We’re profiling a few of the new direct to consumer 12 volt sales websites as their rise can be instructive to brick and mortar retailers, suppliers and all of us, in their use of social media.
Jonathan Price, founder and owner of Down4Sound, originally launched the site as an online forum for car audio buffs about a decade ago. It was a place where people could talk about their systems and ask questions without the negativity that was prevalent on some of the other forums, Price said.
Price became a fixture at car shows with his Tahoe filled with a massive sound system he continued to upgrade. He posted his progress on YouTube and built up a following of about 300,000 subscribers. Then the site was hacked and his videos completely lost.
It took a while, but Price began posting again on YouTube and hitting car shows, where he gained valuable information about what people liked about his system and about car audio in general. People asked about the products he used, and one day a light bulb went on.
“I just didn’t have the vision of selling people products until I kept going to the shows and people kept asking me like, ‘Hey, where do you get your products from? …. “I’m like, man, I could be selling these people this stuff, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t know anything about business. And, at the time, I was just pumping gas at an airport, and I cut grass on the side and waited tables.”
But he learned, starting with a $5,000 order for Crescendo products that wiped out his bank account. Then he took on more brands, and moved into ever larger warehouses. And he documented the journey on social media, so that people felt they knew him.
“Every day that I would get an order, I would make a video of it or I’d take a picture of it… I also wrote a personal thank you. And I still do this to this day when I’m in the office, even though we’ve done hundreds of thousands of orders. We’re coming up on, I think 250,000 orders…” Price said.
Down4Sound’s YouTube channel, Life of Price, has over 500 million followers and its total number online followers is about a million, said Price.
“I’ve been a totally transparent person. I started doing orders out of my parent’s house on their kitchen island. I’m now in a 30K warehouse in Las Vegas and have two other warehouses…. You’ll see a lot of people boast [on social media] about their wins, how often do people share their losses?…” he said.
Price still goes to many car shows. Now his orders can amount to $800K at a time. He’s launched his own line of product and is starting to sell to brick and mortar retailers. “Within the next few years, I think our company will have over a $100 million valuation,” he said.
Down4Sound has 15 to 18 employees.