When lockdown first hit in March 2020, thousands of online companies saw a surge in business as shops closed - but, unfortunately for many, it wasn’t to last.
Liz Needham, 42, managing director of FFS Beauty, saw demand for their razor subscription packages for women initially soar, as stores and beauty salons were forced to shut their doors.
However, after the initial summer boom, and the ‘long winter’ set in, with Christmas and New Year parties cancelled, it meant fewer women were shaving their legs, and orders started to plateau.
Managing director Liz, whose business is based in Cannock, West Midlands, said: “We’ve been a growth business since launching in 2015, and had been doing really well over the years.
“At the start of 2020, we made the decision to bring our tooling back from being produced in China - for quality reasons and sustainability reasons - to have them made around the corner.
“That turned out to be one of the best decisions the company had made as the following week Covid hit, which otherwise would have been devastating for us.
“By April, the sun was shining, but you couldn’t go to the shops easily, you couldn’t go to the beautician and get your legs waxed so we saw that accentuated growth. Sales wise, it was a really positive time for us.
“But then when we started to move into the second lockdown and winter, things started to plateau for us.
“There was no reason for ladies to go out, we were all having Zoom chats, so you could see our faces but not our legs, which were hiding in jogging bottoms.
“Ladies don’t shave as much in the winter. Take away not being able to go to the gym, go out with the girls or go on holiday, you take away the reasons to go out, and we saw sales flatten.”
Liz says sales dropped year-on-year from the previous winter, and, as other brands pivoted and looked to increase online marketing spend, there was more competition.
"Because lockdown went on for a lot longer than what anyone expected, it’s a harder market this year,” Liz admits.
“In 2020, we were there, ready to go, we’d got our advantage. But there’s a lot more ecommerce businesses around now so it’s much more challenging on the marketing side of things this year.”
It’s with small and medium businesses in mind, MailOnline has launched a new advertising platform called Ad Manager - helping companies to come out of lockdown thriving.
FFS Beauty was one of the first brands to try out the new system, which allows entrepreneurs to market to as many of MailOnline’s 25 million consumers as they like, targeting potential customers by postcode, interests or life stage.
And it comes without a hefty price tag.
What’s more, business owners can easily create their own campaign, set the budget and the target audience - and it can be live in less than 24 hours.
“Setting up the advertising campaign was easy to do, from picking the audience targeting and submitting the creatives,” says Liz.
“I’m really impressed by the number of impressions from our advertisement, in such a short time the campaign was put in front of a large audience.
“It’s good to see that over one million women with the interests we targeted saw our advert.” Liz added: “It is a great idea to build brand awareness for both smaller and bigger local businesses alongside displaying regular engaging content to their viewers.
“Understanding the demographics of the readers is important to display relevant advertisements to the right people so this is a unique approach to combat that.”
A new Ad Manager campaign takes just minutes to set up on the easy-to-use system, and it allows you to advertise to more people in your area than your local titles can reach.
There are no hidden fees, and you can control everything, from budget to target audience to creative design.
Here's how you can advertise YOUR small business on MailOnline:
Ad impressions (how many times the ads were viewed): 1,052,799 in less than a week
Brand awareness boost
Clicks to website: 730
“One million women with the interests we targeted saw our advert - that’s impressive”
Behind the business
FFS Beauty launched back in 2015, when the two founders realised there were plenty of razor subscription packages for men, but not for women.
Using a fun, tongue-in-cheek acronym for the brand name, the duo hired Liz in 2017 after receiving their first round of investment funding - and following reaching 1,000 subscribers. By January 2019, the brand' Rose razor was voted Product Of The Year by over 10,399 consumers.
Liz says: "I joined the company initially as an accountant, looking after the paperwork side of things. I was then promoted to finance director - then managing director in the following January.
"The two founders have now stepped back, and I was the obvious choice to run the business."
Liz says having a sustainable product is at the heart of everything FFS Beauty, which as well as razor subscriptions sells beauty and tanning products, does.
"We stay away from plastic wherever we possibly can. We offer a blade recycling scheme for everyone on our razor subscription,” Liz says.
“Our boxes are recyclable, our razor handles are metal and reusable and our shaving products come in sugar cane tubes. Sustainability is something that's so important to us, and we’re very proud of the steps we’ve taken.”
It started it in 2015 when razor subscription services were coming in their forefront. They were having a conversation with their wives, and they realised no one was offering the service for women so they saw a gap in the market and all the frustrations that came with having to go out and regularly buy razor blades and I joined the company in 2017, they’d received their first round of significant investment, so I’d joined the team as an accountant, looking after all the paperwork side of things.
I was then promoted to finance director and in January I was promoted to managing director. One of the previous MDs wanted to look after some of his other business, and he looked for someone to take it forward, and as I had been shadowing him for the past two years, I was the obvious choice.
It’s about shaving and having a blade shaving subscription we do provide other products but mainly a blade shaving.
Both of the founders have stepped back and I am the main person running the business.