Building The Largest Sock Supplier While Doing Good with John's Crazy Socks' John and Mark Cronin

Your host, Samir, ElKamouny, talks with Mark and John Cronin. John’s Crazy Socks is a father-son venture inspired by co-founder John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome. John’s affinity for crazy socks, paired with his love of making people smile, made the mission clear: to spread happiness.


Transcription

Your host, Samir, ElKamouny, talks with Mark and John Cronin. John’s Crazy Socks is a father-son venture inspired by co-founder John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome. John’s affinity for crazy socks, paired with his love of making people smile, made the mission clear: to spread happiness.

To learn more about this father-son duo, visit https://johnscrazysocks.com/

If you’d like to be a guest on Ecom Growth Leaders, click HERE.


– Thanks for tuning into the Ecom Growth Leaders podcast. This show is intended to highlight marketing and conversion techniques, taught by today’s leaders in the ECom World. I’ll be interviewing the top marketers that are influencing the market and making an impact, scaling faster than their competitors, and doing good. I’m your host Samir ElKamouny, Founder and CEO of Fetch & Funnel, a performance marketing agency specializing in omnichannel media buying, creative production, and conversion optimization. If you enjoy anything from today’s episode, I highly recommend checking out fetchfunnel.com and sign up for our email newsletter, where I promise to only send you content you can learn from and apply directly into your business to improve results and scale. At the end of each episode, my goal is to have you feeling inspired and fired up by learning from today’s top innovators, marketers and entrepreneurs. Let’s dig into another amazing story about a unique brand crushing it and learn from their success and learnings. Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Ecom Growth Leaders. I’m super to introduce our next guests, and they are just doing an amazing thing. It’s an amazing social enterprise with an amazing mission, a father and son duo, crushing it. The world’s largest sock store. If you can’t find fun socks that makes you happy on John’s Crazy Socks, you’re not gonna find them anywhere else. John, Mark, super excited to have you guys here. Appreciate you taking the time. Would love to just start off by having you tell our audience more about John’s Crazy Socks and what you guys sell and what the brand is all about.

– Well Samir, first, thank you for having us.

– Thank you Samir, I really appreciate to be here.

– It’s always good to connect with people in Boston, right?

– Right, I love Boston.

– John’s Crazy Socks, we are a social enterprise. And what’s our purpose in life?

– Spreading happiness.

– Spreading happiness.

– Love it, and so, yeah, tell us a little bit about the brand. Just tell us more about what you guys are doing and what makes you so unique.

– Well, why don’t we share our origin story? Because origin stories give you your DNA, right? So we just celebrated our fifth anniversary. So gives your mind back and we’ll tell right in the beginning, right John?

– Yes dad.

– So our stories starts in a small log cabin in the woods.

– No.

– No. It starts in suburban long island, outside New York city. And where were you buddy?

– I went in a hunting house, I guess away from four.

– John was in his last year of high school. And here’s something know about John. He’s an entrepreneur, a dancer.

– A dancer.

– An athlete.

– Yep, I am-

– A lover,-

– A lover, and I am a Down syndrome.

– But he also has down syndrome. And if you are anywhere in the United States, if you have a disability, you can stay in the school system until you’re 21. And what’s very important about that is all your services and programs are right there in front of you. But once you turn 21 and it’s known as the 21 year old cliff, you’re on your own. So John, it’s his last year of school, trying to figure out what he’s going to do, right? And what were you looking at?

– I look at job, program and school. I don’t like the option I don’t like.

– And this is an unfortunate reality, is for many people with different abilities, the options aren’t very good. The unemployment rate of people disabilities is double the national average, but that doesn’t begin to tell the true story. Fewer than one in five people with a disability are employed, who just are an option. But John here, he’s a natural entrepreneur.

– Yes, I am.

– If he didn’t see a job he wanted, what were you gonna do?

– I would create one, I would make one.

– What’d you tell me?

– I said, I wanna go eat your penny with my dad, a nice father and son being together.

– Now, I’m real lucky. I’ve got three sons and this is one I could work with. So, okay, we’re gonna start this business here and a couple of ideas we weren’t gonna pursue.

– Right.

– But then right before Thanksgiving, you had your eureka moment.

– I did, I must tell Crazy Socks. Why socks? It’s fun, it’s covered for, it’s clear. I always let me be me.

– We used to drive around looking for these socks. So here’s what we figured. If John loved these socks this much surely other people would too. And we could find our truck.

– Absolutely.

– We went the lean startup route. We said, let’s don’t, we skewed the detailed business plan. We said, let’s get something up and running and see if there’s a response. So you already had the name.

– I got a name to our website.

