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How We Incorporated SMS Into Our Marketing Strategy [Plan To Reach $5M This Year]

Kevin Canning
Founder, Pearls of Joy
Pearls of Joy
from Los Angeles, California, USA
started January 2003
alexa rank
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Start An Online Jewelry Store

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

First, thanks for featuring my story again. My name is Kevin Canning and I source luxury quality cultured pearls from around the world and sell finished pearl jewelry direct to consumers via a small portfolio of websites. Hunting for pearls has taken me from Japan to Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, and The Philippines.

I sell these from two websites – my primary site.

Our average order is $750-$1000 and primarily we service a clientele that has significant disposable income but is still somewhat budget-conscious. They’re looking for quality like top luxury brands but not interested in paying luxury brand markup.

Last we spoke I believe we were closing the year around $2.0-2.5m in sales. In the year (2021) we’re on track to do about $5.0m in revenue.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Since speaking last I’ve acquired a 2nd property in the industry and integrated them with my business. This has been an interesting learning experience and provided some great additional revenue and marketing efficiencies. I’ve also begun consulting for other E-com brands. Once you’ve taken a few brands to 7-figures, you start to figure out a formula that works. It’s been really cool to help others realize their dream of owning a profitable 7-figure business.

In terms of what’s working for marketing - Email, SEO & Google ads are still the main channels. It’s not terribly exciting but they work and will likely always work. I’d argue with rising ad costs SEO and email are more important than ever.

IOS 14 has made FB/IG ads difficult. We’re finding success again by working on ad copy and visual assets, but we aren’t spending as much as we did in the past. With our high AOV, it’s never been the #1 channel for us.

SMS has been fantastic – particularly for abandoned carts. The ROI on this is insane, 10,000%+ for many brands.

Direct mail continues to work well. There are several SAAS solutions for sending handwritten notes that are worth looking into. Customers love these and the open rare is 90%+.

When we previously talked FB chatbots were working well. In 2021 they’re dead… I don’t know anybody doing much with them anymore.

Overall, I’ve been doubling down on the basics and avoiding shiny objects. So far it’s working.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The #1 lesson I’ve learned is…

“Revenue is vanity and profit is sanity”

I believe that almost everybody is charging too little for their products. For many years we simply didn’t have enough margin to fuel growth. With a small price increase, we now have the cash to invest. Depending on your current margins, a small 10% increase in prices could be game-changing for your profitability.

Remember, in the absence of information – price becomes a proxy for quality.

In terms of challenges, we’ve had plenty, particularly in 2020 & 2021. Everything from trouble sourcing product delayed shipments, and contract disputes. Don’t discount luck as a major factor in success. A few goods (or bad) bounces can change your trajectory dramatically. Be ready and plan for all outcomes.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Going into this next year (and beyond) I plan to exit my current websites and roll those funds(along with outside investment) into new projects I can grow and exit.

I also have some interesting consulting projects lined up, including a lucrative deal with an ultra-luxury jewelry brand.

I can see a real need for quality consultants and E-com operators, I plan to explore this more in the new year.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

Three books that come to mind are:

Exitpreneur by Joe Valley

48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
The One Thing – Gary Keller

Joe Valley’s book should be a top 10 entrepreneurship read. Even if you don’t plan on selling your business, there’s a lot of valuable advice here.

Robert Greene’s book 48 Laws of Power is a fascinating look at power through history and how to sculpt your own reality.

I recently re-read “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. I consider this a must-read for entrepreneurs.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Do the unscalable…Airbnb gained traction by taking photos for each listing, even though it

would be impossible now.

I gained early traction by flying around the world hand selecting rare pearls for individual collectors. I included them pearl hunting process, sending emails and texts from far-flung corners of the globe. It wasn’t scalable but it helped me gain a foothold in the industry.

You need traction, you need momentum, and then you can look for scale.

The other is to test your pricing, it’s probably too low. Remember, in the absence of information – price becomes a proxy for quality. If your best-selling feature is being cheap, that’s a problem.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I’m not currently looking to fill any positions, but I am looking into connecting with anybody that falls into one of these two camps:

  1. Brands struggling to break 7-figures in revenue and looking for a partner that can take them there. I can help, let’s talk!

  2. Investors looking to buy, build and sell E-com brands. Let’s a partners!

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Kevin Canning, Founder of Pearls of Joy
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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