Natural brands are panicked with Expo West being canceled but you don’t need to be. There is an alternative that easily makes your brand discoverable to retailers wanting to attract that unique shopper your brand appeals to. Learn what you need to know



Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #175

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.


Welcome. I want to talk to you about some things that are really important. How do I help you grow and scale your brand one and two? How do I help you get in front of more retailers? That's what the focus it is podcast is about. How do I help you make that important connection, especially after Expo West was canceled? Let me start with this. A lot of brands have contacted me telling me how concerned they're, that they weren't able to get in front of their retailers at expo West. The reason this matter is because a lot of brands rely heavily on being able to do that. Well. Trade shows are a kind of old school. I remember from my early days when I used to work a lot of different trade shows.

That was the mainstay of the industry. That's how we got in front of retailers. Well, things have changed and a reason a lot of things have changed is because of consolidation. A lot of the big brands have the luxury of going directly to a retailer to make a headquarters call swap. Brands don't have that opportunity, so trade shows are critically important, but what happens when the trade show closes down? This is what you need to do. You need to think outside the box. Now, I've always talked about the importance of having a solid digital strategy, a strategy that allows you or helps you create a community or build a community around your brand. You still need to do that. That's more important now than ever by creating a community that's going to help you grow and scale your brand. You can leverage it with retailers when you get a chance to get in front of them.

Now the second part is of advice is you need to be creative. You need to look at different ways to get in front of retailers. There are a couple of different examples that I wanted to share with you. One is ECRM, easy arms like speed dating, where you have a one on one relationship conversation with a retailer and a brand. This gives you an intimate opportunity to make that connection where you have a dedicated opportunity to sell to a brand. One of the challenges trade shows is you've got so many people walking by. So many things going on at the same time. It's hard to carve out that space. It's hard to get that one on one relationship. It's hard to have that all-important conversation. You know, ECRM gives you that opportunity to be able to talk to a retailer one-on-one. Now with trade shows being counseled and a lot of the travel being on hold.

The other thing I want you to think about is a tool called range me. Range me is owned by ECRM range me is a cool tool that allows you to have that one on one relationship. Conversation with a brand and a retailer range me allows you to do digitally what you could do at ECRM before. More importantly, it allows you to get into certain retailers that you might have had a hard time getting in front of, even if they did show up at your booth at the trade show. One of the things that Brandon, my guest today and are going to talk about is how to make your brand discoverable. How do you make your brand discoverable to retailers that don't even know that you exist or perhaps retailers that are looking for that unique ingredient or that unique selling proposition that you address? That's what today's show's about.

You're definitely going to stay tuned to this episode. As always, I want to thank you for listening. This show is about you and it's for you. In appreciation for your time. Always include one free downloadable guide at the end of every episode, one that can help you grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively. One that can help you stand out on a crowded shelf and level the competition between you and the most sophisticated brand in your category. If you like this show, please share it with a friend. Subscribe and leave a review and don't forget to go back and listen to previous episodes where it may solve some of your most pressing bottlenecks. You know the things that keep you up at night. Remember the goal here is to help you get your products are no more star shells and into the hands of more shoppers, empowering brands, raising the bar.

A lot of brands are panicking and for good reason. There's a lot of uncertainty out there. The most important thing that I think I can do is to help you get more bandwidth to help you get more runway out of your available resources. Let me explain. 25% of every brand's gross sales are typically tied to trade marketing and yet over 70% of that money is wasted or an effective, even more so unnatural. Today's free downloadable guy is my trade marketing essentials. How to grow and scale your brand. It's the essential download that you need so that you can understand the basics about trade-marketing and then how to take it to the next level. How do you maximize your trade marketing ROI? How do you identify which promotions make the most sense for you to participate in this free download will help you get the foundation that you need to be able to make some of those decisions anyhow? You can learn more about it at the end of this podcast episode. Now, here's Brandon with RangeMe.

Dan: Brandon, thank you for coming on today. Can you please start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey to RangeMe?

Brandon: Yeah. Hi, thanks for having me on the show. My name is Brandon Leong, I'm with a company called RangeMe. RangeMe is essentially the industry standard for sourcing products online. But I'm sure we'll get into that in a little bit. I've been with RangeMe ... I was actually the third employee. When the company moved its headquarters to San Francisco, we were literally in the back of a cell phone repair shop in San Francisco's true startup story, like you see on television.

Brandon: Fast forward to where we are today. It's very exciting. Actually, we've gotten to a point right now where we are essentially the industry leader in terms of product sourcing online. One of the things that I'm really excited about is my journey here was a unique one.

Brandon: So previously I was running marketing and growth for companies. One of them was actually in the space called Curie. They're an analytics company, a retail analytics company. And then prior to that a billing company called Aria, but within the tech space prior to that it was all over the board. So gaming, fashion, media, things like that. But I really found a home in CPG and retail, I think there's a ton of growth ahead of us.

Brandon: It's obviously an exciting industry to be part of, and specifically from the technology sector. Like there's so much innovation that can still happen, that will happen in the industry. A perfect example is RangeMe like RangeMe didn't exist before RangeMe existed. How crazy is that? So yeah.

Dan: Love that. I appreciate that. And just to kind of break it down a little bit. The reason you and I are talking is that I had the privilege of listening to you talk at NatchCom in Boulder. To go back a little bit further, I've been the speaker, keynote speaker, et cetera, at several ECRM events and I'm a huge-

Brandon: Yeah,

Dan: ... fan of ECRM. Yeah, they're fantastic. And so let's talk about why this matters. We were actually kind of having this conversation right before I hit the record button. So when I started in this industry, we went to trade shows. And that's how you got your product in front of retailers. And that has changed a lot. And what I mean by that, is now you don't have the opportunity to really talk to a retailer on one like you'd like to.

Dan: So either plan B, you get on a plane, you fly to the retailer's office, you make an appointment, you sit down, talk to them, et cetera. Or you trip them as they walk past your booth. Obviously, I'm just kidding. But pretty much, you try to figure out a way to get them to come into your booth and talk to you about your brand.

