Disruptive brands need to creatively find ways to get their products onto retailer’s shelves and into the hands of shoppers. This includes finding new ways to produce and distribute your products. Your selling story needs to celebrate being a trailblazer.

Welcome. Just a quick reminder, I want to remind you that there’s a free downloadable guide for you at the end of most every episode of my podcast. I always try to include one easy to download, quick to digest strategy that you can instantly adopt and make your own. One that you can use to grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively. Remember, the goal here is to get your product on more retailer shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. If you like the podcast, subscribe, share it with a friend and leave a review on iTunes. 

Today’s story is about an entrepreneur that saw a need in the freezer section. A need for convenient, easy to eat, easy to serve, meals that were organic. What I enjoyed learning most about with this company is how they decided that they needed to be able to control the supply chain because there wasn’t the infrastructure to be able to support a brand like theirs. A brand that produces healthy, organic, frozen foods. Their story includes their journey to understanding how to fulfill their products more effectively. The creative solution that they came up with to be able to fill this need more effectively was to build their own plant. This gives them the unique opportunity to control everything as far as the quality of their food, the production of their food. They know, they absolutely know, how their products are made. 

This is a huge point of differentiation for some brands, especially small brands. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great co-packers out there and they do a phenomenal job, but to be able to control every aspect of how your product’s produced gives you a unique and competitive advantage. Can you remember back to when you had a homemade meal, when everything was made from scratch? This is effectively what this brand is doing. Being able to provide that end to end solution, that trust and transparency to be able to authentically tell their story, their unique story to their customers and to their partner retailers. Here’s David Perkins with Beetnik Foods.

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Click here to learn more about Beetnik Foods

BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES

PODCAST #84

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #84

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.

LETS ROLL UP OUR SLEEVES AND GET STARTED!

Dan: Welcome. Just a quick reminder, I want to remind you that there's a free downloadable guide for you at the end of most every episode of my podcast. I always try to include one easy to download, quick to digest strategy that you can instantly adopt and make your own. One that you can use to grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively. Remember, the goal here is to get your product on more retailer shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. If you like the podcast, subscribe, share it with a friend and leave a review on iTunes.

Today's story is about an entrepreneur that saw a need in the freezer section. A need for convenient, easy to eat, easy to serve, meals that were organic. What I enjoyed learning most about with this company is how they decided that they needed to be able to control the supply chain because there wasn't the infrastructure to be able to support a brand like theirs. A brand that produces healthy, organic, frozen foods. Their story includes their journey to understanding how to fulfill their products more effectively. The creative solution that they came up with to be able to fill this need more effectively was to build their own plant. This gives them the unique opportunity to control everything as far as the quality of their food, the production of their food. They know, they absolutely know, how their products are made.

This is a huge point of differentiation for some brands, especially small brands. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great co-packers out there and they do a phenomenal job, but to be able to control every aspect of how your product's produced gives you a unique and competitive advantage. Can you remember back to when you had a homemade meal, when everything was made from scratch? This is effectively what this brand is doing. Being able to provide that end to end solution, that trust and transparency to be able to authentically tell their story, their unique story to their customers and to their partner retailers. Here's David with Beetnik Foods. David, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey to Beetnik Foods?

David: Sure. Daniel, we started Beetnik Foods as an online business selling organic proteins directly to consumers and so our focus was on grass fed beef, and pasture raised chicken, and what we came to learn was that consumers were interested in those proteins, but they were becoming more widely available in stores. We had about 40,000 customers that we polled and we learned that basically what they wanted was a higher level of convenience with those same proteins. So grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken but in prepared meals, and so we took a look at grocery stores and sure enough in the frozen section there were no such offerings. So that's kinda how we re-targeted the company.

Dan: So let me back up a little bit. I'm looking at your Linkedin resume. So you're a partner at Coopers & Lybrand, which that's impressive. You worked for Motorola as a VP, et cetera. So what was your journey? What caused you to want to leave a VP role at a prestigious company and start a food business?

David: Well, I started my career in finance at Coopers & Lybrand, made partner there and left there to do a startup because I think startups are kind of in my blood. That company we sold to Motorola, that's how I ended up at Motorola in the semiconductor operation and in the technology meltdown, they asked me to help turn around the semiconductor operations. So I ran one of the semiconductor businesses. Motorola kinda had us challenged in terms of its capital structure and the capital usage by different businesses and so they decided to spin out the semiconductor operations and I helped architect that. Took the semiconductor business public and then sold it to a private equity firm in 2006 and that led me to another tech startup, but at the same time I went to cooking school in Paris at the Cordon Bleu and spent three years there while doing a tech startup in Texas. When that tech startup was sold to Best Buy in the middle of 2012 and we started our online food business. As I said, we morphed into, from an online business into offering retail products.

