How Feedback Loops Helped Me Sell My Company

Hey there,

As a marketer, gathering feedback about your clients or prospects is critical to building highly successful campaigns.

In today's newsletter, I wanted to share a personal story about how gathering feedback was one of the critical elements of selling one of my first companies named Alchemistbox, how it impacted the campaigns we ran, and a few tips you can install today for your business.

Let's dive right in.

The Story of Alchemistbox & First Prototype

When I was 21 I launched a company called Alchemistbox, a way for people to create 4 perfect cocktails at home without the hassle of finding the perfect recipe or buying expensive bottles they won't use again.

In fact, the company was launched when I was finishing up my last year of business school as I was too lazy to write a thesis and convinced the professors that launching a real business was more effective. You can find the worst pitch deck ever created by me right here.

This is what it looked like as a final product when we started scaling (yeah yeah, I should have had a good haircut before the news came over).

As you have probably guessed, this is not how the product started out.

In fact, this is the first time I am sharing what the first prototypes looked like when starting out as I had to dig deep into my picture library.

Because as the famous Reid Hoffman's says — “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.".

This is what the first prototype looked like:

Yup, it was just an ordinary shoe box, bottles from the pharmacy across my door, and a poorly designed 'how-to-flyer' for which I paid a student exactly 40€ for.

Don't even get me started on the 'label' design.

The product was far from ideal, but I had learned an important lesson from my first failed start-up where I believed IKEA was going to steal my idea.

Get out to the market as soon as you can to gather feedback from customers. It's the only way to win.

It was time to get out of my house and gather my first feedback moments.

The First Sale of Alchemistbox using a Feedback Loop

The product was 'ready'. Now it was time for sales to flow in (as good founders always believe it will rain €€€).

So I decided to grab a booth at a pop-up concept area in Antwerp, Belgium.

Pitching Time.

Every morning from 8 am until 6 pm I would be pitching the product.

I felt like an old-school paper boy shouting on the corner of the street.

"The perfect way to create 4 cocktails without finding a recipe".

"Create cocktails at home without buying big bottles".

As you can imagine sales exploded and sold out on the first day.

Just kidding.

in 4 days, we sold 0.

Like not even 1 freaking box.

Literally 0.

Something was wrong, and I just couldn't figure it out.

Until the last day of the fair. Something magical happened.

An older couple walked up to one of my boxes, pointing at the exact picture that I had pasted into my box.

"Oh, this left guy really looks like Steve. We should buy it as a gift for him".

I was shocked.

My usual pitch was "Buy it for yourself to create the perfect cocktails".

And now this older couple just decided to change my whole idea and buy it for somebody else.

But guess what? They took out their wallet and paid 45€ for my first box.

The first sale was made.

That last day, I adapted my pitch completely based on the feedback I received when making my first sale and was able to push another 9 sales by just tweaking the exact same product towards a different use case.

It was time for a pivot based on the feedback I gathered.

The First Pivot & Feedback Hack

Once we validated the idea of the box not being seen as something people would order for themselves (which our competitors were also focused on), I knew we had discovered something to set us apart.

We took the gift idea and took ran with it.

Here are a few things we implemented

1. We partnered with the number 1 online gift store in Belgium (Luxury For Men) which also ended up being an investor.

2. We made every box a limited edition to play on the scarcity effect but also make it a unique gift.

3. We designed the labels in a way that you could write the name of the person you would gift it to.

4. We created sleeves to make it feel like you are opening a gift.

Yet that wasn't the biggest hack implemented to play on the gift angle.

The hack is simple, the company that understands their customer the deepest will win the game.

We now knew people would rather buy it as a gift, but we didn't know what kind of gift yet.

This is why we implemented something which in the beginning wasn't profitable but ended up being the most helpful thing to sell the company.

Here is it.

On every order, people could get a free complementary card to go with their gift.

Because of this, people would tell us exactly why and what occasion they were buying the gift for (without it being an annoying form or pop-up).

This is how it looked like in our confirmation emails where it said things like 'Have a great Christmas my Alcoholic Dad'.

And boom.

Now we knew exactly who buys it, who they bought it for and why they were buying it.

With this information, we knew exactly why our customers were buying our products and how to adapt our entire marketing strategy accordingly.

Think about all the possibilities.

1. Targeting people on Facebook who have friends with upcoming birthdays.

2. Partnering with gift and alcohol shops

3. Joining end-of-year events where people go shopping for gifts.

Yet, there was one element that was really missing in our pitch before we started scaling.

The way we communicated about our products.

This is where the second pivot needed to happen.

The Second Pivot & Feedback Loop Implementation

When we were communicating about our products, we always mentioned the names of the cocktails themselves.

- Red Ginger
- Belgian Americano
- ...

