From Donuts to Dynamics


How did homemade donuts lead to a passion for innovative marketing and customer engagement technology? Well, that’s a tasty little tale.

In 2000, I was fresh out of the University of Las Vegas, and much to my parents’ chagrin I dropped my original plan to go to law school in favour of taking the plunge as an entrepreneur. Armed with a couple of credit cards and an audacious dream, I opened LaMar’s Donuts in Las Vegas, a popular donut franchise from my hometown, Kansas City, to go head-to-head with the established leader, a little operation called Krispy Kreme.

"Armed with a couple of credit cards and an audacious dream..."

It was an uphill battle in the early days. My first week in business, I had an incredible number of customers: 50, to be precise. Now, keep in mind, when you’re selling a dozen donuts to each one of those 50 customers and you translate that to revenue, well, let’s just say that it didn’t even come close to covering my operating expenses.

But despite the meagre cash flow, I knew that I had a superior product and realized that I needed to market my business, so I hired a communications firm. They were able to get my message out on radio and television, and my business grew literally overnight by 3,000 per cent. I went from making $100 a week to having customers lined up around the block, all because they helped me find a way to tell my story and amplify my brand.

People would come into the store, and because they were familiar with my story, they wanted to meet me and understand this concept of homemade donuts and how I did it – but as a business owner, I wouldn’t have been able to build that story and promote it myself. Back then, you couldn’t amplify your message like you can today using the marketing technology available.

A year later, I had built LaMar’s Donuts to a point where I was able to sell it to a famous tennis player, who was a fan of both the donuts and the successful business opportunity.

Flash forward to today, I’m now the General Manager for Microsoft Dynamics in Canada. I’ve gone from selling donuts to selling business applications to companies of all sizes. Thinking back on my entrepreneurial experience gives me a chance to reflect on how I might approach things today, if I was still running my own business.

Since my days with LaMar’s Donuts, new marketing channels and technologies have emerged – and they’re critical in the competitive business of capturing customer awareness and mindshare. One of the biggest challenges marketers face is striking the right balance or marketing mix between traditional and digital approaches to achieve the best ROI.

That’s where Microsoft Dynamics fits in. Whether you’re a corporate marketing team or an advertising agency, Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management) and Microsoft MarketingPilot deliver powerful, integrated marketing management solutions that can help you better understand your customers, get exceptional insight and control over budgets and resources, and create automated, measurable multi-channel campaigns across both offline and online channels.

"I went from making $100 a week to having customers lined up around the block."

Whether you are looking to use social media, pay per click on the web, or use email, radio, TV, or billboards, Dynamics CRM and MarketingPilot can deliver improved execution and an understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

More importantly, our solutions are integrated, providing visibility into marketing investments across all channels which helps marketing leaders, like CMOs, quickly calculate ROI and illustrate their contributions to the business.

I genuinely enjoy helping businesses use technology to help resolve these common issues. I really wanted to go into business applications in the first place because I had run a company. I understood not only the existing challenges around implementing technology and solutions like that, but more importantly, I really did see the value in it. So I wanted to take some of the key lessons learned from having my own business and bring them to my customers, as I’m doing today.

One of the other important lessons I learned? The secret to a truly great donut! Fresh ingredients are a must, every donut must be homemade, and it wouldn’t be a great donut shop without a great variety – we had more than 52 different varieties on any given day. My top two favourites: a cake donut with fresh fudge on top, sprinkled with M&Ms; and what we dubbed the “LaMar’s Bar:”

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