You know, at that point I recruited two of my children, my two eldest children to come and join us. One to run sales and the other one to run supply chain and operations. So it is unique because what food offers a family is the opportunity to work together, tech that's a lot harder to do. So yeah. So since that time we've been running the business as a family. My wife works in the business in customer service, my youngest son interns for us in the summers in various roles and so yeah, the only member of our family who has not worked or doesn't work in the company is our youngest daughter who lives in California.

Dan: Gotcha. That's a great story. I like that a lot better than just starting out by talking about Beetnik Foods. I mean we'll get there obviously but the background, that's what's so relevant. So you actually went to cooking school, so you know what you're talking about when you're talking about high quality, good food.

David: Yeah. I really learned, I mean I always had a passion for food but I really learned a lot about not just cooking, but also ingredients and the importance of high quality ingredients in kind of an end product. You know, when I went to cooking school it wasn't with the forethought that this'll be a precursor to being in the food industry. It was just something I really had always wanted to pursue and do and it was a bit of an indulgent treat for me to do that. My family obviously visited regularly but it was an important building block in kind of understanding ingredients well and being able to select really high quality ingredients. That's kinda what led me to grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken and those kinds of things.

Dan: So when you said it led you to, and by the way, I think this is absolutely fascinating that you went down this path and the fact that at any age you're taking time for yourself and you're doing something you want to do, something that you're passionate about, but when you said that it helped you appreciate food. So what do you mean David, when it led you to grass fed beef and to pasture raised chicken?

David: Well, I came to appreciate that quality ingredients really start at the farm and so in visiting farms and ranches, ranch operations kind of learned how animals were fed, how they were raised, and really noticed that it had a significant difference in the taste and flavor and quality of the final products. Not to mention that it produced different health benefits. So that has been a really interesting journey for me since I went to cooking school.

Dan: I've been talking to a lot of people on the podcast about exactly what you're talking about. For example, episode 11, I talked to Tim Joseph, Maple Hill Creamery and I've been having a lot of conversations with him about grass fed versus traditionally fed, traditionally fed meaning grains and hays and stuff like that, and the point being is that people don't realize that cows are not designed to eat grain and hay and that really changes their digestive track. The way that they produced the meat, the milk, and everything else. Then another conversation with Jefferson Heatwole of Shenandoah Valley VOrganic where we talked about pasture raised chicken and how different that is and how chefs are really looking to him to provide that high quality meat, that protein for their restaurants for executive chef type restaurants. So I've been studying this and putting a lot of emphasis on focusing on why this is important and I'm really excited that you found out, that you learned about this. So in terms of once you came up with this idea and you decided that you wanted to build a business using those ingredients, grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken. Once you've decided to come up with that, how difficult, David, was it for you to source that and then get enough of it to be able to scale and build a business around?

David: Well, it has been challenging and one of the things that I did was, and this was before Beatnik, I actually purchased an investment in a pasture raised chicken operation here in central Texas. We went down the path to putting a processing facility on site and had it USDA inspected and certified as organic and all those types of things, but the volume of that chicken operation is very, very small and in fact, you know, I got to know them because of buying their products at farmer's markets, but my partners in that business who are chicken farmers, you know, they principally sell their product to high end restaurants in the central Texas area.

Dan: So when you're doing this, you're starting down this path and you become a managing partner, I'm looking at it here in that business, were you thinking about Beetnik at the time or where were you going with this idea?

David: I just wanted to help some local farmers and I love their product and it wasn't more complex than that.

Dan: Oh, okay. Well that makes sense. So, okay, you decided you're involved in this and White Glove Technologies and what was the pivot point to starting Beetnik Foods?

David: Well, I had another friend who had been in the online food business and knew about my passion for organic ingredients and he said, "Well, we should be selling organic chicken or organic grass fed beef directly to consumers," and so that's how we kind of got started. He subsequently left the business, when we recognized that the online piece that really was leading us to a different opportunity and I decided to continue to pursue it in the, you know, pursue building products for the resale market.

