By Tracy M. Cook
The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with Suzy Batiz, co-founder of “Poo-Pourri”, a before-you-go toilet spray that has sold more than 22 million bottles since its inception.
The Dallas Morning News
For a self-proclaimed introvert, Suzy Batiz is very open when it comes to talking about poop.
And she talks about it a lot.
She’s the co-founder of Poo-Pourri, a before-you-go toilet spray that brought in $45.6 million in revenue last year. Her company has sold more than 22 million bottles since its inception 10 years ago.
The idea started when Batiz was at a dinner party with her brother-in-law, and he asked whether bathroom odor could be trapped.
“Suddenly, it just hit me,” Batiz said. “I had chills in my body. It was like, ‘I can do that.’ ”
Fast-forward to when her company was about 7 years old. Batiz had what she called a natural urge to get the then $8 million business really going. She hired a crew to create a YouTube video that unexpectedly went viral. In less than a week, she had sold out all of her inventory and had $4 million in back orders.
Her brand has since developed a cult-like following. Someone even invited Poo-Pourri to a wedding this summer.
Batiz spoke about how the company got here. Her answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Question: How did you go about starting to produce Poo-Pourri?
Answer: I had worked with oils as a hobby, so I already had a base knowledge. My thought was, oil floats on water. If I’m going to trap odor, it makes sense, right? So I just started mixing oils, and I started researching. It really was just trial and error, like hundreds of formulations. I kept getting a little closer, and each time it would work a little bit better.
Question: Your marketing strategy embraces the embarrassing. How did you come up with that?
Answer: Trial and error. I would tell people what I was doing, and they would give me the weirdest look. Even my family members. Everybody was like, “You’re doing what?” And they would scrunch their face. What I realized is that I’m talking about a subject people aren’t comfortable with. So I knew that I had to use humor to break the ice. When I started making fun of it, I knew that that was the way to go.
Question: Through what media have you found you’re able to reach your target audience most effectively?
Answer: We’re mostly digital and social, so YouTube, Facebook. … I think it’s the best for smaller budgets. The large companies in the world, you know, the multibillion-dollar companies, they can afford lots of TV advertising. As a small company, that’s a huge risk. So what I’ve found with digital is we can control that spending. I know when I spend a dollar what I’m getting back, and I can really target people. So we find it the most effective.
Question: What was your pitch process to retailers like?
Answer: At the beginning, I begged them. I was like, “Listen it’s really great. Trust me. It’s going to work.” At the beginning, we weren’t cool. People were like, “What? This is weird. Poo-Pourri?” But then I would give them a sample. If they were resistant, I would say, “Just take this and try it.” And they would always call me back and say, “OK, this stuff works.” Had it not been such an effective product, we wouldn’t have grown like we did.
Question: What is some of the most memorable feedback you’ve received from customers?
Answer: We get lots of emails. They’re always touching when they’re from people with Crohn’s or IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] because there’s trauma associated with bathroom use. I really appreciate people that are liberated in some way. That’s my thing. It’s like “C’mon people, we’re going to take this one off the table.”
Question: You’ve expanded the business with several scents and other merchandise. What’s next?
Answer: We have a shoe deodorizer that we’re relaunching. It’s cedar-based. And then we have a cat litter deodorizer that we’re launching in September. Poo-Pourri is writing a book called The Woo of Poo, launching in October. It’s funny.
Question: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of conceptualizing their ideas or taking their products to market?
Answer: Don’t overthink it. Just produce something and start testing and seeing what people like. So many people get stuck in analysis paralysis. They’ve got to get the business cards right, the letterhead right, the packaging right. Get it into the hands of people and start getting feedback.
Question: Are there any more poo jokes that we should know about?
Answer: People make jokes, but mostly what people tell me are all their poo stories. They tell me where they first found the product and then they tell me their embarrassing poo story: “I mean, you’re not going to believe what happened. I was in a cabin with three people and we’re in this little tiny room, and then…” It’s just like that. And I’m like, I know what this is going to be about. Not too long ago I said, “Why does everybody tell me where they got the product?” It’s really a thing.
Hometown: Jonesboro, Ark. Presently resides on East Side Avenue in Dallas.
Education: Graduated from Jonesboro High School. Attended Arkansas State University “for about a year and maybe a half.” Majored in marketing on paper but never took a single marketing class.
Family: Three grown children: Dustin, 29; CJ, 28; and Cassidy, 23