Dan: And the hope is that a retailer is going to fall in love with your product and say, you know what, I want to put you on the shelf. The reality is in today's environment. First of all, when you're at a show, there's so much confusion, so much noise, so many distractions. It's hard to get that one on one conversation relationship with a broker ... I mean with a retailer. And so what ECRM does, it's a lot like speed dating, where you're in a position where you're doing literally speed dating, one on one between you and the retailer, the brand and the retailer.

Dan: So you have an opportunity to actually sell your product, close orders, et cetera, which is what trade shows are about. Now, what you do and we'll talk about that in a minute, or RangeMe does, is it takes that online and makes it digital and that's the way that Joe Ternasky with ECRM explained what you guys do to me, so we'll get to that a minute.

Dan: But the reason this is so relevant today is that literally last week, we were both supposed to be at Expo West, and it was canceled due to the coronavirus. In fact, a lot of other shows are canceled as well. And not that this is the result of it, but what we're trying to do and I love your thoughts on this, is trying to get brands to think more strategically. If every retail store closed, where would you sell your product? If the trade shows closed, how do you make that connection?

Dan: So first of all, what are your thoughts about that? And then how ... can you talk a little bit about how RangeMe fits into this space uniquely? And then what it is that you guys do uniquely, you're talking about product sourcing, so what does that mean? Go ahead, please.

Brandon: So RangeMe essentially is ... my analogy I like to use is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is essentially your B2B profile for your business right and yourself, essentially. RangeMe is that for the industry where a neutral party that exists, that brings together retailers of all shapes and sizes, and suppliers and product manufacturers that want to get on shelf. So we work with about 70% of the top 100 retailers in the US, plus thousands of independent and regional retailers as well, and work with them in a very unique way.

Brandon: So we work with companies like Whole Foods, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Rite Aid, Walgreens. We just facilitated Walmart's open call, 711. Bed Bath and Beyond, you name it, we work with them. And if you for example, for Whole Foods, if you go to their website, and you're looking to submit a product for their team to review, their website would drive you to RangeMe. And essentially what we do is we help these retailers, one, manage your inbound submission process. And then two, they use us because it's easy to use a standardized interface. They use us to proactively find products for their stores as well and reach out to buyers.

Brandon: This has resulted in something pretty amazing like I mentioned that the growth that we've had since the back of that cell phone repair shop a few years ago, we're up to about 200,000 products, suppliers and manufacturers on the platform.

Brandon: And just like how LinkedIn replace the resume and your business card, RangeMe has done the exact same thing with your sell sheet if you're a supplier. So what that means for you is you're using this as both a channel to get discovered and a tool, more importantly, to kind of supplement and enhance your sales and marketing strategy for you to get on shelf.

Dan: Appreciate you're saying that. And Vision had visions or flashbacks of doing resumes. I hated that. And I love the fact where, hey, if you want to know more about me going to my LinkedIn profile because it's more robust. And so the point being is how can I say everything I need to say in one page when you know that your resume is going to get probably 30 seconds of best. So how does a brand leverage your technology to get in front of retailers?

Brandon: So it's pretty unique, I think before we went on this journey for RangeMe, no one was building tools for this industry, like technology tools to scale. So no one is building sales and marketing tools for people who are product manufacturers and suppliers, they just aren't. They're just not. They're building it for tech to the tech sector. Like myself, I have 50 different options when I want to look at marketing technology but no one's really building it and tailoring it to this specific industry. So he really wanted to set out and we had a deep understanding of one, what buyers wanted to do and how retailers needed to continue to increase their assortment, based on this now a new age of access, and consumers can find things whenever they want.

Brandon: So the first problem was like, giving buyers the opportunity to discover at the speed of eCommerce, fast. Like where you're not bound by these once or twice a year category of use, because discovery can happen all year round. Even if your category reviews are once a year you want to look at products throughout the year, right to bring to that category review. So that was part of it, was like how do we solve the buyer's problem of increasing assortment and knowing all the channels, one that was coming into them, right all of these disparate channels that suppliers are hitting them up on LinkedIn, sending them emails filling out their website information, things like that. All this incoming stuff that they didn't ask for.

Brandon: And then plus, they had to do their job. They had to comp shopping, they have to go to trade shows they have to talk to their brokers, they have existing clients, they have the car roof on that shelf, but there are so many things they have to do to be able to do that. How do we create a holistic way for them to do that in an efficient fashion? To standardize the way that they're seen. That's the first piece, and that's where it ties back to suppliers.

Brandon: A lot of times as a supplier, you don't know what you're getting yourself into when you approach a retailer firm? Oftentimes now RangeMe is that first foray into getting into retail from a lot of these suppliers. If I start a jerky company today, I don't know what to do, I don't even know who to talk to. So when I go on to RangeMe, the questions that are asked of me and how they want me to fill out my profile was built and driven by what buyers want to see. So now buyers get what they want, buyers get the data that they want, and the way that they want it, all this product level and brand level, like at the discovery level data that they want to be able to see and action against products like request samples and speak to them and whatnot. But the real great part is now you have a whole run place for suppliers.

Brandon: Now as a supplier, I have one place to kind of sprout all of my sales and marketing. This is my digital sell sheet. This is my tool. No more PDFs and it's all standardized exactly how buyers want it.

Brandon: So that was how we essentially solved that initial problem. And then now suppliers are starting to realize that this is a ... I can do so much with this. I can go to Expo West. I can go to Expo West and I have greater ROI from Expo West. Why? Because one, I'm in front of buyers before they attend Expo West. So I have some mindshare already. Two, the hardest thing at these giant trade shows is that when I'm trying to follow up and I'm trying to figure out, like how to make sense of all these business cards I had, what conversation I had, most of the time I've tried to send emails after that.

Brandon: Or Imagine someone building a tool for you, that tracks all of that for you. RangeMe does that, RangeMe has the ability for you to send an email from the platform with your digital sell sheet, which is dynamic and it real-time, just like how you would send your LinkedIn page to someone a prospective hiree. And you'll be able to use that and track whether a buyer has opened it, whether or not what products they looked on your profile. Things like that. All the things that you would ... as an advanced marketer would receive, you have that at your fingertips now.