Dan: So as you're deciding to pursue this, you said that you started online, which is fascinating because it's difficult to do this online. Especially when you've got a frozen product and you've got to figure out that, you know, there's perishable and you've got to keep it frozen and ship it, and all the extra costs that go into that, et cetera. How did you manage it? How did you build this or get started with this and then what strategies did you use to learn to scale?

David: Well, I would say the online business we learned that we weren't very good at it even though we were delivering great quality products to people. There were some inherent challenges and that's really what led us to talk to customers about what they were wanting and what they valued in the business. What they were looking for really was convenience and so that's what led us to kind of pursue the opportunity in retail around convenient, you know, clean. By clean we mean organic paired meals.

Dan: So when you decided to go to retail, at what stage in the business was this? Is this just you and were your kids involved yet? Did you have just a small team or is this something that it matured or occurred after you'd been in business for several years?

David: We had been in business a couple of years when we decided to pursue the opportunity in retail and so it was around the summer of 2014. You know, I had recruited first my son to head up sales and then my daughter joined us a little bit later to head up operations. Yeah, that's kinda, that's how we got going with it.

Dan: So when you launched, where did you start first? I mean, being in Texas, you've got Whole Foods right there. So what retailers did you target first?

David: Well, Whole Foods is very helpful because none of us had any background in CPG and so everything we've learned, we've kind of learned by stubbing our toes, but a Whole Foods being down the street was definitely helpful to us in terms of, you know, sourcing, package design, prioritization of products, those kinds of things. They were really helpful in terms of getting us going. Ironically, you know, you can't say Whole Foods was helpful without calling out specific individuals and there were a couple of individuals that were very engaged with us and very helpful in giving us feedback. The result of that was, you know, we launched primarily in small independent food stores and one regional foods and we kind of grew from there. Today we're at about 6,000 doors across the country nationally and we're distributed by-

Dan: Congratulations.

David: ... folks like, you know, the major food distributors in the natural and organic world like Kehe and UNFI, and others who are growing in that space. Yeah, so it's been a very fun journey since the fall of 2014 when we shipped our first product.

Dan: It sounds like it. So let's back up to Whole Foods. How did you make the connections? How did you find the people within Whole Foods? I've heard stories like this before, a lot of brands have them where they were able to go to a retailer specifically Whole Foods and develop that relationship and they help them solve all these complex problems. So can you talk a little bit about that. What were the problems, and how do they solve them, and what was the journey between, I've got a problem to actually solving it to the point where you could get it on a shelf.

David: Well, Whole Foods used to have a role in their regional businesses called forager and they no longer have that role to my knowledge, but that forager was a person who would go out to companies like ours who had ideas and were trying to develop things for the retail space and Whole Foods would, you know, that representative would meet with those companies and say, look, I think you're onto something. We would have an interest in this or that really doesn't work for us. You know, they would just give candid feedback about, you know, the types of priorities and opportunities that they saw and that we might not have seen. So things as simple as, you know, sourcing various ingredients and, you know, finding co-packers and those kinds of things. What type of packaging to use, you know, what our packaging looked like and whether or not it would work in retail. Those are all things that, you know, we were, like I said, we were a small family business starting with no CPG experience and so there was a lot of trial and error in those early days.

Dan: And I appreciate your sharing this. When you're talking about using this, the forager role in Whole Foods, have you ever had an opportunity to work with an accelerator or any of those other programs and can you contrast the difference between the two and what makes this special and unique?

David: Well, since that time we've come to know of an accelerator here in Austin called SKU and they offer a fantastic program. I wish we'd known about it and had been engaged with them early on because we probably could have avoided a bunch of mistakes that we made, but at the time there weren't any accelerators or incubators here in Austin that we knew of. So different than a forager, my impression of these incubators is that, you know, they're much more comprehensive. One of our board members actually participated with one of the incubators in Austin these past six or eight months and, you know, getting that kind of advice early on would have been fantastic. Like we've since created an advisory board where we have, you know, someone who used to run a pretty large manufacturing facility, a co-packing facility just north of Dallas. He's just joined our advisory board and we have the former president of Heinz sales, Greg Newcomb, who has just joined our advisory board this spring as well. You know, those resources we didn't have when we started. I mean they're super useful now. They would have been even more useful when we were getting going.

Dan: Well yeah. Well and actually I was talking to Scott Jensen, the CEO of Rhythm Superfood and Stubs Bar-B-Q sauce in episode 76 to and he's actually one of the advisors. So you probably worked for him or maybe bumped into him at some point, but he was talking about SKU specifically and sharing a little bit about what they do. It sounds like an amazing organization. I've worked with different incubators, the different startups and different, and working with an organization like that from what he's explaining sounds like the ideal way to really help amplify your growth. So as you transitioned from working with forager to SKU, where were you in your growth? Was SKU able to really help you take that to the next level and beyond and then prepare you for the future and are you still working with them?

