Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

When the Buyer Isn't the Customer with Jill Lodato of Kids Baking Club

November 08, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 99
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
When the Buyer Isn't the Customer with Jill Lodato of Kids Baking Club
Show Notes Transcript

#099 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, Julie is joined by Jill Lodato of Kids Baking Club to talk about when the buyer isn't the customer.

Tune in as Jill shares her launch story and her marketing strategies with Kids Baking Club.

Links:

Julie:

So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun! Before I dive into today's podcast. I just want to remind you that this is episode 99. That means next week is episode number 100, where I'll be giving away a ring light set, and the way that you can earn a chance to win that ring light set for your office is to leave a review on any of the major podcast players. It is so helpful not only to grow the listenership of this podcast, but also it's a way to give back. I hope that you can see that I just love to pour into everybody. I'm an open book and I love to share my journey. So as a way to give back, I would appreciate so much if you would leave a review and that makes you eligible to win that ring light set. Also next week's episode is an ask me anything. So if you have these questions about the subscription box industry, about my journey, about , um, you know, specific things that you might be dealing with in your prelaunch or the early stages of your subscription box business, then DM them to me and on Instagram @SubscriptionBoxBootcamp. So I can answer them on episode number 100 next week. Hey, everybody, welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm your host Julie Ball. And I'm really excited about this topic because this is something that I don't have to deal with myself. And so I brought a friend on a colleague on that is going to talk to us about when your buyer is not your customer. And I think a lot of you might relate to this if you sell a box to kids. And so specifically we're talking to the owner of Kids' Baking Club, I've got Jill Lodato on the podcast with me today. Welcome Jill!

Jill:

Welcome!

Julie:

So excited to have you here. Little background between us. We have a lot of mutual friends and Jill and Lo from Passion and Growth started a Subscription Box Womenpreneurs group on Facebook. If you're not in it, you need to go join that because it is an amazing group of women. Jill, you guys are doing such a good job, like just supporting people in there. So we'll make sure that we put that link in the show notes, but let's start with, who are you, why don't you tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background. And I want you to specifically to tell them about a little bit about what you did before you launched your box. And then we'll talk about your actual launch.

Jill:

Okay. Well, first of all, great to be here with you. Everyone loves Julie. I love Julie and I got to meet you. Face-to-face recently at the SubSummit. It was really, really cool because we were so shut at COVID and new people virtually, but I live in San Diego. I've actually moved 39 times, but I'm actually in San Diego. Now I am a single parent, but both my kids are grown adults. One of my sons actually is in the business with me, which is awesome. And we all kind of live all around San Diego. So I do get to see all of them. And it's really, really fun. My background is really in education. I have degrees in health education and early childhood education and actually own a preschool for 14 years, but was in the preschool education for the past 24 years. And prior to that, I was actually a children's pastor.

Julie:

Wow!

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. So I did that when my kids were little and that was really fun, but all of it kind of brought me up to actually understanding that I could actually do the Kids' Baking Club subscription box when my business was shut down due to COVID . So it kind of all became a big full circle.

Julie:

Yes, let's talk about that. So this was 2020 and your preschool shutdown for all the reasons we already know. So what, like, what did you do? Like that was, that was your full-time job, right?

Jill:

Yeah. Full-time job. And it was a nice paying job when you own a business, but it was definitely considered like a brick and mortar was a location. It was an enrichment-focused education for kids ages three to five and March 13th, I got a call, so we had to shut down.

Julie:

Wow.

Jill:

It's never reopened because of, I live in San Diego, in California, things are a little different. And uh, I went into total panic, to be honest with you for two weeks I was in disbelief. I thought, well, we're surely going to reopen. And it was kind of like around Spring break when we normally shut down for Spring break because the schools are shut down. Uh, but they just never reopened. And I really, my body started reacting. I got this thing called , I'm going to say it wrong, but it's severitous dermatitis where your whole face and your scalp and everything. It just breaks out into a huge rash stress.

Julie:

From stress?

