Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA, brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. Coming to you today from Charlotte, North Carolina, and my guest is Caleb Musser, Founder and President of Musser & Company. Caleb, welcome to the show.
Caleb: Thank you.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about Musser & Company.
Caleb: We help companies open impossible doors and strengthen relationships in the digital age through tangible messages and gifts.
Russ: Ok, give us an example of a gift.
Caleb: Our signature product that we design is called the Message Box. The whole idea is its like a mystery, a story, each one is different and unique and is used to get our client either in the door or to blow away a prospect, employee, long-term stakeholder, that kind of thing.
Russ: Sounds interesting but challenging. Give us an example of maybe a box that you’ve made for a specific customer.
Caleb: Absolutely. Back in 2017, we were watching the Super Bowl, like most of America, and we saw the Patriots stage this amazing comeback, so we commissioned our art director to draw original artwork of Tom Brady holding the Lombardi trophy and engraved it on a wall mural and five of our Message Boxes for the top marketing leaders at the Patriots; the owner, Robert Kraft; Bill Belichick; Tom Brady; and shipped it up to Foxboro saying, “Congratulations on the amazing comeback.”
Russ: An unsolicited offer.
Caleb: Exactly. Two weeks later they called us and hired us to create these for all their suite holders.
Russ: My goodness. Were you calling them, too, after you sent it, or did you wait and sit and say, I hope they call?
Caleb: We definitely follow up. That’s part of our campaign process. We have at least a three-touch rule, whether it be email, phone call, LinkedIn message. You’ll sometimes get people who will call you immediately, like, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten.” But a lot of times you do have to follow up.
Russ: Your follow up to the Patriots, were you following up and saying, “We think this might be a good idea for your suite holders,” or just saying, “We’d like to talk to you about what we sent you.”
Caleb: Yes, absolutely. The messaging is very tailored. We lead with, we’ve worked with other B2B marketing teams in sports; NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, etc. This is what we did for the Vikings, this is what we did for the Cubs, etc. We thought this would be a good idea for you as well.
Russ: Describe the box that was made for the suite holders.
Caleb: It was like a treasure chest, actually. It was probably 20 inches long by 10 inches wide, by 10 inches deep. They put a book, a storybook that recapped the year, suite holder tickets, and a couple other items and sent it off to all their partners like GE or Bank Capital.
Russ: So, this is serious marketing with products. Is that your product, is that your only product, these wooden boxes?
Caleb: No. We actually have 50+ American made offerings. A lot of the design technology we use is laser based and also 3D printing, so we do a lot of 3D printing, too. We’re actually have a campaign right now where we’re 3D printing robots and sending them in a box to get this client in the door who is offering these robots as a service.
Russ: You sort of do a category of gifts that are just for people doing well in an organization, but do I hear you also do a category of gifts to help a company prospect?
Caleb: Absolutely. So, we have the prospecting and the gifting campaigns. So, the prospecting is, like, hey we’ve got our top 50 prospects we want to get in the door with. The gifting side is more the stewardship, the retention, like how do you keep those employees. We call it the new money, the prospects; the current money, the clients you have; and then the money makers, the employees. Where the magic comes is when you incorporate that emotional intelligence into the gift. For instance, if I knew you love fishing and maybe you’re a big supporter of the Salvation Army, I speak to that and we come up with a design that really pulls on those heartstrings.
Russ: So, how old is the company?
Caleb: We’re going on our fourth year right now.
Russ: And how is business?
Caleb: Really good. We’re right now on track to grow about 100% this year.
Russ: Well, Caleb, this is an interesting business that you have here. What triggered the idea to start it?
Caleb: It’s actually, we were talking before, it’s kind of funny déjà vu, I actually used to sell printers in this exact building we’re sitting in.
Russ: Printers, like inkjet printers?
Caleb: Yeah, printers, copiers, that kind of thing. I would sell, I would just go door to door around here and I would always try to think of creative ways to get in the door with business owners. Initially, I would go to a cigar shop and buy all their old cigar boxes, refurbish them, and design them, and send a letter to the business owner and say, “Hey, I thought I would try something outside the box (ha ha) to get in the door with you.” And it worked, really well actually. What I realized over the course of a couple years is that building ideas and emotional intelligence into something tangible, and sending it as a message is extremely effective in the digital environment that we’re in.
Russ: So, eventually you said to heck with selling printers, I want to sell this specialty advertising idea that I came up with.
Caleb: Yeah, so after the printer job, I was the Director of Sales for a NASCAR team selling sponsorships. That’s where we actually—we would send these to potential sponsors and to folks who would come to the track. It was while I was there that one of the engineers helped me start building the boxes and designing them, because I was a marketing guy, not a craftsman. At the end of 2014 I had about $1500 in cash, which I thought was a lot of money, and I left the team, had a table saw in the garage and was just building boxes. Within two weeks I signed Coca-Cola Consolidated as my first client.
Russ: So, when you were working for this NASCAR—selling advertising for this NASCAR team, you said, well, I think I can sell them more if we send out these boxes, but you were doing it within the company, it wasn’t your company yet? And once again you found out this works very well.
Caleb: Yeah, it was actually one of our sponsors, the VP of Marketing was like, “Man, why are you doing this for other companies? You should go do this for clients.”
Russ: Tell us another success story that you’ve had.
Caleb: One of our best-case studies was a campaign we did for the Washington Nationals for their B2B sales team. So, they’re selling suites, going after companies that want to have a suite at the ballpark all year long. DC is a very competitive market for sports. You have all those teams up there, universities all competing for that same dollar. So, they picked 140 C-Suites that they were going to send this package that we designed with them to these prospects. Out of those 140, 110 responded within the first month. They set 40 face-to-face meetings and ultimately closed 4 suite deals.
Russ: Which are worth a whole lot.
Russ: And so that was one of the prospecting—wow, that is really cool. Where do you think the company is going to be two or three years from now?
Caleb: The way my vision for the company is kind of to build this special forces marketing company, where we don’t do radio jingles or design logos, but people bring us in when they want to get in the door with top prospects or really blow away their clients. Leveraging the various technologies that allow the hyper-customization like the lasers, the 3D printers, to help our clients really stand out in the digital age. So, we’re on our way. We have over 50+ offerings that we can create right now. My goal is to be at over 100 by the end of the year.
Russ: Great story, Caleb. I really appreciate you sharing it with us.
Caleb: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Caleb Musser, Founder and President of Musser & Company. And this is BusinessMakers USA.
brought to you by