David: Well, we actually have never worked with SKU. It's only one of our advisory board member that has worked with SKU and so I think it would have been useful for us to have engaged with, you know, any of those incubators. There's a few of them now. Not just in Austin but around the country that are really helpful in pulling together resources from various segments of the industry to help you get off on the right foot with your business. In our case, you know, we saw a market opportunity, we did our own homework, we kind of put together a team which was primarily family members and then some other folks that we recruited to join the organization and we're still a relatively small organization. In fact one of the things that we learned along the way was, you know, and by the way we manufacture, Daniel, our own products.

Dan: Oh, impressive. Okay.

David: Unlike many, many companies in the industry, we manufacture our own products because it is just extremely difficult to find organic co-packers and that points to the opportunity we have. You know, there aren't people doing organic convenience meals in ready to eat frozen and that has been and is our opportunity. So we, you know, we built our own manufacturing, we have our own manufacturing facility in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. We just recently doubled the size of it as we continue to grow the business. Yeah.

Dan: I love that. Okay. So you built your own manufacturing, you actually produce your own products. Now that is really unique. That takes a lot of capital, but more importantly, it takes a lot of courage to be able to go down that path and to your point, you're right, there aren't a lot of companies out there co-packers, et cetera, that can do what you need to do with the same love, care, attention to detail, and passion that you have. So what caused you to want to go down that path? I mean, it just, there weren't enough co-packers, weren't enough resources out there to be able to do it yourself?

David: Well, we started with a co-packer in the Dallas, Fort Worth area and they failed. So we had the choice to make, you know, we either build our own facility ourselves, we find another organic co-packer which we couldn't find, or we take over the facility and bring in our own people. So that's what we decided to do and it has helped in a bunch of ways because we have a unique focus on quality, we can adjust our scheduling as it's needed, we've brought in people with serious experience and talent in the food manufacturing area and the food safety area. We've had a big push for a higher quality and consistency, you know, when you know what you want and you can control all the knobs, it has a really beneficial effect on what we do. So yeah, you know, farm to table is an old expression that people throw around very glibly, but we're involved in farming and ranching in producing food and in selling food.

Dan: That is so helpful. Yeah. I wouldn't have guessed that, honestly. In doing research and looking at your website and looking at the brand, that part of your selling story, you talk about it, but to really get into the weeds and really dig into this with you, you have done an incredible job of seeing the entire supply chain or the entire food chain, like you said, from farm to table. More importantly like you said, and I agree with you 100%, that when you can control it, when you have your finger on it, or, you know, you're invested in it, Then you have a much higher quality product. Where I'm going with this, David, is that when you put that product on the shelf, shoppers are gonna be be more than happy to pay for a premium or super premium product that they know that they can know, like, and trust. So when you're working with retailers, what selling story do you use to help get the product on the shelf?

David: Well, we don't have a lot of time in front of retailers, as you know. Category reviews are pretty short in those meetings, especially for fledgling brands, or new brands, or merging brands. You know, you don't get a lot of time to tell your story and so we really focus on consumers and on what consumers are asking for. We don't spend a lot of time talking to retailers about our story 'cause we don't have that much time. So we talk about the challenge of getting organic shoppers down the frozen aisle and what we're doing to help make that happen. Not only are we offering product, but we're also very, very engaged in social media and you can guess from my tech background that, you know, the technology side of working with social media is something that we do incredibly well.

So we're very, very focused on, you know, getting shoppers to go from the periphery of this store, especially, you know, organic produce shoppers because typically organic shoppers shop the periphery of the store and leave. You know, they're especially getting the frozen, you know, frozen has a stigma associated with it. With high sodium levels, tons of chemicals, bad flavor, all of those things. So getting shoppers to go from the produce area, the organic produce area to center aisle, frozen aisle, you know, is one of our big challenges. So we spend a lot of time talking with retailers about how we do that. One of the things that we always articulate to retailers is that we believe the sales of our products in frozen are incremental to frozen goods, because organic shoppers have traditionally not walked down the freezer aisle.