– We built a website on the Shopify platform. We got some inventory, we’re bootstrapping. So you gotta make do with what you have. The only marketing we did was to set up a Facebook page and I would take out my cell phone and we made videos. And who was in those videos?

– I am, I took for a sock, socks, socks, more socks.

– And we noticed those videos started getting shared. And what day did we open?

– We opened on Friday, these September ninth, 2016.

– We didn’t know what to expect. We’re very fortunate. We had 42 orders the first day. Most of them were local. So what’d we do with those orders?

– I hope to be free.

– We got red boxes, but the socks in the box.

– Yeah, we did.

– Looked at it and said it needs something else. So what else did you put in?

– I put in a digging up for me and some 100 kisses.

– We loaded up with Hershey’s kisses, filled up the car and we’d drive around, John would knock on doors. We were out some nights till 10:30 at night, him knocking on doors.

– Just drive here with your socks.

– And how the customers respond?

– Our customers were upset and they took a fire, took pictures and share on social media, a wood against spread.

– We had customers watering again, just to get John to come back to their house.

– Right.

– So, but I think it’s important, because you could see the ingredients of the business there. And by testing it, you learn some things, so you know one?

– One, people learn about socks. Two, people learn about social media.

– Yeah, they related to John. They like the fact we pledged 5% of our earnings to the Special Olympics. They liked the personal some touch with the thank you note in the candy. Something that surprised us was many people had very emotional response because they knew somebody with Downy syndrome or maybe with autism in their family or relative. And then the other thing you learn is by doing and you learn some things too, we learned that this young man-

– And this is old man.

– This old man, we could sell socks. So that took us through the first month. And at the end of that month, we had shipped 450 through waters at 13,000 in revenue and said, we could do something here. So what we’ve done is gone on and create a social enterprise. Social mission and a business purpose all in one. And they feed off of each other.

– They’re indivisible. Samir, if all we were doing was selling socks, you would be talking to us, right? At the same time, if it was just a kind of cute story, doing something nice, you wouldn’t talk to us either. And what everything we do comes back to one purpose.

– A spreading happiness.

– And you’ve been around, you know companies that come up with their mission and statements and nobody pays any attention. This drives everything we do. Every decision, that’s the criteria by which we measured. And it’s really a simple way to live. Are we gonna make people happy? But we built it on five pillars.

– It is bring in hope, give it back, fun players, you can love, make it personal.

– And make it a great place to work. We’re gonna spread happiness, you gotta start here. Our colleagues gotta love working here. We gotta make it a place where they wanna be. and where it’s a mission worthy of their commitment. And everybody knows that their job is important. Making a personal connection with customers. It what starts with those thank you notes.

– Right.

– But it affects all of what we try to do. We’re focused on building connections and relationships. We’re focused on creating customer experiences and that’s from the way we answer the phones. It’s so when our happiness creatives, that’s our customer service, we don’t time phone calls, there’s no script. You’re actually having a human conversation. It’s our packaging and the way it looks and the ingredients with the thank you note and that candy and showing the picture of who packed the order, the fun products you can love you. We have to be a great e-commerce business. You’ve got to have a great website. You’ve gotta have great selection. We now have over 4,000 different sock choices, which makes John the owner of the world’s largest sock store.

– That’s right.

– You are a sock tycoon.

– You got great products. We have over 29,00 five star reviews and the service has to be great. We do same day shipping, an order comes in today, it’s going out today. One of the things we do we talk a one year guarantee. We give a lifetime guarantee on happiness. If at any point you’re not happy, let us know. You don’t have to spend anything back. We’re gonna refund your money. We’re gonna send you extra socks. Our folks know anybody can spend 200 hours without asking any customer. What are the results of that? How a refund rate is less than one half of 1% of our revenue. Customers are happy. We don’t fight with people. It’s what can we do to take care of you, right? Then there’s the giving back, which is baked into everything we do. It’s not, okay if we make a power of money, then you wanna write a check and give some away. So we started by pledging 5% of our earnings, for the Special Olympics.

– Right?

– And why the Special Olympics?

– I am a best of Olympic athlete.

– That he is, right?

– I am.

– Four sports, you even gave yourself a nickname in a Special Olympic.

– I did.

– What is it?

– Big sexy.

– Big sexy. But here’s what that’s led to, John has now donated over a hundred thousand dollars to the Special Olympics. No Special Olympic athlete has ever done that before. But we’ve gone on to create products that raise awareness and raise funds for causes. So what was the first awareness sock create?

– I first write it as downstage from Awareness Socks.

– We have Autism Awareness Sock-

– Yeah, it’s a policy, but we have Healthcare Suphero Sock to the final workers.