Brandon: So yes, the application of RangeMe was meant to support the entire industry as a whole, we're not going to stop trying to meet face to face, nothing will replace ... like easier improves it, nothing else will replace the visceral feeling of touching, feeling a product, meeting someone face to face, shaking their hand, nothing will ever replace that. However, what people need to be thinking about now with suppliers and buyers to be thinking about now is that sourcing still needs to happen even in times like this.

Brandon: Like if something happens like coronavirus, you still need to ... business must continue to operate, you still have to move forward. So how do you do that at scale and how you do that if that one piece I mentioned was taken away. You have to diversify. You have to be able to have multiple channels, multiple opportunities and all of it kind of home running in the same place.

Dan: Thank you for spelling it out. It makes so much sense. I'm sold. Sign me up. But no, no, it really is great. I've been saying for a long time that retail's broken. And the reason I've been saying that is because we use the same cookie-cutter strategies to get in front of buyers. And they're not working, they're not effective. We're not helping brands connect with retailers. And what I mean by that, specifically, is that retailers spend most of their time trying to sell us what's on their shelf, rather than trying to sell us what we want to buy. And so being able to identify unique products that fit my needs, as a low-cost consumer, that's going to help drive sales in your store. We could talk about that in a minute. So I love the fact that you're doing that and you acknowledge also that the face to face relationship is critically important.

Dan: So let's say that you're a jerky brand and you want to make that connection and you want to put a product on RangeMe, where do you start?

Brandon: So the good thing about RangeMe with 200,000 suppliers in the platform, you have a real snapshot of the industry. So there's at any given time in the universe in the US, there's 1.3 million products, suppliers, and manufacturers, that's like a snapshot. RangeMe is 200,000 of that which is ... and the makeup of that group is very similar to what it is now. So you have everyone from the top tier brands, top tier suppliers and manufacturers all the way to the challenger brands. The ones that know what they're doing, they're killing it right now in the market, they have their own channels already set up. And then you have that tail. And that tail is the 70% is ... I just started a jerky brand because I have a 50-year-old recipe that my family passed down and it's all organic, it's gluten-free and it's all these things. It's amazing. It's CBD infused, it's all this amazing stuff. And I know I have a market for it because my social media is blowing up. When I talk about it, when I go to the farmers market and sell it, people love it.

Brandon: And those are the brands that are like, okay, now I've created kind of some semblance of demand, I know that there's a want for this, where's the biggest bang for my buck still? Yes, I can earn every customer, I can turn on my website, I have my social media turned on, I can sell on Amazon, I can do all of these things, but I'm earning every single eyeball every single customer that way. And that's time-consuming, and it's a lot.

Brandon: If you think about this, you're still going to do every weekend, you're going to go to a farmers market, you're going to do your local selling and things like that, who's running your website when that's happening? Well, that's you. So you can make a living and there is a rise of small brands that are sprouting from these kinds of grassroots efforts, because due to the age of access and the technology that supports it, however ... I love this. I always use this analogy. If you were a photographer 15 years ago, it's so different than being a photographer now.

Brandon: Now anyone can be a photographer, you can buy an SLR camera, go outside, take some really cool pictures and get them online. You can put them in front of people, it can scale, people will find it, people will love it. People can like it. You can put it on social media. And all of a sudden, "I'm a photographer. Yeah, I'm a photographer now." But in order to become an established photographer, even though it's a somewhat dying industry, you still have to get in print. Because what happens when you get into print? If your pictures get into National Geographic, what happens? Well, what happens there is essential, your pictures are put in front of millions of subscribers, Just put in front of them. And that is the biggest bang for your buck. Instead of earning every single eyeball, and every single set of eyes, you all of a sudden got put in front of millions of eyeballs. And that's the same thing with retail suppliers have an epiphany at some point, when there's trying this grassroots thing.

Brandon: Like, wait for a second, like, retail is so going to put me in front of a ton of consumers all at once. It is the biggest bang for my buck. I'm still going to be ... if I can get into a retail location I can now still do what I'm doing. But I have this other channel working for me. And it's an exponential channel. And if you get into a national retailer, boom, you made it. So that still exists. And that's the moment where a lot of the suppliers that come ...

Brandon: When you get out the first thing you do when you get out of college, you set up your LinkedIn profile, because that's what you've been told to do. And then you're going into the job market. The same thing with suppliers, like this, is it, I have a product, it's viable, I need to get it on retail shelves, the very first thing that they do now get under RangeMe.

Brandon: I know that was a long-winded answer, but I think it was important to kind of show like this thought process and progression has always existed in our industry, but now there's a place to kind of like push that energy into.

Dan: No, I think it's great. I appreciate your framing it that way. And I love the analogy about the photographer, et cetera because people need to understand that this exists one and then two, how do you leverage it? And the old way of doing things, very time-consuming. I remember how much time ... I was a premiere executive went to work for Unilever, that's the top airline miles at United because I flew so much. I flew about six days a week, sometimes I'd be in two, three airports a day. The point being it was is horribly expensive, extremely difficult on your employees, et cetera, but to be able to get in front of that many buyers was tough. Whereas now I can sit in my backroom or whatever and do the same type of thing.

Dan: So when you're talking about the benefits to a brand, I hear what you're saying. But one of the questions I've got in the back of my mind is, so what, if I'm a small brand how do I matter? How do I compete against the big guys? How do I get noticed? And so I've been telling brands that you need to also have a digital strategy so that you can build a community online outside of traditional retail. And then you can leverage that with online and traditional retail to drive sales everywhere. And it's critically important that brands have that. To your point, you've got to be managing your website, your digital platform, your digital store, your traditional store, everything.

Dan: Your brand is a reflection of you. It's got your name on it. So how do I or you as a small jerky company get in front of these retailers?

