How We've Grown Our Sales With Google Adwords

Justin Baum
Founder, ZZZ Bears
ZZZ Bears
from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
started June 2015
alexa rank
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 months
average product price
growth channels
Email marketing
business model
best tools
Slack, Google Suite, Klaviyo
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
35 Pros & Cons
3 Tips
Discover what tools Justin reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Justin reccommends to grow your business!
Start A Stuffed Animals Business

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

Hi, I’m Justin, ZZZEO of ZZZ Bears. We sell a line of teddy bears dressed like our nation’s protectors (military and police) named SGT SLEEPTIGHT that protect kids as they sleep from bad dreams, fear of the dark, and of course, monsters under the bed.

Our bears are part of a 4-step military-grade sleep system that includes a door hang, sleep tight oath, and stickers shaped like military commendation medals awarded to kids who sleep through the night.

I created the bears to help my daughter overcome her nighttime fears and now, they’ve helped thousands of other kids too!

You would think that our customers are primarily military parents with young kids. And we sell a lot of bears to them. However, many non-military parents also buy them to help their kids beat back bad dreams. Also, adults buy our bears as gifts for a boyfriend graduating boot camp or a father who served.

One of the cool things we offer customers now is the ability to personalize bears with custom name and rank patches. In essence, people can build their ZZZ Bear just the way they want them. They can even add masks (hello 2020) and Tacticuddle “armored” vests too!

Best of all, we still donate bears to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty through our partnership with TAPS.


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

Because this is a side hustle for me, I don’t always have the time I’d like to devote to it. That was the case in 2019 when international travel for my full-time job forced me to put the bears on the backburner. (Don’t worry, the stove was off.)

However, despite the pandemic and general unrest, the business has grown steadily in 2020. I attribute this growth to several factors:

  • People are feeling tired, lonely, and anxious and our bears provide a sense of comfort and security
  • With much of the world shut down, more people are shopping online
  • We added accessories like masks and “armored” vests which gave existing customers a reason to make another purchase and new customers a reason to get excited
  • We added a new bear – Capt. Cuddles Fireman teddy bear
  • People love to personalize their products and we’re now able to offer many different options

During the last 8 months, Google Ads and Smart Shopping campaigns have been the number one driver of sales. We completely stopped running ads on Facebook because Google was driving good quality traffic that resulted in a 3% conversion rate on our site.

We’ve also recommitted email marketing, moving from Klaviyo (great but expensive) to Omnisend which offers all the features at a fraction of the price for the number of subscribers we have. We now send emails out monthly with everything from customer testimonials to new product announcements. Every 6-8 weeks we also introduce a sale.


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

For the last 5 years, we’ve filled all orders ourselves. From our house. So whether it was a single order from our site or order for 750 bears from the Coast Guard, we assembled the bears, boxed them up, printed labels, and took them to UPS or FedEx.

It was fun and exciting at first and then I realized, it’s just busy work and my time could be better spent growing the business. With that in mind, we recently hired a fulfillment house to fill ALL our orders which has enabled me to focus more time on improving the website, posting on social media, and getting more sales!

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

Our world has changed significantly in the last 6 months. Part of that change was the emergence and recognition of a new set of heroes – doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, postal workers.

I created the bears to help my daughter overcome her nighttime fears and now, they’ve helped thousands of other kids too!

As the definition of hero evolves, so too can our line of bears - from military and law enforcement to healthcare and others. Perhaps it changes the fabric of our company from one about sleep to one that celebrates heroes.


Have you read any good books in the last year?


Anything you want by Derek Sivers. A very short but inspiring read about how Derek accidentally grew CB Baby from a hobby to a multi-million dollar company.

Zero to One by Peter Theil. When the creator of PayPayl talks about what it takes to build the next big thing, you should probably listen.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. I underlined something on every single page.


How I built this. Hear how the founders took their ideas from zero to the big time.

The Pitch. A Shark Tank-like pitch show.

The optimized eCommerce podcast. A short podcast with lots of easy to implement tips – like the importance of changing the color of your BUY NOW button. (Check out our fancy new green one!)

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. Kurt Elster discusses everything Shopify and the world of e-commerce in general.

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

Need a manufacturer? A digital agency? Or just general advice? Ask for help! I’m a part of several great entrepreneurial groups on Facebook where people at all different stages ask questions and get answers from all kinds of people with more experience.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Unofficial Shopify podcast insiders
  • Entrepreneurs helping Entrepreneurs
  • Entrepreneur Exchange

Where can we go to learn more?

Check us out on our site and the socials!

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

Justin Baum   Founder of ZZZ Bears
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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