I recently watched a TedX talk by Johnny Earle about his business, Johnny Cupcakes. He has a wonderful story. I’d been intrigued about the brand ever since I drove by their old shop on Melrose Avenue in LA, but I never stopped. I was usually working graveyard shift and they weren’t open as I cruised by. Had I stopped, I surely would’ve been one of the people who walked in to his store looking for cupcakes. Lack of baked goods aside, it’s easy to see why his company is such a success. What pumped me up the most in his presentation were his points about packaging, creating an incredible experience, and being committed to the personal touch.
Packaging. Using the example of people hanging on to their iPhone boxes because they open in cool ways, Johnny said “good packaging does not get thrown away.” He believes boxes act as miniature billboards set up by excited customers. I agree and would argue that properly branded boxes also serve as miniature billboards as they travel through the delivery portion of the supply chain. Johnny puts his T-shirts in bakery boxes in his stores, so I was a little disappointed to get my order in a Tyvek mailer. I was really expecting a box of some sort, even if it wasn’t a bakery box.
I’m a little weird in the way that I’ll buy something just to experience the shipping and delivery to see what the company is doing right. Packaging is one of the areas of business that I’m very passionate about. I get excited thinking about delivering great products in great packages that leave a lasting impression on the people opening them. To echo Johnny’s language, I want it to feel like Christmas with every order.
Creating an Experience. Johnny brought up the Rainforest Cafe as an example of delighting customers with an experience. The food at Rainforest Cafe might not be great, he argued, but it’s a dining experience that kids drag their parents in to. Johnny also believes sellers should create an experience for each product, not just the brand in general. An example of this was his launching a branded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle T-shirt and putting trading cards in the box with the shirt to surprise unsuspecting buyers. This is in direct contrast to my own previous business experience where in my rush to make a profit I neglected to think of all the tie-ins that could’ve been used to make my products a success. Not only have I been on the selling end of that transaction, but also the receiving end of a poorly executed product experience. Lesson learned.
The Personal Touch. Johnny will randomly place hand-written notes into orders for his buyers as little surprises for them and as a demonstration of his commitment to the personal touch. He still runs his own social media accounts. It’s him. It’s Johnny @JohnnyCupcakes. He shows up at store openings. He travels across the country setting up ‘pop-ups’ in order to interact with his fans and sell them shirts. Deaton from Take Flight Coffee is committed to the personal touch as well. Someone on his team has sent a hand-written note with every order of coffee I’ve received. They don’t sign their name, but it’s meaningful just the same.
Great packaging, seeking to create an experience for every purchase, and taking the time to put the personal touch in each transaction is incredible advice form a proven entrepreneur. Every business could stand to do more of these.