This ended up being a huge mistake.

We were missing the point.

People didn't buy gifts like this, and it wasn't until we hit our second end-of-the-year event until it clicked.

I was pitching my products again as a gift box with names nobody heard of.

Sales were ok, but people were having a hard time grasping the concept as it was rather new and didn't find anything to associate themselves with within the 10-second pitch I was able to deliver.

It wasn't until a group of female friends arrived and asked about the boxes.

Here is how the conversation went:

"Does any of the boxes have Gin inside?"


"Which Gin is it".

"Havn, the brand you can also find a bit further on this fair".

"Oh, it was an amazing Gin".

"I'll take 5, please".

In a matter of seconds, we knew exactly how to further boost our sales.

We had to step away from what people didn't know, into something people already knew to increase sales.

We went from pitching the Red Ginger Cocktailbox towards the Gin cocktail box with {(famous brand}} because that's how people decided if they would buy or not.

As simple as that we tweaked our entire marketing strategy again which allowed us to scale the brand and eventually sell the company.

Ho to tweak the entire marketing strategy on brandss

How To Install Feedback Moments Within Your Company

I hope this story inspired you to understand the power of feedback moments that can change the course of how you run your business, adapt your marketing strategy, and get ahead of your competitors by knowing your customers better.

Now I want you to think about it for your own company.

How can you install small moments of feedback you can gather to gain this competitive knowledge?

Here are a few things to consider for B2B:

Make a Sales Friend

Have a salesperson / SDR join your weekly marketing calls and ask her/him to share the insights of the week and why people are blocked on certain deals. Write them down and make sure to share them with the whole marketing team to prioritize efforts to remove those blocking factors.

When running growth, we write these down on a weekly basis and share them on a slide on monthly basis to share with the teams.

If you can, join the demo/sales calls on a weekly basis to understand the lingo.

Feedback Flow

Gather crucial qualitative feedback from users who no longer want to use your product. Ask them about the reason they're leaving, what (if any) tool they'll be switching to, what they like about your product the most etc.

Additionally, use conditional logic to get more detailed answers e.g. if the reason for churning was lack of features, ask them what features would make them stay. Make it as easy as possible to fill out to maximize the # of answers. It's important to include open-ended questions to get more insightful answers.

If you offer a free trial, try to get feedback from both trial users who didn't upgrade and paid users who churned. Ask for it both in-app and by email.

Features upvoting

Encourage your users to let you know which features they'd like to have in your product/what new courses they'd like to see etc. Make it easy for them by placing a voting widget inside your product. It's a win-win situation: your users get features they actually need and feel heard, and you get quality feedback on what to build next. Example tool:

Unhappy People Flow

Reach out to unhappy users that leave negative feedback about competing products on review sites like G2, Capterra etc. They'll be more than happy to hear about a better solution to their need that wasn't satisfied by the competing product. You can even go a step further and monitor the review sites for new, negative reviews using a tool like

Campaign Performance Feedback

We all know that the more value a user gets out of your product, the more likely she is to keep using it for a long time. We also know that humans learn best when they get feedback on the actions they take. How can we use this knowledge to improve the activation and retention of our products?

Give performance feedback on users' campaigns.

Good examples include HubSpot's Email Health tool and SEMrush's Site Audit tips (see screenshots). They do a couple of things:

1. Explain what a metric means and why it's important

2. Tell users if their performance is good or bad

3. Give tips on how they can do better

In the early stages of growing your product it also makes sense to offer your help and get on a call to discuss users' results.

And remember. The better you know your customer, the more you'll win in life.

Go get them, tiger.

PS: Yes, I graduated from Business School because of Alchemistbox.
PPS: Special thanks to my mom who helped me use her house and friends to scale the business.

LinkedIn posts worth reading this week:

1. The Genius LinkedIn Content Marketing Strategy of SemrushThis is exactly how I would tackle B2B Marketing on LinkedIn. Throw out any other agency that doesn't do it this way.

2. McKinsey Framework To Use For Your Next Pitch or Presentation
Creating effective presentations is the only way to get things done and get your team aligned. This is a nice framework to use.

The 3 best tools of the week:

For this end-of-year edition, we have gathered tools that will help your business quickstart 2023.

1. Earlybird - Challenge your ideas with this low-cost landing page builder

A new idea for your SAAS product? Test it quickly for almost 0€

2. Usersnap - Optimise your feedback loop with the best customer feedback tool of the year.

Offer screen capturing, annotation and voice recording tools for users to explain and submit issues easily and accurately.

3. Adstra - Need help brainstorming on your hot business questions?

Adstra uses the power of a dedicated team and AI to solve business problems. The more questions you ask, the more accurate it becomesGrw

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