CREATING A 40 MUSD SALES SUCCESS IN NORWAY

I met Josh from a company called Actegy in 2010 and got the distribution rights for its products in Norway. A few years later, we had sold 120.000 units of the circulation booster for a price of 250 USD per unit (2000 NOK). The success can be attributed to many factors:

1) We started at a high cost – when we got it lower due to volume, we could have lowered the consumer price. Instead, we kept it and increased our marketing spend per unit.

2) We found the perfect ambassador Drillo (a famous Norwegian soccer coach). He used the product himself, and we discovered it in a TV-interview from his house. With his endorsement, the product appealed to both men and women, and we could scale our marketing efforts.

3) We wrote an editorial ad for newspapers. We tracked every sale through sales codes, and at the best of days, we were doing ads in 150 newspapers on a Thursday in the Nordics. Since we were tracking each sale, we knew exactly which papers to double down on, and which to quit.

BURNING THE BOATS AND SELLING 300.000 BOTTLES IN 18 MONTHS

After having built a retail chain to 30 stores, I saw that many contacted our suppliers to get the same products. Being a retailer, it wasn't easy to get the distribution rights, so what do you do? Establish a distributor. The first brand we had meetings with was Contigo. They were on a Nordic trip and had met several candidates. I thought the meeting went great, but they called on Friday at 1 pm and told me they had decided to go with another company. It was very frustrating.

On Friday night, the whole family used to watch American Idol. 5 minutes before it started, I was still thinking about the lost deal. I then started typing out an email. “Once upon a time, there was a General who attacked an island that never had been taken. When reaching the shore, he burned the boats so the troops had no choice but to fight. I don’t want to be in the war business but in the bottle- business. My way to “burn the boats” is to this evening place an opening order of 10.000 bottles” I then sent him an SMS to check his email. 15 minutes later, I got an SMS saying they had changed their mind and gave us the brand.

5 years later we had sold 1 million bottles in the Nordic market, the most per capita of any country.

Lesson: No is not always a No. Be creative and make it happen.

THE DIFFICULTY OF PICKING GOOD IDEAS

“We can only show 4 of your amazing new lunch boxes in the 30-second TV-spot. Which one do you choose to leave out?”

Having spent 10.000 hours looking around the world, this should be an easy one. I did not have to pick the bestseller, only the worst seller, or one of the worsts. The choices I had “The world slimmest lunchbox, the best for healthy kids, the world’s most elegant, the optimal food storage and then the bastard, not really a lunchbox, more of a foodbag in silicone."

I cut the bag; it is very cute, but not that useful. I felt good. It had to be the right decision.

NOT.

One year later, we had sold 150.000 lunchboxes – 110.000 of them were foodbags.

BUILDING A RETAIL CHAIN IN NORWAY WITH 60 SHOPS  

In 2005 I quit as a project leader in BCG with the idea of starting a company selling smart products to help seniors and people of all ages needing smart solutions. 

The company was called Enklere Liv (Simplified living) and over a 10-year period before I sold the company it exåpanded to 50 stores in Norway and 10 in Sweden and Denmark. 

 

SELLING A NEW CAKE SERVER TO 2% OF HOUSEHOLDS

Is it possible to sell 100.000 cake servers in a country of only 5 million people? 

We fell in love with the Finish cake server from magissio where you cut and served in one elegant motion (at a minimum when we filmed it :-))

Through TV marketing, guerrilla marketing, and sales efforts we sold an enormous amount in a short time and the cake serving market was never the same.

SELLING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF A NEW PRODUCT

It’s 02.30. I’m tired, having trouble keeping my eyes open.

Working on writing texts for new products and watching Dragon’s Den in the background. Then suddenly something catches my attention. A pitch for a hairbrush. A hairbrush that combs through all tangles in no time and without tears. Could this be something for us? I fire off an e-mail, and a few weeks later we receive the new hairbrush.

Will it sell? I write a text emphasizing the benefits – “no tears, beautiful hair” and I even write a script for a TV commercial. The advertising agency we are using is refusing to do the ad, since I’m thinking of doing a split screen. One with a normal brush and one with the Tangle Teezer, side by side. “This is so 80s”, they say. But after some handwringing they come along.

A few years later, we have sold close to 100.000+ hairbrushes and even managed to get it into HM, most per capita anywhere in the world. Contributing a little to it becoming the most successful Dragon Den company.

Lesson: Keep your eyes open; gold can loom in even a small plastic brush.

NUMBER 1 OF 150 TV ADS

"I want to create a viral video!"

It's early 2006, and I got the idea for a small video on this new medium, Youtube. Even though we're selling products to make life easier, primarily to seniors, I want to create something a little edgy. "Could we do a classical prison scene where a young, thin guy is dropping his soap, and one of our products saves the day?"

We agree. That could be a good idea. "It will cost you 5.000 USD to make it, and that's very cheap." But 5.000 is a considerable sum for a young entrepreneur. I try to negotiate the price down. They won't budge. I finally offer them 15 cents per view instead. A success fee is much better for me, I reason. They say no, eventually I have to accept paying cash. It hurt so much parting with the 5.000 USD.

After it is produced, the film guys have the genius idea of calling it "Banned Norwegian Commercial," and we launch it. A couple of years later, it passes 500.000 views, and I'm glad I didn't agree to the 15 cents per view 😊

Lesson: Banned things tempt people. Success fees work both ways

HOW A GREAT NAME MOVED AN EXTRA 3 MUSD IN SALES 

Can a name be worth 3 MUSD? Keep reading to find out more…

I’m so excited when the sample finally arrives. I tear the box open. Unpack it. I run into the bathroom, quickly takes off my T-shirt, lay down on the floor with my stomach facing down. I then put the robot on my back and is ready for a massage. After all, it is called a massage robot.

I wait. Nothing. It moves around my back and doesnæt fall off. It tickles, but no massage. 5 minutes later, I LEAVE THE BATHROOM DISAPOINTED. I tell the team, “we cannot sell this.”

It has been selling quite well with 10.000 units sold in Europe over the past 12 months. I would love to market it. My head churns, and then it hits me. “It is not about massage; it is about the beautiful Norwegian word “KOSE,” which means the nice feeling you get when your partner is running soft fingers over your body. The English word “tickling” doesn’t really capture it.

We call it Kose-robot, and it becomes the Christmas present of the year in Norway, selling 36.000 units for the Christmas season at 100 USD. Had we called it a massage robot, we might have sold 1.000 units, and 500 would have returned it with a complaint.