I really don't know where to begin this post because what happened is so surreal, so fabulous, so crazy that even I have a hard time believing it happened but I'll try to explain the incredible event that happened to me and subsequently, and more importantly, to Create a Cook.
I received a call one day from a man named James. He had a lovely British accent and said he was calling from Google and would I mind taking a few minutes to chat with him about my small business, my marketing and my business hopes for 2011. Now if you are a small business owner you know that you get at least 10 marketing calls a week. Usually these calls are radio and television stations or more insidiously, social marketing or coupon based marketing groups. They try to suss up who they have on the phone, claim to have just found our website, love our business, promise to take a class soon with their husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, kid, and oh by the way would you like to spend your marketing dollars with us. Some of these marketing callers are lovely and nice and when I tell them we spend most of our marketing dollars as underwriters on WBUR (public radio for those out of towners) and in a few children's based parent publications they wish me luck and ask if they can try again in 6 months. Others are not so nice, refuse to take no and basically try to tell me how foolish I am for not choosing their product to promote my business. James had two things going for him, he was polite with a fabulous accent, and we all know how I feel about British accents right? After all I did marry one. The other thing that caught my attention was that he was calling from Google. I already use Google for most things, Gmail, Google reader, Google analytics, Google docs and you know good ol' Google search. In late summer quite unexpectedly we had received a sticker in the mail about 8 months ago that said that Create a Cook was a Favorite Place on Google. I hung the sticker on the door, made sure my Google listing was correct, added some photos, contacted them about the map discrepancies and then never thought another thing about it. I thought perhaps these two things were related, but I came to find out later that the two groups work independently.
Back to the call. James and I chatted for 10 minutes or so about the business, my desires for growth in 2011, the marketing we had tried in the past and what we do now. When we finished the call he asked if he could call back next week if he still had any questions and I said, sure - why not?
Monday the call came from James and he said, "I have to come clean and tell you the real reason I am calling". It turns out that they were coming to Boston the following week and wanted to know if they could come and film an interview with me discussing the very things he and I had chatted about. Again, he was lovely and polite so I figured why not do it, it could be fun and, at the least, interesting.
Bright and early at 8:30 I'm tidying up from the weekend and staring at the usual pile of broken kitchen tools on my desk when in comes James and be begins apologizing for the large crew he has tagging along with him. The door opens and in comes 2 camera men, a sound guy, and a producer. They set up the equipment, wire me for sound and James and I talk about what questions he is going to ask. We start filming and redo a couple things and then boom - the interview is over, or so I think. James again says, I'm about to come clean again on why we are here. I have a few people I want you to meet and he looks over towards our door.
Outside there is another producer, she opens the door and in comes a man all dressed in blue wheeling a cart covered in wrapped presents. "These are new laptops and droid phones for your business to use". The man drops to his knees in front of me and does a Vanna White towards the boxes. He gets up, wheels his cart behind me and starts doing the Google dance. Oh yea. The Google Dance. Next another man comes in. He's dressed in a jumpsuit with a hard hat and cat5 cable around his shoulders. "And we are going to pay for your broadband for a year so you can use these new computers!". He shakes my hand and gets behind me to dance with the man in blue. Next to come in is a woman all dressed in red. "We realise as a small business owner there are many things that you have to do that take you away from the things you want to be doing to move your business forward so we are going to pay for your account and financial advice for a year."
By now I am starting to tear up. I mean really! This is a bit overwhelming and a tiny bit like Undercover boss gone mad.
Next in is a woman all dressed in green. "We know you would like to make your business greener so we are going to pay for you to have a consultant come in to help your business become greener". She shakes my hand and takes her place behind me with the army of people doing a Google dance.
Then James says there is one more person I want you to meet. In comes another gentleman who James introduces as James from the Google small business department. He shakes my hand and thanks me for taking the time to speak with them and agreeing to meet today and he hands me a bucket filled with those plastic magnetic letters that you use on your fridge. "We're going to give your business a $100,000 Ad Words campaign and we'll help you set up your campaign and work with you through the year so you can grow your business."
I'm standing there in shock starting to tear up and really not sure that everything that just happened was real. Well I assure you, not only was it real, but it was about to get even better.
It turns out that Create a Cook was one of 5 businesses in the country chosen to launch Google's new small business oriented adwords project. We all flew out to Mountain View, California on Tuesday to tour the Google campus, meet each other and talk with the Google guru team about the plans for our 2011 adwords campaigns. The other businesses are: Twinkle Star a children's clothing boutique in Cambridge, the lovely, and hilarious, mother and son team from Cloud 9 cupcakes in Roswell GA, Ramy's Garage in Houston TX and Atlas Flooring in TX. There are more pieces to this gift that will slowly unveil themselves over the next year. Next week we begin working on our campaigns.
To say that this is an amazing opportunity is an understatement. This gift that Google has given us could change our lives, help our businesses to grow in an uncertain economic climate, maybe give us the ability to hire new staff, build another kitchen, etc. Right now it feels like the possibilities are endless. Here is a link to the Google blog talking about the launch. Thank you James and James and Kelli and the whole Google team the trip was amazing and you've certainly made my year!