Dan: Well, they absolutely are and that's, you said you've listened to the podcast before and I'm grateful that you do that. Thank you. Is that, this is exactly what I talk about and you are not an ATM machine, you are not just another brand on the shelf. You drive traffic, quality traffic into the store and the fact that you've got the ability to understand the metrics of driving a consumer first of all, into the store and then from the perimeter store into center store, that is what retailers are looking for. Then I would say that the next opportunity for you is to help the retailer understand that the consumer that buys Beetnik Organic is the same consumer that's going to spend more in the store because it's organic, because it's clean ingredients. So do you share that story with the retailers?

David: We definitely do and look, we have the challenge that we're learning about space. So when I say we listen to your podcast, it's not because we love you, although we definitely have an appreciation for what you're doing, Daniel, but it's because we have a burning kind of need and desire to learn more about the retail space. So your podcast had been very, very helpful in us being able to do that and we're just thirsty for knowledge about how we can be successful in the CPG space. So we, you know, will look at every means and opportunities to learn more about how we can drive organic shoppers into that freezer aisle.

Dan: I appreciate your saying that and this is exactly why I do this, to try to help brands like you solve these problems. In fact, one of the things I want to go back to in a minute is the fact that you said that retailers don't give you a lot of time. If you can prove that you are a value added resource to the retailer, more so than just another brown box or blue box or whatever on the shelf, retailers will begin to pay attention to you. When retailers begin to pay attention to you, that changes the conversation and David, if you can become a category leader within your category, that's when savvy retailers will start giving you opportunities, incremental promotional opportunities, et cetera, that will help you not only stand out on the shelf. More importantly if you help the retailer drive sales within their store by leveraging the strengths of your brand, that's the win win and that's got to be at the heart of everything you do. Which it sounds like it is. So you've got a strong social media presence. How do you use that to drive sales into the store and then into the frozen section?

David: Well, it's not just social media. I mean we are engaged in digital marketing in different ways. So whether it's digital demos where we get people to go in and sample our product and review our product, that's very, very different from a traditional store demo where, you know, you setup a little stand and you're looking for an organic shopper. You know, maybe, maybe you get, you know, 40 people come by in the space of three hours and in conventional retail, maybe two or those are organic shoppers and then you've got to convince them to go down the freezer aisle. Or to come and try your product and the effect and the results of that are wildly less productive than if you can go out, find organic shoppers and say, hey, go in and try our product. If you like it, write about it and tell your friends about it.

Dan: Love it. Okay, and that's exactly-

David: For us, micro and nano influencers are extremely important because as you know, Daniel, you know, it's 20% of organic shoppers are spending almost 50% of the money on all organic sales in this country and those are the most valued shoppers that any retailer can target. They have the biggest baskets and they're the most loyal shoppers.

Dan: How true. I could not agree with you more and I don't think a lot of people really understand that and one of the things as you know, I talked about a lot on the podcast, is that the larger brands, the larger retailers tend to commoditize the natural shopper. They don't understand the value of that organic shopper, how unique they are. So when you're talking about that, how do you communicate the unique value of that shopper versus someone who just buys a, you know, head of organic lettuce or something like that? An occasional organic shopper.

David: Well, we have the most success when we're engaged with category managers who wear a big hat for their company and by that I mean, the category manager who plays well with other category managers in their store. We always have more success in those kinds of stores than we do in the store where the category manager is only interested in their four square feet. The reason for that is the retailer cares about the shopping basket, the retailer's management, but we rarely get the opportunity to talk to the retailer's management. We are always talking to a category manager and so based on our experience, we could tell you which category managers we think are going to be the most successful in their career because they're the ones who think about their company first and their category second.

Dan: So glad you said that. A lot of people don't realize that. Years ago they used to be extremely territorial and that was extremely difficult when you're trying to work with them and trying to help them understand the category as a whole. So working for Kimberly-Clark, trying to help some retailers understand that baby food is a big part of the diaper category, the diaper the need state, and helping them understand why that's unique and why that's different, but at the same time we need to be able to drive that same consumer down that aisle. That there's a win win for leveraging both of those different segments or the subcategories. So you're absolutely right. I've had conversations with people about this as well. Ben Friedland with Lucky’s Market and Mathis Martinez of formally Kroger, about what category managers should and shouldn't do, what they need to do differently, and how they can help drive sales within the category within the brand. To your point, when they look beyond the four corners of their cubicle or their category and they start really understanding how different products play different roles across the entire store. So when you're talking about that and you're saying you're able to identify which category managers are going to be successful. How are you able to help nurture them? How do you help them? How do you help make their job easier so that they can in turn help you grow sales?

