Year in Review: How Norman Love Confections Has Grown Their Business Since Winning the Owned Growth Stories Program

Based in Florida, Norman Love Confections was founded by Norman Love who managed the pastry production for The Ritz-Carlton for over 15 years. As part of his job, he needed to travel for more than 45 weeks a year. The travel plus being away from his family took a toll on him. 

Applying what he learned from his job at The Ritz-Carlton, Norman launched a brand in 2001 to create gourmet artisan chocolates and confectionary items. Since then, he’s watched his small business explode. Today, he has 125 employees, five store locations, and a rapidly growing ecommerce business that’s becoming more essential by the day. 

Last year, Norman Love Confections was the grand-prize winner of Klaviyo’s Owned Growth Stories program, which showcases businesses of all sizes and gives them the opportunity to share how they took control of their growth and owned it. It also means they received $5,000 to go towards growing their business, as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Klaviyo:BOS.

I recently had the chance to chat with Chris Haller, digital marketing director at Norman Love Confections. I asked him about winning the Owned Growth Stories program and how their business has grown over the past year:

 

Dan Cohen: What did you use the Owned Growth Stories prize money for last year?

Chris Haller: We chose to invest all of the prize money into improving the quality of our photography. Product photography is (obviously) important in ecommerce, and it’s one area we’ve struggled with in the past. With the prize money we won from Klaviyo’s Owned Growth Stories program, we were able to find an incredibly talented photographer capable of making our chocolate look as stunning on the screen as it does in person.

 

Dan: What results have you seen from this investment?

Chris: There’s definitely an influx of any engagement and people commenting on social media. But I also see it a lot in the actual click-through rates that we have on our current emails using the new photography compared to the more generic-looking photos we had.

It’s hard to exactly pinpoint that to the photography. But all the same, we’re going from below one percent clickthrough with our standard photography to anywhere up to two to four percent clickthrough for really simple emails featuring her stuff. I do think that it’s played a pretty large role in that because I’m writing less in the emails and just putting her work front and center and using that to drive clicks.

 

Dan: What was your overall experience like being involved in the program last year?

Chris: This contest was such a blast. The entire team at Klaviyo went above and beyond to make the experience as fun and memorable as possible, from having a film crew stop by our headquarters to learn what we’re all about and hooking us up with tickets to Klaviyo:BOS where we got to share our story with some of the brightest minds in marketing and entrepreneurship.

It was also really nice to take a step back and focus on who we are as a company, what makes us special, what’s driving our growth today, and where we want to go in the future. It was an incredibly rewarding experience that left me feeling appreciative of how far our company has come and excited to see how far we’ll go with Klaviyo continuing to help us own our growth.

"[The Owned Growth Stories program] was an incredibly rewarding experience that left me feeling appreciative of how far our company has come and excited to see how far we’ll go with Klaviyo continuing to help us own our growth."

Chris Haller, digital marketing director, Norman Love Confections

 

Dan: How did you have to adapt your marketing strategy for the coronavirus pandemic?

Chris: We’re missing out on the busiest months of the year for our brick-and-mortar stores. Of course, our priority is keeping our staff and customers safe, but those retail losses are really significant.

We immediately set up an online store that would allow us to sell some of the perishable items that we normally offer in our retail stores on a local website offering curbside pickup and home delivery while emphasizing the safety of all parties. 

We were able to get that up and running pretty shortly after everything hit and it’s definitely helped to stop some of the bleeding from the lost revenue we saw following the closures of our brick-and-mortar stores. 

It’s been an incredible advantage to allow people to transact online and to offer them some of the products we wouldn’t normally have available outside of retail. We probably wouldn’t have made half the revenue that we ultimately ended up making during this period without an ecommerce presence.

 

Dan: With the increase in customers shopping with you online, how have you adapted your shipping strategy?

