📦 - Ballin' on a budget
May 21, 2023
Content Tag


Friday, January 13, 2023

A helping hand, words of encouragement, and support are not an indicator of being behind. We’re all human — you’ve got this!

In this newsletter, you’ll find: 👇

📦 PrettyBoy’s Ben and Kevin on balling on a budget

📦 Calling all SUPER early birds - DTC C-Suite Las Vegas

📦 Free and inexpensive tools you can use to accelerate your brand

📦 Ethical kelp farms and making walkie-talkies cool again

Read till the end to access exclusive DTC swag. 😎

👉 If a pal forwarded this to you, subscribe, so you never miss out.

DTC Boardroom

Welcome back to DTC Boardroom — the series where we ask past podcast guests and friends of DTC to share tactics and strategies to help you on your own DTC journey. 🤗

Today’s guests are Ben Feys and Kevin Niehoff of PrettyBoy. Here’s what they had to say:

🤑 Ballin’ on a budget

Starting your own company can be intimidating, like Sam and Frodo setting out to deliver the ring to Mt. Doom type of intimidating, but it has been one of the most rewarding decisions we’ve ever made.

One of the most terrifying parts of starting your own business? The start-up cost to get the word out and go to market effectively.

When asked to do a write-up on topics that would provide value to new entrepreneurs, we thought, “what better advice do we have than how to accomplish things on the cheap in the early days?”🔑

We’ll talk about how we:

  • Used customer data early on
  • Developed a website that converts far higher than the industry average
  • Produced assets with cost-per-acquisitions (CPAs) of $35 or less, which have generated over $50K in revenue on Meta, all while ballin’ on a budget!

Strapped for cash? Here are some of our top budget-friendly tips to build your company.

📈 Get actionable data early for cheap

Data rules the world, and if you’re not careful early on, you can very quickly become data-rich and knowledge poor. Thankfully, there are some awesome resources to get actionable data while pinching pennies. 💪

Focusing on surveys early can help refine your research and development (R&D) priorities, guide your marketing/messaging framework, and bring your social media presence to life.

SurveyMonkey has been our trusted resource for getting actionable data from our customer base. They offer a free model, but if you can splurge, we recommend the ~$300/year model, which gives you more question types and analytic features. 👀

One of the most impactful surveys we’ve run was sent to 212 people a couple of months into our ideation phase to understand skincare buying patterns and product preferences.

This survey immediately helped us prioritize our time and money on the things that mattered, which we’ll highlight below.

Tip: Make sure to get as far outside your network as possible to get the most accurate representation of your potential customer base.

Here’s what we learned and the immediate actions we took:

  1. First impressions matter

64% of men we surveyed prefer to learn about and get new products on the internet and 38% from friends or word of mouth.

This emphasized the need to have an absolute banging on-platform experience as social media and our website would be the first interactions our potential customers had with our brand.

  1. 42% learn about new products through social media

We knew we had to commit to our social presence early and tested images, videos, and graphics right off the bat…most of which were created on our iPhone and using Canva for FREE!

  1. Our customers prioritize 3 things when evaluating a new skincare product…
  • Effectiveness (aka results)
  • Customer reviews (aka social proof)
  • Recommendation by a friend/family member (aka word of mouth)

This led to an immediate prioritization of post-purchase data collection, a focus on gathering reviews, and providing incentives for before and after photos or video testimonials.


Rise and shine! It's time to take your brand to the next level with our C-Suite Mastermind.

Calling all SUPER early birds! 🦸🏻♂️ 🐣

You have until Monday to get 50% off the ticket price for the best investment you’ll make in your career in 2023.

Our last Las Vegas event caused a stir, and participants are still talking about the “ripple effect” in the industry years later.

Join our C-Suite Mastermind in Las Vegas, March 23-24 and join our IRL community of striving and thriving DTC brands from around the world.

We’ve programmed a series of Mentors, designed to help you solve problems you might not even know you have yet with topics like:

  • Conquering with community - Obvi Collagen
  • The path to 9 figures with organic content - Mini Katana
  • Doubling your website conversion rate - Kuru Footwear

What’s best is you’ll get to participate in open discussions with each mentor during our focused networking sections.

See what attendees of our Victoria Mastermind had to say, and

Lock in your SUPER early bird pass and save $1500 the ticket price (until Monday only.)

DTC Boardroom

🤝 Leverage your network

If you’re reading this, chances are that someone in your network knows more about a challenge you’re dealing with than you do. Social media is one of your best hacks for meeting people who can help.

Countless times we’ve thrown up simple Instagram polls from our personal account asking things like “Who has worked with Facebook Ads,” “Anyone have experience in Website UX?” or “Who knows influencer marketing?” that often yield 10+ responses from people willing to help or who know someone worth connecting with.

The best part about using your network? Typically, people are willing to give some of their time for free, especially early on…but be careful not to abuse this.

We would often send a personal thank you note or Venmo $20 for coffee and lunch to be sure no one felt we were mooching, but with almost a 100% success rate, people we knew or were connected to have been willing to chat at every single phase of this journey.

Through this method, we’ve been connected with people who helped us:

  • Set up our Facebook Ads
  • Set up our email service and automated flows
  • Complete UX/UI audits
  • Build out an influencer marketing strategy
  • Discuss company finances all for free or significantly closer to $0 than working with an agency or professional consultant

This strategy also led to our own in-house marketing team after an old colleague asked if we’d be willing to present to his graduate program marketing course and have his students work on validating our messaging framework and value prop.

An added bonus? It’s a great way to get in touch with people from your past. 🤗

🆙 Upwork is your Taysom Hill when starting a company (a true player who can do it all!)

Knowing how important on-platform experience was to our success, we prioritized website development above most.