– We should tell folks about that, right? The pandemic comes in 2020, it was bad for our business. We’re down long island, it was very bad here. What could we do? Well, one of the things we did and we made socks.

– Right? So we made healthcare superhero socks to say thank you to the frontline COVID 19 workers. And those that raised over 50,000 dollars for the American Nurses Foundations COVID 19 fund. It’s not that $50,000 in the scheme of things is small, but it was a lot for us. And it’s what we can do.

– Yeah, it’s still amazing, yeah.

– But most of all, what we are doing is showing what’s possible. We showing what entrepreneurism can do. We’re showing the power of the social enterprise. And we’re showing that a young man who happens to have Down syndrome could have a dream. And it was possible to create a business, a business based on love and spreading happiness. And we’re showing what people with differing abilities can do. So we’ve been able to create 31 jobs. 22 of those are held by people with different abilities. And now we wanna show the world. So we create content all the time, videos and pictures and events that we hold. We host school tours and work groups.

– In group and I think it gets me.

– Pre pandemic we crisscross Canada to the US and Mexico. Now, we get to speak around the world. In the past year, we’ve spoke at three different conferences in India, all just to share the story and show a look what can happen. And part of that is I advocacy work. We’ve testified twice before the US Congress. We’ve spoken at the United Nations.

– Right.

– we’ve been very fortunate because we have a platform and people will listen to us because of the success of the business. But then that creates an obligation for us to take advantage of that and do something with it. So, you roll that up, you get John’s Crazy Socks. And that enables us to connect with customers, to grow a business and then to reach out and attract others.

– I love that. Yeah, giving back and yeah, keep spreading happiness, making customers happy, making employees happy, everything.

– It seems so simple, like you’ve heard the old line, the customer is always right. Nonsense. The customer can’t be dead wrong.

– True.

– But we’re not in the business of being right. We’re in the business of making customers happy. So, here’s the dilemma that unfortunately, a lot of companies face. You ship a product, we still use the post office for small packages, nobody beats them by delivering to the door the small packages. You track the package, it says it’s been delivered and the customer says, I don’t have it. What do you do? We send it again then we ask them to look. We’re not gonna fight with them. We could say, “well, we gave it to the post office, “fight with them.” That’s not gonna make you happy. Or you kind of get to create the world in which you wanna live. We have no excuses. We can’t blame it on the board. We can’t blame it on headquarters.

– Right?

– It’s what we all decide to do here. It’s not just us, we’ve had a great team. So here’s an example. A few months ago, a customer called up and wanted to place an order for socks over the phone. But let’s be clear, we don’t do phone orders. We only show online unless you called up and say, “Can I place an order on the phone?” Of course we’re gonna take care of you. And we joke, it frequently seems these are grandmothers from Indiana that this worldwide web is something new. And this particular woman didn’t wanna pay what a credit card, said, oh, maybe check. So where you took the order and she’s gonna mail the check and we made a mistake. We didn’t pull the order right away. We waited for the check to arrive. And when the check arrived, one of the socks that she ordered was out of stock. I happen over here this I say, okay, why didn’t we mail it right away? Why don’t we just send her the order? And got reasonable response? Well, we had to make sure we got the check first. Okay, so Samir, if in this conversation you said, “Mark, I’m gonna send you a check.” Would you send that check?

– I definitely would.

– So this wasn’t a random person. This is somebody we had a conversation with. I said, so why don’t we just do this? Somebody says, they’re going to mail us a check, let’s assume they will, let’s trust them. And we’ll send a package out. And one of our younger colleagues said, can we do that? What you do whatever and how we want to do. Of course, we can do that. And so, well, what if it’s really expensive? It’s over a hundred dollars. Who cares? Let’s trust folks. I went back and looked in five years. Nobody’s ever bounced a check. Now, understand we’re a real business, we need to make money. If you don’t mail us that check, well, John’s got two older brothers who were large.

– Oh yeah.

– Physically imposing and they’ll show up at your door. But in a start I trusted people. And isn’t that a better place to live? You don’t fight with customers. It’s what could we do for you? And it turns out the more fun things we do, the better it is for business. Some of this sounds too pride almost. What do you say are the keys to happiness?

– A key is gratitude and do for others.

– And in fact, the more we do for people, the better for you.

– Right.

– And it’s working.

– Love it, I love it. Yeah, absolutely love it. So, doing so many components, right? And the way that you’re looking at running the business is like you said, it feels unique. It doesn’t sound unique, but it is in this day and age, right? But I’m curious, sort of how you define success at the company and how is it measured? ‘Cause it feels like you have so many unique components to it. So many, almost like missions drawn into one. I’m so curious, just how you measure that success.

