Maine Lobster Now
Many Americans, especially those who don’t live on the East or West Coasts, have a hard time accessing fresh seafood. Often, the seafood they can get their hands on has likely been sitting in a cooler in the back of a grocery store for days. This inspired Julian Klenda, a lifelong resident of Portland, Maine, to launch Maine Lobster Now, a company that overnight ships fresh-caught Maine lobster to the crustacean-deprived across the country. “People love coming to Maine for the food and the experience,” said Julian. “We’re giving people an opportunity to enjoy a piece of that at home.” Since launching in 2012, Julian has used the internet to reach consumers who crave the kind of fresh seafood he provides. “Connecting the seafood industry to modern technology has been the key to success,” Julian said. “Especially with Google, we’ve really been able to connect to customers.”
Google Ads is one of Julian’s top sources for new revenue. His team runs text, display, and video ads and adjusts them based on what they know about the audiences they’re trying to reach. “If someone in Louisiana is searching to buy lobster, the ad would say, ‘We ship to Louisiana,’” said Julian. “I think it’s pretty cool that Google Ads is that powerful and that we have that much control over what the consumer is seeing.” Maine Lobster Now also uses Google Analytics to inform its search strategy and Google Trends to see what people are searching for at different times of the year. “It’s great to have a tool that gives you an inside scoop on what’s going on,” Julian said. “It definitely helps us meet consumer needs a lot better.”
Filling a big need for residents in the middle of the country (as well as a lot of stomachs), Maine Lobster Now has successfully provided access to fresh seafood to more than 75,000 customers and has grown 100% in revenue year over year. “I set three- to five-year goals, and we typically meet them within one or two years because of our partnership with Google,” said Julian. “It’s really trained me and forced me to think on a much larger scale.” Maine Lobster Now also donates money to a number of different charities and supports its community by working with local fisherman. Moving forward, Julian hopes to expand by sourcing more seafood from the West Coast and by adding a direct-to-chef program to the website. “I realize how big the world and the market is, so we’re considering expanding to other seafood,” said Julian. “Our plan is to keep our foot on the gas and continue to double our business as well as our impact in the lobster and seafood industry.”
Sustainability is sewn into the very fabric of Sea Bags’ business, from the products they sell to the processes they use to make them. Since their founding in 1999, the Portland-based company has kept nearly 600 tons of retired sails out of landfills by transforming them into nautically inspired tote bags and accessories. They have also created 100 jobs for local sewers, artists, and craftspeople. “Manufacturing here and sourcing materials locally are the cornerstones of our business,” explains President and COO Beth Shissler. “Maine has a rich history in the cut and sew industry, and we’re passionate about bringing it back.”
A major engine of Sea Bags’ growth is their online business. “It’s grown about 500 percent over the past five years,” says Vice President of Marketing and E-commerce Laura Hnatow. “And Google has definitely been a part of why we were able to achieve that.” The company uses AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to market their bags to customers looking for eco-friendly fashion statements. “AdWords brings in one of the largest percentages of new users to our site, and a lot of these customers are visiting more pages per session than those from other channels,” she shares. They also use Google Shopping campaigns and YouTube ads to visually showcase their products across the web. And with G Suite tools, such as Gmail, Docs, and Drive, “we’re able to scale our operations as we grow,” Laura notes.
With over 18,000 online orders and half a million unique visitors to their website annually, Sea Bags is preparing for new horizons in 2018. They plan to pursue international markets and are opening four more retail stores along the East Coast, in addition to the 13 currently in operation. Yet as they expand, their greatest focus continues to be at home. “We always talk about the ripple effect of making our products locally,” Beth says. From designers to manufacturers, Sea Bags proudly supports Maine jobs across the board, and aims to create a brand that Beth hopes will “stick around for generations way past us.” To echo the words of their mission, “Every sail has a journey. At Sea Bags, we make sure that journey never ends.”
In the early 1990s, Jonathan King and Jim Stott were "two broke guys" who enjoyed giving their homemade jams and chutneys as gifts. A friend suggested they sell their concoctions at a local farmers market, so they hand-labeled 300 jars and set them out—selling out on their very first try. Stonewall Kitchen, the brand they cofounded, now has 10 retail stores in the Northeast, a catalog business, a wholesale business stocking merchandise in 6,000 retail locations nationwide, an international business in 42 countries, and an e-commerce website. "This is an American Dream kind of story," says Janine Somers, Director of Marketing and Direct-to-Consumer Sales. "Jon and Jim were natural product developers." They were also savvy brand builders who launched their website in 1999—using digital marketing to spread the word about their delectable jams, jellies, condiments, prepared foods, and snacks.
Google tools help Stonewall Kitchen grow their business in a competitive marketplace. They use AdWords, Google's advertising program, to bring foodies searching for gourmet goodies and gifts to their website. “In 2016, we saw a 42 percent increase in revenue directly attributed to AdWords,” Janine says. Google Analytics also equips the company with vital business intelligence. "We have a complicated infrastructure and multiple systems that don't always report the same data," Janine explains. "But Google Analytics has a wealth of data that lets us see trends and gain actionable insights about our customers, website traffic, and marketing campaigns."
Stonewall Kitchen adds over 100 jobs during the holiday season, and all of the manufacturing for their “wet” products, such as their jams, jellies, and salsas, is done in their York facility. They also give back through community outreach programs and charitable funding. "We've come a long way from the farmers market, but we haven't forgotten the support from our local community," Janine says. The business meanwhile shows no signs of slowing down. “We’d love to see our website sales continue to grow at a double-digit rate,” she remarks. They also plan to increase international sales, which are now 10 percent of their business. “Google helps us create a strong, integrated web presence, which is a really important piece of our overall business,” says Janine.
Raye’s Mustard has been in business for 116 years
The Raye family has been milling mustard for four generations. In 1900, J. Wesley Raye, a 20-year-old sea captain's son, founded the business in the family smokehouse to make mustard sauce for Maine’s burgeoning sardine industry. But then came canned tuna, and the public's taste for the salty little fish ebbed like the outgoing tide. "The sardine industry died off," says Karen Raye, who bought the business with her husband, Kevin, from his cousin in 2006. "We had to figure out, ‘How do we keep this company going?’ We knew the mustard the sardines were packed in was really good, so we decided to make gourmet and specialty mustards."
The Internet opened up fertile new fishing grounds to market Raye's gourmet mustards. About 25% of sales are online. Karen and Kevin relaunched their e-commerce website twice, using Google Analytics to figure out what netted the best results. “It's important to have a crisp-looking website with appetite appeal and a shopping cart that makes it easy for people to make their selections,” Karen says. “Google Analytics lets us know how customers are finding us,” she says. “Customers who find us through Google are now customers for life.”
The couple has doubled sales and production, employing six full-time people and another three or four over the holidays. Raye’s Historic Old Stone Mill still stands as a working museum. "When we started out, we had about three flavors,” Karen says. “Today we have upwards of 25.” They offer gourmet blends such as Brown Ginger and Garlic Honey Wine, but their original Down East Schooner remains a bestseller and gold-medal winner in worldwide mustard competitions. The company founders would be proud. "It's fun to watch the company grow and progress,” Karen says. “But it's really about preserving jobs in our part of Maine."