Small Business Success: What You Can Learn from this UK Business

What’s different about Miss Marshmellow?

I love this Dorset-based company chiefly because of the owners’ dedication to great customer service. I got in touch with Jackie and Gavin earlier this year, when I was looking for a crowd-pleaser to serve at my wedding reception. A friend had recommended the company after testing the mellow sweets at the Dorset Knob Fair – which turned out to be a real thing and not an attempt to get me into trouble. (“Dear team at Miss Marshmellow, a friend recommended you after tasting your goodies at a local Knob Fair…”)

Great customer service – the benefits

Husband and wife team Jackie and Gavin are perfectly poised to deliver great customer service

As a small business owner – you OWN customer service. You can rival the biggest, most profitable companies on the planet, because you’re in charge of every aspect of your customer experience.

I was pleasantly surprised by the friendly emails I received from the duo, who gave me a more than fair price for the amount I wanted, as well as details of when to order, because their marshmellows (like marshmallows, but mellower) contain no artificial preservatives. They also offered to send me samples of my chosen flavours prior to the big day – free of charge.

All in a day’s good business, you might think, but it’s amazing how far good customer service can get you. Happy customers will often come back – and recommend you to friends.

Selling a superior product? You’re in luck

If you have a great product – let people sample it! Samples are one of the best ways to show off and generate word-of-mouth promotion, which is exactly what these savvy small business marketers have been doing since 2012.

We always offer lots of samples, because people won’t know how good they are, and how different to ‘ordinary’ marshmallows, unless they taste them,” says Gavin. “Customer feedback is really important in helping us to develop our product.”

Another small business advantage – products made with love

Jackie and Gavin are set apart by their dedication to quality, local ingredients. In fact, the couple were inspired to start the business when on honeymoon in Provence. They loved the local Montelimar Nougat and wanted to produce something similar using local ingredients such as Dorset honey.

Needless to say, their gourmet marshmallows went down a storm at my wedding reception. I chose smooth Madagascan Vanilla, Real Lemon, which is very tangy – great for hardcore citrus lovers – and Maple Syrup, which has a naughty-but-nice, singed sugar aftertaste, like crème brûlée.

Marketing and Press Coverage

Since the company’s launch in 2012, Jackie and Gavin’s marshmellows have been featured on blogs, in various local news pieces, and – especially exciting – in an advertorial section of British Vogue. I asked them if I could write this piece simply to give my readers a boost.

They have also received a virtual thumbs-up from Dragon’s Den’s Theo Paphitis. Jackie and Gavin were delighted to be chosen for one of his Small Business Sunday Awards. This exposure on Twitter was a real breakthrough in the couple’s online marketing efforts – the kind of promotion that paid advertising just can’t match.

It’s really helped our business. We’ve had many more orders online through our website, and it gave us a boost, personally, to know that he had recognised our business in that way.”

You can still enter this competition. Simply tweet Theo about your business during Small Business Sunday. Check out the #SBS Winners page for more info.

Small business success is possible

So what does all this mean for the couple, personally?

Gavin has now given up his day job as a driving instructor just a year after the launch of their product. Jackie has also cut down her hours and now works four days a week as a schoolteacher when she’s not wearing her chef’s hat (and she still manages to do a bit of market research whilst at work – her colleagues love being taste testers).

They are currently experimenting with flavours and a new range of delicious goodies – Dorset Honey Nougat.

We are happy with the taste,” says Jackie. Our next challenge is to get the right combination of softness, shape-holding and stickiness. Then we’ll need to sort out some packaging. We have also bought a van to take our marshmellows to food festivals, and we’re looking forward to having some sign-writing done on it.”

All I can say is – do they need any more taste testers?

You can purchase their delicious marshmellows online. Their #SBS profile is also available here.

Miss Marshmellow is run solely by the Dorset based husband and wife team, who have been selling marshmellows for just over a year. Their marshmellows contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and are egg, wheat and lactose free.

Gavin and Jackie are planning to be at many more food festivals and events locally, and are moving into the wedding market – their marshmellows make great wedding favours.