– It’s all interconnected. It’s all woven together. So we have to start by being able to talk and we talk all the time about what does it mean to be spreading happiness and we get by it. It can’t be John and I cook something up and we tell others what to do.

– Right?

– Everybody is on board. How do we measure success? There are multiple ways. But I was just going over our monthly reports. So here are some of the key indicators like everybody else. What it’s happening with revenue? People will vote with their dollars. We’re always measuring customer feedback. So what’s happening with our reviews, what’s happening with our net promoter score, what’s happening with our employment levels, and what’s happening with our donations. Those are the big things that we’re checking because that’s what we’re being committed to. I can share our overall strategy is drive the mission. The more we can drive our purpose, the more it raises our brand. And once we do that, then we can go and sell and we can sell everywhere. So we started by selling direct online. We have evolved into selling business to business and now we are committed where we’re finally starting to market that. And this year, one of our objectives, we’ve only had four, was to enter the wholesale market by the fourth quarter. We already have a commitment from Kohl’s. They’re gonna put us in 600 stores for the fourth quarter. Well, how did that happen? They came to us because they heard of the story and they were interested, how can we do business with you? We just got started with DAPOs ’cause they came to us. So, it’s the more you put that brand, the more recognition you’re gonna get. And it’s not some overnight thing and you can’t fake it. And here’s an example. It’s January of 2017, we’re just getting started. We’re learning firsthand. Nobody buys anything in January ’cause they spent all their money in the holidays. And that’s when we discover that people celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. What day is that?

– A day is March 21st, a World Down Syndrome Day.

– March 21st. ’cause ’cause you get Down syndrome by having an extra 21st chromosome, three 21st chromosome such March 21st. Anyway, we find out that people celebrate that day by wearing crazy socks. You would’ve thought we knew that ahead of time, but we’re not that smart. So we said great. At that point we’re only reselling other people’s socks. Let’s go and find a Down syndrome sock, a down syndrome theme sock that we could sell nonexistent, nobody made one. You said-

– I said, I wanna make one, I wanna create one.

– He said natural entrepreneur. He said, right, we’ll make one. So that’s what we did. Today, lots of different companies make day Down syndrome where their suck cause they what we had some success with it. But they don’t have John. They don’t have the commitment we have. They’re not out there supporting the National Down Syndrome society. They’re not out there like we put together a Down Syndrome Superbox which had 21 items in it from Down syndrome entrepreneurial businesses. Businesses run by person with down syndrome and we put that in a box. So we could introduce our customers to these other businesses. You can’t fake that, right? You gotta believe. And then who we are becomes manifest in everything we do. So when you ask, how do we measure that success? No one person could think of all these different things. You will all have to be committed and be looking to create to carry out this purpose. And then you will find a myriad of ways of doing it.

– I love that and a lot of businesses are, right, chasing the money, chasing the dollars, chasing the revenue, month on month growth, right. But to your point, it’s even yeah. With everything else you’re doing will almost drive that growth as it is, right? And then not only that, but your super important about how you treat your team members and how they’re treated and their happiness and all of those other components that gets ignored, right? Yeah, I mean, I know it wholeheartedly at veteran funnel super important to me how the team feels and all of those kinds of things and it’s yeah, it’s super important that it gets lost easily in this day and age, right? And even remote, gets even more difficult, in this day and age.

– You wanna make a difference and you wanna connect and it helps. It was a very difficult process and we really struggled at points, but it helps that we found the perfect strategic partner because they’ve been in business for 60, some odd years, making socks with the partner stores and for brand names. They know, you don’t do it overnight, we’re in it for the long haul. And we started this business. So John would have meaningful workers, whole life.

– Right. It’s not let’s set something up and sale would then go to Bimini, what do we gonna do laying on a beach in Bimini?

– I think John’s having too much fun. He wants to keep selling crazy socks.

– Well, that’s it, I mean, I’ll give you, there are a couple of great anecdotes with John, well, many. But here’s one of them, we had attended a Special Olympic fundraiser, in Manhattan. Then John had gotten up on the stage, we helped him raise some money and it was a young professional mixer who was at a hot club, a lot of wall street type. And we get home about three in the morning. And I say, “John, listen, “you haven’t had a day off an agent. “Why don’t you just sleep in tomorrow? “Take the day off.” Oh, okay. So I get up, I come down to the office. At about 10:30, who comes walking in, but John. Said, “what are you doing?” He’s, “I took an Uber to the office. “I got things to do today.” There you go. Right, or a time when much of what’s happened to us is fantastical. We’ve been so fortunate. So on this particular day, we started on Capitol Hill, meeting with some legislators. And at noon, John was given an award on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society to chuck rumor, right?

– Right.