Brandon: Well, I think as you mentioned, a lot about marketing is about being in the right place at the right time. Like in other words, you can't control what a buyer does. But when a buyer is ready to buy and they were looking for a product, you better be in front of them, or you better be there, you better be relevant or you better be part of that conversation, or you better be the one ... one of the people that's invited to that party. And I think that part of that is, traditionally, and I think this is the time or this is the climate where traditionally it's been ... your marketing and sales strategy has been hinged on these giant mountains, these mountains every single year of these giant trade events or trade shows, or your brokers being able to do that as well. Relying on those traditional channels of retail to get you representation, to get you on shelf, to get you the conversation, to get you the relationship. But all of a sudden now, like if something like this happens, what do you fall back on?

Brandon: So I mean, essentially, you need to have a baseline. And that baseline is what you're talking about. That digital presence. Being able to scale what you do, scale your voice. Part of it on the consumer side, it's when you're going D2C it's about social media. It about keeps your website updated, all of those things. When you're going to B2B, when you're trying to get into retail, it's about making sure your RangeMe is set up, making sure you have a digital profile. Making sure that is a great quote from retail. I can't mention their name, but a retail buyer said to me, they said, "During this time, we can't go to the product." He was talking to his buying team, "But the products can still come to us and we can still find them." Because they're using tools like RangeMe because they're going to still operate. Buyers are still going to have to fill their shelf during this time.

Brandon: How are they going to find it, and how they're going to do that? They can't travel, they're going to go online, and they're going to do research. And guess what, if you show up and you're someone that they can find the information they need to make a decision or to request a sample or to reach out to you if you have that setup, then you're much more equipped than someone who does not.

Dan: Very well said. In fact, actually, this week's podcast episode, and I just published it right before we got on the YouTube video is future-proofing your business. This is so critically important. It's so timely. And one of the things, Brandon, I'm a huge proponent of, is that you should not hand the keys of your business to anyone else. And this is nothing against brokers, agencies, et cetera. But it's your brand, it's your baby. You need to own that journey, kind of like what you're talking about before. The reason this matter is because it's your brand, your ability to get in front of people like RangeMe through RangeMe platform, et cetera. It's your ability to make those connections.

Dan: I am a firm believer that you own the strategy in house and then you leverage your relationship with brokers, agencies, et cetera to execute on your behalf. Because you're just the beginning the tip of the funnel, if you will, you start to execute at retail and that's what the broker is really, really good at. But to be able to leverage your platform to get your jerky on RangeMe and then get in front of other retailers, that's critically important. This is what changes the conversation.

Dan: So going back to where we started originally if you're a small jerky company, and you just paid a ton of money to get a booth at Expo West or someplace else, and for whatever reason, the retailer's don't show up, and now you've got no one to trip, even if you could, and the show is so busy that you can't stop people because you don't know who's who. They don't have signs aren't saying, "Hey, I'm here to buy your product." So the fact that we're having this conversation is so paramount.

Dan: And the other thing is, if I'm a big brand, why a big retailer, why would I stop by your booth, you're just a small brand. That's sort of the mindset from before. But now we're leveling the playing field and giving everyone an equal seat at the table and the reason this matter is because the big brands are struggling at retail and the big retailers are struggling as a result.

Dan: It's the small, disruptive natural organic brands that are responsible for all the sustainable growth across every category. It's the small brands, I was able to prove this actually in the 2016 category management handbook. And I'll put a link to the website. But the point is, that it's these small brands. And if you took these natural organic brands, out of the category out of the assortment, every category will be flat or declining. So how do you leverage that in terms of those unique brands? As a small brand, how do I differentiate myself on the platform?

Brandon: Well, that's the thing? So I think part of that is, I alluded to it at first, when you're going D2C social media is a big piece for you. But I think that beyond that, in order to be really good at social media, you have to have a story to tell. There are two things and two pieces that might not be the most important thing, it might not be the number one thing they look for, but it's consistent with every single buyer. I've spoken to thousands of buyers up to this point, every single buyer wants to see two things. They want to see your marketability. So that means, do you have a story? Is there a story to tell? Because think about what a buyer has to do. They not only have to prove that this is going to sell on shelves, but they have to sell it internally. So if you have a store and you have a story to tell, that's going to make it a lot easier for you to get in front of that and build that relationship.

Brandon: The second piece is, are you already marketing? Are you already doing the things that you're supposed to be doing as a brand to get in front of retailers because you are... to get in front of consumers. Because what's going to happen is, the easier it is to plug and play, the easier it is to take you from requesting a sample to putting you on a shelf, the easier that transition is, the easier it is going to be for you to do that. The more likely a buyer is going to take a risk on you. Because look, you're already marketing, you already have a built-in audience, you're going to bring that audience into the store. And they're going to know that once you get into the store, you're going to leverage your marketing channels and the things that you're doing to drive people back in as well. So all of that makes sense.

Brandon: One of the interesting things and this is relevant, Daniel, but ... So last year, I went to the California Food Expo, and it was a two or three-year running trade event that really that was run by the ... it was state-funded, it was great. It was just about highlighting California products. And one of the things that I realized last year was that a lot of the conversations about how to use RangeMe, what do I need to do to build my digital presence. Most of the brands that were attending those types of sessions and most of the brands who asked me questions were the ones that are like ... not the top 1% to 2% but larger brands, they were larger brands.

Brandon: Because what's happening? They have traditionally been very good at retail. They have distribution channels that exist already. They work with the top distributors, they already work nationally with a lot of retailers. But what's starting to happen is this, they're starting to see their shelf space carved out little by little. And it's not by one brand. It's by like 10, that are maybe taking a small incremental piece of shelf space. 10 brands or three brands or four brands. These little brands are carving out a little piece of shelf space, but all of a sudden, they don't have the visibility that they used to have. And they're having to go backward because they've accomplished all this stuff. So they've accomplished, they got into retail a very long time ago. Before this digital age happened before all of this age of access stuff happened before RangeMe existed, things like that. And so they've never had to go back. Or they've never had to have that strategy to do that. But what these brands are doing now is they're setting a foundation for themselves.

