Want to bring new products or services to market?

Here’s what we’ve learned launching better made easy — a sustainability-focused online store that curates gifts that give back.

In case you missed it – better made easy has been launched for about a month and a half now.

If thinking about bringing a new product or service to market (or you’re just interested in what’s happening behind the scenes), we thought you might enjoy learning some of Christina’s main takeaways from the last few months:

Plan for any launch process to take at least 50% longer than you think it will.

Everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — is more complicated than you expect it will be when it comes to bringing a new product to market.

I think it’s important to sprint towards launching an MVP (i.e., minimum viable product, which is a fancy way of describing that you should launch with a product that’s “good enough”), it is still worthwhile to take time to map out your project plan so you’ll be better equipped to navigate the inevitable roadblocks along the way.

And because our end goal is bringing you a better (the puns aren’t stopping any time soon) way to give gifts that align with your values, while we recognize our launch may not be perfect, we wanted to make the experience of shopping bettermadeasy.com as delightful as possible.

Lean on your team.

Two heads are better (okay, I’ll stop pointing them out) than one. And even more is fabulous!

It’s pretty much impossible to take on a big project alone, especially when it means venturing into unfamiliar territory.

Having multiple viewpoints and perspectives in the decision-making process has helped us develop better made easy with our mission consistently at the center.

From enlisting the help of Molly Beaton with Parson Lane to help us build a solid vision and foundation for the better made easy brand that aligns with our strategic goals (and is something we’re super proud of!) to empowering Alicia Hawes with Three Birdies Desk and Design to take this foundational branding and build upon it to create amazing social media content and designing a delightful, unique, and mission-aligned customer experience.

Creating the vision for this new brand and seeing it come to life thanks to our team of talented marketers has been such a delight.
Also, keep in mind – there are only so many hours in the day.

Since Noel & Co. is still also working to amplify the impact of a number of organizations through consulting and fractional marketing leadership, there is no way we’d have been able to soft launch better made easy this fall without the help of Sarah Lutot, our former Marketing Apprentice now turned newest Marketing Strategist (!!), and Kayleigh Poss, a brilliant e-commerce Marketing Strategist.

Thanks to our partners and team, we are building a platform that will stay true to our values as a B Corp while also bringing you a unique variety of gifts that will cater specifically to you and your loved ones’ needs.

Create the SOFTEST of soft launches possible

We soft launched better to an audience of 30 newsletter subscribers and, for lack of a better word…

I accidentally fell flat on my face in front of all of these people due to a hilariously ridiculous email marketing / product deletion mistake.

It was a complete error on my part and it was honestly something I never would have known to plan for in my wildest dreams, but that’s just it — mistakes are going to happen when you’re bringing products to market.

It’s an inevitable part of the process.

My biggest takeaway from this particular situation is that I wish I had soft launched to 3 people instead of 30… but I was trying to push myself to meet a super tight deadline and that number of people felt like “enough” to take it super seriously.

If you want to read what happened, here is the saga as I shared it in an email sent after midnight of the evening we launched.

Was sending this lengthy ‘mea culpa’ email the best way to handle it? Who knows.

At least one person appreciated it.

At the end of the day, I’ll stand by being committed to transparency, taking ownership, and being honest anytime if (or, inevitably, more like when) we mess up in the future.

Theory vs. reality: pre-sale fail

Now that managing inventory is going to be a key logistical challenge we have to navigate, so we can create more jobs for people with disabilities by hiring Gabi’s PALS to lead our order fulfillment…

our initial plan was to focus on pre-selling gift boxes from late October to late November.

For market researchers like us, a pre-sale strategy is fantastic when first going to market for a handful of reasons, including:

  1. It helps you validate demand and get market feedback, so you can make adjustments to your product or service without wasting a ton of time or money.
  2. It can create urgency for people to go ahead and take action since there is a limited time to participate in the pre-sale.
  3. If you’re trying to manage cash flow (i.e. stay in business) and figure out the amount of inventory you need (especially if it’s tough to gauge demand when first starting out), pre-sales can help you get it right.