– We hope . We come up to New York because we’re speaking an event that night where they’re gonna honor us and we’re gonna help them raise some money. When we get a cab and we had been traveling in a lot. And so it’d been weeks since we really had a day off with the travel and stuff. And I’m worried about John, is it too much? Is he missing home getting overworked? We hop in a cab and he looks at me and says, “Dad, we have to talk.” Ooh, okay, what’s the matter? It’s too much, the trains and the planes and the hotels, it’s too much. Like, oh, are you missing home? Are you time, what is it? Goes, “No, I think we’re spending “too much money on all this.” Like, well, in many of these cases or most of these cases, somebody else is paying for our travel. He pauses, he looks at me and goes, “Oh, we should do more of it then.” Right bud.

– Yeah.

– But here’s another thing. So, nobody could plan for the pandemic. And for our particular business, it hurt, it was bad. We lost a lot of money because we’re very seasonal. And in the spring, a lot of our sales depend upon public events. Everything got wiped out. We had media appearances lined up, everything got wiped out. What do you do? Well when you know what your purpose is that allows you to have some resilience. So the first thing you do is, well, how do we adapt? So we move our tours online. What’s that do? We’ve had schools now from around the world come to visit our place. You move your speaking engagements online. But then you could also look and see, what else can we do? What new opportunities does it create? So some simple ones, we start selling mask. We listen to a lot of charities that had their in-person events wiped out. So we created a touch list and remote charity fundraising program. We have a mission to spread happiness, people are now locked up at home. So what do you do every Tuesday afternoon?

– Every Tuesday, I host a day party Every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern Time.

– John hosts an online dance party. We’ve had a hundred people dancing on Zoom.

– Yeah.

– Every Tuesday afternoon. What better way to spread happiness? It gives you that resilience and flexibility to be able to withstand the pandemic.

– Yeah, I love that. Looking for unique ways to continue spread happiness, looking for unique ways to get the brand out there. Yeah, and I love it all. It’s all baked into just trying to make everybody happy, right? It’s not,-

– Of course. Here’s an example, our colleague, Christie, manages our social media and our push market, our email, and now SMS, I don’t sit here and tell Christie do this. I don’t dictate things, she’s the one that creates that. So, a little bit of who not how. You wanna get the right who’s doing things. But the only way to make it is ’cause she buys in. And then that drives what she does. And it’s really creative. And her and John are having a blast on TikTok.

– Yeah.

– And connecting with all sorts of people. Now we’ve done cross promotions with some big influencers. Just because they’re out there, they having fun and trying different things. But you can’t run that in a top down organization. It’s got to be, we get talented people that are buying in that want to share the purpose. And then we put ’em in a position to succeed, right? So in that sense, I’m at the bottom of the org chart. My job is to work for everybody else so that they can go and do a great job.

– That’s awesome, they’re gonna rally behind you.

– They’ve been very fortunate.

– That’s awesome. So curious, what would you consider to be your biggest success so far? It can be more than one, but yeah. Any specific breakthroughs or-

– Well, one to be in business for five years and people, we were very close to bankruptcy at one time ’cause we were under financed and I made some poor decisions where we got ahead of ourselves. Businesses don’t appreciate, but many people don’t appreciate how hard it is to keep doing it. More than half a businesses fail within five years, you do that.

– Yep.

– Another is that I think we have weathered some storms and we’re still here, sticking to our values are, and knowing what our values are and showing what we’re doing and it becomes, if you wanna crystallize it in moments, just fit at the capital before the house small business committee with my son and be able to share what we do and talk about the value, the business argument for hiring people with different abilities. How awesome is that?

– But that’s only possible to because we do everything else. It’s the best thing here is when we’re busy and the place is full and it’s full of activity and you see people like, and one of the things we do when we get a new employee, we have a check server ’cause so many of our colleagues have never had a job before. So we gather around and we give people their first paychecks. How awesome is that?

– Oh yeah and empowering and yeah.