David: Well, I mean we articulate the cross promotional benefits associated with, you know, having more organic consumers come down the frozen aisle. If we are engaged with a category manager who is really myopic and is concerned solely with their category, then our cross promotional strategy and emphasis with that person tends to be more about, well look, you've got people coming down the aisle who are buying organic frozen corn, organic frozen peas, organic frozen ice cream. Why don't we do something more narrow then that's just focused on your category and trying to leverage those customers to also buy an organic frozen entree.

Dan: Absolutely. Well and that makes so much sense because like you said in the beginning, consumers want convenience. Instead of having to go out and make your own everything, well, hey, you've got a solution for that. So yeah, go ahead and buy your organic produce down the freezer aisle or others areas of the store but there are times when people want something quick and easy to make. So love the way that you're connecting all these dots.

David: So one of the challenges we have as a smaller brand is, you know, as we expand our product offering and we have come to realize, hey, as much as people are enjoying our single serve meals and are focused on that for certain meal occasions, many, many, many, many of our consumers are buying our products for lunch, because, you know, they go to work and they can't, you know, there's no organic alternative anywhere within blocks of where they work. So they might be bringing in an organic meal for lunch. So what we've come to realize is that in many cases people want to be able to serve their families organic products, and their children organic products, their spouse, their boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever, you know, their living mate. The want to be able to serve organic to more than just themselves.

One of our challenges is to expand into multi-serve or family serve type of offerings and we've just done that with our first product, which is a grass fed beef meatball in a pouch That's the first product offering that we've done to give more than one person the opportunity to try, you know, to prepare something for themselves and someone else that is an all organic product. So one of our challenges is, you know, as a small brand we want to try and expand around that single serve set. Many times in conventional retailers, you know, the family serve and the single serve are in different sections in the freezer. So when you're fighting to get an organic shopper to come down a freezer aisle, asking them then to hunt and peck for organic products is a more significant challenge. So we have found some retailers that have said, you're right, we think it's better that your brand be together, you know, that we carry a family or multi serve kind of offering as well as single serve and we put them all in the same place in the freezer section. Now those are really progressive grocers. In some cases, you know, the politics, the dynamics of retailers make it a little bit more difficult to accomplish that.

Dan: They spend so much time tripping over themselves, I agree, and as I would say, the biggest challenges that most retailers have is that they continually work to reacquire the same customer over and over and over again. So here you are trying to help them develop a loyal following and help them help their customers find what they need in their stores. So ideally they should see that and so again, that goes back to what you were talking about earlier where you're not getting those conversations with the retailer specifically. Certain category managers perhaps, and so my recommendation to you is to really hone in on the selling story and really help the retailers understand who Beetnik is, who your consumer is, why they buy your products, why they buy your customers products. This is exactly why I built my turnkey sales story strategies course, is to teach brands like you how to go through this journey.

So the gist of it is this. David, you know who your customer is, but does everyone in your entire sales funnel communicate that value of your customer with the same passion and enthusiasm that you do? One. Two, does everyone in your sales funnel really understand who your competition is and your competition is any frozen product out there. So what does that look like? What do those consumers look like? Why do they buy your product over the other product and vice versa? Then number three, if you can become an expert in the retailer and understand what their needs are, what their goals are, what their strategies and tactics are that they want to implement when they go to market so they can compete more effectively, and when you can leverage all that together and then sprinkle in the fact based information, like you said, about the organic shoppers. 20% buying 50% of the organic products and talk about your consumer and now leverage in your social media strategies and how you're driving traffic into the store.

Now all of a sudden you're far more than just another product on the shelf. Now all of a sudden you are a value added resource to the retailer and if they're smart, they're going to start paying attention to you because I agree that what you're doing makes all the sense in the world and your logical progression to go from a single serve into a multi-serve is extremely important. In fact, I'd add one more component to that, that the waste of the packaging, since packaging is unfortunately not all sustainable. That you're creating an opportunity for consumers to buy your products and not have as much physical packaging involved in it that needs to either be recycled or thrown away or whatever. So as you add those more complex layers on top of your conversation, hopefully you'll get more traction. Your thoughts?

David: Well look, you hit one thing that is a source of passion and pride for our company, and by the way is probably also an area that we're living with and that is the packaging piece. So when we started the company, you know, we looked at other retail packages and we said, man, those are really big for a relatively modest amount of food. Like that's not value for consumers and so it wasn't based on research, it was just based on our own feeling that hey, we don't need to wreck the planet. Whatever we can do to put product into a smaller footprint that's more cost effective, we're going to. So our product packaging is actually a sleeve, which is different from a box which uses, you know, a box for our size of package would be about double the amount of cardboard which ends up being recycled or thrown into lots. So, we made the decision hey, we're going to go with a sleeve because that's the bare minimum.

