SOCIAL media may have changed marketing, but HiSmile founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic say there is one important principal that hasn't changed since Michael Jordan's glory days.
The pair have clearly got social media nailed. With a targeted product and smart social campaign, the long-time friends, aged 21 and 22, have turned HiSmile into a $10 million business.
The Gold Coast young entrepreneurs spoke to Business News Australia about how they did it.
First, they needed a product
They identified the teeth whitening section of the beauty industry, as they saw that it was an area that lacked user experience.
"It was the industry that had the least amount of fun towards it and the experience just wasn't present, so we thought we could spice up the culture around it," says Mirkovic.
It took one year of product development before they were ready to bring Hismile to the market.
"Our number one focus when we entered the game was that we wanted to create something different, that no one else was doing."
The product, which they created from scratch, incorporates a bi-carbonate paste, with a application mouth guard with an attached ultra violet light.
The introductory kit, which costs $79.99, includes the light and mouth tray, plus three gels. A set of three replacement gels costs $39.99, with each syringe giving 2-3 applications.
Then, they identified social media influencers in their target market
Inspired by Nike and Michael Jordan, Adidas and Lionel Messi and others such as Gillette and Roger Federer, the pair identified who these elite level influencers were in the beauty segment, and sent them the product.
"We are big on Instagram and social media and we see influencers on there as very similar to the old model, where you saw brands such as Nike and Adidas leverage the profile of the world's biggest athletes," says Mirkovic.
"This is not something that is new, there are social media stars who are hugely influential and brands are coming around to this."
However, HiSmile isn't an elite sports product, it is targeted at women in their late teens and early twenties, so required a very different set of icons to approach.
"At the start, we went on to social media and identified who was influential beauty industry and spent six months sending out our product to as many people as we possibly could," says Tomic.
HiSmile garnered positive reviews from a number of these influencers and the buzz around the product quickly grew.
Sell a lifestyle, not your product
HiSmile is active across a number of social media platforms, from Instagram to Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat.
On these channels, their content creators post 80 per cent lifestyle content and 20 per cent sales content.
"Our big push is lifestyle, rather than selling a product," says Tomic.
"We have a community across all social media platforms and if we truly keep on giving them more value, giving them things they can share with their friends, that is the most important thing. We are like their best friend, their 'go-to source'."
Mirkovic hammers home the point that it is important not to sell, but to build content around a lifestyle.
"We are transitioning more and more to that super important content, and not just product related, no one wants to wake up and interact with you if you are just selling a product."
So, how do you use Snapchat?
Snapchat is the newest social platform and perhaps the one that marketers are still in the process of figuring out. Once again, it comes down to creating the 'snaps' that provides entertainment for the viewer.
If you can get it right, the result is more powerful than the other channels.
"The benefit of Snapchat is that you have your viewer's full attention for 10 seconds if you can create engaging content. It is attention grabbing," says Mirkovic.
"On Facebook, you are on a newsfeed and scrolling, but once you click on a snap you are immersed in the snap. Knowing how to use it is key."
What's next for HiSmile?
Currently, the brand is focused on Australia, a market in which it is doing exceptionally well, but Mirkovic and Tomic have plans for international expansion.
They are planning on adding dozens of new staff to their Southport base over the coming year as the business moves into Europe and North America.
Read more about nailing the social media game:
- Millennial entrepreneurs do it different: Jane Lu, Showpo
- Ruby Olive targets the US with a refreshed look
- Meet the social media superstars earning more than executives
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