– So we are so fortunate to be able to witness and see what we do. I mean, I’ll give you an example. I’m sorry, I don’t go on all day, you gotta stop me. Come without Thomas, all right? So Thomas is one of our stock ringers. His mother called us up in October of 17 saying, “I hear you hire people like my son. “I want you to give my son a job.” One of our colleagues said, “well, when we have an opening, “we’ll post it and check back.” She called every day ’cause that’s what moms will do. And I spoke to her and I said, “tell me about Thomas.” She’s, “Well, he’s a young man with autism “and he’s in his early 20s. “He’s in a very bad way, very depressed. “We have trouble getting to come out of his room. “Doesn’t wanna shower or shave. “Can’t get him to join any programs. “And he hasn’t spoken to his father in over six months.” Okay, sounds like a wonderful employee. When we had an opening, we called her up. We said, “Bring Thomas out.” Now our starting drop was at that point was $15 an hour as a sock wrangler. And to get that, if you get to know us, you’d find out John here is a very nice guy, I am not. You’re gonna work here, you gotta produce. So we’ll train you but to get that job, you have to pass the sock wrangler test. You have to pick six orders in 30 minutes or less and be accurate. Thomas passes that test like he was put on his earth to pick orders in a fulfillment shop. So where are we at today? On the days he works, Thomas is up at 6:30 in the morning, showered and shaved, and waiting for his father to drive him to work. And the young man who would’ve looked at you and wouldn’t talk, comes in and goes around and says good morning to everybody. How awesome. And I wanna be really clear, John and I, we did nothing. All we did was hire a good employee. We were willing to give them an opportunity and look what happens. So, we’ve met a lot of people. We’ve been fortunate to meet movie stars, TV stars, and elected officials and you became suck buddies with president Bush.

– Right.

– Right? But we got to meet Thomas and we have a lot of that here. How great.

– Yeah, and spreading that word is amazing too ’cause plenty of businesses can do the same. They don’t have to be in the mission driven, focused business, right? They still have those jobs to fill. They can still offer those opportunities to those individuals.

– Yes and we do this because we’re running a business. We’re doing it because it helps our business. And when it comes to marketing, it’s sharing the story. So that customers know that we have customers that come to us in one of two ways. They come to us ’cause they heard the story and that may have been through one of our charity partners or some event we’re in. When they come to us because we’re the world largest sock store. We have better choice than everybody else. We got great socks and great service. But if you come to us for those socks, then you find out the rest of the story and you fall in love. And if you come to us because you like the story you find out, oh my God, I can get whatever I want to, right? I can get socks forever.

– Right.

– Can wear a different pair of socks every single day, huh?

– Well, nobody bought, last year for the holidays, like I say, we get that fun. So, for the first time we put out a version of a holiday catalog. But two were the gifts in there, one was a complete sock draw and we had a whole bunch of people buy that. You’ll get 18 socks and a bunch of different things. So we’ll give you everything you need in socks. The other, which nobody got, but maybe this upcoming year they will, is socks for a year, 365 different pairs of socks picked out by John in a giant trunk.

– Love it. So curious, maybe tell us a couple of your biggest growth levers that you’ve been able to pull for the business. I know we’ve talked about a couple of them but, yeah, really curious about what those look like and why you feel like they were so successful.

– Right, it’s multichannel. We grew a lot on social media, particularly Facebook, now Facebook has evolved. Part of that is looking not to sell, but looking to engage, sharing what will connect with people and kind of empathy. And that will lead to sales, right? When you stop trying to sell you’ll get sales. So that was very important towards the organic growth through social media and that’s still important to us. Every marketer knows market here knows your email list may be the single most valuable thing you have, right? Because we have 240,000 Facebook followers, but we know they belong to Facebook. I can’t just bring them, contact them all. So we built our email list. People trust us when they give us that letter, their name and their email, and you have to treat it that way. So we are very careful, we don’t share with anybody else. We don’t take advantage of people. We only send emails to people that are gonna open their emails. So we’re sending it to about a third of the names on our list. We have over a quarter a million people on our list. We only send people that are gonna open. So one of our regular emails is John’s Friday note.

– Right.

– That’s not to sell. It’s just to connect and John shares what he’s doing. Well, shares something that’s happened to him, some advice or something.

– Right.

– And so you got a 35% open rate, Which, okay, you’re doing that. So email is very important to us. It accounts for about 28 to 30% of our revenue. We do some search ads and social ads, search ads are more successful than the social ads. And we do a lot that’s related to just pursuing the mission and doing things that leads then to media coverage and more social sharing, referrals and social sharing. So, we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been on Fox and Friends a dozen times, CBS Evening News has done things on us and New York local WPIX and News 12 have us on frequently. Not because we are hawking a sale, but because there’s something that’s interesting going on that their viewers wanna see and they’ll help tell the story. And then they found out that John’s pretty good on the media, huh?

– My idea.

– So a lot of what we do, sharing exactly stuff going on. So for 2022, we laid out. We want to do 10 podcast guest appearances a month. We’re about to release our own podcast, the Spreading Happiness Podcast. We wanna make sure we’re doing at least four speaking engagements a month because that’s letting us get out there. And we’re so grateful. You had us on your show to tell the story and connect with more people and change some minds. And if we do that, oh, they’ll buy socks along the way. So, if I come back, you ask about levers. We’re pressing that social media leverage. We’re driving a lot through push media with moved into SMS. We’ve had much more successful with email than SMS. Yes, we do some digital advertising and it’s public appearances, speaking engagements and building on those.

