Tricia Mumby is a founding partner and owner of Mabel's Labels - Labels for the Stuff Kids Lose and architect behind an amazing Canadian grassroots WOM success story. I recently caught up with Tricia at the "From Mass to Grass" conference I chaired and despite some technical glitches gave one of the more rousing and best-received presentations at the conference.
1) Mabel's Labels is a real grassroots Canadian success - when did really you know you had a hit on your hands?
We knew we had a hit on our hands when WOM lead us to a hit in
dailycandy.com . It was massive. We had no idea how it happened, but later
learned this was the path:
My friend went to school with a freelance journalist
> freelancer saw her labels and wrote about us in Canadian Living
> random person in California was visiting a cousin in Ottawa and read the article
> ordered labels
> loved them
> notified dailycandy.com of great product
> thousands of orders flooded our website
To this day we still get
orders crediting dailycandy.com with "how they heard". It led to many more hits
by Global TV, Fox News, Hamilton Spectator and more.
2) There's something magical going on here - you're not only building sales but your customers are really rooting for you, what's the special sauce?
The special sauce is a product that REALLY does what it says, looks fabulous,
makes life easier, and has genuinely passionate founders and staff behind
3) From an online purist perspective, time-starved moms have not been known as a big digital enthusiast audience, care to debunk any myths here?
YES! I do care to debunk that myth! Moms are online like it’s their job!
In fact, for many, it is their job! BlogHer estimates more than 36 million women
participate in the blogosphere every week. Women work online, shop online,
socialize online, share online, research online and use the internet to organize
their lives. 95% of Moms go online at least once per day.
By most estimates, there are more women online than men and the gap is expected to widen. Women control 85% of household spending and they do their homework online. 44% of women report spending time on the internet is replacing TV time.
4) How has word of mouth factored into how you've grown your business? Any surprises?
It has all been a surprise. We owe everything to "word of mom". Most of the
major milestones of our business have come as a result of WOM. When Moms find a
product or service they love - they tell their friends. It's that simple. We
can look at our sales data and see huge sales in small towns and little activity
in larger towns in the same demographic. Why is that? We've lucked into an
influencer in that small town and haven't yet found the influencer in the larger
but similar town.
5) Now that you've achieved a measure of success and fame, does the challenge of getting the word out change as a business owner?
It certainly does. A big part of our WOM success is our super-quick and
super-responsive customer service. That was simple when we had 5 orders per
day! It's much harder at this level. The key to success with women is
grassroots, face-to-face product experiences. It's a challenge to participate
on our much larger playing field effectively. We know that our passion for the
business, obsession with quality control and customer service, and personal
interactions with influencers has been key - now we have to scale it up
6) Are there any specific nuances to share about grassroots marketing to women?
Be inclusive. Be consistent. Make it easy. Women will respond better to
"I'll do this for you and your friends" vs. "here are some coupons for your
friends". If a woman recommends your product or service to a friend and the
friend has a different experience, you've lost your influencer. Women are busy
- give them materials, electronic tools or something charming and remarkable to
7) There are plenty of small businesses that have a great idea and passion and even a good story and yet still fail, are there success factors people should replicate or missteps that start-ups should avoid?
It is important to stay genuine and control your own story. Run the business the way you want. There is a lot of advice out there - but if it doesn't feel right - don't do it. The marketplace can sniff out a fake in a heartbeat. I believe women are even quicker to sniff out the fake!