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By Ted O’Callahan,

When you’re a solo entrepreneur, marketing your products and services can seem like more than you can afford. However, take it from our experts, it doesn’t have to be.

Lynn Gordon has been riding a 20-year wave of word-of-mouth marketing. When her "Woman’s Bread" was mentioned last year in a health segment on the Good Morning America television show, it was one more instance of national exposure she received from a low-cost, grassroots marketing effort she began years ago.

Back in 1985, Lynn Gordon began the Minneapolis-based French Meadow Bakery with little more than a bread recipe. At that time, her marketing efforts consisted of hand delivering sample loaves to local health food co-ops.

The company’s first moment of national exposure also led to some celebrity word of mouth. Good Morning America’s host, Diane Sawyer, discovered Gordon’s bread in 1988 while doing a story for 60 Minutes on a Minneapolis organization that loaned money to women entrepreneurs, including Gordon.

Sawyer’s discovery also led to Gordon distributing her breads nationally. According to Gordon, Sawyer wanted to be able to keep eating French Meadow’s bread and pistachio dip in New York, so Sawyer asked the specialty markets Balducci’s, Dean & DeLuca, and Zabar’s to start carrying Gordon’s products. Gordon said that Sawyer even put her in touch with a buyer at Balducci’s.

The steady grassroots efforts French Meadow Bakery has employed over the last two decades have helped it grow into a company with 125 employees and over $10 million in revenue. Her company could have grown faster with more risks and more aggressive marketing, Gordon says, but she made the tough choice to go with more conservative tactics that matched the personality of the company.



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