– The multi-channel, looking at it from engagement perspective, not as just trying to use it to sell then telling the story, telling the mission, that was great. But then on the other hand, it’s just, yeah, it’s just getting people engaged, using the channels to continue that right. To get people interested and not only the story, but like you said, just what’s going on in John’s life. What’s going on in your lives. What’s going on inside the business. I mean, that’s something that so many brands lose these days on email, right? It’s sort of the old school way of running good email marketing was get to know, right. Get to know people, get to know the individual, get to know the brand, get to know what’s going on, don’t sell, you can have your sales, you can run your promotional emails and you gotta run those of course. But a minimum of one third of your emails should just be, getting to know the brand and getting to know what’s going on and getting an inside glimpse and all that kind of stuff, which does better selling, I would argue than sales emails and promotional emails and things like that.

– Yes, and then your customers care and they tell other people. When you wow them, they become your best sales people. They’re turning us on to other people. It’s last year, we struck up a relationship with the American Cancer Society to work with them on their goal together campaign to fight pediatric cancer. We did everything we could to work with them to promote that. We did visits to children’s hospitals, we made videos, none of that had anything to do with sales. But the more you do that, the more sales you’re gonna get and that’s not being cynical. That’s how you connect with people. So we don’t go in talking about, well, what are you gonna do for us? Or how are you gonna help us sell with what can we do? What can we do to make a difference? What can we do to have an impact? But then you get attention and people, if you’re going to sell the cheapest item, you will always have a market. Your people will always be willing to pay the least amount, but increasingly consumers are saying, wait a second, before I give you my money, who are you? How do you treat your employees? How do you treat the environment? How do you treat the community? What are you doing? And in general, if you have a social enterprise, if you’re a social entrepreneur. But more specifically a business like ours, we’ll be glad to tell you. And Hershey, so now the experience becomes, you’re not just buying socks, but employ people you’ll have can give back. When you see John and our colleagues running at a Special Olympic meet, you’re feeling good because you help do that.

– Yeah, that’s great. And then the role that creative and content is playing and the way that you’re using that and yeah, cross channel across different medias.

– And it has to run through everything you do. So, right, here’s an example. You black Friday and cyber Monday are real, right? We don’t talk about them. We have gratitude week ’cause that fits in with us and it starts the Tuesday before and before Thanksgiving and it runs through Thanksgiving. We have gratitude week because we’re gonna say thank you to our customers. And we give back every day in a different way, Thanksgiving, it may sound hokey, but it’s who we are. We run nothing on Thanksgiving. I mean, we don’t shut the website down, but we’re not sending you emails. We’re not running ads because it’s Thanksgiving. We run a 12 days of giving at Christmas where every day, every one of those days for we donate a dollar for every order to one of our charity partners. It’s gotta be in keeping with who you are or here’s one when it comes to products, here’s our guidelines. It’s gotta be fun. It’s gotta spread happiness and John’s gonna get-

– Right.

– So two or three years ago, somebody here ordered some socks that said, “Yo, bitch.” Now I can tell you those socks will sell. But we’re not set when those socks, that’s not who we are. We’re we had somebody recently, a consultant was bringing in somebody they claimed that they could scrape names and emails from Facebook and Instagram. And if you gave them a competitor, they’ll get all their names then you could do email campaigns and run social media campaigns. And I’m listening to this and I’m saying, okay. But the people whose names you’re getting, if I call up Facebook, they’re not gonna give ’em to me because those people didn’t get permission. And you’re asking to do this, like, yeah, but Mark, everybody does this and you’re gonna make this money and this and that. I’m like, well, we’re not. It’s not who we are. And a guy that did the introductions says, I told you he’s very moral. I’m not freaking moral, I’m just another slub coming along. But I can tell you if you wanna have trust, if you wanna have customers, you can’t do that. And that seems simple to me. And if you treat people right, they’ll stay around. They’ll be there. It’s not hard.

– Yep, yeah, sticking to the values and people know, I mean, they could sniff right through that stuff quickly, right? And I’m with you. I mean, it’s super important to, yeah,-

– We get asked, what’s the most important thing? Okay, gimme one bit, I don’t know what that is. But one thing I know, you have to know your purpose, right? It’s this Simon said I know your why. ’cause that’s gonna be your north star. And here are gonna to be times when it’s gonna be really hard and you are gonna get spun around, but you gotta know your north star and what it’s about. And you gotta know your values, ’cause your values are gonna keep you moving in the right direction. But it can’t be lip surface, It’s all spreading happiness. If you walk in here, there’s a big neon side of just spreading happiness. It lights up everything we do and it affects everything you do. You have to believe. You’re never gonna be happy if you save one thing and do something else. And then it affects everything you do. So we’re in the midst of moving. We’re gonna be moving the larger space, larger warehouse. We get the team together. Well, we’re gonna pick the colors we want and they’re gonna be fun, happy colors. And they’re gonna make you feel good when you walk in, it’s like a big trail, white, we’re gonna have big blue walls and green walls. And that’s a small thing, but it’s everything you do.