Brandon: Because those brands, those larger brands didn't do that is having to go back and do it now. They're having to go D2C. They're having to ... I spoke to a larger brand, a very well-known brand, national brand. They were like, we need to figure out how to start taking orders on our website because they've never had to do that before, ever. We need to figure out how to drive traffic to that. How do we drive traffic to our website, our website just has information and we're in a store locator. I don't know how to sell. We never got D2C before.

Brandon: And then the same thing with RangeMe is like national distribution. Well, one of the biggest things happening now, online and local, online and local is huge right now for retail. How do I work backward? I'm already nationally ... I need to get in front of eyeballs. I need to get in front of retailers that are speaking to consumers that I've never been able to speak to before and I need to get into those retail locations. I have the distribution I'm ready to go, but I don't know how to get in front of them.

Brandon: So this strategy of having this foundation of scale and your digital presence in your digital footprint, will future proof like you said future proof you so that you don't fall into that later on. Yes, it is extremely important right now. And a lot of these brands, without realizing are setting a foundation for themselves to succeed later on. And if you haven't done that, you should be thinking about that now.

Dan: Amen. And I couldn't agree with you more. And I'm so glad you're talking about selling stories. That's exactly where I was going with this. So let me frame it this way. I created the free turnkey sell story strategies course. There's a lot to it more than what we're going to talk about just right this second but the gist of it was this, if I tell you a story, you tell someone else and so on and so forth. By the time the story comes back around to me, it's unrecognizable.

Dan: One, the issue is, is that brands struggle to make sure that their stories told the same authenticity, same passion, same enthusiasm as the founder. And that is the Achilles' heel. One of the biggest Achilles' heels of the big brands in the way they communicate with the end buyer.

Dan: Two, the other thing about it is helping these brands identify who is your core consumer. It's no longer female, had a house, full 2.3 kids. It's someone who's involved in yoga, very involved in their community, someone, who ... whatever vegan, et cetera. You need to know your customers intimately, and then you need to know your consumer ... I mean your competitors, customers intimately. And if you can help the retailer understand what's unique about your product, how you drive that consumer into their store, that's the win.

Dan: So let me frame it this way. I heard a story years ago, I love this, where a famous radio announcer went to his son's house for Thanksgiving. And his son's wife cut the ends off the ham. And they asked why did you do this? You're laughing, you've probably heard this. And so they're laughing saying ... so he said, "Why do you do that?" She said, "I don't know because my mom always did that." And they asked the mom who was standing there and she said because her pan was too small. My point is, that that's how big brands do things exactly we're talking about. This is one of the reasons why large brands are losing. Trade marketing represents about 25% of your overall gross sales. And yet, 70% to 90% of your trade marketing is wasted and ineffective.

Dan: The strategy today is, how much money can I throw at a brand to manipulate or to encourage or whatever word you want to use to get consumers to buy the products, as opposed to buying putting products on the shelf that customers want. In other words, why would I buy a $30 bottle of vitamin C, when I could buy two for $5. And the difference is the nutritional value of how that product goes into your body. How that product metabolizes in your body.

Dan: Let me frame it this way. I use this analogy a lot. If you go by the generic bread, you're hungry before you finish eating it. If you buy the best mainstream bread, you may be satiated for three, four hours. If however, you buy the best organic bread, if you believe what you are you eat, then those additional nutrients that you're getting from that bread might satiate you longer.

Dan: So even though you're paying a few cents more shelf, you've got better value. So when you're talking about these natural brands, leveraging that conversation with retailers, how do you as a jerky company ... I'm picking on you again. How do you as a jerky company communicate that unique value of the product that you offer to those customers, to the retailer?

Brandon: This is so funny that you're talking about this. When someone starts at ... it's funny because when someone starts at RangeMe, we take you through like a CPG crash course and part of that crash course is I kind of put them in that shoes; You are this company. You're this jerky company. And when you go to the farmers market and you sell your goods at the farmers market, you tell your stories so well, that you've made people cry. You've made people ... not one person walks away from your booth at the farmers market without at least one bag of jerky. And not one person who's walked away with that without one bag of jerky, he hasn't come back and had another. And that's the power of your story.

Brandon: Now, as you continue to rely as you said, the dilution that happens as you continue to rely on others to tell that story for you, all of a sudden, the smaller and smaller, or the less than less and less impactful it becomes because the emotion doesn't exist.

Brandon: Look, this is the reason why I think ECRM, the intimate one on one, these close conversations, it's the 300, not the 30,000. These 300 like with there's a highly curated group of buyers, who are looking for this highly curated group of suppliers. Like that's where that makes sense because nothing will ever replace the ability for you to tell your story face to face.

Brandon: However, the cool part about it is how you're closer to a buyer now than ever before. So in other words, because of digital channels that exist for you to get onto retail shelves, or to at least make the introductions so that face to face meetings are much more impactful, you're closer now to a buyer. So you can actually show your story and tell your story as written, or as filmed by you, to anyone who's willing to consume it. And you have the channels now to be able to distribute that message all over the place.

Brandon: Yeah, it's funny because that is literally the part one of the things that we talked about. It is like, when you're going to go to a broker and you're going to be like, here's my jerky brand, now go leverage your relationships, go sell it in, they're not going to tell the story as you do. No one will ever tell a story as you do. So yeah.

Dan: Exactly. Well, thank you for saying that. And actually, while you're saying I'm thinking, and besides that, after I tripped my third buyer at or at a trade show, I probably get asked to leave. So that's either, but one of the biggest failings in this industry in the natural channels, is I think that we don't tell our story. Well, we don't celebrate that. I have a belief one, that a CEO should not have to be a perpetual fundraiser and two, we'll get to that in a minute. But two that brand should not have to apologize for the quality ingredients they put in their products.

Dan: I believe that we need to celebrate this and none of the databases, the focus groups, nothing out there, identifies or speaks to what's going on ... how those products are really driving the category. So my secret sauce, what I do with brands, is I help them identify that and what I'm getting at is that none of the databases accurately identify how the consumer shops a store because of it generalized or commoditized, all the customers, all the products, et cetera. And so when you're using that to tell your story, you're overlooking what really matters you're on, you're overlooking that consumer that understands the value of organic the value of your story.