In doing that, we also went to a smaller footprint tray and all those things mean less marketing on the shelf. That means we have a smaller footprint and interestingly, one national retailer said we are moving away from measuring revenue per shelf and we're measuring revenue per square inch of facing, because our shelves are all flexible. So we don't care that your product packaging is smaller. We like the fact that you're efficient and in terms of revenue per square inch of facing, you know, their words were we're a golden child. So we like that because our consumers, organic consumers care about the environment. You know, if you look at the things they care about, they care about chemical free product, that's a big one. Second, they care a lot about the environment. You know, they care about how farms raise products, you know, grow products and they care about farm workers.

So they have an interest in more than just, you know, a chemical free product. They're interested in other aspects and we are too. You know, we are our own shopper in the sense that, you know, we're hardcore, our whole family, we're hardcore organic consumers and when I say that, I mean we're not just interested in what it means for us personally when we go and buy a product that we, you know, buy food and eat food, but we care about how farmers are treated, how the environment is cared for, you know, sustainable agriculture. That's not lip service for us, we are involved in ranching and farming. So those things are things we live with every day.

Dan: I love the way you say that and that is so true and it is so important that you communicate that across your entire sales funnel because at the end of the day, again, it's that unique shopper that you're driving into the store that they're going to value so much that they're after, that they're to capture. So when you're talking about the fact that they went from, the way they're changing their model, do they also talk about the checkout stand, about the market basket? Do you get evaluated on the value of your product as it goes through the register in the market basket in addition to what you're doing on the freezer shelf?

David: We do. We don't often see that data. We had one national retailer who carries our product in a few thousand stores that has told us, you know, the average basket size for products that include Beetnik is in the $170 range and the average basket for all shoppers in their chain is $98. So, you know, there's some indication from a retailer who definitely tracks that information that, you know, the shopper who is buying Beetnik products is the highly valued shopper. We have not subscribed to data up until now. That's something that we're considering doing. So we'd love to have that data ourselves to be able to articulate to retailers but anecdotally we know at least one story where that a retailer shared that.

Dan: That fantastic. I mean the fact that you're actually able to almost double the market basket of a normal customer and actually I'm surprised that $98 is the average. That says a lot for that retailer. Typically the average market basket, I mean years ago was like $6, $7 because you figure the number of people that go through the store and buy a single item or two items or something like that. So that says a lot about that retailer, about being able to really drive that consumer in the store. So if you were to have that same study done or look at a different retailer, I'm sure the numbers would be even further apart. In other words, in terms of the value of your shopper versus the average shopper going through a retail store. So just something to think about.

The fact that you're interested in getting into data, love to have that conversation with you offline. That's one area that every brand really needs to really excel in and I keep saying you got to know your numbers, but there are different data sources to answer or solve different problems. They all have their pluses and minuses and it's being able to understand which one of the databases is going to supply the best information for you and it really depends on where you're selling your products at, and the other challenge is the stuff we're talking about. Getting market basket data is very expensive, but there's some ways around that too. Some strategies that I've got, but the fact that you're thinking along those lines I think is great because it's really going to help you open the door and see what the opportunity is down the road.

Again, everything that you could provide to the retailer helps you become a value added resource and one of the things I keep saying is that savvy retailers already know how well your brand's doing. They don't need another topline ranking report saying, here's what we're doing on your shelf. They want insights, valuable, actionable insights like the stuff we're talking about here today. So I highly suggest or recommend that you continue down that path and identify some data sources that are really going to help you grow sales and help you continue to develop this. David, is there anything else that we haven't covered that you wanted to share?

David: Undoubtedly there are Daniel, but I really appreciate your time today.

Dan: Well, if you've got some other questions, I'm happy to answer them. In fact, what questions do you have of me? How can I help you grow your business?

David: You know, like I said, we're strongly interested in how to convince retailers that having a single serve and having family serve for a brand together in the organic world is beneficial. So I don't know if you have any perspective or strategies that we should be adopting in our pitch to retailers, but that is definitely something that we would value.

