185 – Proof that changing who you are can positively impact business growth.

185 – Proof that changing who you are can positively impact business growth.

Cactus Skincare’s Ryan Clark wasn’t tight with the in crowd at school. But things changed once he decided to assist his mum relaunch her fledgling skincare brand. He sought training in body language, speech therapy and socialite (yep socialite) psychology; started to attend all the right events and managed to seed some of the most beautiful women in Australia. That last bit sounds wrong, but it’s exactly what he did!

What resulted was 100,000% (yes, that’s one hundred thousand percent!) growth within a couple of years.

Ryan reveals all in this interview, including talking about his biggest failures along the way and what they taught him, the step-by-step process he used to grow the business, and how he used social media to get influencers spreading the word about his brand. If you’re trying to make an impact in a crowded market, this episode is a “must listen”.

PLUS, I give you some tough love when it comes to taking your website from a smelly pond to a thriving ecosystem, and this week we have a bonus give-away valued at $149.

In this session of Small Business Big Marketing, you’ll discover:

  • The big marketing idea that turned around Ryan’s family skincare business
  • How Ryan built a powerful sales funnel to take prospects “down the rabbit hole”
  • The role that clear, simple communication plays in getting your business out there
  • How to use “product seeding” to raise awareness of your brand with the right people
  • Ryan’s biggest failures along the way and the invaluable knowledge he got from them
  • Why you should find a niche where you can stand out when entering a crowded market
  • How Ryan created his own personal brand that aligned with what he wanted to achieve
  • What Don Draper from Mad Men can teach you about networking and personal branding
  • What you’re really selling and how it might be completely different to what you think it is!
  • Why you should be wary of “free” in your marketing
  • The importance of getting your potential customers to have some “skin in the game”
  • PLUS, is your website a thriving pond or a smelly swamp?

Episode Timeline

  • 5.00 Listener feedback — I read out some listener comments and emails about recent episodes
  • 12.00 Introducing this week’s guest, Ryan Clark from Cactus Skincare
  • 14.30 Entering a crowded market – what you can do to compete with the big boys & girls
  • 16.30 Ryan talks about finding the right niche for the Cactus brand
  • 20.00 How does personal branding fit in? What role should you play depending on your objectives?
  • 24.00 I accuse Ryan of being a wanker! (For non-Australian listeners, this is what wanker means.)
  • 31.00 Ryan talks about the importance of engaging with your customers and not being worried about getting personally involved
  • 34.00 Ryan describes the big idea that turned the company around and allowed them to do things differently
  • 37.30 What were some of Ryan’s biggest failures along the way?
  • 44.00 My top three take-aways from this episode

Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode


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Over to you!

Let us know YOUR key takeaways from this episode by leaving a comment below. I personally read and respond to every comment!

*** For this episode Ryan is giving away a $149 skincare package to the best comment left below. The prize will go to the most insightful comment about Ryan’s interview (and yes, you can call him a wanker if you want to!) ***

23 thoughts on “185 – Proof that changing who you are can positively impact business growth.”

  1. jrmward26 .

    Thanks Timbo and Ryan – i love the challenge of going to those awkward places! Having just made the move to Australia to grow our business, this podcast has given me great insight and drive to ‘take my hands out of my pockets’ and make an impact in the crowd!

  2. Mendo Vasilevski

    I actually really like this interview. The honesty was so bloody freshing. I hate the smokey mirrors & I have an answer for everything. This was one of the best interviews because it was very relatable. I’m not desperate for the skin care but the insights were; be congruent, be a chameleon, give & you get back. Ryan I actually liked you didn’t have that polished answer for everything. You still got the down to earth quality that Australian’s love, tall poppy, bad. Keep smashing it mate!

