I get uber excited when staff members of mine start their own businesses, so I wanted to share a story… and maybe something you’ll like!
A few years ago, my genius CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Sarah Kicinski started a small business. She didn’t actually plan to start this business… it just kind of happened out of testing her SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills.
Her business not only offers a fantastic product that you may want, but the story behind it getting started is just amazing!!
So here we go:
First, Sarah runs PostcardMania’s marketing division which includes her team of 9 marketing staff. One year, a couple months before Valentine’s Day, Sarah wanted a good idea of what to send our top clients as gifts, so she asked her team members for ideas.
Her copywriter at the time came up with the idea to take those classic conversation heart candies and print something specific to PostcardMania on the candies.
You know these chalky candies that everyone hands out on Valentine’s Day:
So with a unique gift idea in mind, she did what most of us do:
She hit Google up to see what companies out there let you print your own candy hearts!
But, guess what:
She looked and looked and looked online but couldn’t find ANY companies offering candy hearts to be printed on! Literally, NO Google results for multiple keyword searches related to:
Custom printed candy hearts.
Weird, right? I mean, Google finds EVERYTHING.
Sarah and her copywriter were just about to give up on this gift idea when Sarah finally found a candy manufacturer on Facebook, of all places.
She messaged the manufacturer on Facebook if they knew of any company that could print little custom candy hearts for them, and luckily, they gave her a specialty website they had where you could do just that.
So Sarah contacted this new candy company and when looking around their website, she realized that their website was NOT set up for SEO at all (search engine optimization)… it literally couldn’t be found through Google at all.
And a website that was not set up for SEO clearly explained why Sarah and the copywriter were googling their heads off, never to find the candy company online!
Now Sarah, being a wizard at SEO and all things marketing (I just love her!!), messaged them and let them know that their website was not set up to be found on Google… which meant:
They were literally LOSING customers who simply could not find them!
It was sheer coincidence Sarah had found them from a random referral from Facebook!
She offered to help them fix this massive hole in their marketing… but if you can believe it:
They never messaged her back! (Crazy)
Sarah realized that MANY people were probably searching on Google just like her, wanting to find custom printed candy hearts for Valentine’s Day — again, just weeks away — but Google was turning up ZERO results.
Just imagine this small business problem for a second:
Prospects with money in hand are frantically googling for you, TRYING their hardest to find you, but they can’t because your website is a search engine dud!
So here’s what Sarah did:
She threw up her own custom candy website and built it for SEO — that way:
Anyone searching for custom candy hearts for Valentine’s Day would find HER new website.
Here’s what happened:
- People DID find Sarah’s website
- They ordered from HER
- She placed those orders on the manufacturer’s site that couldn’t be found online
- So she was all of a sudden selling candy left and right
- From a website she literally just threw up on a whim
- Because her website ranked at the top of Google immediately because she’s dang good at SEO
Want to guess what she named her website?
Just the perfect website name for anyone looking for just THAT!
Here were the candy gifts we sent to our clients in 2013, by the way:
We send gifts EVERY year to our top clients as a thank-you for doing business with us, and that year, we got a little more creative…
Our candy packaging included a little game for our clients to play:
- Clients were encouraged to take their candy hearts
- And spell out a fun marketing caption
- Then they’d go to PostcardMania’s Facebook page
- And post a photo of their caption
- To be entered to win a prize from us!
Cute, right? Plus, at the time, it helped liven up our Facebook page’s content!
Now back to Sarah’s story:
Because orders came in SO fast for the Valentine’s Day rush, she knew she was onto a larger idea…
So, she left her website UP.
The orders not only kept coming in every year around Valentine’s Day…
But the orders got bigger…
And BIGGER every year.
And then, she started to receive rush requests, where customers wanted tens of thousands of candy hearts printed within 24 hours…customers like Victoria’s Secret and J.Crew.
But her manufacturer was that giant company (the one with the crappy SEO presence), and they outright refused to fill rushed orders.
She had orders that needed to be filled ASAP, but her supplier would not do it.
Obviously, this was a pivotal (and stressful!) moment in her new candy company’s evolution.
She realized she had to figure out MyCustomCandy’s manufacturing if she was going to stay in business.
She spent weeks calling every candy company she could find to try to figure out who could build her a machine to print on candy, AND who could also supply her with blank candy to print on.
Eventually, after hundreds of “no’s” she finally found someone who said YES.
She and her husband Dustin set up a tiny manufacturing area within a rented small space of another food manufacturer locally.
They were making their newfound candy business go right!
But then… as does happen when you’re a growing business…
Being in about 100 square feet of someone else’s space got old quick.
They eventually rented their own space and expanded even more with more machines and more equipment.
But this next part you HAVE to read…
Curious how well they’ve done since My Custom Candy’s inception in 2013??
Prepare to be SHOCKED.
They’ve amassed an entire gallery of super legit companies who’ve ordered from them… one of which is…
Get ready for it:
Yes, this Kim Kardashian:
Source: E!online news
Here’s that hilarious story:
Three years ago, someone called Sarah and Dustin and said:
“We need something you don’t normally do, and we need it in LA in a couple days.”
I mean, just that statement: LOL, right?!
The mystery person on the phone sent Sarah and her husband the info, and if you can believe it:
They wanted all of these weird and perverted phrases printed on a ton of candy.
They naturally thought, “Oh my gosh. Who is this person? What a creep!!!”
But an order was an order, after all… and they thought, whatever, let’s do this one order and just deliver it.
Sometimes in business you get weird orders, and they chalked this crazy one to just a weird custom-candy order that would probably never happen again! But guess what:
A couple weeks later, one of their employees in their printing area gave them some jaw-dropping news:
Kim Kardashian had just SnapChatted their candy!!
Naturally, Sarah and her husband dropped everything and jumped on SnapChat immediately to see…
And sure enough:
Here was THE Selfie Queen herself promoting MyCustomCandy on SnapChat to millions of her fans!
The best part?
Kim Kardashian became one of MyCustomCandy’s most loyal customers, ordering every single year.
In fact… it gets even better…
Last year, Kim used Sarah’s candies in her new perfume’s product launch… in this video you HAVE to watch:
Literally — Sarah’s company’s candies are in THOSE HEART-SHAPED PERFUME BOXES inspired by MyCustomCandy! The company she started on a whim!
It gets even better though!!
Sarah’s company has created candies for:
- Lady Gaga’s world tour announcement
- ALL of J. Crew’s hundreds of stores to give out on Valentine’s Day
- She also expanded her services to print personalized mints and other promotional candy like custom jelly beans.
- And MyCustomCandy has been featured on Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, and more!
And the original candy manufacturer with the terrible SEO and bad customer service? They are now out of business.
Needless to say —
MyCustomCandy has steadily grown over the years.
I just LOVE this story because it’s a quintessential entrepreneur story, meaning:
- Someone identifies a need (custom printed candy!)
- They fill it
- They market it right (SEO, a great, attractive website)
- They deliver great service
- They expand and expand!
So I hope this small business tale inspired you!
And honestly, these candies rock, so if you’re in the mood for cheeky or creative candy hearts for the holidays, head on over to MyCustomCandy.com and support my amazing CMO who’s been with me for 14 years!!
P.S. Sarah will be covering the website design portion of our April Small Business Owner’s Growth Summit. You should really consider attending if you want to improve your website’s appearance and rank on Google!