We recently had the chance to chat with Jesus Ruvalcaba from Paper Tacos about starting and growing his business, building an emotional connection with customers, and creating great products for ecommerce.
Let’s start with your business: Tell us about it and what inspired you to start it in the first place.
Paper Tacos is an online business that provides original designed greeting cards inspired by Mexican culture. Greeting cards should be able to have an emotional connection with the person who receives it. By making the content on a greeting card personal to someone's cultural roots, you achieve an emotional reaction that gives the receiver an immediate sense of nostalgia.
I first noticed a need for the niche business after browsing the greeting card aisle at a local grocery store. I noticed that there wasn’t a selection for greeting cards that would resonate for people like my mom or dad, Spanish-speaking Mexican immigrants, and the small selection of Spanish cards I did find felt impersonal. I thought, if someone designs some greeting cards influenced by our Mexican traditions and culture, I think they will do very well. I have the illustration skills and am a graphic designer by trade, so why not me?
And Paper Tacos was born.
Do you remember your first sale?
Yes! I first started selling in person at local craft fairs. Before taking the plunge to an online business, I wanted to be sure that people in my target market would want what I had to sell. So, I first sold at a local event in San Jose, California in September 2017. I was so happy to see people's reactions to my designs and creations. A month later, I started my online business and got my first order in a few hours after launching. I was very happy that something I created from scratch had interest from people all over the country.
How do you go about marketing your business?
My two biggest channels are email marketing and social media, in particular Instagram. I sell a product that is very visual, so Instagram is a perfect medium to share my products. I have done giveaways, linked to landing pages on my site with discount offers, and collaborated with other Instagram businesses that sell related products.
Email is also great because I connect direct with people who have opted in to receive marketing material from me. I know that the customers in email really want to hear from me and are interested in my products. I use Privy to grow my email list by providing discounts for first-time buyers.
I run my new subscribers through an automated email “welcome funnel” to build brand loyalty. I also use email to reveal new greeting cards, offer discounts, and share where I will be selling at local events.
What types of offers work best for you?
A percentage off the first order has worked very well for me. I would say about 80% of first time orders use the introductory coupon. Also, free shipping over $25 works great for me. I saw my average order size increase by 45% when I introduced the shipping breakpoint.
I also used Privy for Black Friday to remind visitors of the big sale and collect emails at the same time. Then, on Cyber Monday I used the Spin to Win for the first time. Although I did not get many sales, I did get more sign ups, so I feel it was a win anyway. I will convert those users later through email marketing.
What else besides Privy is in your tech stack? Why did you choose those?
I use MailChimp because it works well with Privy. Once subscribers sign up through Privy, MailChimp starts the automated email welcome flow.
I also use Order Printer to help me fulfill my orders as well as allowing me to create a personalized message on each packing slip.
What are some of your biggest business or marketing challenges?
The biggest marketing challenge is planning and coordinating all the different channels. As a small business, I do a lot of the marketing myself and that is not my specialty. So planning and executing is always a challenge for me. I need more hours in the day!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs and small businesses out there?
When you are first starting, you will have so many ideas for marketing or new products to sell that you will want to get to everything as fast as possible. Although your mind might be in the right place, it can be counterintuitive, because you begin to overwhelm yourself as your to-do list starts growing and growing.
It’s best to take things one at a time, write down your ideas and don’t rush to them. Everything will work its way into your business plan as you begin to make progress slow and steady.
Paper Tacos uses Mexican-inspired designs to build an emotional connection with their customers. Using a mix of social media, email, and on-site campaigns for their marketing, they bring the same whimsical touches to everything they do.