How to get free marketing with Johnny Cupcakes

Instead of spending a big budget on advertising, some companies decide to bet on free marketing by investing in their customer’s experience instead.

Last Tuesday, January 30th I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a conference organized by Mobil Oil Credit Union with two great speakers: Jenn Lim CEO Delivering Happiness and Johnny Earle CEO Johnny Cupcakes.

johnny cupakes Luciana Paulise

I was amazed by how much alike were their perspectives to build a successful business, even though they both have so different backgrounds. In both cases, the driver for growth has been repeating customers and word of mouth. Most of the money they would have spent on paid advertising like regular companies do, they invested it into the customer experience and quality management.

Johnny Earle is the founder of Johnny Cupcakes. After having tried more than 16 other business, at age 19 Johnny finally found a way to use his jokes and creativity as a way of living. He built a T-shirt company which success is based on the power of details, creating amazing experiences and customer loyalty. More importantly, he built a company that was able to make him happy enough to make customers happy as well. And that became his ticket to unconventional advertising or “free marketing”.

So what is this free marketing? Free marketing would mean that you are not directly paying for advertising to convince your customers to buy your brand. Instead, you invest in the quality of your product or service so that is so good that your customers will actually sell for you, for free. They will recommend your brand to their friends, talk about you on their social networks, generate repetitive sales and sometimes even give you ideas for potential new products. Basically, customers become what I call “lovers” of your brand.

Johnny Cupcakes lovers

How did Johnny made people all around the world love his brand? Did you know that thousands of them have even chosen to get the Johnny Cupcakes’ logo tattooed? Turning your customer into brand lovers will not happen from overnight, but it is possible for any type of brand.  Here are 9 tips to consider:

Creating amazing experiences

In order to really captivate your customer to market your brand for free, forget about longer sell products or services, sell experiences. The packaging, the store, the website, the emails you send, every contact with the customer can be a pain or an experience. Make your contact last forever with an unforgettable experience.

1) Tell a story: Develop a story about you and your company. Think about who you are, why you built your company, what made you think the product was important. Connect the dots and tell your story to your customers in every possible way. Make your brand unique and authentic by showing who you really are and why you are different from the rest.

2) Fall in love: Build a company that you love, that essentially will make you happy every single day. If you only think about the money you will be making and you are not enjoying, your customer will notice it. They may buy from you, but will not do marketing for free. His motto is: Do more of what makes you happy.

Do more of what makes you happy – Johnny Earle

The Power of details

How you say hello, how you smile, the cleanliness of your store, how you bill, how you say goodbye or even more, how you resolve a claim. Every single detail counts in becoming a brand lover.

3) Care about every detail: Be careful and train your staff on the importance of quality management and details. Brand lovers are only a detail away from you.

4) Persevere: Don’t be afraid to fail, every little idea can become a fabulous ingredient for your magic formula

5) Celebrate: Smile, humor, celebrate with your customer. The more fun you have, the more people will talk about you.

6) Promote creativity: use your own creative thinking and the one from your employees. Every workforce creative thinking must be applied to make your customer a lover. If you are a small business you may be very close to your customers, but if you are a bigger brand, your employees will know your customers much better.

7) Believe in cross-pollination: make the significant others of your customer love you too. You can sell clothes for women, but provide drinks for their significant others while they wait, so they become advocates for your brand and buy from you even when is not strictly for them.

Customer loyalty

Once you have created that amazing experience, invite your customer to know more about it!

8) Share: Share for free as much as you can.  You can have a free blog with content that your audience may be interested in, offer free shipping, free packaging or free consultation. Every customer that is getting something for free will get to know more about you, be more eager to want more from your brand and will be ready to share the benefit of their social media. Sometimes Johnny just decides to sign some of the packages or send unexpected small gifts. The surprise effect works great to capture your customer’s attention. Remember is the sharing economy!

9) Say Thank you!  Never stop thanking your customer. Thank them for choosing you, they are the reason why you are still in business. Send handwritten cards, reply to their emails ASAP and keep every promise you make to them.

Even though every company’s DNA is different, even every single store or branch of the same brand is different from the others. If you defined the basic standards based on the 9 tips, and develop the right culture, your team will do the rest for you. Want to know more about culture? Read the next blog story.


How is your company growing? how do you get more customers?


Luciana Paulise

Owner Biztorming™ Training & Consulting


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