera and put it on time-lapse or capture little bits of footage here and there that you can stitch into videos later. Even the small moments that feel boring to you can engage potential customers and make them excited to root for you (and buy from you!). 

We emphasized major PR moments to increase virality

This early social media virality helped us organically achieve some major growth and PR moments — which we always made sure to repurpose into more social media content to fuel the fire even more. 

For instance, within about three months of launching, Urban Outfitters reached out for our product to be part of their summer campaign. Since then, we’ve landed in dozens of major retailers, and I always make sure to celebrate those moments on social media.

@contourcube #greenscreenvideo 🚨 New stockist alert 🚨 check out our Contour Cube collection available at Everyday Market from Woolies! #contourcube #stockist #woolworths ♬ Somebody That I Used to Know (Remix) - speed🆗

I take the same approach for endorsements and other PR moments. For example, about a year after launching, Kendall Jenner posted completely out of the blue about how she uses and loves our product. Yes, her post helped us get in front of plenty of new potential customers, but then we also posted about that on our TikTok and Instagram, which earned us over 14 million views. 

@contourcube Thank you @Kendall Jenner for sharing your love for Contour Cube and everyone for your support of our small business #contourcube #iceonface ♬ Sunrise - Official Sound Studio

Partnerships and press coverage like this are already such a win that it’s easy to feel like you don’t need to do anything else. But looking for ways to further spread the message of those major moments has been so impactful to our business. Not only does this continue to bring customers along our journey, it continues to build hype by showing the traction we’re gaining.

We actively listened and learned from our customers

One of the best parts of launching our product online while we were still in the prototyping phase was that we could learn from real feedback to make iterations along the way. This helped improve the product, yes, but also helped build community because customers felt like they were being heard.

For example, the idea to launch our mini version came from seeing so many people on social and asking for a smaller version they could travel with or use for freezing more expensive serums. We also released our ice facial towel when our customers wanted something that would help them pat dry on the go. Our perfect glow bundle (which is a cube plus ice facial towel) sold out immediately when we launched it.

@contourcube Reply to @sana1212sana OMG minis have just landed!! #contourcube #iceonface #skincare #contourcubemini #icefacial #blackfridaydeals #shopsmall ♬ original sound - Beabadoobee

Learning from customers along the way also impacted our marketing strategy. Seeing the types of posts our followers reacted most to informed us to dig into that style of content.

Interacting with customers online also helped us learn about new potential uses for the Contour Cube. For example, people shared that they used it for everything from regulating their temperature during pregnancy or menopause to controlling anxiety. Creating content around these use cases helped us tap into new markets and ultimately expand our reach from just the skincare industry to wellness as a whole.

I’ve heard a saying that if you’re not embarrassed by the early iterations of your business, you launched too late. Starting a business or testing market demand for your product doesn’t require perfection from the get-go — it’s about taking that first step, however imperfect, and growing from there.

This approach of taking action before we feel 100 percent ready paid off in the end for us, and we’ve kept it as our motto at every stage of our journey. As we launch new products and face new challenges, I know that continuing to dive in and learn right alongside our customers will continue helping us grow.

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