Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How Frank Body Used Word-of-Mouth and $5,000 to Become a Multi-Million Dollar Skincare Brand

In 2013, a few customers approached Steve Rowley, the owner of a coffee shop in Australia, with a rather interesting request. They were looking for leftover coffee grounds which they wanted to use to exfoliate their skin. After telling his friends and trying it for themselves, they realized this was a great business opportunity.

Eventually, Frank Body was born. With a starting capital of $5,000, the five founders, Jess Hatzis, Bree Johnson, Erika Geraerts, Steve Rowley, and Alexander Boffa, leveraged on aggressive social media marketing, using word-of-mouth to get their brand name out as much as they could.

Frank Body Founders The brains behind Frank Body | via The Everygirl

Today, they are a multi-million dollar brand, and their products can be found online as well as in international retail stores such as Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Bloomingdales.

So how did Frank Body manage to grow into the powerhouse skincare brand it is today in just five years?

1. Frank Body created a brand persona that was naughty and resonated with customers.

Talk flirty to me

A lot of it comes from the brand’s unique marketing style in the form of a persona named Frank.

Frank is the voice of the brand, and his character can be seen in all areas of the brand’s exposure: website, packaging, social media captions, etc. He speaks in a cheeky and naughty manner, and calls his customers ‘babes’:

You can see how Frank likes to talk sexy – unlike every other cosmetic brands

The success of the Frank persona can be credited to the co-founders’ experience at Willow & Blake, a communications agency founded by Jess, Bree, and Erika two years before. They had helped other companies establish a brand identity and used social media platforms like Instagram to build customer followings. With Frank Body, they utilized their experience and developed a brand voice that was refreshing in the skincare industry.

As a result, Frank is the perfect brand voice for the brand. Why?

Because customers don’t buy products only for its function. They buy into identity.

Do you remember that Old Spice commercial?

Of course you do, because he’s the man your man could smell like. | Old Spice

In the ad, the Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa, flirts with the female audience in a way that makes the brand stand out from all its competitors. The persona is outrightly masculine, and the entire ad plays out like a dream date with a male sex symbol. That’s what made the brand famous and remembered for years to come.

Customers buy products that allow that to express who they are, and who they want to be associated with. As in the case with how men may buy Old Spice to feel more masculine, companies need to sell more than just a product.

For a product whose main customer base will be females, the idea of a cheeky, playful male persona like Frank talking all seductive and flirty is bound to make any lady giggle inside.

Frank is transparent, down-to-earth, and relatable to customers.

When developing the Frank persona, the founders were unhappy with the way skincare companies were communicating with their customers. They were using a business-to-customer voice and spoke with complicated-sounding jargon that sounded impersonal.

This was sometimes confusing and failed to allow customers to build genuine trust with those companies.

As Jess Hatzis puts it,

At the time, many beauty brands had fallen into a rut. There was a lot of corporate language being used and lots of scientific jargon that was confusing consumers. We wanted to be the antithesis of that. We needed to be humble, honest and frank about our product and a variety of topics. So that led us to create the character of ‘frank’ in order to engage in a relatable, direct dialogue with our potential customers and we were prudent on carrying that voice through every touch point of our brand. It made us stand out in an otherwise cookie cutter industry. – Jess Hatzis, co-founder of Frank Body

As Frank speaks in first-person, any brand message sounds more like a conversation and less like an advertisement.

2. Frank Body shows that they understand their customers’ needs and care for them.

Jess, Bree, and Erika are skincare consumers too, which helped them understand what their target audience would be interested in. They know that their customers would be interested in more than just coffee scrubs and skincare products.

Thus, Frank Body releases regular blog content about four categories that are most important to their customers: – Skin, Life, Health, and Love.

Frank Body has got you covered – and your body covered too

Giving advice on relationships and maintaining a healthy lifestyle proves that they care for their customers. This allows customers to engage with the brand on a deeper level and strengthens the relationship they have.

3. Frank Body encouraged customers to post photos of their products and reward those who spread word-of-mouth.

When Frank Body first started their marketing efforts, they sent out loads of products to influencers and encouraged customers to spread word-of-mouth:

When we first launched, we sent our product to a whole bunch of people we thought were influential – makeup artists, beauty bloggers,” Hatzis says. While that helped some, their “most important and valuable ambassadors” are their customers. – Jess Hatzis, co-founder of Frank Body

They knew that user-generated content would be key in driving their marketing efforts, but they were pleasantly surprised it outdid the reach of influencers.

Today, Frank Body encourages their customers to share photos of themselves covered in their coffee grounds body scrub and use the hashtags #frankeffect and #letsbefrank. Monthly contests are held to reward lucky winners who post using these hashtags. Thanks to their efforts, there are now almost 100,000 user-generated posts.

Loyalty programme designed like a luxury dream hotel.

Ready for your hotel date, babe?

Frank Body also has a loyalty program, Hotel Pink, which rewards customers when they engage with the brand. These actions include: purchasing more, sharing on social media, giving a review, and referring a babe.

Each of these actions accumulates points, which allows them to unlock different areas of the ‘hotel’, and receive exclusive freebies and discounts.

We delved deeper into their loyalty program in a separate post: Why Hotel Pink is an effective loyalty program for customer retention.

4. How you can be Frank with your own business

  1. Create a memorable brand persona that can resonate with your customers – Taking into account demographics like age range, gender, and lifestyle habits.
  2. Create content about topics your audience care about – Keep them coming back to your site for more advice and information.
  3. Celebrate loyal customers for sharing user-generated content – People trust other people more than brands, so encourage customers to post reviews and share on social media.

Referral programs are a great way to incentivize word-of-mouth and encourage customers who tell others about your brand. Take a look at how these companies are using referral programs to supercharge their customer acquisition and sales.

Alternatively, if you are keen on using a referral program but are unsure of how to proceed with incentives, check out our post right here to learn how!

If you’re ready to grow your sales with word of mouth, give your store a referral program with ReferralCandy today!

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion ecommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior and social psychology.