Dan: So then going back into what you're talking about, being able to leverage that story with any retailer is a huge plus. That's what ... I agree. That's why I love ECRM. So how do I leverage that story on your platform? As you said a minute ago, things are standardized. I get it. I used to develop a lot of the standardized new item templates that a lot of retailers use nationally, my old days. But that's not enough, that doesn't differentiate you.

Dan: So if I'm a brand, how do I leverage your technology to tell my unique story and this again, was going back to why their brands need to own this strategy. And now your thoughts, how do I do that?

Brandon: So if you put your marketing hat on and you think of like raging in a vacuum. You want to drive traffic to your content. Your story is there. So part of RangeMe is ... and this is like I said, buyers will go to this if you're part of discovery, but you have to have a story, it has to be compelling. It has to also match your brand as well. But think about traffic and driving people to that content. Yes, there's a lot of noise out there. But just like how you on your website, you add specific keywords to drive SEO, to drive more organic traffic, things like that, part of that is part of your story. So one of the things that you want to do is, RangeMe is the same thing in a vacuum, USPs Unique Selling Propositions. The more you have there, the more you describe what your products and your brands are with the words and the phrases that you know buyers are searching for now, that's step one.

Brandon: Step two; substantiate your story, get the certifications ...., that tell what your product is. I can't stress this enough if every certification especially ones that are well known adds exponential value to your brand. Because it's a third party who's saying, "Yeah, you know what, what they're saying is true." What we see on RangeMe is ... one of the biggest data points that we collect is, we know what certifications buyers search for on the platform. And we can see the trends that happened on the platform. So both of those two things are certifications and search criteria and how do you manipulate those and how do you leverage those as a brand, Unique Selling propositions, that searchability. Certifications is what they're looking for because they want to ... they need to be able to have transparency to their consumer base. That means you need to be transparent to them.

Brandon: So all of those things happen, like, this is a funny thing. Keto has been a huge trend for about the last year, CBD two and a half years. And if you're a brand that has those types of buzzwords and you're a brand that wants to be visible as much as you can, especially in the vacuum of RangeMe be able to tell your story and you do those things, say those things. And then the next step is, get certified that you do those things. I'm Keto certified. Great. USDA Organic or I'm gluten-free or all the way to I'm a woman on business, like WBE, I'm MPE, I'm all these things. All of it will add to your story, given validity to your story and then also make you more searchable to drive people to your content, which is you.

Dan: Well, thank you for saying it because yeah, you got to bake this into your DNA. I work with ... I mentor brands of all different sizes, from pre-revenue to multi-billion-dollar brands, hundreds of brands throughout my career. And it's kind of tough love when I tell a new brand, an emerging brand. "Hey, just because your mom loves it doesn't mean everyone else will." Well, yeah, you need to understand how to make that connection. So if you're leveraging some of the strategies, and that's what this podcast is all about, leveraging digital and all those other equities together to help you understand who is your new consumers. That's what the course is about, which is helping you identify who that consumer is.

Dan: I know of an oatmeal brand, that thought that they were just an oatmeal brand, they were surprised to learn that a lot of young mothers use it as baby food for their infants, and they had never even considered that.

Dan: And so the point being is, yeah, you've got to understand this. You've got to be able to tell your story effectively. So thank you for sharing that. One of the things that I think that we need to do better as an industry is to leverage the way we communicate with our consumers, our community. How can RangeMe help me communicate more effectively with my community or can it? Or is this just brand to a retailer?

Brandon: Well, if you think about anywhere, you would use your sell sheet, your catalog, specifically for B2B, this is your home run point for that. So like, we've been talking about the vacuum RangeMe for a little bit on this call, but the real value of where the rubber meets the road is that that scalability of having this tool now right now. Now you have this digital sell sheet. So just like when you started LinkedIn, and you're like, "Okay, I need to be on LinkedIn because I now need to get a job." But you're not just going to put your profile on LinkedIn, just sit there and wait. You're going to get a recruiter. You're going to post on job boards, and what are you going to use to do that? You're going to use your LinkedIn profile to do all the things that you would do anyway to get a job.

Brandon: It's the same thing for RangeMe is that, yes, while you're trying to get into retail? You're not going to stop by just putting your products onto a platform, and then all of a sudden things are magically changed, and you have a digital strategy. It doesn't work that way.

Dan: No.

Brandon: Anything that you would use your digital sell sheet for or a sell sheet for, this replaces, that and this replaces at scale. Now the great thing about is the next step is like when you're on LinkedIn, and you've already got the job, do you just ditch LinkedIn all together? No, now it becomes your business card. You're using it to reach out to people. Same thing with this. So even if you get into retail, you're still going to have to get in front of more buyers. You're not going to stop there, you're still going to ... If you're nationally distributed, you're going to want to get into the C stores, you're going to want to get into local. If you're locally distributed, you want to get into to national.

Brandon: It doesn't end right. And wherever you would use this, this is how you would use this in practical and normal marketing and sales activities, it just enhances it. And it allows you to have a home run point for all those activities.

Dan: Love the analogy, LinkedIn is your business card, that makes so much sense. You're absolutely right. And the other thing that's cool about LinkedIn is once I put my profile out there and I connect with you, I'm always connected. So when you change jobs or you move or whatever, I still have that connection point. It's amazing how many people I've reconnected with that I had a working relationship with years ago. So I absolutely love that.

Dan: One of the things that I think that brands need to do though, is they need to step up. And now we're going to get into the weeds a little bit. I think I told you, I used to be on the board of advisors for a company called Item Master because of my expertise in the area of rich item attribution. The reason this matters, this kind of goes back to was talking about before, is that the databases don't really identify cleanly who that consumers or what are those trends are driving the show, garbage in garbage out.

Dan: Helping brands identify that tell their story around what are those unique trends that are driving sales et cetera, is the key. Same thing here, by the way, Item Master was bought by a company called Syndigo which is a company you work with. So I know them well, and I understand the technology really well, and I understand the pain points, especially big brands have. Where a consumer goes to one website and they see an old package that they no longer make any more or the information is it clear, or there's different ... I communicate differently at different websites kind of what we're talking about before with telling your selling story.

