Baking in surprise and delight by Johnny Cupcakes

by Stan Phelps

in purple goldfish project

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It’s all in the design and details

Johnny Cupcakes drops into Purple Goldfish Project at #636 on our quest to 1,001.

johnny cupcakesJohnny was submitted in a tweet by David Knies @davidknies of the marketing / design agency Launch Control. Here is David’s tweet:

“@9INCHmarketing stan check out @johnnycupcakes and what they do in their shipments to customers!”

It turns out that Johnny Cupcakes spends time creating a few purple goldfish to accompany his mail order shipments.  Here is a comment from a forum:

johnny cupcakes box“What a great display. So, there was a. the box, b. the tissue paper, c. the bag, d. the shirt, e. the hang tag, f. the oven mit label, g. the home alone card, h. the business card, i. the button, and j. the candy.”

Wait a second . . . I didn’t see any cupcakes in that package???

Turns out that Cupcakes is Johnny’s nickname.  His name is Earle and Johnny Earle doesn’t make cupcakes.  He makes T-shirts.  Check out this spot that MTV did on JC for some backstory:

Johnny knows marketing

Here are three marketing takeaways from Johnny Cupcakes:

johnny cupcakes takeaway box

1. Details, details, details. Johnny understands that you need to do the little things to stand out in a ’sea of sameness’.  You need to create an experience for your customers and make your brand talkable. The product in ovens + bakery counters, the oven mit hang tags, the takeout boxes and the 80’s T-shirt designs all play a part in creating the Johnny Cupcakes brand.

johnny cupcakes limited edition t-shirt2. Keep it fresh and limited.  Despite numerous offers by department and specialty stores, Johnny prefers to keep it personal and only sells his products online or in his 3 stores (hometown of Hull, MA, Boston and LA).  All of his shirts are limited editions, some of which are runs of 100 or less.

3. Be approachable and take care of your fans.  Part of Johnny’s appeal is his personal story of a scrappy kid selling T-shirts out of an ‘86 Toyota.  He’s an American success story of following your passion.  Johnny makes himself accessible by blogging, releasing videos and even hosting customer appreciation events.  Here is a video of recent LA fan event with a simple concept:

Lagniappe defined: A marketing lagniappe,  i.e. purple goldfish,  is any time a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra’.  It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure.

How do you stand out in the sea of sameness? How do you win repeat customers and influence word of mouth? What’s Your Purple Goldfish?

Download the FREE eBook here

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra) – Any one see the ads by Hyundai this Christmas season?  They featured an indie band from SFO called Pomplamoose.  If you are not familiar with them, here’s the duo singing Mrs. Robinson and uttering the famous line, “Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes…Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes… Coo Coo Ca Choo”:

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