Sticking to the message
How a marketing hotshot found his career mojo – and set a Guinness World Record in the process.
You can’t miss it.
The first thing you see when you walk into StickerGiant’s headquarters in Longmont is a giant ball, made entirely from more than 200,000 stickers. It stands proudly on a plinth. And every week, sightseers drop in to marvel at what is officially the World’s Largest Sticker Ball.©
“The idea initially came to me after I realized there was no way to celebrate stickers in this country,” says Jesse Freitas, marketing director at the company, which makes custom stickers and labels. “So first, I worked to get National Sticker Day recognized as an official occasion. Then, I went searching for a wacky Guinness World Record to mark the day that might make a splash in the headlines.”
Not so much a splash, but more of a tidal wave, as it turned out. The giant Sticker Ball (affectionately named “Saul” by Freitas’ team) brought immediate national attention to the small company with big attitude.
Besides making it into the Guinness World Records Book, they secured a studio appearance on 9News KUSA, were featured on ABC News programs across 14 major U.S. cities and were joked about on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Saul the Sticker Ball even launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign to run for president (campaign slogan: “Stick together”). And he’s still growing.
The whole kooky idea is indicative of Freitas’ approach to marketing – always innovate and aim big with your ideas. Ironically, it seems that big ideas grow best in modest settings.
“Being part of a small company definitely gives you more creative freedom,” he says. “From the day I started here, I’ve been encouraged to try new things without fear of failure. I feel empowered to not only express new ideas but pursue them.”
It also helps that Freitas is inspired on a daily basis
by the people who really count: the customers.
“Easily my favorite part of this job is hearing our customers’ stories,” he says. “It’s super cool to see the fantastic business ideas people come up with. Then we dig in and do the research to create precisely the products they need to succeed. That’s what really drives me.”
One big team
Freitas is a 2010 graduate of the Marketing Program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, which provided opportunities to work with outside businesses that were “very beneficial” to his subsequent career. One key thing he learned is that it pays to know where your company is going.
“With a lot of jobs, there’s no overall ‘pie in the sky’ vision for what your company is trying to achieve – and that can sap people’s motivation,” he says.
But StickerGiant uses an Open Book Management system, which basically means every employee is given a concrete role in running the business.
“Everyone here knows exactly how the company is doing financially and how they personally impact on that,” Freitas says. “We have some out-of-this-world team meetings because every employee essentially thinks like an owner. It has made a huge difference.”
Finally, it’s worth asking: Is there another big, crazily ambitious idea in the pipeline? If there is, Freitas isn’t telling: “The fun thing with ideas like Saul is that you don’t know until you do know.”
Besides, Saul isn’t quite finished yet. Freitas is planning their first joint road trip out of Colorado, all the way to a social-media marketing conference in San Diego next year.
“It’s funny,” he says. “I didn’t really know where this sticker-ball idea would take me, but it has developed along with the growth of the company. I feel blessed to be a part of the journey.”