Amanda Dyer has a hell of a back story. She started modelling at age 12, was signed by Elite at 14 and became an international supermodel strutting her 6ft frame along the catwalks of Tokyo, Milan, Paris, and NYC.
In 2008 she started Scout International in Singapore. She then launched The Living 360 Blog which gets tens of thousands of unique visitors each month and recently topped 1million uniques and her Connects Lunch Series brings together Asia’s leading digital Mompreneurs which is fitting given she is also raising two daughters…
…and here is where it gets interesting…she recently launched a chic home ware brand, Maison By Amanda Dyer but the impressive part is how she launched it…
MA: Can you share with us how you built a social media following over the last few years and how that enabled the launch of Maison by Amanda Dyer?
AD: Building a community is hard work – be it in the real or virtual world. I would say it’s tougher in the virtual world simply because it’s a world without borders and restrictions and people have more choices. I get asked this question a lot and the answer is always the same – with lots of hard work.
I apply the same principle of growing a social media community to that of growing a plant. Just as you would feed a plant with a high quality fertiliser and water it regularly, with an online community this sustenance comes in a form of “quality content”. When you give people good stuff to read, listen to and watch, it keeps them coming back for more and this form of engagement is what grows a community.
Having a community of over 200,000 fans, friends, subscribers and followers over a dozen or so social media platforms meant that I had a voice, or at least a robust enough platform(s) to make the right noises. This certainly helped during the pre-launch phase of Maison by Amanda Dyer as it enabled me to build a buzz and get some really powerful market research around the product I was about to launch. This allowed me to tweak the product after listening to input, hence launching something that the market wanted.
MA: As a result of that platform and follower base, how did that a) enable a successful launch of the brand b) recoup early investment quickly and c) de risk the start up? (as we know these are critical threats to new businesses)
AD: I’ll break down my answers to address each specific point:
(a) Many brands today do very little market research during the R&D / pre-launch phase. Often they create products based on what they ‘think’ people will love as opposed to asking people before creating it. For me, having the platform was like having a giant focus group comprising of thousands of people who all liked the same things and lived a similar lifestyle. Through hundreds of personal conversations, polls and forums I created, I “listened” to my target customers and briefed my R&D teams accordingly. This process took close to 12 months.
(b) 6 weeks before my candles were released I launched a pre-sale campaign where we took orders (and collected payment) for close to 200 candles. It helped that it was close to Christmas but it goes to show that if you are honest in your approach and belong to a community who trust what you say – people will support you. This meant that we were already making money before we technically had a product to sell.
(c) I wouldn’t go as far as saying that we de-risked our startup because I believe that as entrepreneurs of a small business, there are risks around every corner. In my case, it was nice to have some pre-sales and launch a product to an engaged audience who have already built some kind of affinity to your brand. It certainly helped seeing we spent so much money to produce these gorgeous candles.
MA: Given you juggle multiple businesses with being a mother, what systems/platforms do you leverage to scale your businesses and manage your time?
AD: I’m a mother of two beautiful girls first and foremost. Homework, nappies, cooking dinner, crafts all come first – and that’s never going to change.
What this means is that whatever time I do have spare, I dedicate it to running my business. Being a mompreneur is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world because it requires planning & time management that most people cannot comprehend.
I outsource almost all my admin to reliable sources, which allows me to focus on running the business. Innovation is a huge contributing factor to the success of all my projects. To be able to think clearly and come up with great ideas, your mind must be free of clutter (or admin) and hence I outsource a lot of it. Creating these systems took years to build because finding good people who you can trust to deliver on what needs to be done is very difficult. I’m glad they are part of my team as I would not be able to do what I do without them..
MA: Smart move to build a following first and then launch a business (most people do it the other way around), what innovative tips can you offer entrepreneurs looking to do something similar to you?
AD: Find a niche, create content pertinent to that niche and feed people a ton of it. Simple (laughs!).
I really don’t think there’s a secret formula to building a following and an online presence. It helps if you are a natural promoter and enjoy networking and meeting people. A trick I learnt early on in my digital journey was to help everybody who needed help. Be it tips on restaurants, connecting them with villas in Bali or even with helping get their kids into modelling (I get this one a lot!). If you help someone, they will never forget you. Just be nice and do the right thing and people will start to follow you and hang out in your digital communities. It’s no different to making friends in a school yard really.