Lori Taylor is a highly sought-after marketing veteran with a special focus on direct response. During her 18 years at RR Donnelley, she won the Direct Marketing Association’s prestigious Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. She has also been named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer and Forbes Top 20 Female Social Media Influencer. Lori has managed direct marketing activity for Fortune 50 accounts, including Proctor and Gamble. She has been instrumental in the launch of national brands including Tide, Crest White Strips, Charmin, Puffs, and IAMS. She played a key role with launching a customer loyalty program for Kroger, the largest grocery store chain in the United States. If that wasn’t enough, Lori helped raise over $4 billion for Disabled Veterans of America, building a base of over 10 million donors, while collecting donations $5 at a time and servicing large mailers such as Publisher’s Clearing House, North Shore Animal League, Vitamin World, GNC, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In 2009, Lori founded REV Media Marketing, a unique direct marketing agency that specializes in integrating media channels including email, search engine marketing, social media, and traditional direct mail. She has served as a collaborative business partner or strategic business consultant to Microcenter, Klout, Fanplayr, Tony Robbins, Derek Jeter, Natalie Jill Fitness, Kevin Harrington, Disabled American Veterans, Jane Fonda, Urban Zen (Donna Karan’s foundation), COPS television series, American Institute for Cancer Research, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to name a few.
How did the concept for Trupet come about?
My great Dane Truman, the love of my life, started limping one day. I took him to the vet and was told he had carcinoma in his leg and we had to choose between chemo or removing his leg before it spread throughout his body – I decided to have his leg removed. We called him “Tri-Pawd.” For six months, all was well. I was pregnant with my twins, had twin to twin transfusion, and we hung out while he healed and I kept the babies healthy. Sadly, he developed a bone spur and we had to let him go. During this time, I was so committed to ensuring his cancer didn’t come back, and really dug into canine nutrition. What put me on the path to creating these products was ONE statistic from Texas A&M, “Your dog is four times more likely to die of breast cancer, eight times more likely to die of bone cancer, and thirty times more likely to die of skin cancer than you are!” That led me to Barbara Royal, Oprah’s vet and a leading expert on canine nutrition, then to Dr. Karen Becker, and slowly morphed into this maniac on a mission to let the other “moms” know!
How was the first year in business?
Rough! So hard. I had all these back up plans, but none for wild success. Our growth VERY quickly outstripped our capital – we ran out of inventory nineteen times as we had to stockpile cash to buy more inventory to keep up with demand. Then, Facebook couldn’t make up “her” mind about what my CPAs and CR were. As we scaled, it changed daily even though we changed nothing. Super frustrating to experience that instability. On top of that, third party fulfillment and customer service did NOT work, so my president just whipped up a facility and team out of thin air. To this day, I’m not sure how we did it. Our slogan that year (2015) was “God is with us” because it was beyond luck getting out of these jams. I’ve always felt this company being divinely guided, even when it’s the “long route.”
What was your marketing strategy?
Keep it simple – one platform, one funnel, and optimize, optimize, optimize. Track. Know thy numbers! We launched with a food funnel, did $50,000 in sales our first month, felt heavy and a little slow – our CPA at the time was over $100 so we pivoted and switched to a higher profit margin, faster to produce, no MOQs, yet niche product which was a dental spray for dogs. In the hopes if you cared enough to do daily dental care at a cost of $20 a month, you’d surely be interested in dog nutrition. Turns out 20% are and they come back for more. The rest just wanted fresher breath for their dogs, and ordered a six month quantity then went to Chewy’s or Amazon to repurchase due to our not-so-great shopping cart at the time with NO real ability to offer a subscription-based service. So, then we pivoted at the end of 2016 and began to really lead with a food and booster funnel having “figured” Facebook out on dental spray. And now 80% of our business is the food and boosters with 80% coming back for repurchase and 30% of our people subscribing.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
2015 – $2,800,000
2016 – $6,600,000
2017 – $8,800,000 (we cut back due to cash flow constraints, but we were on pace in January to do $12,000,000, but now will finish this year at $18,000,000, and next year is projected at $36,000,000).
How do you define success?
I quote the famous John Wooden here, every time – can’t say it better: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
What is the key to success?
Having a vision, NOT a mission statement. For example, TruDog as a brand is about helping dogs live longer and better. My vision for the world is LUCA – love, unity, compassion and authenticity. When I get stressed or anxious, it’s usually because I’ve got caught up in tasks and “winning” and forget to stay aligned to my VISION for what I want to create in the world: LUCA.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The world is happening for YOU, and YOU are the ultimate source of EVERYTHING – the bad, good and the ugly – it’s FOR you in some way and you have CREATED the lesson for growth.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“If you can’t be the winner, break the record.”
“Winning isn’t everything but wanting to is.”
“Regrets are the lies the mind tells us.”
“If you think you can’t, you must!” – Tony Robbins
What are some of your favorite books?
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, Choose Yourself! by James Altucher, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant, and Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Until this week, it would have had to been the day my number one investor told me to shut the company down. He was done and flying home – having people work for free that couldn’t work for free for a month – while we figured it out. But this week, something much more “real” and “tragic” happened. I hired the most amazing digital manager back in August. He had come from jobs where digital was the stepchild (not Cinderella). I told him he’d be front and center – it was ALL we focused on and he came for a pay cut. I got texts every week from him telling me how free he felt, how much joy he had for his job. He was 28, a fit guy, and was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him…and last Friday didn’t come to work. Very weird. We found out Saturday that he had died in his sleep. It just hit so close to home. I had to address the team and be strong, but business is personal to me. LUCA is our culture, and we are a family. So on that call, I was at a loss for words and shed a few tears. Even now, typing this I tear up. LIFE IS SHORT – you NEVER know how you’ll go – MAKE YOUR MINUTES MATTER!
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Spiritual fitness, emotional intelligence, and my vision. People say I’m lucky – I say I pray a lot. I remember when I hit a low point at the end of 2015 and fell to my knees in my closet and put my hands together, tears on my face, and head in my hands and begged God to show me a sign I was on the right path. Literally as I’m doing this, begging for a few minutes, I hear my friend and husband yelling for me, dogs barking, so I go racing out and right there, in the middle of winter, in my front yard, are SIX horses. Now, what you don’t know is my love for horses makes me look like I hate dogs and I love them more than anything. Horses are on a spiritual plane I can’t describe – my daughter and I do horse jumping and equine therapy. Anyway, there is this herd of horses (gotten loose from a farm a mile away), and they are the same color as MY herd of horses. I started laughing and so much joy filled my body. Looking back, I should have asked for a sign via a check! Boy, did the Man upstairs make a STATEMENT with this one. Anyway, my mom always said “Where’s there’s a will there’s a way,” and that is what I tell myself every single day.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Have a vision for your life. Then, own your power by using your voice responsibly. Be aware of how you land for others and always be open for feedback. ALWAYS. The gift is in the shift – fighting to find neutral when in reaction. And last but not least, let the triggers be your guide. See your emotions as responses and understand it’s all just feedback. If nothing else, remember this golden rule, “Never take yourself too seriously.”
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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