Jill:

Stress and worry. And it was funny because what I wanted to do as a gift to all of my preschool kids was I was going online every morning and was being the preschool teacher instead of my other teachers doing it. And I made this little thing in my bedroom to make it look like the backdrop of a preschool. And I was putting on so much makeup. Cause I didn't want the kids to see what was going on with me when I knew how much, what was going on with them and missing friends and not doing all of that. And that's kind of how Kid's Baking Club got the light bulb because of that, because I knew what the kids were doing, being shut in and being at home. So that's how Kid's Baking Club was founded. Okay.

Julie:

So tell us a little bit about the box , who you serve specifically like ages and then what problem do you solve with it?

Jill:

Uh , yeah, so kids baking club is a education box. It's not a mixed kit . We get that all the time. Why don't you put them ingredients in there ? Like, no, we want the kids to learn what ingredients are. We don't want them to cut, open a thing and dump it in a thing. Next thing. And so the whole thing is it's education bags where it's , step-by-step recipes that get four to five recipes. We always have a baking lesson and then included in the boxes , all the baking tools and the decorating supplies, which are hard to get in location , especially now. I mean, we're starting to see some positive results of that. And the other part of that is not only education and building that confidence and creativity in the kids. But for me, when I started, as I wanted families to bond to be come together because everyone was so in their own turmoil. I just have so much compassion for moms and dads, that just all of a sudden had their kids at home all day long and didn't really know what to do to keep get them active and doing fun activities. And there's this whole science called project-based learning and evidence that when kids learn with their hands, when it's project-based, they actually do better in other areas of their life. So this is a lifestyle that they're learning, not for now that will progress them in their future.

Julie:

Awesome. I love that. I love that you are very competent about, we're not a mixed kit. This is what we are though. And how you talk about that is going to be so important in your marketing. And we're going to get into marketing and just a little bit, but let's take it. So you, your preschool shutdown, you had this idea to launch this box for kids to learn these life skills, to learn about baking, to bring families together. So tell us a little bit about that launch story. Like, did you launch quickly what happened? Tell us the whole launch story.

Jill:

Yeah. I don't really have much of a launch story cause I didn't know what I was doing. Now people go like , there's a pre- launch? What is that?

Julie:

Yes, there's a pre-launch stage.

Jill:

Honestly. I just immersed myself into knowledge. I learned from you to be honest with you and other people, I just became like a sponge of knowledge. My son was really helpful because he's a branding guy. He builds websites is what he does for a living. So he was able to do all of that brand identity where I only focus on my wheelhouse, which is creating content. I have a very large YouTube channel as a hobby. I was teaching people how to decorate cakes and cupcakes. And so I took all of those recipes. Plus I'd been teaching in my community for 15 years about we used to do kids baking camps. And so I just took all of that. I already had all that content. Now I have it into a box and make it fun for the kids to open it up and start learning these life skills. And that's kind of how so the preschool shutdown in March, we launched June 1st.

Julie:

Wow. That's amazing. That's crazy. And did you primarily then launched, you know , people you were already serving , through the preschool or in your community?

Jill:

No. No. Didn't because our age group was five and up. So our age for the box is five to 12. I did do a little bit of advertising in our Facebook group, but I wanted to be careful. I didn't want to, I'm really big about integrity and I didn't want to all of a sudden, so we don't have the preschool . So now you need to buy this. I really wanted it because I knew they weren't going to stay. I knew as we know, we start a box. Sometimes we get family members and friends, but a lot of times they don't stay. And I really wanted to find that niche of parents and grandparents that would really welcome the box and get into the recurring model because we know selling a box, isn't going to make you any money. It's the recurring model. And that's one of the strategies. I do have that YouTube channel, so we did have some links in there. And then I, one of the strategies that I did was I just went online two times a week for that three months , just teaching people how to bake. And

Julie:

You did lives . How many times a week?

Jill:

Two times a week.

Julie:

Two times a week for how long?