Dan: So as a brand, it's critically important that the brands come prepared to work with you and help make it easier for the retailers to sell your product by making sure that there's digital sales story is consistent throughout their entire funnel.

Dan: Critically, critically important. Can you please talk about that? As a brand how do I leverage that? And then from your perspective, why does this matter? What do you see? What are the best practice strategies that you see?

Brandon: Again, I'm going to go back to the LinkedIn analogy, whenever you get a new job, it adds to the compilation of your profile. You add a new job, and as you get promoted, it makes everything more powerful, things become ... different doors open for you and whatnot. This is the same thing. Your digital strategy as a brand follows that same mode, every time you get into a retailer, that adds to your brand equity, and your profile and your social footprint and your digital footprint. Every time you have a new product launch, every time you get a new certification, but how do you communicate that out? And traditionally how you communicate that. I just put 10,000 line sheets for Expo West, and I'm going to go out there and this is what I'm going to give out to all the buyers. Right, great. This is going to be awesome. Unfortunately, I didn't hear back from the USDA Organic before Expo West started, so I wasn't able to put that certification on that line sheet.

Brandon: Now, three days later ... Oh, actually, while I was at Expo, I just got approved.

Dan: Happens.

Brandon: Well, not on my life sheet right now. And what do I have to do? Go out and print out 10,000 or whatever that was. But you get the picture, right?

Dan: Oh, yeah.

Brandon: It's very difficult to go back and be like, okay, I just put a lot of eggs in this basket. And I'm going to have to run with this for a little while. Even though I can't tell my complete story anymore because it's grown. It's grown from yesterday to today. The great thing about having a digital strategy and leveraging tools like RangeMe is is dynamic. If I get a certification, I just upload this, I just say that I have a certification, upload the image and it's done. If Walmart picked me up during open-call if Walmart picked their open call if I say that on my profile, and I'm able to substantiate it, oh my gosh, it changes who I am as a brand.

Brandon: Now, all of a sudden, Target wants to look at me or Walgreens wants to look at me because now I have ... obviously, I have built-in a supply chain of all these things. I built the distribution of all these things that makes it easier for another brand, another retailer to pick me up.

Brandon: But all of those things, add incremental value, and you have to have a way to showcase that incremental value every step of the way. And that's part of the strategy. That's why digital is so important. So essentially, what it is, is look, you have to continue stacking on top of your story because as you progress in the industry and as you progress as a brand, you want to add these things because it makes it more compelling. All of a sudden, more and more channels will be opened up to because you have more certifications, more unique selling propositions, more retailers you're working with, more distributors you're working with, all of this stuff. But it's very hard to do that when you don't have something in real-time or some way to direct people to see that constantly until announce that, "Hey, Hey, hello, you might have seen me a year ago, and I might not have been a perfect fit for your shelves. But guess what? I am now right." And you have to be able to do that in a way that doesn't ... you don't have to start the sales cycle over.

Brandon: Like trying to send someone a ... trying to reach those buyers at Expo West that took your 10,000 number printed sell sheets and trying to send them a new one. And be like, "Okay, I don't use that one, I'm going to send you a new one" How many people do you think are going to respond to you, and two are going to actually care? This is about having some places in real-time dynamic. Anyone can go in there dip and say, "Hey, you know what? I remember these guys. Oh, wow. Well, wow, they've come a long way. They've gotten three products to 15. The great assortment here. I'd love to bring them on." Or at least have a conversation you need to be able to do that. And usually, I do that in a scaled way. And digital is the only way that that's scaled.

Dan: Absolutely. And thank you for sharing because one of the things I also say a lot is you never get a second chance to a disappointed customer and it includes your retail customer. And I love the analogy it makes, so let me go one step further. A lot of times when I used to hire people and used to manage teams, et cetera. It was you'd go through and you look at people's resume, and some people would say, Well, I showed up I turned on the lights, I made the coffee, who cares? But instead what you're talking about, correct me if I'm wrong is what is unique about your brand, how do you differentiate yourself? How can I as an employee see value in you ... as an employer see value as an employee? How can I, as a retailer, understand the benefit that you bring to my shelf? So thank you for sharing that.

Dan: So do you have any other thoughts or ideas around what I can do to help leverage that in the conversation?

Brandon: Yeah. Look, it's really about ... from my perspective if you can get in front of that person as I go back to the farmers market analogy, where no one ever walks away from your booth without a bag jerky because you can tell your story. The goal is to get as close to that as possible or as close to you as possible, so you have the opportunity to do that.

Brandon: Everything you do in your sales and marketing strategy needs to get to that point. That's why trade shows have been such a staple of the industry because it essentially brings you in person with someone that you could possibly tell your story to. And now, it's about using other channels to bring people closer to you. At the end of the day, you are still the selling point, your brand, your product, your story is still the selling point. It's about cutting through all the noise diversifying how you sell and market, specifically for in B2B. D2C, there's plenty of channels that exist right now. And they're more well known because everyone's doing it. On the B2B side, there's still a competitive advantage to be heard, because not all the brands know how to really show up and show out using all the channels available for them or leverage the channels that exist or leverage the tools that exist to enhance what they're already doing.

Brandon: So if you could take that leap and understand that yes, there is a better way or a more efficient way or more scaled way I can do my sales in marketing to get on shelf, once you believe that and once you start looking at that and researching it and understanding what you can do, that's the first step, and then the whole point still is still going to be driving them towards you. You want them to get as close to you as possible because you know you are the best selling tool for your brand and your products.

Dan: Love it. And again, this goes back to what we will keep talking about that underlying theme. That one on one relationship that you have with a customer is what's going to help get your own store shelves. My mission, to help get your products and more store shelves into the hands of more shoppers. And it's that connection point that you're making all throughout this process. Thank you for sharing that. And what else have we not talked about that you'd like to add?

