Skinny Sticks' Maple Syrup
Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup are selling in 7 countries
Mitch Hoyt, a U.S. Army veteran, was working as a corporate sales specialist when he stumbled across a unique opportunity. In 2011, Mitch attended a trade show where he sampled wine made from maple syrup. “That’s when my marketing wheels started spinning,” he said. Mitch thought of the more than 40 young maple trees he had on his property back home, and in that moment, he decided he was going to use them to start a business. After learning more about the syrup-making process, Mitch tapped his trees and soon produced his first 25 gallons of syrup. A business was born. Mitch and his wife Chris launched Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup and was soon making and selling syrup locally and beyond. To keep the company growing at a rapid rate, Mitch looked to digital marketing, but he needed help.
Working with his wife, Chris, Mitch launched a Google Ads campaign to reach people who were searching for pure maple syrup or similar products. According to Chris, the ads have boosted traffic to the company’s website and have had a big impact on digital sales. “Since using Google Ads, we’ve seen more sales in the first month of this year than all of last year,” said Mitch. Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup also uses Gmail to communicate more effectively and YouTube to host videos showcasing its sugaring operation. “And I’m always using Google Maps to find businesses to sell syrup to,” Mitch added.
Bolstered by its digital sales, Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup moves 2,925 gallons of maple syrup each month. In 2018, the company purchased, bottled, and sold about 25% of Wisconsin’s total syrup crop. Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup ships internationally and has sold syrup to customers in Brazil, England, Italy, France, China, and Japan who found the business through Google. Last year, Mitch and Chris were able to hire their son-in-law as their first full-time employee to help them meet demand. The Hoyts hope to add seven to 10 additional full-time employees over the next five years. “We’d love to grow the business so we can offer educational scholarships to local students who wish to pursue degrees in entrepreneurship or agriculture,” said Chris. “We really want to help the local schools and programs that inspired us by donating equipment and educational materials to them.”
O&H Danish Bakery
If you’ve ever been to Racine, chances are good you’ve had a kringle from O&H Danish Bakery. Founded in 1949 by a Danish immigrant, Christian Olesen, O&H has been in the same family for four generations. Father-son team Eric and Peter Olesen, along with Eric’s son-in-law Matt Horton, currently run the business. They serve up hundreds of scratch-made indulgences every day, and their specialty is the traditional Danish kringle, “a pastry unlike any other,” Eric describes. They make eighteen varieties of the sweet delicacy and ship their products to thousands of customers in and outside of Wisconsin. “Whether you’re right here in Racine, or you moved away and are missing a taste of home, we’re here to help you celebrate the most important moments of your life with a delicious slice of kringle,” says Eric.
O&H Danish Bakery has always used technology to reach more customers, pioneering mail-order delivery for their kringles back in the early 1960s. “That culture of using new technology to grow and meet the demands of our customers has always been embraced by O&H, and continues to this day,” Eric says. They use G Suite tools, including Docs and Drive, to share inventory and order information instantly between their five Wisconsin locations. Their Google My Business listings attract local customers with appetizing photos and glowing customer reviews. And AdWords, Google’s advertising program, helps bring in new customers beyond state borders. “Not that many people outside of Wisconsin know about kringle, so AdWords is a critical tool for getting our name out there. Now people can find us from anywhere when they search for unique gifts or specialty baked goods,” Matt says.
Even after six decades in business, O&H Danish Bakery continues to enjoy double-digit annual growth. They operate stores in Racine, Sturtevant, and Oak Creek, and deliver their pastries to dozens of countries around the world. “Our kringle has reached all seven continents, even Antarctica,” Peter muses. Amidst their growth, O&H remains committed to the same family traditions on which they were founded. They source their cherries, cream cheese, and cranberries from local dairies and farms, their apples from Michigan, and their blueberries from Maine, all in pursuit of the finest fruits and nuts they can find. They also make everything, including the icing and filling, completely from scratch. “This is the way we’ve done it ever since we were founded,” says Eric. “It’s how we make food in our own kitchen. It’s how we do things in our bakeries. It’s a way of life for us, and we’ve never considered doing it another way.”
Wisconsin Cheese Mart
Wisconsin Cheese Mart has been on Old World Third Street in Milwaukee since 1938. The old German enclave is still home to a few other food shops, and President Ken McNulty values their neighbors. Their storefront is the heart of the business, helping build their mailing list and attracting tourists from all over the world—during the summer, it can draw up to 2,000 visitors per day. But what’s really grown the company is their online presence. When the McNultys bought the business in 2003, they used the power of the web to transform Wisconsin Cheese Mart from a small, local shop to a national cheese retailer. “Today, we have single-digit growth in the store, but we’re averaging 35 percent annual growth for online sales,” Ken remarks.
Ken’s business philosophy epitomizes the digital age. “We constantly change, depending on what our customers are demanding,” he says. Google tools have been essential to taking the pulse of those demands. They use Google Analytics to better understand what their customers want and identify where they’re losing people in the purchase flow. “That’s huge for us,” Ken shares. “We’re always looking to improve the customer’s experience, so it’s very beneficial to be able to see where the pain points are.” And AdWords, Google’s advertising program, helps them get in front of consumers searching for their products. “AdWords makes up over 40 percent of our web traffic,” he says. In their day-to-day operations, Ken calls their Google usage “pretty much all-encompassing.” They communicate with teammates and customers over Gmail, create menus on Google Docs, and manage their files in Google Drive. “Our team operates out of three different locations. These tools help us collaborate easily from everywhere,” he explains.
Thanks to their online success, Wisconsin Cheese Mart continues to have a positive impact on the local community. Ken credits their online growth for their ability to create more jobs and pay higher wages, noting that “small businesses like ours employ a lot of people.” The company also hosts tasting events and, in general, maintains a space for people to learn about and enjoy the state’s flagship product. They hope to expand their website to include more food products—“We’re pretty good at the perishable part,” Ken notes—and are proud to promote Wisconsin cheese to people all over the world.