Jill:

For about three months while we were , while I think we started in May and we just start , I just kept going on there and Hey, we've got this box coming out , blah, blah , blah, blah. But Hey, what , I'm gonna teach you how to make a cookie or I'm gonna teach you how to make healthy breakfast bars for your kids. I'm gonna teach you that, you know, we have different things and then, but I always had that little box there .

Julie:

Yeah, it was smart . Smart. Yeah. And we talk about that with Melanie Diane, how in a previous episode about Facebook live and how we put so much pressure on ourselves to make it perfect. And we really should just show up and it's so helpful in the algorithm. And I'm guessing that that played a big part into a lot of that traffic that you generated because you lead with value, you know, you showed them something, you taught them something. You're not just showing up live to talk about the subscription box. You're there to teach them something. So I think that's a really, really good tactic. So let's talk about what, what you're here to talk about. Let's, let's talk about when your buyer is not your customer. So you have this unique challenge of serving one audience. So like the child gets the box, right. But you have to sell it and market to somebody else, the adult, the parent, or the grandparent. Tell us what that's like and how you kind of overcome that challenge.

Jill:

Well, first of all, I completely was wrong on who we thought our customer was going to be. I really did think that it was going to be parents that were eager to have something fun for their kids to do at home. And I realized really quickly that those parents were stretched out and they were not going to change what they were already doing, what they, we call them status quo. They were going to come out of the, well , no matter how much we persuaded them, they, they were in their own, like, I guess , their own stress of, I'm just not going to disrupt what's going on. Right.

Julie:

Survival mode.

Jill:

Yes. Yes. So 80% of our, our orders came from grandparents.

Julie:

Wow. So did you figure that out by surveying them and asking or...

Jill:

Yes. Well, I figured it out by the addresses.The grandparent would give us their address and then they would give us the send to address. And because most of them were gifts. We have a little thing where they can write on a little message. I was handwriting all these message we made these cards and some of the messages were just like, I mean, I would be crying writing them, and it was like, I'm so sorry. I'm not going to be able to see you this year. I just love you so much. I want, I'm going to miss speaking with you and just having you in the kitchen. And so I'm sending you this box. We had one grandma that bought a box for her and a box for her granddaughter and they would zoom bake together. I mean , there were just these amazing things. So the strategy that we did right away was , in our email automation , the first email we knew was going to the grandma. So the first email we would say is, Hey, if the, if you would like to share your email of who it's going to, the next few emails are going to give them more information about how to use the box. And it was great. A lot of the grandmas would do would do that. Sometimes they wouldn't read that part and they would send , Hey, can you stop sending me that email? Because it's really going to my daughter or my son or whoever. So that's one of the strategies that we do. And then , but then there's the whole marketing because now that we know that 80% at the holiday time is probably going to be grandma's . Now when we set up our Facebook ads and we do maybe a broad stretch of who we're looking for, we do select that age category, which is ages 50 to 65. So that is a strategy that we , we definitely know about now. And also when you're doing your social content and all of that type of stuff, Pinterest, we know that we're trying to appeal to the mom and to the grandma, not to the kid because we know that the kid's not watching that. And so when we're doing our email broadcasts , we're doing a lot of recipes that we think the family would enjoy, even though it's in that step, that they're coming in the kit, but stuff like, I just did a thing about fun Halloween cakes that they could make. So there's just different strategies that we've had to learn and overcome. As we've learned this new awareness about who our customer is.

Julie:

What kind of content then do you create, just say on social media or Facebook ads, for example, that is specifically speaking to the parent or the grandparent, are you saying like create these special moments with your child or your grandchild, or what type of content are you actually doing to speak their language? You know what I mean? That says, oh, this is exactly what I need to buy. And I'm assuming the majority of your, your subscribers are gifts subscriptions. Is that accurate?

Jill:

Yeah. And so that's the word that we use gift because , we are still even two years out, we're still in what I call COVID crazy. And we don't know if people are still connecting, if they're getting together, you know, it depends on where you live and what the open policies are. And so we're really focused on, you know, give the gift that , actually one of our best ads, all it said was, "Thanks, grandma".

