Embark on an illuminating journey through the world of fitness entrepreneurship as we engage in a candid conversation with Lenny Snyderman, the visionary behind Helix Fitness. With over three decades of experience in the wellness industry, Lenny takes us through the remarkable evolution of Helix Fitness, shedding light on their transition from a traditional B2B model to a thriving D2C e-commerce enterprise. In this revealing interview, we explore the challenges faced, effective marketing strategies, and the pivotal decision that reshaped the company's trajectory towards direct-to-consumer sales. Join us as we unravel the insights gained from this transformative entrepreneurial voyage.
Absolutely. So, we started as a B2B business in the health and wellness industry. I've been in this space for over 30 years. In 2019, we launched a new product based on our patented lateral training technology, intending to sell it directly to consumers through infomercials, online sales, and platforms like Home Shopping Network. At that point, we made a strategic decision to augment our B2B business. Our dealers are very important to us but it’s also nice to have a segment of the business where you have total control over product decisions and promotions and can communicate directly with a customer.
In contrast, D2C and online sales offer greater control over how you promote, when, and to whom, whether it's through paid social media or other online channels. In 2019, we initiated this pivot to a direct-to-consumer model, reminiscent of the infomercial days but adapted to the digital landscape. We started with crowdfunding as a cost-effective way to test the product's viability. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, we launched our first Shopify store in January 2020, which marked the beginning of our journey into e-commerce.
Importantly, we didn't abandon our B2B customers. Instead, we continued to serve them while simultaneously driving consumers to their stores. It turned out to be a symbiotic relationship, ultimately improving our Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). This allowed us to measure our business's growth, both B2B and D2C, on a monthly basis. Although it's been a steep learning curve over the past three and a half years, it's been an incredible experience.
The pricing essentially comes down to mathematics. We collaborate with various financing companies like Klarna, Affirm, and Bread to offer financing options to our consumers. The monthly pricing is calculated based on different factors. For instance, some financing options may require a down payment. If a customer puts down $500 and opts for a 24-month term with zero interest (if qualified), it equates to approximately $49 per month. So, it wasn't a pricing model we independently chose; it was influenced by the financing options available to us. We'd love more control over it, but we work within the framework provided by these financing partners.
Consistency in brand messaging is crucial and should permeate all facets of marketing. It begins with internal alignment across teams on elements like branding, color schemes, pricing, and messaging. Regarding marketing channels, it's a dynamic landscape. Two years ago, Facebook was the dominant platform for us, but changes, such as those initiated by Apple, have impacted our ability to attribute sales accurately to Facebook.
As a result, we've observed better results from Google pay-per-click (PPC), especially branded search. While our product is unique, we compete in a broader health and wellness space with companies of varying sizes. Therefore, we've strategically focused on PPC campaigns, mainly branded search, rather than engaging in intense keyword competition. This approach helps us find "low-hanging fruit" and ensures a better return on ad spend.
Indeed, the economy is our most significant challenge at the moment. Economic challenges affect various demographics, including those within our target market. People are facing job losses, increased living costs, and reduced income. This financial strain has affected our business, particularly since our customer base spans various income brackets.
Secondly, the iOS 14 update has made it challenging to attribute the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The seven-day attribution window complicates our ability to measure ad performance accurately, especially when our product requires a longer consideration period before purchase.
Lastly, navigating the shifting market dynamics and exploring new ways to analyze our business's performance is an ongoing challenge. We're constantly experimenting and adapting to evolving circumstances, which can be complicated for a smaller company like ours.
Hiring can vary based on connections, industry familiarity, and the role you're trying to fill. In our case, we had industry connections that helped us hire for roles like customer service, sales, and marketing. However, when it came to roles like e-commerce management or accounting, where we had no industry connections, we relied on platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn.
For early-stage entrepreneurs, I'd recommend looking for people who have an entrepreneurial spirit, even if you can't offer the high salaries and benefits of larger corporations. People who are excited about the vision and mission of your business can be an invaluable asset. When you're small, you need team members who can wear multiple hats and adapt to changing roles as the business evolves. Also, ensure that you hire individuals who align with your company's culture and values.
Absolutely. One crucial lesson is the importance of persistence. Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs, and it's easy to get discouraged when things don't go as planned. However, success often comes to those who keep pushing forward, learning from their failures, and adapting to challenges. Also, be open to change and willing to pivot if necessary. The ability to adapt and evolve your business model when faced with new information or changing market conditions can be the key to long-term success.
Chris Choi: That's a valuable lesson, Lenny. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with us today. It's been a pleasure talking to you.
Lenny Snyderman: Thank you, Chris. It's been a pleasure chatting with you too. If your readers have any more questions, feel free to reach out anytime. Good luck to all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there!