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Foodies at heart, power couple Chris and Mary Ginder are spicing up the sauce industry with their own line of fresh pepper hot sauces that compliment, never cover, the flavors of your favorite meals. 

Chris and Mary were in the restaurant business, managing bars and restaurants in Los Angeles, California, when the idea sparked to create hot sauces that taste homemade and fresh — like you picked them up from your local farmer’s market. The unique cuisine on the West Coast and their connections with chefs inspired them to jump in and build their business.

Chris Ginder and Mary Ginder pose for a photo at an event.
Chris Ginder and Mary Ginder pose for a photo at an event.

But building a business from scratch can be just as challenging as cooking knockout hot sauces from scratch– so the Ginders needed to solve the problem of finding their fans and building up their audience, all while perfecting recipes, packaging, production and more. They found their solution with Constant Contact, using the suite of marketing tools to schedule, automate, and streamline how they stay in touch with customers and prospects.

Building Community 

After selling their first case of hot sauces in 2011 and starting their family, they planned to move somewhere they could scale their business while also building a community among farmers and other food enthusiasts. They set their sights on Chicago, Illinois — a place where the mixture of the food scene, farming culture, and its central location made the vision to expand Gindo’s a reality. 

Like many small businesses, they had to work hard to get established, starting by networking with farmers in the area and learning how to bottle and manufacture their products. In 2017, the Fox Valley Entrepreneurial Center offered an opportunity to small business owners to be mentored by a local business group, so they went all in with their business and quadrupled their sales that year.

Cooking Up a Community of Fans

To this day, they remain fired up to include community building in everything they do. From how they source ingredients to how they serve their customers and give back to the community. For example, they created a special sauce for the Student Advocates for Underserved Children Everywhere student advocacy group (or SAUCE) and donated proceeds to the organization. 

By 2020, they had their own warehouse to manufacture their hot sauces, and today they have a retail storefront where customers can visit and shop for their favorite sauces. During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, they relied on digital marketing to stay connected with their fans and keep their business going.

The Ginder’s pose for a photo at the Gindo’s Spice of Life ribbon cutting with the St. Charles Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Ginder’s pose for a photo at the Gindo’s Spice of Life ribbon cutting with the St. Charles Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Even though we couldn’t all be together physically, just trying to connect virtually was incredibly huge. I feel like that type of support that we were still able to give each other was instrumental in helping us get through it,” Mary said.

To Chris and Mary, every connection to every person you meet is important.

“[A co-packer gave me] great advice early on. He said it’s all about connections, and so you need to know in this world, if you’re going to succeed, every person you meet could be your next best connection… so make sure you conduct yourself that way,” Chris said.

To help build those connections, the Ginders make sure customers have multiple opportunities to subscribe to their email list, including a pop-up form on their website, an embedded form on their blog, an opt-in during their checkout process, and even a QR code at in-person events that subscribers can scan with their smartphones to visit a signup landing page.

A screenshot of the email newsletter pop-up form on Gindo's Spice of Life website.
The Ginders use a pop-up form on the Gindo’s Spice of Life website for email newsletter sign ups.

“The scan is so much easier. It’s just a super easy way to get people on board.  Being able to grow those followers has just been huge. I didn’t realize how valuable the newsletter was until the last two years,” Mary said.

The team uses Constant Contact to send email newsletters to their subscribers, offering product updates, exclusive recipes, promotions, and sales.  “I love to use Constant Contact [to share] deals every month and different types of promotions,” Mary said. “I personally appreciate shopping with a deal.”

By featuring these exclusive newsletter promotions and integrating their Shopify storefront with Constant Contact, Gindo’s is able to easily weave their ecommerce product offers into their email newsletters, turning regular communications into an easy opportunity for their subscribers to shop. Over the last year, they have averaged nearly $1,700 in orders with each newsletter they send to their subscribers and achieved more than 12 times their return on investment in Constant Contact!

A screenshot of an email newsletter from Gindo's Spice of Life.
The Ginder’s use email newsletters to offer exclusive Gindo’s Spice of Life promotions.

Overcoming Challenges to Keep the Spice

Standing out from the bigger hot sauce companies without a major marketing budget is a huge challenge, but Gindo’s found their own secret sauce in discovering and showing up in the spaces online where their audience already spent time. By sharing short-form videos on social media to educate viewers about the peppers they use in their sauces, they saw an immediate increase in people seeking out in-person visits to their business at farmer’s markets, their retail stores, and other places that carry their products.

Show Up Online To Keep Your Business On Customers’ Minds

Once they saw success in using Constant Contact social media and email marketing tools, Gindo’s, created a schedule for their online marketing, creating and automating their monthly email newsletters within Constant Contact, and scheduling social media posts featuring regular, themed content like:

  • Make It Mondays –  sharing new recipes and hosting giveaways
  • Tasting Tuesdays –  showing people taste testing their hot sauces
  • Featured Friends –  highlighting local breweries and other small businesses that they frequently collaborate with.
Gindo shares an Instagram Reel showing a taste test of an Armageddon pepper on Instagram.
Gindo shares an Instagram Reel showing a taste test of an Armageddon pepper on Instagram.

“I’m not a tech person at all. I’m all self-taught… and Constant Contact is just so easy. It’s so simple.”

Gindo’s Spice of Life owner Mary Ginder

While Gindo’s has seen success in these spaces, they say they are always ready to pivot to new ideas to help their digital marketing stay relevant and visible with their community of partners, customers, and prospects. At the end of the day, Mary says, she wants their digital marketing to be able to spread the message that they are a small, family-owned business using fresh peppers to handcraft their products, with one very important distinction:

“We really want this to be the best sauce you’ve ever had.”