  3. @Tim, love the part where you challenged Ryan on the socialite mindset and calling a spade a spade. Perhaps this can be highlighted in your marketing of this particular podcast?
    @Ryan, don’t worry, you don’t sound as nervous as you think! Your strategy of reaching out to beautiful people to become brand ambassadors is illuminating. Think there could have been more sparks in the show if you had stepped up to Tim’s challenge, it would have made for a brilliant podcast episode!

  4. …….nah I couldn’t really pick it you sounded fine to me.

    But then I have never heard you speak before so maybe you
    normally sound all suave and dare I say it wankerish normally. I think you
    sounded real, and for me that’s what counts in an interview of this kind.

  5. Hi guys, in relation to your question in the podcast, for me
    the biggest learning I took from this was the whole free samples situation.

    I love the fact that even though you sell the samples at $5 each, when you send
    them overseas the stamp alone actually cost you $6 which proves you’re not actually
    trying to make money on the sample but instead the fact that you have got the
    customer to committed to paying $5 means you get rid of the ones that only want
    something for free and the ones you are left with are real customers. Then it
    just depends on how good the product is on whether they become a regular customer
    or not.

  6. Pretty dodgy that he talks about $5 samples and it says the same on their website, yet when you go to redeem it, it costs $8…

  7. thefatbadger

    Perhaps a more fitting intro to the show would have been “Hey listeners! Watch me pull a rabbit out of this hat!”. Bullwinkle would have been so proud.

    Equal credit must go to both Timbo and Ryan for this weeks podcast.

    Credit goes to you Timbo for beavering away like Rocky, digging and panning until you came up with more of that marketing gold.

    The interview started a little shaky and you had every right to expect more from a self-promoted guest. Ryan’s sales spiel, that I presume had worked for him since the re-launch of the brand, began taking on water under the weight of Tim’s desire for details.

    Some of Ryan’s strategies and ideas were lacking a little substance and critical thought. I put this down to youthful exuberance and expect that Ryan’s ideas move from ‘lightbulbs’ to action fairly quickly. The Instagram idea seems a good example of this.

    The Instagram idea, despite a few shortcomings, was great. It’s low cost and targeted nature is something that I’m sure would appeal to many of SBBM’s listener base. A question……Is it measurable?

    I’ve got to congratulate Ryan for suggesting himself as a guest and putting himself out there for what was ultimately as a much a test of his character as it was a test of his marketing abilities.

    This leads me to a key takeaway from the interview…
    As the episode progressed the relationship between Tim and Ryan moved from that of ‘host & guest’ to more ‘mentor & mentee’ or ‘teacher & student’.

    Ryan let his defences down, dropped his adopted persona and realised that it’s OK to not have all the answers and that to ask for help and advice is not a sign of weakness but one of strength. Good advice for all I believe.

    Ryan, best of luck to you.

    Tim, another magical performance.

    Badger, nice work… you did really well to avoid using the word ‘wanker’ in those comments, well do……..darn it!

  8. Greg Cadorin

    Great interview Tim.

    For me there was some great ideas.

    * Seeding.
    * Be sharable.
    * Presenting the business owner in a positive light (or at least the way the customer expects them).

    For me though the most crucial take home was the whole FREE samples issue. I am of the opinion that too many conditions (generally any) can easily kill a promotion. The trouble is that when the customer invests NOTHING (in this case not even the time to visit your brick and mortar premises), you can be over run with cheap skates who ONLY want the free stuff. I would suggest that the people who frequent those freebie offer sites almost exclusively have no intention of buying any of the products they want for free.

  9. Thanks, although as someone pointed out… we did eventually put the price up to $8 but still it doesn’t really cover the cost of the sample and is more about valuing the lifetime value of a potential customer. Then if they share it on social media it sort of can be considered a marketing expense where the more people that share it, the better.

  10. Glad to hear it! I think I got stumped because I hadn’t had to put it into words in the past. I sort of know inside me what changed to be able to put myself in these people’s shoes but it was harder to put into words… good to have something to think about!