Website development is a daunting task, even more so when you receive quotes from developers that make you wonder if you’d be better off investing savings into a mortgage and starting to build out your real estate portfolio. 😅

Shopify is an amazing resource for getting a website up, but it can be hard to use their native design features to deliver the professional look you see on many websites you know and love.

Your website should give visitors the feeling they’re interacting with a company run by 500 employees instead of 2 employees who are roommates. 🤷‍♂️

As one of the first touchpoints with your brand, this is something that can make or break your early success. Enter Upwork.

Upwork allowed us to create a website that converts at greater than 5% in an industry where the average conversion rate is 2-2.5%, all for around $5,000.

Here are some tips for evaluating talent on Upwork, especially when they’re based out of the country: 👇

  1. Review their portfolio. Have they worked on similar projects? Do their references have the type of features/style you’re looking for?
  2. Send them examples. Point out things you want to match, ask how long it will take to complete and what the cost is for a final deliverable. Make sure to confirm they will make revisions as part of the initial agreed-upon amount.
  3. Ask for everything in writing. If they confirm that they can do something after an example is provided and do not deliver, Upwork helps to navigate the refund process.

Beyond website development, we used Upwork to create graphics, help fill gaps in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and find short-term consultants for bookkeeping, product R&D, regulatory review, and email/sms/affiliate marketing set-up and strategy.

If you can’t find someone in your network to help out, chances are there is a person on Upwork who is proficient enough to get you to that next step, and most of the time, they’re pretty affordable. 👌


The right team can make or break your brand in 2023

💥 2023 is going to be a wild year. Are you confident that you have the absolute best team around you and your brand?

If you feel that:

  • Your current agency isn’t completely focused on what actually moves the needle
  • They aren’t truly aligned to your ROI goals
  • They’re leaving your money on the table
  • Or maybe you’re just looking for a second option

We should chat… 👇

Pilothouse (DTC’s sister company) has a few spots open for Q1 and we’re looking for 3 brands we can sink our teeth into. We’re hungry problem solvers, ROAS generators, and partners in your growth, right down to your bottom line.

🤔 Sound interesting?

Chat with someone on our team now - no obligation. We make money when you do.

DTC Boardroom

📸 The importance of user-generated content (UGC) and how to make it

That UGC…so hot right now. It’s so hot right now for a reason. 🔥

Customers (especially Gen-Z) have developed a phenomenal bullsh*t filter. They crave authenticity and transparency.

Gone are the days of highly produced commercial assets driving sales for a new company. Sure, they can still help to show the brand aesthetic and vision, but UGC is what converts. The best part? It can be done COMPLETELY FOR FREE.

Our two highest-performing ads (so far) are two separate UGC videos made by one of our founders. They were recorded on iPhone, use stock footage at times, and have been sales machines with both hovering around $30 CPAs for the past six months.

When making your first UGC video, try following the AIDA format (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). This helps you keep things concise, refine your messaging points, and test various hooks.

If there’s one thing we learned from our UGC success, it’s that we should have started creating these earlier and at a much higher frequency to test on all of our social platforms.

For us, UGC is infinitely more valuable than spending time writing and rewriting a business plan that will be revised 1000 times over the next 12 months.

🚨 Stop wasting time. Start getting your ideas and voice out there NOW.

🧵 The wrap-up

Starting a company is tough, there’s no way around it, but if our story shows you anything, it’s that two medical sales guys five years out of college with no startup experience and minimal cash can build something special through a relentless pursuit of understanding the customer.

In summary, here’s our advice:

  • You can accomplish a lot with a little. There are TONS of free or relatively cheap resources to get you moving in the right direction. Use free surveys for data, social media for connections and customer insights, and YouTube to learn skills and strategy.
  • Don’t ever forget the power of communication and developing relationships. Take the extra time to reach out by phone or email to potential customers, write thank you notes, and make things right when things go wrong, which they will, a lot in the early days. The ones who stay engaged will be your lifeline moving forward.
  • Get 1% further each day. Leverage your network when you’re stuck. People are kind and more than willing to help out.
  • Listen to what others say but filter it through the lens that is your gut. No matter how much outside advice we’ve taken in, we know our vision the best.

We’d be nothing without the entrepreneurial community out there, so if any of this resonates with you and you’d like to chat more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us via email at ben@yoprettyboy.com or kevin@yoprettyboy.com.

For anyone inclined to check out our product, use CODE: DTC20 for 20% off your purchase at www.yoprettyboy.com.


💋 Kindia: These natural beauty products are inspired by cultures all over the world and curated by a female-owned business. Look no further than Kindia to rejuvenate your skin!

🐟 Atlantic Sea Farms: The brand that created the first commercially viable seaweed farm in North America now brings more to the dinner table than that! Atlantic Sea Farms stands for ethical farming practices and the proper recognition of their farmers’ hard work to keep the kelp growing!

📻 Milo: Walkie-talkies are cool again! Milo lets you talk to your friends in a group chat through the most epic runs of your life!

🔊 Have you heard our latest podcasts?

🥤 Sansorium - Fiona Hepher: Sipping Sober with a 30% Return Customer Rate.

❤️ Rootd - Ania Wysocka: Helping a Million Users in the Age of Anxiety.

💰 Mike Fata - CPG Lessons From Scaling Hemp Hearts + A Trifecta of 9 Figure Exits!

📕 Hero Cosmetics - Ju Rhyu: Reversing the DTC Playbook and the $630MM Hero CPG Needs.

💵 EcomCFO.co - Sam Hill: Make Your Finances Anti-Fragile.

💡 Listen to the Biggest Marketing News Stories Today.

DTC Newsletter is written by Rebecca Knight, Ben Feys, Kevin Niehoff, and Michael Venditti. Edited by Claire Beveridge and Eric Dyck.

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