While we had a handful of pre-sales after our soft launch, I was concerned that a purchase being a pre-sale might be a deterrent to buying.

Plus a few people had mentioned to me they were confused as to whether or not they could still buy gifts after the pre-sale date.

I’m a big believer that, if you confuse, you lose, so we decided to shift to simply setting a limit on the number of gift boxes that will be available vs. emphasizing our pre-sale.

This strategic call was also made knowing that…

we were about to be featured by B the Change media!

You can check out the full B the Change Media Holiday gift guide here.

(Special shout out to our friends at Brand Fuel — check them out if you have any values-aligned branded merch needs. They are a fellow Certified B Corp featured in this gift guide and they are AMAZING to work with!)

Okay, back to the launch lessons…

Balance sustainability and profitability

Balancing profitability and sustainability can be tricky and the “most sustainable” option isn’t always entirely clear, but it so rewarding to invest the time in doing the research.

There are definitely quick, easy, cheap ways to make an e-commerce business “successful” in the traditional sense.

However, that quick and easy route has tremendous repercussions for the workers on the ground, the environment, and the customer experience.

That’s why we’re working hard to ensure the packaging for products are sustainable, good quality, and CUTE.

I’m particularly excited about our branded recyclable tape and stickers:

*Disclaimer, for any sustainability-obsessed readers — This was the first time we were shipping boxes in the mail. Testing every step of the customer journey is key because during this process we realized we needed plain, box-colored kraft tape in addition to our branded tape to secure everything. For this shipment we had to use normal packing tape that I just encouraged our team to remove, so they could recycle everything after unboxing their gifts.  

We’re now all set with plenty of recyclable plain kraft tape as well!

We are passionate about working with vetted vendors and investing more in purchasing recycled / recyclable / compostable packaging for our boxes, packaging, as well as the branded materials we’ll be using.

This will impact our margins, but it’s also what we think will be a key differentiator.

Side note – it turns out I get SUPER excited about sustainable marketing materials. If you’re a TikTok user, you might enjoy this video of me freaking out about our postcards from our local sustainable printer.

Relationships matter, especially at launch

While marketing is often a series of “one-to-many” strategies, one of the reasons we decided to launch better is the belief that one-to-one relationships truly matter.

For launch, your first customers are your personal champions. Lean into the genuine relationships you’ve built over time and tell them what you’re up to.

Let them help you — ask for ideas, learn about their unique pain points, get their feedback, and tell them to send you inspiration.

Because building relationships take time.

Thoughtful, compelling marketing can do this for you, especially when it drives word-of-mouth marketing — but it doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes testing and optimization, meaningful storytelling, and learning the most effective ways to connect with your brand’s unique, ideal customer.

I also personally believe that creating highly personalized content is the recipe for success in marketing, even at scale.

This is why we built this personalized gifting recommendations quiz, so we can find out from you exactly what you’re looking for and build better, together.

So while the intent of this newsletter is to serve you by sharing the latest insights we have on marketing that works, if you have a few minutes to spare to help us create more job opportunities for people with disabilities and change the world through better gifting…

Here is how you can help:

  • Spread the Word: Share our story with your network. We’ve prepared this template for social media posts  with graphics and copy for easy sharing.
  • Shop and Save: Check out bettermadeeasy.com to discover our unique range of gifts that give back! Sign up for our newsletter for 10% off your first order! And feel free to share any ideas or feedback if there is any way we can do “better” at making gifting easier for you (couldn’t resist one final pun)!
  • Connect with Us: Follow our journey on social media @shopbettergifts for the latest updates and stories. Commenting and engaging with our content is a game changer for helping get more eyes on the mission-driven work we’re doing.

Every single person you tell, post you comment on or share, and/or purchase you make makes an enormous positive impact.

Cheers to doing better, one step at a time!