Brandon: I don't know. I think just current events and things that are happening right now. What's been really exciting is that RangeMe has always been kind of this neutral party in the industry. We work with trade organizations, we work with retailers We work with suppliers, we work with service providers to all kind of create a central hub where everyone can kind of meet and do business and things like that.

Brandon: But what's been interesting is that at this time, and I will call it an industry crisis. In this time where it's true, people can't go out and people can't get in front of the products that they need to see, they can't discover in the same way they used to, like, what we've seen is that the industry still, with the channels and with the ability to wants to connect, like in the past, it was always about a buyer doesn't really want to see you, a buyer doesn't want to see you, you're just more noise for them. But that's not true. It's just that they just never had an efficient way to do it. They never had a scaled way to do it. So it's hard. It is not that they didn't want to see you, they just don't want to go through the process in accomplishing that.

Brandon: Well, what's happening right now is that it's not that the industry doesn't want to connect with each other. It's just been so hard and Passes, but that prevailing kind of thought that like, "Oh, well, a buyer doesn't really want to see me I have to force myself to get in front of them as a supplier." But no, it's not the case. Because what we're seeing now in this time of like this industry crisis is that look, like forward-thinking retailers, and large distributors, and established retailers Thrive, Kaye's, Albertsons, they're leveraging tools like RangeMe to continue the conversation, they still want to meet, they still want to see suppliers, they still want to meet the brands, they still want to experience the products, but now they have a channel to do so.

Brandon: And it's been really exciting to see that the industry come together and the industry come together being able to leverage all the tools that are available now, in this kind of like a new age of this is like the state of the gun. This is the new age of sourcing, the new age of retailing and CPG and how it can all come together. And where, yes, there can still be relationships to be made. And both sides want it. They all want it.

Brandon: Because everyone needs to continue to move forward. And yeah, we've seen that bond come forth. It's been really exciting to be a part of that, to help facilitate that. But obviously, we hope that this is not going to last too much longer, but I'm also happy to know that we have the mechanisms in place, and we have the technology in place to be able to continue moving forward as an industry, but yeah. That's all.

Dan: Love it. Well, and one of the things that you're when we were talking while you were talking about that I was thinking about when you put a resume out there, the typical resume gets at best 30 seconds. If I put my product out online, then how much time do I get? And if you can develop a compelling story that can attract my attention. You've got the marketing and everything else around it. Now you're giving me and a buyer an opportunity to look at my profile, as long as I need to, to really understand what's unique about that product.

Brandon: Yeah, soak it all in, feel it, understand it, jump around, poke through it. And you're letting someone do it on their own time when it's more convenient for them, and when it's more efficient for them to do it. And that's really important that you're there. You're there to be able to do that when that happens.

Dan: Perfect. Love it. So how do I help you? I typically ask at the end of the podcast episode, how do I help the brands that I interview, the people that interview? How in this case, what bottleneck can I help you solve? And that's why we're having this conversation. What bottleneck can I help you solve in terms of helping brands connect with you? How can I help make that connection?

Brandon: Well, the great part about it is on both the buyer and supplier side RangeMe is 100% free to just hop on there for suppliers. Just get the digital sell sheet going. Just start using this as a tool. Start being visible. Start getting in front of people to start enhancing your current sales and marketing. It's all free. So if I were to give any advice, like, the great part about now is I have an unfair advantage if I started my jerky brand, because I know all about this. But getting the word out to understand like 200,000 suppliers are nothing to scoff at. That's a huge percentage of the industry. That's already on the platform, leveraging it and using it almost 15%.

Brandon: So there is knowledge about it. But yes, as a new company, there's a lot of noise. It is difficult. It's hard to go out there and figure out what to do next. But the good thing about it is is that there are ways to have kind of first and second steps. The first step definitely, set up your digital presence. Know that at some point retail is going to be an avenue that you're going to have to take even though you think that you're going to be the next Kylie Jenner and create the next giant natural beauty brand from through social media, we don't all have that capital, we know that. But with those dreams in mind and continuing to get in front of consumers, retail will be always a part of the strategy and getting on shelf always be part of the strategy.

Brandon: So future proof yourself and start using the tools out there. So for us, it's just making sure that brands know RangeMe is the place to start. It's a great place to start. It asks the questions that you will be asked of you in the industry and it compiles the correct information that you will need to provide for future conversations relationships and visibility to category buyers.

Dan: At the end of the day, you need to be available wherever your customer shop, which is exactly why we're having this conversation. So thank you. So how do we get in touch with RangeMe, how do we learn more about it, what your webinars et cetera? And I'll be certain to put that a link to it on the podcast shows page.

Brandon: Yeah,, Tons of information on the site, tons of amazing content to consume if you'd like. Probably some ... and most likely some content come from Daniel hanging out soon.

Dan: Thanks.

Brandon: So we will definitely have a ... We are definitely a resource for you as a brand, to continue your business moving forward and to get you to the next step. But yeah, as I said, it's 100% free to sign up and start using it and I would definitely recommend doing so.

Dan: Perfect. Thank you so much for making time for us today.

Brandon: No problem.

Dan: Thank you for sharing your insight. It's been great to get to know you and learn a little bit about RangeMe and share the story with the natural brand. Thanks. Natural industry.

Brandon: Thanks a lot, man.

I want to thank Brandon for coming on today from sharing his insights about RangeMe. I love the way he puts us how he makes so much sense of this. Think about it. When you apply for a job, you send him your resume, but the problem is how do you know that someone's going to look at your resume? How do you know that you fit? The criteria range me does an amazing job of helping connect you with the right retailer to make your product discoverable. This is something that every brand needs. I'll be starting to put a link to range me in the podcast show notes and on the podcast webpage. As always, thank you for listening and don't forget to check out this week's free downloadable guide, Trade Marketing Essentials to grow and scale your brand. You can get it on this week's podcast page by going to thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at for the show notes along with more great brand building articles and resources. Check out my free course Turnkey Sales Story Strategies, your roadmap to success. You can find that on my website or at Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues.

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Until next time, this is Dan Lohman with Brand Secrets and Strategies where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

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