Julie:

Ooh,

Jill:

I like that grandma. And it had a picture of three little girls opening a box that they had just gotten from their grandma. And then it showed a little bit about , uh, the kids baking. That was it. And that old ad just went cray cray. But just the simple things like that. And then in the description, we just talk about something more immediate, like order today, get kids free, a brand, some type of offer that's right away. So that they're not just, you know, I was talking about how in social media, we want them to stop the scroll, but when they get on your website, you want them to continue scrolling. Right. Cause you wanted to see the social content, the social evidence and all of that stuff. But we just want to have some type of caption that actually stops them in their tracks . Like, oh, thanks, grandma. I'm a grandma. What are they thanking me for?

Julie:

Exactly. I love that. So , and I don't know if we , I didn't ask you this in advance, but do you send anything then to the gift giver or do you send just the box to the recipient.

Jill:

Just to the recipient, but now that you say that that's kind of an interesting thing.

Julie:

I was just thinking about that there's this service that sends it's called Thanks.io. You can connect it with your cart system and it can automatically send out like , thank you cards to the person who's buying it . And I , in my mind, I'm thinking like, I can imagine how much that would feel like validation. Like, oh, your grandkids are going to love this. Yeah. Because another one of the things is one of your unique challenges is the buyer never gets the product. Right?

Jill:

Yeah. They never see it. They, they that's, that's an interesting thing. I'm just thinking like, creating like a postcard and just saying, "Hey, thanks so much for doing that. That's such a big deal." Oh , I like that.

Julie:

We hope it brings joy to your grandchild.

Jill:

On a thank you card that goes in the box, but that's for the kid, from the grandparent or the whoever's sending it to them. Interesting.

Julie:

Fun. Yeah. And I think now's a good time to start something like that with the holidays. I'm sure. You know, traditionally , November, December, and even into January, that increased demand for consumer goods. And especially if you can, you know, get in some of those gift guides, I can just see this being that, being huge for the gift giver to feel that validation I've seen other people, even , you know, with subscription boxes, margins can be really, really tough, but I've seen other companies give like a $5 Starbucks card. Not , I'm not saying that that's a good fit for a grandma. I'm just saying like, as a thank you for sending the gift, but man, that's, that's tough with margins.

Jill:

Yeah. I have a friend in San Diego near me that her subscription box is for elderly people that are in homes and it's a painting like a craft kit that they get to do to get their hands busy. And it's , it's always a gift from the daughter or the son or so that, that's really interesting. I'll have to think about that.

Julie:

Sweet. Yeah. It's love brainstorming on the fly. Okay. So I have some more questions for you. So , I know that you love the subscription box industry. You're very generous in sharing your knowledge and, you know, having that Facebook group. So what's one of your favorite things about working in this industry?

Jill:

Number one is meeting people like you. I think that this is one of those amazing pay it forwards business. There is, I've never had someone say to me , you know, you're treading on my path or actually there's somebody that I know that has almost a similar box than me and we align . I'm like, there's 350 million people in the United States. I'm not worried .

Julie:

Yes. I couldn't agree more. I definitely preach the abundance mindset. And I'm with you. Like the people in this industry are just, they're my favorite we've, I've just connected with so many people just like you would, if your competitors like it's okay. Like I'm, I'm friends with a lot of my competitors and it makes us both better people.

Jill:

Yeah,surprisingly, when I was in the preschool business, I would go to events with other preschools there. They weren't nice.

Julie:

What?

Jill:

I know, I know. And I hate saying it, but it wasn't like people wanted to offer what their strategies were of, you know, make getting enrollment. I was like, I don't care. You know, Joe slowed down the street, you know, it was doing better than me. I mean, we offered , you know, we all offer something different. We all have a different mission. We all have a different story. And people actually aligned sometimes with the brand. And the more that you that out there, the better , I would say the other thing about the subscription industry is something I was never aware of is recurring revenue.

Julie:

Right? Really good .

