When Penny Parker left her 35-year career in the professional beauty industry in 2004, she decided to treat herself by attending a local culinary school’s pastry program. Soon she realized her city of Cleveland was pretty much a “cookie wasteland” and that she could fill that need.
Penny settled on a niche area of cookie and brownie gifts, specializing in corporate gifting. “The business community typically has the funding to send large quantities of gifts as part of their marketing, branding and customer appreciation efforts,” she commented.
Cookies Mean Business
While most corporate gifting happens during the holidays, she’s working to inspire her corporate customers to look for other opportunities to get in front of their clients. Penny believes cookies are the way to go – like her slogan, “Our cookies mean business!” Her “Wow! Cookies” name came from her customers; whenever anyone would open up her great looking box, they would exclaim, “Wow, cookies!”
She carries 14 varieties of cookies and 2 brownies, including the OH SO Chunky Chocolate Chip and the Crazin’ Cranberry Apple Oatmeal, along with the Amazing Triple Chocolate Brownie.
The Presentation is Just as Important
Equally important for corporate gifting is the packaging. She purchases 90% of her packaging from Nashville Wraps, including a variety of boxes, wrap, ribbons, bags, tissue and shred. She finds us to be invaluable for smaller orders.
Penny is constantly looking for new customers, since she’s strictly an online business for casual customers, and corporate customers are really the foundation of her business. Networking at community events is vital. As a recent exhibitor at the YWCA Women’s Leadership Conference, she met women from major companies that offered new prospects for her client list. She said it’s all about meet-greet and follow-up.
Penny explains that personal contact is essential for the corporate customer. She reaches the casual customer by way of social media marketing, blogging, monthly email newsletters, and her new favorite, Pinterest. However, LinkedIn has really helped her make contacts in the business community.
Customize for the Corporate Client
Penny says that dealing with corporate customers requires being prepared to customize. She has learned to construct a gift assortment that meets the needs of the client to include items beyond cookies and brownies.
Her most important piece of advice for other gourmet food businesses is to clearly define your market and focus on it. “Be incredible at one thing before you attempt another,” she warns.
Since every order has to be her best, she hasn’t pursued national advertising or TV spots like Rachael Ray’s “Snack of the Day.” The worst thing that could happen, in her opinion, is to be back-ordered and unable to deliver for 6 weeks or more.
Finally, Penny adds, “Be unique, sprinkled with a liberal dose of passion, and you have the makings of a great cookie business – if you can beat WOW! Cookies, that is!”
Internet Advertising Manager