Zachary Quinn, CEO, Love Your Melon

Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller, who used Facebook to build Minneapolis-based Love Your Melon into a $20 million apparel brand, are sharing their social media marketing know-how as members of Facebook’s U.S. Small Business Council.

The founders launched the brand in 2012 as a University of St. Thomas project. It sells knit hats and other apparel, donating more than 110,000 hats to children battling cancer. It gives 50 percent of net profits, more than $2.6 million, to nonprofit partners in pediatric oncology, cancer research and family support.

Love Your Melon sets a “5x” minimum return on ad spending that, for example, would generate $50 in revenue for every $10 in ad spending, Quinn said.

It has hit 11 times ad spending in some periods, 44 times ad spending on Facebook and 66 times on Instagram, in a special campaign.

An invitation to join the council, and spend two days at Facebook headquarters, came this spring. Formed in 2014, the council has more than 40 members chosen from Facebook’s 5 million advertisers. Quinn attributed the success of the brand’s social media advertising to “creating new relevant content that people care about,” including placing three to five ads with new photos each week.

Q: What was your major takeaway from the first council meeting?

A: Everybody on their phones now is watching these short videos. That’s where advertising is going to live in the future, not on TV. So that is where Love Your Melon is going to go.

Instead of just the photo content, [we’re] creating short video-clip-based ads that you’ll see between the content that you’re normally watching on social media.

 

Q: What challenges does the brand face?

A: We have to grow the manufacturing side, so we’re going to grow our design team to create new products and to work with our manufacturing partners because we’re all USA made. Brian [chief revenue officer] has been our sole focus on advertising on social media and the web and his team is going to grow substantially … creating new campaigns both nationally and globally to begin selling to Canada, Europe and Asia.

 

Q: What’s your advice to a student pursuing a business before completing college?

A: I’d tell them to go for it. When we started this we didn’t have a lot of risk. We didn’t have to leave a job. We didn’t have a family to take care of. We chose to do this instead of going to a bunch more parties or focusing on our personal lives. It was possible because we were in a creative environment. I would also tell them to go out and do something that they feel is going to make a difference in the world. That will be the most fulfilling thing you can do.

Todd Nelson