When Mitch Hoyt started making maple syrup, he never imagined the sweet side gig could turn into a successful online business. Now less than a decade later, Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup is generating more than a million dollars of revenue a year, with customers, partners, and distributors clamoring for more.
Hoyt credits the progress of his family brand to small investments in a simple website and digital ads that have generated big returns. “People are seeing us and calling us out of the blue,” he said, “and we couldn’t have achieved that reach without online ads.”
Hoyt, an Army veteran who is paralyzed from the waist down, found a path into the maple-making business rather by accident, as part of an experiment in making wine. Family and friends liked the Wisconsin-made product so much that he started whipping it up for them. Then a store owner asked to sell it.
That’s when Hoyt realized he was onto something — and needed to get the company online. He hired a company to develop and host a website, and Skinny Sticks generated enough revenue to cover its online costs.
The next phase brought the web operation in-house to lower costs and a digital marketer onto the payroll to push the brand on Facebook and Google. Small investments yielded relatively big revenue and drove more eyeballs to the brand. The addition of a PayPal button to the website also sparked a significant increase in sales. Now the sweetness has spread as far as Florida and New England.
The company’s digital presence also gives Hoyt a pulpit to preach maple purity to consumers and to serve as a proud ambassador for Wisconsin flavor. Skinny Sticks’ Maple Syrup earned a loyal following by tapping syrup from different trees to create up to create dozens of distinct flavors.
Every 30 cases are different, and all of them showcase what’s special about syrup from the Badger State. “We have a unique product every time,” Hoyt said.
Both that message and sales could suffer if Congress takes action that restricts the access of small businesses like Skinny Sticks to market-building digital tools. Jobs are at stake, too. Skinny Sticks has nine employees, one full time and eight part time.
“These tools made our business possible and are essential to a profitable future,” Hoyt said.