In the summer of 2020, Whole30 CEO and co-founder Melissa Urban had a non-traditional problem: Her company was very successful.
Celebrities loved the Whole30. Busy Phillips tried it because “literally every person I’ve ever known was doing it.”
Whole30 was a celebrity in its own right, with nearly a million Instagram followers; Urban was, too. Her book outlining the company’s namesake nutritional program, The Whole30, had sold more than 1.5 million copies, making her a #1 New York Times bestselling author.
So what was the problem? Whole30 was a very successful media company, built on a foundation of books and social media buzz.
“We sell the books that I write, but… we don’t sell them ourselves,” Urban told MarketerHire — instead, they sell them through external retailers. “We don’t really sell anything [directly] to our community.”
At least, they didn’t. In 2020, that changed. Whole30 branched out into consumer packaged goods, launching a line of five salad dressings they initially sold through e-retailer Thrive Market.
By January 2021, though, Urban and her team wanted to start selling the dressings direct-to-consumer, too.
“Our January is huge,” Urban said. “Like the Super Bowl and the Oscars all wrapped up into one.”
In fall of 2020, the clock was ticking. Whole30 had only a draft e-commerce site, no 3PL, and minimal digital marketing expertise in-house. (Remember: They didn’t really sell anything!)
They just had a deadline.
Urban and her team decided to hire a part-time contractor to lead paid digital for the DTC launch.
“We weren't sure how long we would need them,” she said, “[or] how many hours we would need them for.”
They just knew they needed help.