– Love it. John, what color wall are you gonna choose?

– Blue.

– Blue, you’re in your blue phase. You want Picasso.

– So I’m curious in closing to both of you, what excites you the most in the year ahead?

– More generally, it’s reaching more folks. We’re excited that we’ll be growing at B2B and the wholesale business, but we’re also gonna roll out. It’s one of our four key initiatives. A new program called JCS champions, we’ll start enrolling people in October. We are going to put people differing abilities into their own business. We’re going to give them a business in a box that will enable them to create a micro business. We’ll give them a stand, we’ll give them inventory and training. We’re gonna set them up. And once we start over a five year period we’re going to put 1000 people into business. We’re gonna light up this country and show what people with different abilities can do. We’re incredibly excited about that.

– That’s super exciting. I love that, that’s amazing. John, how about you? What’s got you most excited for this upcoming year.

– What do you wanna be doing?

– I wanna think about it.

– You wanna think about it? We’re dancing. We got that Jeep thing we may be doing of design the Jeep-

– Yeah, I wanna do the Jeep, yeah I do.

– You got lots of stuff cooking, more dance,

– Sport travel, I know.

– You wanna get the Memphis.

– Oh yeah, I really wanna go Memphis.

– Memphis and Nashville? I do gotta get down to Nashville go to the right auditorium. Sound good.

– You’ll be doing a bunch of dancing in Nashville.

– Yeah we are and we’re very excited. I’m particularly excited. It’s a small thing, but we just got invited to speak at a conference in, in Fargo, North Dakota. And this has me excited because that means I was waiting for North Dakota that I will have visited every one of the lower 48 states. I was waiting to get to North Dakota and now we’re gonna Fargo. Make it happy, it makes me happy, I’m excited.

– I’m very happy for you dad.

– Yeah.

– Hopefully it’s in a couple of months when it gets a little warmer.

– Well John, AKA, Big sexy, Mark, I really appreciate you guys, awesome what you’re doing? I encourage everybody to check out John’s Crazy Socks and at johnscrazysocks.com. If you don’t have an internet connection, I heard they may or may not take phone orders over the phone.

– Deliver it to your home if we’re traveling. If folks wanna get a hold of us, we’re on all the social media platforms. And if you wanna get a hold of us personally, reach out to us on email at [email protected]. We’re always .

– And I’m looking forward to the Spreading Happiness podcast. I’m gonna look forward to that. I’m looking for that.

– Yeah. It’s sharing what’s going on with John, telling some jokes, updates on John’s love life, sharing some good news. It’ll put a smile on your face.

– Awesome. Well, thanks you guys, I really appreciate it. It’s been an honor meeting you.

– Thank you.

– Super excited for your success and to continue watching you guys grow.

– This is great.

– Appreciate it. Samir ELKamouny here. Thank you so much for listening to Ecom Growth Leaders podcast. If you are a successful brand that is crushing it and like to be on this program, please visit go.ecomgrowthleaders.com/podcast-guest. If you got something out of this interview, please share this episode on social media. Just do a quick screenshot with your phone and text it to a friend or post it on social. ECom Growth Leaders is sponsored by Fetch & Funnel, a performance marketing agency specializing in omnichannel media buying, creative product and conversion optimization. We’ve partnered with 100 plus brands and generated over 500 million for clients using our trademarked Fetch and Funnel method and tons of content at our blog fetchfunnel.com/blog. And also some amazing eBooks like how to crush your competitors and how to produce high converting creative. Thanks again for listening to ECom Growth Leaders. We are regularly putting out new episodes and content. So to make sure you don’t miss any episodes, go ahead and subscribe. Your thumbs up rating and reviews go a long way to help promote the show. And it means a lot to me and my team. Wanna know more, go to our website, fetchfunnel.com or follow us on social. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Topics discussed in this interview:

– Positive reinforcement in a construction setting – Why apply this concept to job site safety? – What really motivates behavior change? – The role of company culture – Focusing on construction as the next major area of opportunity for innovation – Lessons learned from experiments and attempts – Safety unicorns? – What motivators are most effective? – How do different generations respond to different methods of motivation? – Rapid fire questions – What does working with Bill Sims, Jr. look like? – Consequences and behavior modification – Teaching leadership at Disney

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