How I Used M&Ms to Grow My Startup

It turns out you don’t need to get into Y Combinator to build a successful business. All you need is a hustle and a $100 pack of M&Ms.

Can M&Ms even get that expensive, how do chocolates help sweeten a deal?  First let’s set the scene and get some background…

There are two distinct schools of thought, overwork yourself (hustle porn) or work smart (4-hour workweek). I don’t think either is the way forward! Building a business is like running a marathon. Well, one where you occasionally must make a little sprint.

While overworking yourself may yield results in the short term, you'll burn out. Building a business, above all else, requires consistent and deliberate work towards a goal.

To be truly effective, you'll need to understand what's most important. Try to use the Pareto Principle as a guide. What's the 20% of work that will cause 80% of results? Identify those tasks and focus on them.

Those who often engage in hustle porn and overworking themselves spend most of the time doing repetitive tasks that don't yield the most significant outcomes. With 200% of your effort, they might only achieve 130% of what you do, not a worthwhile exchange if you ask me.

On the other hand, some only try to work opportunistically and achieve results quickly. Any business that you can build with minimal effort won’t last long. These people are always trying to shoot "silver bullets", yet silver bullets will not solve all their problems, some things just require time and consistent effort.

The key is to pick your arsenal carefully, you should be shooting lead bullets and only occasionally throwing in the silver bullet. Here are some I’ve used.

The Lead:

We spent 100s of hours finding potential clients via LinkedIn. Initially, I was the one who sat down and took the time to understand what our ideal client profile looks like. Once we realised this, we hired interns and sales development representatives to do the reaching out for us.

SEO has also been a significant focus where silver bullets can only do so much. We have spent 100s more hours building backlinks, writing blogs and optimising the website. There were no shortcuts for us here. You need to reach out to have your content shared and build backlinks, then wait for google to rank you higher.

The Silver:

Internal Parcel Tracking software and mailroom software is not the most exciting thing in the world. That means our competitors are probably not doing anything special to get our client attention, and this leaves us with an opportunity!

The M&Ms incident.

I was working with a huge potential client, and we seemed to have excellent momentum with them. However, my champion at the company left, and they went cold on me. I emailed and called multiple times, but to no avail. So, we had to take things into our own hands to get their attention without seeming desperate. That's when the M&Ms came in. We spent £60 to make some custom M&Ms with the client's colours and their logo. The M&Ms read: "Parcel Tracker", "Let's Chat", "+447480399XXXXX" and their company logo.

I sent it to them via mail, and it got their attention to say the least! Here's the response I got. While it wasn't the "let’s work right now" message I had hoped for, I got their attention, and a few months later we began a pilot project with them.

That's the best 60 quid I spent to date.

The infographical attempt

Here's another attempt of getting potential clients' attention. It was in the early days of our company; we didn't have any clients and sales seemed to be just us bashing our heads against the wall! I was chatting to my friend Sabba and he suggested I try to do something outside of the box to get their attention. This was before I had sent the M&Ms and Sabba was a creative genius; he had managed to get the attention of a big company by sending them a pigeon….

I put together 2 infographics using the brand colours of the companies they would be sent to. I highlighted the cost of not doing business with us, designed, and printed them at a print shop, then sent them off.

Neither of the infographics got a response, I don't know if they even went to the right person at their respective companies. However, fast forward a few months of the companies reached out to us via LinkedIn. To date, they are the most significant client we have, well hopefully until we close the deal with the M&Ms guys.

I don't know if they reached out because I sent them an infographic, it was never mentioned in our discussions. But I'd like to think that it helped!

Scary Candy

During September and October 2019 Parcel Tracker was simply acting up, one of our client's firewall was blocking our system, and nothing seemed to work. It wasn't our fault, we still felt like the quality of our service wasn't amazing. So, we took it on the chin and decided to do something to sweeten the troubles we’d been having. Come October, we sent them a lush goodie bag for Halloween. They were happy, and if anything, our relations with them have improved!

What’s Next

I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, hopefully I’ll update this blog soon. Until then, I’d be super curious to find out the most “hustler” and creative ways you got your clients attention and closed them.

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