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Trophy Cupcakes: woman-owned business and deliciously inspired

  Article , Retail , Success stories

Learn how the cupcake retailer used Bing Ads to reach a larger, more targeted audience.

Delicious inspiration

 

Jennifer Shea, CEO and founder of Trophy Cupcakes and Party, has expanded her business with the help of Bing Ads intelligence.

Jennifer Shea — founder, CEO, baker and principal party-maker at Trophy Cupcakes and Party — is a passionate entrepreneur with creativity in her DNA. “All the women in my family are creative,” she says. “My mother was a painter, and there was always a craft project on our kitchen table. That's really where it started for me.” After college, searching for her purpose, she toured the world with her boyfriend’s rock band as their merchandise manager. It was the ‘90s, and cupcake shops were popping up all over New York. When a friend took her to one, Shea had a eureka moment. “All the obsessive baking over my life flashed before my eyes,” she remembers. “It was clear that this was my true calling.”

Lumps in the batter

She jumped into the journey of becoming an entrepreneur with no assets and no knowledge about how to start or run a business. What she did know was how to bake incredible cupcakes. “I don't think what I had in the beginning was courage,” Shea says. “I just believed I could do it.” But there were many challenges. To begin with, the cupcake craze hadn’t hit Seattle yet. That made it very difficult for Shea to secure bank loans and lines of credit. “I literally had men in suits patting me on the head telling me what a cute idea I had,” she says. “But they didn't think a cupcake shop would ever survive, so I refined my presentation and kept looking for people who would believe in me. It was an interesting experience having people laugh at me, but I knew it was a good idea, so I just kept on going.”

There have been times when she was terrified and overwhelmed, believing the business was going down. “Surprisingly, those failures have made me much stronger and more confident,” Shea says. “They inspired me to do some powerful problem-solving. Overcoming those obstacles made me capable of taking bigger risks because I trust my instincts and know I can push through hard times. And now we have an amazing team, and the business continues to grow.”

The extra traffic headed our way through all of these really fun promotions that we're doing with Bing Ads is exactly what we hoped for.

— Jennifer Shea, founder, CEO, baker and principal party-maker, Trophy Cupcakes and Party

Insight for dreamers

Jennifer Shea,  founder, CEO, baker and principal party-maker at Trophy Cupcakes and Party

Jennifer Shea, founder, CEO, baker and principal party-maker at Trophy Cupcakes and Party.

For those who dream of starting a business, Shea offers some hard-earned words of wisdom. “As an entrepreneur, you can't succeed without risk,” she says. “You have to be willing to go right up to the edge and know that if you fail, it's gonna be scary, it's gonna be hard, but you have to go for it. And no matter what, you're going to learn something valuable from it.”

At the same time, Shea admits it’s a challenging road and not for the faint of heart. “Search your soul to make sure this is your truth, not just a passing fancy,” she says. “If you really can't imagine your life without it, put one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it happen.” She suggests asking for a lot of help. “Don't reinvent the wheel, tell everyone what you're doing, and pour your heart into it,” she says. “You’ll be amazed. If you really believe in it, the universe has a way of opening doors for you.”

Adventures in baking

With six successful locations and 11 years in business, Shea has built a sweet empire, one cupcake at a time. Her love of all things cakey, crafty and creative eventually led her to be a guest on “The Martha Stewart Show.” Over the years, Shea has expanded her business to include classes, event catering and public speaking. Engagements have happened in her shops, and she has catered cupcakes for those weddings, subsequent baby showers and first-birthday parties. “We’re part of the family traditions of our customers,” she says. “It's so humbling and amazing.” But this dynamo doesn’t stop there. In her spare time, she wrote a successful book, “Trophy Cupcakes & Parties!” Even so, baking is still her happy place. “I love helping people celebrate everyday moments and transporting them to a sweet moment. To be honest, we're just baking love. The reason I do this is because I know how much joy it brings people.”

I love helping people celebrate everyday moments and transporting them to a sweet moment. To be honest, we're just baking love. The reason I do this is because I know how much joy it brings people.

— Jennifer Shea, founder, CEO, baker and principal party-maker, Trophy Cupcakes and Party

A piece of the cake

Trophy Cupcakes has six successful locations and 11 years in the business, Shea has built a sweet empire, one cupcake at a time.

While Shea’s tantalizing cupcake flavors continue to delight her customers, reaching her audience online was becoming more challenging than baking a French macaron. “It used to be easy on some of the platforms to send something out and all our fans would see it,” she says. “But now we have to work much harder for our fans to see us and engage with us online.”

This challenge made the way forward seem a little less sweet. Shea was ready to craft a new marketing strategy to ensure that customers looking for memorable confections could find them.

The recipe for reaching a big audience

Shea and her team worked hard on their digital marketing strategies. As they continued to create ways to surprise and enchant their customers, they decided to bring Bing Ads into their marketing mix to help engage more customers. “We put so much love and passion into what we do,” Shea says. “I don't want to have to worry about whether our customers are finding us online.” The team is excited about Bing Ads. “Bing Ads gives us different tools to help drive more business to our website and into our shops,” Shea says. “Having a platform that reaches the exact customers we’re looking for the moment they’re online searching for ‘cupcake Seattle’ — that’s amazing.”

The frosting on top

Bing Ads helped them reach and engage a large audience. “The extra traffic headed our way through all of these really fun promotions that we're doing with Bing Ads is exactly what we hoped for,” Shea says. Trophy Cupcakes used features such as Dynamic Search Ads, ad extensions, Bing Ads Editor and negative keywords to produce some sweet success with a 20% increase in click-through rate (CTR). With her digital challenges melting away because of the success of her Bing Ads campaigns, she can turn her attention to sweet dreams.

“My big dream now is creating a bigger bakery that can accommodate more people,” she shares. “I want it to be a space where people can come for tours, see what we're doing, and hopefully get inspired.” Shea began her business because she wanted to bake cupcakes. “Little did I know I was embarking on a spiritual journey of who I would become as a person,” she muses, “and the company and culture I would create for all these people who now are part of the Trophy Cupcakes community — it has a life of its own.”

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View or save the infographic recap to see how Trophy Cupcakes and Party used Bing Ads to reach and engage a larger, more targeted audience.

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