Jill:

My dad used to teach us about compound interest, just a different part of that. And I went to e-commerce when I first got divorced, I was selling cookie cutters. I had a cake decorating kit, that cake decorating book that sold really well. It was published through Thomas Nelson publishers. And I started a little business after I got divorced. And that was a whole different thing. Cause it's just, you're just selling one-off things. Then all of a sudden you learn about this subscription recurring revenue model. And you're like, why didn't I think of that?

Julie:

Exactly. It's like, you don't have to keep chasing that same customer over and over and over again. I love it. Okay. So my next question is , what is one piece of advice that you can share with new and aspiring subscription box business owners? Because you started pretty quickly, so there's a lot of people that are probably listening right now and they're like, I'm ready to launch my subscription box. So what's one piece of advice you can give them?

Jill:

Yeah. I would like to use acronyms. And so it's the word act , act the A's for accountability. You need to surround yourself around people that are doing this business.

Julie:

Amen.

Jill:

People think you are crazy. Entrepreneurs are crazy people. I do not talk about my entrepreneurship and be a visionary and all of that because people don't understand us. And those could be the people that are the closest to you. So it's really important to have accountability. Our Subscription Box Womenpreneurs group is great thing. Being part of Julie Ball's group , going on podcasts , you just feel connected.

Julie:

Going Sub Summit,

Jill:

Go to Sub Summit, be part of SUBTA. The other is the C is creativity because this business can get very mundane and , uh , you can get one cancel one day and they say something mean it can just take you down. And the one thing I have found in all the subscription owners that I know is they're very creative , just Uber creative and just have so much innovation, but never lose that to try to do at least one thing a day, this creative. And then the T is training. You have to be in training all the time. So if you don't know something, find out how to do it. I get up every morning at five in the morning. I train every single morning. I have a whole list of different things that I'm learning, reading podcasts , masterminds , different programs that I'm involved in.

Julie:

personal development.

Jill:

Yeah. And it's not just just business. It can be mindset because you know, your mindset can make you crazy sometimes, especially when you're starting something new and different and you're getting yourself. This is funny. You're getting yourself out of the box. You know, we lived very comfortable boxed in lives and then start something new. It seems so foreign. And you want to run back and get in the box. And I would say pretty soon that box will shut. And you won't even hear that voice going, come back, come back to the comfortable side. Eventually you're out and you're in, you're in the foreign land, but you're meeting amazing people that are doing that. And it's just very inspirational.

Julie:

Yeah , when you get out of your comfort zone, amazing things can really happen. So I love your acronym ACT very good. I love it. Okay. So some people are clearly going to be interested in Kids' Baking Club. So where can they follow you and find you online?

Jill:

To follow us on all our social media, it's @JoinKidsBakingClub. We have a Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube channels, actually Kids Baking Club. We have over 12 million, I think the on there now. So it's a thing with over 500 videos of how to do things. And then if you want to email me, you can email me at [email protected] .com . And we'd love to talk with you.

Julie:

And where can we buy the box? Just what's the website?

Jill:

KidsBakingClub.com

Julie:

KidsBakingClub.com. Okay. We'll make sure that we put all of those in the show notes. Jill, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I love hearing people's stories , about, you know, you made a huge career pivot based off of your circumstances and look at you now, like you're enjoying content creation and recurring revenue and meeting lots of great people. So I'm really, really happy for you. And thanks for all you do to bring women together specifically in your Facebook group for Subscription Box Womenpreneurs.

Jill:

Yeah. It's been amazing. Yeah . It was a delight. Thank you so much, Julie . Yeah .

Julie:

All right guys. Thanks for joining us again for today's episode. When we're talking about when your is not your customer, I hope that you found it really helpful and it kind of gets you thinking outside the box. It's Jill would say, so if you have a subscription box and you sell to someone who is not the end customer, I'd love to hear your story. I'd love to hear all about it. You can always DM me @ subscriptionboxbootcamp. As always find some resources at SubscriptionBoxBootcamp .com . And we'll see you in the next episode.

Speaker 3:

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