I just had the best cookie! Yes, you read that right — I’m writing about cookies. And no, this is not turning into a recipe blog.
This post has an entrepreneurial connection — bear with me, and I’ll tell you about it.
Today I got a package from FedEx. Turns out it was a box of delectable goodies, from Wow! Cookies! of Shaker Heights, Ohio. I opened the outer packing box to discover this gift-wrapped box:
It was so beautifully wrapped, I was intrigued. In fact, I was so intrigued that I hated to tear into the paper. So I took another photograph instead. (I’m not a very good photographer and rarely take photos, so please excuse the quality of these — they look much better in person.)
Finally I opened the box. There I found a gift card (I’ll get to that in a moment) and this luscious sight:
Cookies! The package with the pink ribbon turned out to be chocolate chip cookies.
I ate one immediately. Who could resist? (Certainly not me!)
They are delightful — crispy edges and soft centers, with loads of chocolate chunks. You can taste the butter and quality ingredients. They taste homemade — better than homemade, actually. I don’t think I could bake a cookie that good (and I’m no slouch in the kitchen).
In addition to the cookies, there are 4 brownies. I haven’t tried one of those yet, but, hey, the night is young….
So, where’s the entrepreneurial connection, you ask? Well, there are two.
First, inside the box was a card that said “Anita, We LOVED your presentation!” Just like that — got the inflection right. It was from the folks at COSE (Council of Smaller Enterprises) and their Social Media Leaps team. I am on the Board of the tech arm of COSE, and had given a webinar earlier this week about social media, highlighting the Social Media Leaps program. Social Media Leaps is a website and social media training program that offers tutorials for small business leaders on how to use social media — and I highly recommend it.
But the main entrepreneurial story here is about Wow! Cookies! Seeing the bakery’s website address on the flyer inside the box, I had to check it out. The website is simple, yet compelling … compelling because it puts the cookies front and center.
And I realized that the box I received looked exactly like the ones pictured on the website. So did the cookies — and that’s unusual. Mail-order baked goods usually look much better on the website. The real life equivalent is too often disappointing. Not so with Wow! Cookies!
Reading the About Us page was compelling too. There I learned about Penny Parker, the owner. Here is her “business story”:
Who put the WOW in WOW! Cookies?
In 2004, Penny Parker left her position as the sales and education director of a major Fortune 500 company. Instead of sitting back, she decided that retirement just wasn’t her style. After some soul-searching, she decided to turn her love of cookies into a business.
Penny began by scouring the city’s great bakeries in search of the ultimate cookie. What she found was a dismal array of bland cookies and a vanishing population of bakeries making homemade items. Now, even more determined to provide the Cleveland area with an incredible homemade cookie, Penny founded WOW! Cookies!. Her challenge was to create a unique product that used high-quality ingredients and could be delivered fresh, with a home-baked presentation.
The answer? A line of cookies made with farm-fresh eggs, creamery quality butter and milk products, imported French and Belgian chocolate, naturally dried fruits, perfectly roasted nuts and the highest quality bakery flour and oats. Penny has stated that her, “business is intended to satisfy the cravings of Cleveland’s most discriminating cookie connoisseurs.”
Wow! Cookies! is a wonderful example of an entrepreneurial venture of the kind I’ve spoken about as a being a good start-up in 2010: a specialty foods business.
It’s also an example of how small businesses can compete in today’s age. The basic products — cookies and brownies — are classic. Nothing unusual about cookies and brownies, right? What sets this business apart is the quality of the product — it’s definitely high end. Another differentiator is the creativity of the packaging.
You don’t need to invent some never-before-heard-of new technology. You don’t need to necessarily even have a big product line. Just be outstanding at delivering a few things to customers. Do it so well that you set your product line apart from what’s on the market. Then you will have a premium product that others (like me) feel compelled to tell people about, and you can charge a premium for your product.