  11. Thanks! Yeah, I definitely wanted to be real on the show. It can be a bit annoying when some guests only want to give the answers that forward their business. I’ve benefitted a lot from this podcast and I wanted to make sure that whatever I did was of the most value as I was in a position to give. Thank you for your lovely comment!

  12. I absolutely agree with you. Although I think it was important in the beginning to offer the samples for free because nobody knew us and we didn’t have any goodwill. So a free sample is an easy decision and gave us an opportunity to connect with people. However, the list we’ve been building since we started charging money is much more powerful and engaged as they have as Timbo said “some skin in the game”. So yeah, once money changes hands people change and become more engaged. But timing was an issue for us.

  13. Instagram is very hard to measure for sure. Measuring in general is something I am working very hard on getting better. Although at one point I had an auto email that went out when people first got their samples asking how they found out about us and most of the responses sited instagram. However when I look at google analytics our biggest source of traffic apart from google searches is from facebook but I suspect this is because I can put a clickable link into any of my facebook posts, you can’t do this with instagram.

    You’d be right to say that I definitely go largely from my gut. That said, that allows me to be a lot more human. I choose to connect with people individually and it seems to be working and we’re growing very quickly as a result.

    But definitely I want to get better at the more businessy type strategies, or hire someone who’s good at all that stuff. I’m sure we could benefit from that.

    But I will always value human connection higher than any other ‘strategy’. Hard to measure but effective and more valuable in my opinion.

  14. So true… sorry about that Jen. It’s a discussion that we’ve been having for a long time. Eventually mum wore me down and we upped the price. If you email me on ryan@cactusskincare.com I’m happy to make up a discount code for you to get the samples for $5?

  15. Michael Hounslow

    Hey Timbo!

    Biggest take out point for me was when you find who your ideal customer is, appeal to them by mimicking them in your brand. When they decided to change tack and aim for a different market, they change the image of the brand and mimic their social behaviour (i.e. heading down the instagram route). Ryan also looked at his persona and image and changed it to mirror the target market so that he fitted in when he was communicating in these circles.

    If people can see themselves in the product, brand and company, then they are more likely to choose it over the competitors.



    btw mimic might sound a tad insincere. There might be a better word than that, but I reckon it was a smart move by Ryan to change his image to allow him into the communities where the target market was.

  16. Kudos to Ryan for dropping in on the comments and actually commenting – as a past guest of the show – I feel part of the community – and it irks me a bit that some people are too big to follow up

    Your story about the giveaway craziness was interesting.

    I’m one of those people who gets the
    freebie newsletters, and signs up for the free stuff – I do wonder how the
    businesses benefit from it – but I guess I never realised you don’t actually
    want yourself listed on those sites…in my early days someone sharply said to me
    no freebies … but if you do it … it can’t be altruistic … there must be a
    follow up.

    I loved the seeding Instagram concept
    and will share that with businesses I work with. I send out books (that I have written) all
    the time – so maybe I can include a card – share it on social media and I’ll
    give them something in exchange…

    I send out books (that I have written) all
    the time – so maybe I can include a card – share it on social media and I’ll
    give them something in exchange…

  17. Great insights, Greg. And in fact, you’re the winder of the $159 pack from Cactus. Please let us know your email and Ryan will sort you out. Thanks for being a part of the show.

  18. You have nothing to apologise for Ryan, the price has clearly been
    changed since your interview, Jen is being the ah “wanker” on this

    Ryan your interview has sparked me to create some
    cheap introductory products for my own business and I thank you for that

    At We Shoot Buildings from now on we will be running $99
    “mid-construction” photo shoots for building and construction companies
    to allow them to cheaply document the stages of their builds.

    we will also be running $99 marketing “discovery” sessions for building
    and construction companies aiming to attract bigger and more profitable
    projects to their building companies and dramatically cut back the
    number of quotes they have to do to achieve this.

    Bit scary for our business to go this cheap but i’ll report back and let you know how it goes.

    Cheers Grant

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