Bedré Fine Chocolate
When the Chickasaw Nation purchased Bedré Fine Chocolates in 2000, they didn’t just diversify their portfolio—they built on the traditional connection of Indigenous peoples to the cacao bean. Based in Davis, Oklahoma, Bedré crafts luxury chocolates and is the only tribally-run chocolatier in the U.S. “That’s the root of Bedré’s identity,” says General Manager Kay Colbert. “Everything we do supports the Chickasaw people, traditions, and services.” Bedré built a new facility in 2012, with expanded retail space and glass wall, so visitors could watch production. A major website redesign in 2015 grew their e-commerce, and they used Google Ads to garner wholesale and retail clients. Creative Advertising Developer Gustavo Ocana directs the digital group’s efforts to boost engagement by tweaking visuals and promotions based on insights from Google Analytics. With the switch to fair trade sources in 2018, Bedré can now trace their chocolate from farm to factory—and give farmers a fair wage and bonuses. Their raw chocolate intake went from 90,000 pounds in 2015 to cocoa contracts for a combined total of nearly 500,000 pounds in 2019.
Just before the chocolate-centric Easter and Mother’s Day holidays, COVID-19 forced Bedré to close their retail store. Kay and Gustavo upped their digital advertising to concentrate on web sales. “We focused on our online gifting to try to help people meet holiday needs during the shutdown,” says Kay. And they ran Google Ads campaigns with offers normally reserved for the holiday season “to give people a break on costs.” Their efforts helped offset the retail store’s slowdown: Bedré saw a 65-percent increase in online sales and a record number of new wholesale accounts. Bedré is planning new products for 2021, but their commitment to customers won’t change. “In this day and age when everything is digital,” Gustavo says, “Bedré strives to have unparalleled customer service. Our website is our connection to our customers, and there is always a real person on the other end.”
Semper Fi Hydroseed & Erosion Control
When Clint Bates left the Marine Corps in 1993, he became a police officer and mowed lawns on the side. After realizing his side gig could become a real business, Clint left his job and started his own lawn company. As the company grew, he began experimenting with hydroseeding, the process of combining seed and mulch to fertilize a lawn. Within three years, Clint established Semper Fi Hydroseed & Erosion Control. “We are a veteran- owned and -operated company,” said Clint. “Our goal is to have all veteran employees working for us.” Staying on that theme — and to stand out — Clint purchased all military-style trucks and equipment. Knowing it’s just as important to stand out online, he also hired Andrew Olson, a military veteran turned marketing specialist.
Andrew uses a number of Google tools to help bolster the company’s digital marketing efforts. “We’ve been working on reorganizing the website, bringing it up to standard, and employing Google Ads on the marketing side.” Those ads have helped Semper Fi Hydroseed & Erosion Control get in front of people searching for hydroseeding or similar services in the Bartlesville, Oklahoma area. The team also uses Google Analytics to monitor and optimize the company’s website and search campaigns. “When we first started, the budget was fairly small, but I was pretty pleased with the response rates we saw,” Andrew said. Clint and his team also use G Suite apps to communicate and collaborate more efficiently. “Google is the No. 1 internet tool we use,” said Clint.
Semper Fi Hydroseed & Erosion Control now operates in five states and plans to continue expanding its presence throughout the Midwest. “In order to maximize our growth, we need to consider not just doubling but tripling our Google Ads budget,” said Andrew. The company’s success has allowed Clint to donate to charities and causes that are important to him, including hospitals and a nonprofit organization that fights against veteran suicide. In the next five years, Clint hopes to recruit more veteran employees and work with more commercial clients — all with the help of Google. “Google is going to be the future of our business,” said Clint.
Langston’s Western Wear
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
L.Y. Langston opened his first store in Harrah with two partners in 1913, selling everything from horse feed and milk to jeans and overalls. The business served the farming community for a decade before moving 25 miles west to downtown Oklahoma City. Today, Langston’s Western Wear has a flagship store in Stockyards City and three other metro locations. They sell a mixture of functional and fashion apparel, including jeans, boots, western shirts, and outerwear. L.Y.’s grand-nephew, Brian Barber, returned home from California in 1999 to launch the business’s first website. “Langston’s has such a long history, and I’m just a small part of it,” Brian says. “Our customers come from all walks of life, including a lot of people who live the western lifestyle each and every day.”
