As it turns out, Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and star of CNBC's The Profit, is deaf in his right ear.
That gives the professional small-business "fixer"--who is also a potential customer--first-hand perspective for the founder of hearing-aid manufacturer Audicus: If you want to grow quickly and fast, you'll need to enlist a partner who already knows how to reach hearing-aid customers.
Audicus founder Patrick Freuler appears on episode 3 of Ask Marcus Lemonis, a weekly Inc. video series in which an entrepreneur asks Lemonis a question about his or her most pressing business challenge.
Last year, Freuler made more than $2 million in annual revenue, but his margins are thin, so his big issue now is how to grow to scale. "What else can we do online to reach our customer demographic, and, secondly, how do we scale beyond the confines of the Web?" he asks Lemonis.
Lemonis has two frank recommendations:
Update Your Packaging
Lemonis does not like the neon green box that Audicus hearing aids are packaged in. "My primary business [Camping World] is geared towards people who are over 50 years old, and I'm very sensitive about the kinds of colors that I use and the logos and the names," Lemonis says. "Hip and fresh and young sometimes work, but sometimes it seems too slick for them."
Lemonis also does not like the wire that sticks out of his ear when he tries the Audicus hearing aid on--or Freuler's response when Lemonis points this defect out.
Partner to Get Customers--and Cash
To reach as many as, say, 300,000 customers and approach close to $200 million in gross annual revenue at the hearing aid's current $500 to $700 retail price (not including a revenue share to a partner), Lemonis says Freuler should "private label" the Audicus hearing aids to a group or organization whose members are older people who are likely to be losing their hearing. This will help Audicus generate sufficient revenue to then bring on the full-time team required to build a new brand.
To learn more from Marcus Lemonis about how to grow a new consumer brand, watch the video above.