Chris: We’re familiar with getting our chocolates across the country and having to deal with the logistical constraints that go along with it, but the influx in online orders that we’ve had came during an off period for us. So to all of a sudden have the flood gates open up, it required us to adapt and to ship out a lot more packages than we would’ve expected under normal circumstances.

We’ve been working with FedEx for 15 years and they’ve always done a great job, which has been critical during this time. One of the key developments for us was our web developer creating a custom box tool with FedEx’s API, which would take the content of someone’s order, their shipping method, and delivery address, and calculate the cost of getting that product to them under those conditions. 

That’s been a really big game-changer for us, logistically, because instead of offering just a one-size-fits-all shipping option that doesn’t necessarily guarantee the integrity of our product, we have a really fine-tuned option that’s making it so easy for us to fulfill these orders. 

 

Dan: How else has your marketing strategy evolved in the past year?    

Chris: Our major focus has been on ecommerce as the future of our company instead of just a side element to our company. We’ve got a really strong brick-and-mortar presence in Florida, so ecommerce wasn’t necessarily as much of a focal point last year as it is today. But with some of the success that we experienced last year coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s really caused a general shift in thinking about how ecommerce fits into our company story. 

With that comes increased investment in digital marketing channels, like Facebook and Google advertising, but also on doing the little things that really make ecommerce growth scalable, like automating what we can within Klaviyo. 

The coronavirus has made everything challenging, but the one silver lining has been that ecommerce has been a consistent source of revenue for us that’s really shown to be pandemic-proof.

"The coronavirus has made everything challenging, but the one silver lining has been that ecommerce has been a consistent source of revenue for us that's really shown to be pandemic-proof."

Chris Haller, digital marketing director, Norman Love Confections

 

Dan: What’s your top focus to help you grow your business in the years to come?

Chris: We’re really focusing on trying to streamline our shipping process further and to figure out a way that we’re going to be able to offer a free, or at least cheaper, shipping option than we do now. 

Our cheapest shipping option is fantastic compared to where we were two years ago, but compared to Prime shipping through Amazon, it’s still unenviable. So we’re working on opening a shipping facility in Indianapolis that will serve as a secondary fulfillment center. Based on our research, that’s the perfect middle ground to reach probably 80 percent of the states with either ground or reduced shipping. 

Once that happens, we expect our conversion percentage to skyrocket because we did a test that offered free shipping on orders over $75 for one day only. We had a ton of people taking advantage of that and saw much higher conversion percentages that day. We know that there’s a demand for it and we think that’s going to be a huge factor to help us drive growth over the next five or ten years.

 

Dan: What’s your advice to brands that are thinking about entering the Owned Growth Stories program?

Chris: I hate to sound like Nike, but I would say just do it because that’s the exact attitude I had. I just said, “You know what? I’ve got 20 minutes to write out who we are, what makes us unique, and hit submit.”

Winning was just the icing on the cake, but the whole process of putting on paper what your company is, what you do, what makes you special, and where you’re hoping to go in the next year was a really helpful exercise for me to step away from all of the day-to-day work and look at that big picture. 

Ultimately we won the contest, but it was all just a really wonderful experience. So if you have the 20 minutes it takes to fill out that application, you should just go for it. Can I put it any simpler than that? It’s worth your time. It’s worth doing. And you’ll get a lot out of just putting those thoughts down on paper.

"The whole process of putting on paper what your company is, what you do, what makes you special, and where you're hoping to go in the next year was a really helpful exercise for me to step away from all of the day-to-day work and look at that big picture. "

Chris Haller, digital marketing director, Norman Love Confections

Share your owned growth story

The team at Norman Love Confections already has an incredible story, but they’re just getting started. Between expanding their digital marketing presence and launching new fulfillment centers, it’s evident that this team has much more in store when it comes to their growth.

So how can you achieve similar success to this powerhouse chocolate and confectionery brand? Find out more about this year’s Owned Growth Stories program and how you can enter.

Find out more and submit your brand’s story here.

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