Like many small retailers across America, Langston’s Western Wear faces stiff competition from big-box stores. AdWords, Google’s advertising program, “helps level the playing field,” says Brian. “We can still maintain a significant presence within our niche by using digital products like AdWords and Google Shopping to stay relevant,” he adds. Brian also uses insights from Google Analytics to optimize their website, continually improve marketing campaigns, and maintain a competitive edge. “It’s kind of a game of finding our opportunities in nooks and crannies,” he explains. “You take Google Analytics and add in a little intuition, and things start to become a little clearer. The importance of Analytics can’t be overstated.”
Langston’s Western Wear has served customers through both World Wars, the Great Depression, and numerous financial booms and downturns. The store is “a mature company that has been interacting with and impacting our local community for generations,” describes Brian. Their centennial celebration in 2013 brought home the importance of this legacy. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original patrons shop there today, joined online by newer customers from across the country. “You walk into our store, and you have people who grew up on a ranch or farm, or they compete in rodeo. They give you real-world, real-life experience with these products that you can’t always get from mass-market, large retailers, where it kind of becomes less personal,” Brian says. “My hope is for another 100 years.”
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
For Oklahoma moms Darcy Schein and Leslie Coale-Mossman, business began with one homemade pie at a time. "Leslie and I started out just spending time cooking for our kids," Darcy says. "We quickly figured out that we had a lot of friends who wanted help in the kitchen. So in 2010, we started a small catering business, providing one pie a week to a local startup restaurant." Customers wanted to know, “Who made the pie?” That initial slice of exposure created enough buzz for the women to open a shop in 2013 in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. "Pie Junkie is a labor of love," Darcy says. "We make quiche in the morning and a number of sweet options by the slice. Folks can come in and enjoy a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. Or they can order a pie for a special occasion. And we do everything in our tiny 1,000-square-foot shop."
Since their humble beginnings baking out of a church kitchen, Pie Junkie has maintained a strong web and social media presence. They launched their business using Gmail to take orders, from grandma-inspired apple crumble pies to modern delights such as macadamia key lime pie. And today, with a physical storefront, their Google My Business listing works with Google Search and Maps to drive customers into their shop. It includes photos, store hours, directions, a link to their website, and Google reviews from satisfied pie lovers. "We know from customers that's how they find us," Darcy says. “And fortunately for us, there is an easy map that will guide them here because we are a tiny shop located in a tricky, hard-to-find spot.”
Business for Pie Junkie has increased steadily, garnering press mentions from national publications. Darcy and Leslie give back to their community through their Pie-It-Forward program, where once a month they select a local charity to receive a portion of their sales, along with gift certificates. "We live in a wonderful community, where business owners support one another," Darcy says. "We're really grateful to be a part of it."
Sooner Marketing Solutions
Braedon Kruse founded Sooner Marketing Solutions in 2012 to assist owners of small and medium sized businesses with finding success and customers online. “We help frustrated business owners to expand and grow their companies, find better branding, and gain more awareness,” Braedon says. Their customers range from a window-tinting business and automotive repair companies, and consultants. They may need anything from a website upgrade to full digital services. “We want them to see our company as an all-around marketing department to devise creative solutions,” adds Justin Hernandez, Chief Operating Officer.
“We see a lot of great, awesome businesses start up and then fall through the cracks because nobody knows about them,” Braedon says. Sooner Marketing Solutions uses a wide variety of digital tools to help prevent that, particularly AdWords, Google’s advertising program, and Google Search Console. “By creating a well-performing AdWords campaign, we help our customers reach their sales goals in a very efficient timeframe,” Justin explains. Google Analytics helps Sooner track and improve the effectiveness of their clients’ websites, as well as their own. Google Trends keeps them abreast of what people are searching for online and Search Console helps them optimize their clients’ sites for maximum visibility. According to Braedon, “We’re always engaged with what Google is doing, so that we can not only adjust our own marketing, but also our clients'.”
Sooner Marketing Solutions now has 10 employees who annually serve 70 to 90 regional customers across Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. The company routinely sees quarterly growth more than double, year-over-year. Their clients often report very strong growth themselves, thanks in part to their work with Sooner Marketing Solutions. “I was told I was crazy for saying that I wanted to triple our gross sales this year,” Braedon says. “But I believe it's going to happen. And every time we increase our sales, I think about all of our clients’ businesses, and how we're helping them increase their sales, too. When our clients grow, we grow with them.”