Dan: Okay, so to answer your question, I mean yeah, there are different data sources and I've got some examples of the family dynamic and how the family's changing. One of the things that, for example, Euromonitor International has some great data that talks about the consumer and they spend a lot of effort and energy talking about the organic consumer and so I use this information in my talks. So what I'm getting at is that, the younger consumer is really interested in buying a product that, generation z, buying a product that aligns with their values and so is the millennials, so starting with the younger kind of moving up. That a products really aligned with their values and then when you look at some of the other data, it shows how people are starting to use food and enjoy food together. So that talks about how people are not just eating by themselves. So they're eating in groups and families and friends and stuff like that.

The point being there is that if you have a single serve meal that kind of limits your ability to really speak to that audience. To be able to really cater to that audience and then when you start talking about the fact that now a lot of families are trying to find ways to get back to traditional values by having dinners together as a family, by preparing meals that maybe will last throughout the week, or preparing several dinners or several, you know, other meal occasions, not just lunch occasions. So the fact that you're doing phenomenal in lunch, to me says that there's a great opportunity for you to own other meal occasions and so with that said, one of the things that I'd really again highly recommend is that as you're developing your sales story, focus on those unique attributes. What does the consumer look like? How do they shop the store? When they shop the store what do they buy?

Then when that consumer takes the product home, how are they enjoying it? How are they sharing it? If they're sitting around a family and they've got to open up four containers of Beetnik, well, that's less efficient to them. That's kind of what I was getting at with the packaging earlier, where if you had an opportunity to provide a solution to that family, then that would resonate with them. Again, you're reducing their carbon footprint, you're reducing the amount of waste. So those are the kinds of problems that I think you need to bake into your selling story but more importantly, David and again, I'm thrilled with everything you guys are doing. You guys are doing so many things right, really impressed with all you've done so far.

The next question I would have is ask yourself, how effectively is your selling story being communicated throughout your entire sales funnel? Again, what I mean by that is does everyone in the business, everyone who touches every single retailer, everyone, do they have the same passion, knowledge, enthusiasm that you do? If they don't, then there's a tremendous opportunity for you to stand out and then as you're developing these relationships, one of the things that I do is I'd actually, one of the episodes I did I think it's episode 68, where I talked about how sort of a David and Goliath story where I would challenge retailers to give me a chance. So I would actually challenge retailers to allow you to test some of your hypothesis of taking your product, developing a multi-serve package, and making it easier to find or maybe even put a shelf talker or something on your package saying for those specific stores if it's possible, that you've also got a family sized meal or something like that, but again, hats off.

I'm thrilled with all the things you guys are doing. You're doing a lot of things right and I'm so impressed that you were able to go on this journey where you saw a problem, you fixed it, and you kept learning and learning and learning to the point where you now own your own facility, your own manufacturing facility, and now you own your own conversation and your own strategies to help get on the shelf. The social media, everything that you're using to drive traffic in the store. So again, hats off to you guys. You guys are doing a great job. Any other questions I can answer for you?

David: I appreciate that Daniel. You know, we're optimistic about the direction the company's headed in, we're optimistic about the quality of products, and we certainly value the input of folks like you.

Dan: Well, I appreciate that and if there's anything I can do to help in the future again, keep tuning in. I've got a lot of guests coming on that are going to continue to add value to your mission, to the strategies that you're working on. In addition to that I'm building courses. In fact, actually the course that I'm working on trying to get finalized right now, it'll probably be finalized by the time I, actually will be finalized by the time I launch this podcast, is to teach you how to measure the health of your brand. The whole idea behind that is how do you develop, how do you, first of all, measure the health of your brand and then how do you communicate that to the retailer? So again, you're more than just another package on the shelf. You're a value added resource, and if I can show a retailer that you're driving more contribution to their shelf, contribution that they can take to the bank at the end of the day, that's the story. That's the message that they need to get. So again, thrilled that you made time for me today. Thank you for sharing your story and I'll look forward to our next conversation.

David: Thanks. Daniel.

Dan: I want to thank David for coming on today and sharing his insights and his story with us. I'll be sure to put a link to Beetnik Foods in the show notes and on the podcast webpage. Today's free downloadable guide is effective merchandising strategies that gross sales and delight shoppers. I thought this would be perfect for today's episode because we talked about the importance of properly merchandising your products in a unique area, the freezer. More importantly, how do you help retailers understand why your customer is the ideal customer that they should be driving to their freezer section? This guide helps answer those questions and questions about other categories as well. You can download the show notes as well as this week's free download at brandsecretsandstrategies.com/session84. Thank you for listening and I'll look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Beetnik Foods https://www.beetnikfoods.com

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