We celebrated two years on this blog, and then everything went quiet. It must have been a bit of a shock for our regular readers, but it was necessary. There had been a lot of changes in our personal lives, both Daniel and myself, what with global pandemics, family, and just the demands of life, and we needed to take a break and reassess where we were.
A break is a good thing. It gave us time to re-evaluate our strategy too. Our plan from the outset was to use a direct-to-customer model, Our website was to be our key tool to engage with our customers. We would then provide a bespoke service to customize their own SNGLRTY watch. It would be a high-touch premium service at a reasonable price for a unique product. We thought the internet would love it and there would be a steady stream of customers.
What was key was execution, and we were committed to that. We needed to get our message and SNGLRTY out into the world. Social media was cranked up and a fully loaded process was put in place to ensure daily content. Our blog was integrated into the strategy and we produced articles about SNGLRTY, watches, time, and the philosophy of SNGLRTY. Who could resist?
Finally, we thought the icing would be a layer of paid-for adverts. This would increase the traffic to our site and therefore increase the sales.
What was Wrong?
We were fully committed to our strategy, but after two years and very little to show for it, we had to stop and take stock. Sitting back and looking at what we were doing highlighted something really troubling. It was not only that we were paying for advertising and not selling many watches. There was something more troubling when we looked at what was going on from 30,000 feet.
Our advertising spend was going to the likes of Facebook and Google. We like to think of these companies as enabling conversations and discovery and that would be in the best interest of everyone. But were they? Around the beginning of 2022 it was becoming increasingly evident to me that these companies were not seeking to enable conversations and discovery. They were focused on message control, empowering political messaging to the detriment of the individual. This was certainly not what SNGLRTY is about.
It was the “pandemic period,” and all sorts of information was flying around. There were claims and counterclaims, yet instead of facilitating a fact-finding process, these information behemoths sought to suppress qualified individuals and amplify the words from governments.
It was at a point where anything that contradicted a politician was held as misinformation without any material proof being required. Governments were using this term to shut down debate and to withhold information. It was a system that would prevent people from being able to access all sides of an argument and make their own decisions.
What was worse was that the social media companies we were funding with our advertising spend were becoming the enforcers of the truth. That truth being whatever the politicians decreed it to be regardless of the topic they were speaking on.
I do not think it overly dramatic to say that social media companies had become the outsourced information enforcers for governments around the world. This is exactly the role played by the “Ministry of Truth” in George Orwell’s 1984. If you have not read this great book then I thoroughly recommend it, especially at these times.
When we sat back and looked at what was going on it did not sit well for us. We were paying for poor results, but what was worse was the revenue from our advertising was being used against us to suppress expression and the pursuit of knowledge. It reminded me of the persecution that Copernicus faced when he postulated that the earth circles the Sun, We needed another way.
Baby & Bathwater
We did not want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. There were many great things we had achieved. When we spoke to our customers, the feedback we received was extremely positive, especially for the configurator. Yet there was a downside to the configurator too. Not everyone liked the pressure of configuring a watch; many wanted to have a selection of SNGLRTY watches to choose from.
Another aspect that was clear, too, was that our sales were not being made through our efforts on social media. Many customers said they did not see it. Those that had seen some of our content told us that they went to look at our social media accounts to look for ideas about watches. A number also looked to our social media to verify our credentials – see how real we are!
No one said they had purchased from us because they saw our posts or our adverts. This gave us confidence when we stopped our paid-for advertisements. We also stopped posting regularly on social media and writing our blog around the same time. We thought everything would fall off a cliff – but that did not happen!
We took some time to lick our wounds and then took stock and had a good hard look at the numbers. Our greatest success had been selling watches through word of mouth. This was mostly when people had seen the watches on the wrist of someone else. But what was more interesting was the sales from our website did not drop off when we stopped all our social media efforts. In fact, they started to pick up a little bit.
Our focus was on talking to people directly. That reaped rewards because two long-time watch industry professionals approached us and asked to represent the brand. Maybe the old ways would work best? Their efforts started slowly, but after a few months, sales were coming thick and fast. Two retailers ask to stock our products, one in Japan and one in the UK. It turned out that 2022 was a good year for SNGLRTY.
Out Of The Blue
Then, out of left field, we were approached by World Archery to become their global timekeeper. They were particularly impressed by the SNGLRTY ethos and the duality between a single hand and the single shot of the archer. It took us a little time to get to a deal where both sides were comfortable with the proposition, but once we had an agreement, we were off to the races (or perhaps I should say off to the range). If you have been following us closely, you will have seen some of the work we have been doing. Trust us; there is a lot more to come.
To The Future
So where are we going in the future? We are still selling some of the most unique and customized watches in the world. What we will not be doing is spending money advertising online. Customized watches will remain on the agenda, but we will also release several special edition watches. The 2023 World Archery Limited Edition watch was the start of this process. We have another one arriving soon after and plans for many more.
Just as we simplify time on the face of a SNGLRTY watch, we want to simplify our business and ensure that all our efforts are for the best without unintended consequences. If you have any thoughts about SNGLRTY, what we are doing and how we are doing it, we are always delighted to get your feedback. And if you are not on our mailing list yet, do sign up, we have a very special gift for each of you very soon.