When I first saw that famed-shoe designer Christian Louboutin, created a nail polish in his signature red, with a SEVEN-inch cap that looks more like a dagger than a nail polish cap and a $50 price tag (That’s right. Fifty smackaroos for a tiny bottle of red lacquer.), I just about fell off my stilettos.
Now, before you also fall off your stilettos thinking about paying fifty bucks for a teeny, tiny bottle of nail polish – take a moment to think about what Christian Louboutin did.
Like all great designers, he created a fantasy.
Something that removes you from the everyday, and transports you to the world of Paris Fashion Week, where you’re sitting in a front row seat next to Anna Wintour and Kim Kardashian while waves of chiffon strut by.
Side Note: Did you know that Kim Kardashian had ‘attend Paris fashion week’ on her vision board for years? INTENTIONALITY MAGIC.
Just like Christian Louboutin shoes, and their $1000 plus price tags, his nail polish embodies feeling special. Rich and luxurious.
Whether you’re rich or not, paying $50 for a nail polish will make you feel that way. You’ll apply the polish more carefully. You’ll admire the bottle more completely. You may avoid chipping your nails for just a little bit longer.
It’s a totally different feeling from that $2.99 bottle of Sally Hansen Heavy Metal nail polish from the drugstore.
Christian Louboutin understands the incredible value of what he’s created.
Which has nothing to do with an incredible value like buying bulk panties from Walmart.
Don’t get me started on the time I went on vacation in a small town and I forgot to pack my undies.
And while I’m into a lot of things, going commando isn’t one of them. So I had to buy what was available – a Victoria’s Secret knock-off version of my favorite underwear Hanky Panky.
Let’s just say that even at $11.00 a pair they were itchy, scratchy, and the cheap lace tore on the first day I wore them. As soon as I got home, off came the imitations and on came my $25.00-a-pair of Hanky Panky. Worth. Every. Penny.
Christian Louboutin wants you to feel exclusive, expensive, and lavish. Even when it’s just a bottle of nail polish. So he went one step further than the price. And launched his nail polish line as a limited edition. With just ONE color.
You might think that launching a product line with a single product at a premium price would lead to a spectacular failure.
But guess what? The first run sold out. And there was a wait list for the next production.
Here’s what Mr. Louboutin said when questioned about the price by The New York Times’ Style reporter Ruth La Ferla:
‘There is no need to add an ordinary product to the beauty category. This is extraordinary.’ – Christian Louboutin
I never knew I wanted a stiletto with a red sole, or a $50 bottle of nail polish with a seven inch cap that could double as a weapon. Did you?
His vision, his voice, his viewpoints. Crystal clear.
Think about this … when you go to Walmart, the shelves are filled with the ordinary. It’s what Walmart does. It offers you all the ordinary stuff you have to get, in one convenient location.
But you’re not an entrepreneur because you want to be Walmart.
You’re an entrepreneur because you want to create something unique & special.
And Christian Louboutin is a great example of not just doing something special, but pushing the boundaries of an industry.
He made people – lots and lots of people – want $50 luxury nail polish.
So scrawl it in lipstick on your mirror: No One Craves The Ordinary.
Oh, and while you’re at it? Scrawl it in Louboutin Red Lipstick.
That’s right. After making a splash with his $50 nail polish, Louboutin came back with a $90 lipstick – that you can turn into a necklace. With a single beautifully crafted jump ring, Louboutin changed a product into a statement piece.
And that isn’t just good design, that’s genius marketing.
In less than one year after putting out his $50 nail lacquer, the reception of his lipstick was completely different.
BAZAAR.COM: “Get ready to make room on your vanity … at $90 they don’t come cheap, but the best things rarely do.”
REFINERY29.COM: “Listen, we’ll try to find a way to justify this purchase by any means necessary, okay?”
ESSENCE.COM: “. . . it looks like we’ll be pinching pennies the rest of August in preparation for the collection. Are you with us?”
Do you know what this all means?
Christian Louboutin actually changed the beauty marketplace.
Yeah, the press may have jumped on the Louboutin bandwagon, because everyone loves success. But the real story is that Christian Louboutin made people want to spend money on his products. His objects.
He didn’t look at what’s going on in the marketplace – and figure out how to fit in with customer avatars and demographics.
Which is what mediocre companies do.
Christian Louboutin made what he wanted to make
Priced it how he wanted to price it
Let buyers decide if they wanted it
And buy they did. Because we crave beauty. We crave individuality. We crave unique experiences.
Christian Louboutin never pretended he was creating anything but a luxury object. The same with his shoes. Even when he was only selling 200 pairs a year and in danger of going bankrupt. He sold exclusivity from the very beginning.
Christian Louboutin shapes the market according to what he wants to see in the world.
Don’t you want to do that too? People lining up to buy THE WORLD ACCORDING TO YOU?
The peer pressure to be average is intense. But when you develop strong viewpoints, you know what you believe. You know what you stand for. And you have the courage to do things your way.
The world doesn’t need any more ordinary products & services. NO ONE CRAVES THE ORDINARY.
When I first started my business back in 2005, I would work with anyone.
And I mean anyone.
If you had a pulse, and money in your pocket, you could be my customer.
I was clueless about who my perfect customer was and how to find them.
: I drove around to spas and left stacks of my brochures at the front desk for their clients (without having any clue who their clients were!).
: I rented booths at trade shows, networking events, and expos of all kinds. (And handed out my “girlish” pale pink note cards, notepads, business cards, stickers, and brochures – which you can imagine went over BIG at commercial real estate trade shows).
: I placed ads on the back pages of alternative newspapers. (Only realizing this was a bad idea when a man called asking me if I could help him find a Christian wife. Even though I was clueless about my target market, I was confident Christian matchmaking wasn’t it.)
Even after hiring a top business coach and attending countless workshops on how to create a customer avatar, I was still clueless.
None of the mainstream advice made sense to me. It felt formulaic and out of alignment with how I naturally moved through the world.
For someone like me who designs products and services from her heart & soul, boxing myself in with ideal customer profiles, avatars, and demographics was the kiss of creative death.
And get this, at the time more than 50% of my clients were men. Now there’s nothing wrong with men. But when I was working with men, I never felt like I could be totally myself.
There was a new, more vibrant Erika who wanted to come out.
On my blog and in my emails I wanted to write about stilettos and all things glam. I also struggled with my writing voice as I was crafting Think Like A Stripper.
I wanted to have clients I could go to happy hour with. And hang with women who wore skinny jeans & stilettos, loved green smoothies, and read Fast Company.
I knew I had to make a major shift in how I was showing up.
Now, I’m not a “hype” gal. I just take care of what needs to be done.
So I didn’t make some sort of a grand announcement. Instead …
I took three small – but very effective – actions that made it clear who I was marketing to and what I would be sharing with them.
On my blog, I used the pronoun “she.” I referred to my audience as women. I talked about stilettos, makeup, and lip-gloss.
When I was writing Think Like A Stripper, I imagined that I was writing the book to one of my besties. And I pictured groups of women sharing their favorite stripper tips while sipping green smoothies.
I started networking almost exclusively at women’s events & conferences. (Oh, and of course I ditched the pale pink “girly-girl” branding in favor of a look that reflected my BOLD personality!)
As I rolled out these changes, some of my male readers wrote to me and asked, “Hey, do I have to be a hot lady to read your blog now?”
“NO!” I replied, “But you do have to put on red lipstick before you open up my emails.”
Before long, I’d narrowed down my client base to women who were interested in my BOLD viewpoints and voice – and who wanted to grow their businesses with sales & marketing that was FUN.