How a 13-Person Business Handled a Super Bowl-Generated Boom

2 min read · 6 years ago



What’s the easiest way to add 40,000 subscribers to your mailing list overnight? Advertise during the Super Bowl. With Vikings.

An explosion of e-newsletter subscribers was one of several big boosts Death Wish Coffee got from beating out 15,000 other small businesses to win the Intuit Quickbooks Small Business Big Game contest last month. Grand prize: a free 30-second ad during the February 7th Broncos-Panthers matchup, valued at around $4 million. The Round Lake, NY, coffee roaster, whose management team is pictured here with Intuit contest host Bill Rancic, also raked in some 15,000 orders on game day and has seen sales at 10 times its ordinary rate ever since.

Founder Mike Brown, who claims to roast the “world’s strongest coffee” from a blend of high-caffeine Robusta beans and Arabica beans, says winning the contest has been “pretty crazy.“ Intuit flew him to Los Angeles to watch production of the commercial, which featured 26 roaring, soaking wet Vikings on a ship at stormy seas.

As the ad aired, his website got 183,000 views. Considering that 114 million people were expected to watch the Super Bowl, "that’s a small percentage,” Brown says. Still, it was enough to win Death Wish its biggest business day yet.

Warned that a website crash would negate the ad’s impact, Brown made sure his server could handle the volume, and moved the e-commerce site’s shopping cart to the landing page to make it easy for customers to quickly make a purchase and get back to the game. His distribution center also prepared by bringing on extra staff. They have fulfilled orders from as far as way as Istanbul, and even helped elderly callers who didn’t know how to shop online to place orders for the $20 per pound coffee beans by phone.

Since the game, the ad has gotten another 3.3 million views on YouTube and nearly 3 million on Facebook, Brown says. Asked how he intends to keep up the momentum, he says, “We had a meeting about that yesterday. It’s like we have a big wheel that got a big spin and we need to keep it spinning. We came up with a marketing plan for next year. We’re big solely online, and online marketing is what we’ve been doing all along, so we’re not going to hit the brakes.”

As for what he’ll do with the revenue that’s rolling in, Brown says, “We have made a couple new hires and are looking at new equipment, like a packing machine, to handle more of the demand ourselves.” Otherwise, he says, his major expenses are business advisors and accountants. “They’re telling me to take some money out for myself and save it for a rainy day.” But he’s more interested in “trying to pump out as much coffee as possible.”

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