Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #197

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.


Dan: Welcome. One of the biggest challenges that every brand asks or everyone has, that they share with me is how do they get from point a to point B? How do you grow from being a small brand, a small kitchen brand to something that's multimillion dollars of sales? How do you sell that brand? How do you get the right crew, the right people, the right support to be able to elevate your brand and explode sales. That's what this podcast is all about. In this podcast episode. You're going to hear from Eric, is a master brand builder. Who's got an unbelievable resume of success behind him. He's going to talk about why focus and having the right team in the right strategy behind you is what you need to grow your brand. But there's a lot more to it than that. And we'll explain that more. As you go through the interview, do me a favor and help me raise the bar in the industry and share this with any brand that you know, that wants to grow sustainable sales.

This episode's invaluable. You'll definitely want to pay attention to the end as always. Thank you for listening. This show is about you and it's for you. At the end of every episode, always include one easy to download quick to digest strategy that you can insulate up and make your own today. I'm going to share that with you at the beginning of the episode, during this episode, during this podcast episode, Eric and I talk about why you need to have a 50% margin to really make your brand profitable. Well, one way to do that is to reduce your trade spending. In other words, get rid of the waste to make it more efficient. Today's free download is actually a cool tool, a tool that you can use anytime you want to evaluate your trade spending, a tool that you can use to assess different scenarios and identify what is the best strategy for you to maximize your ROI and your trade spending. You can get there on my website. There's a tab at the top called trade promotion analysis tool. I'll talk more about it at the end of the podcast episode. So you want to stay tuned. There are instructions on the site. If you've got any questions, reach out to me, I'm happy to answer them for you. Remember the goal here is to get your product into more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. Now here's Eric.

Okay. So everyone thank you for showing up. I really appreciate it. Today is going to be fantastic today. You're going to hear from a master brand builder, Eric Skay. So, so why are we here? Well, my mission is there make our healthy way of life more accessible by helping you get your product or more source shelves and into the hands of more shoppers, including online. I leaned into the pandemic and came up with this, this free webinar series because I realized the best thing I could do is help you grow and scale. And so by getting experts like Eric to come on and share his wisdom and his insights, this is invaluable because this is going to give you a leg up. The point here is that if you lean in and you leverage what you've got, the assets that you've got, this is your opportunity to shine. Let's get started. So, Eric, thank you for coming on today. Can you please start by telling us a little bit about yourself and you, how you got to where you're at today? That's a long story now. That's okay.

Eric: I got, yeah, I spent 30 years in this business. Um, started as a distributor with a van and a truckload of water. It was in Florida and I figured it was hot and people would buy water and 1989, 1990. Um, and uh, you know, I was right. People did buy water. It was kind of, you know, early in God, wasn't the beginning of the bottle of water industry, but it was really early. And, uh, what I did also realized about three weeks in is if I didn't have any other, any other brands, I would be out of business fast, cause I wasn't gonna make it on just Florida. So I became the distributor in Orlando, Florida when no one else wanted your brand, when absolutely everybody said no to you, you came to me. And I said, yes. So opened up about, I don't know, 600 and some odd accounts, uh, and was fortunate enough during that time to pick up Arizona ice tea as a brand, when it was brand new, got him at our first seven, 11 authorization had to figure out how to route 212 stores.

So it was like one of these situations. If you had a van and you would work for 80 bucks cash a day, I would load your van and you would deliver seven and 11 for me made it work. Um, I walked into a seven 11 one day and the manager goes, sorry to hear you're losing the brand. What do you mean? I'm losing the brand. They go, Oh, well, the new distributor was just introducing and introducing themselves. So Arizona decided to go to someone bigger, which happens. Um, fortunately at the same time, the Miller beer distributor wanted the water brand that I had. So the water brand bought me out. They bought out my company and um, I ended up calling Arizona and said, guys, I just sold my company largely because of you, the least you could do is give me a job. So they did.

And they moved me to Cleveland, Ohio. I had never been in Ohio in my life. I had flown over at once, I think, going to Michigan, but, um, and ended up getting that job moved to Ohio, uh, spent, um, three and a half years with Arizona T at a time where they, when they went from, you know, including the distribution time, call it four and a half. And they went from zero to 500 million during nighttime. So it's a sink or swim environment. You're either learning or you're not. I remember being in Cleveland and my first week there, they wanted me to call on BP who at the time had 2,900 stores. And I was like, don't we have a national accounts guy. Don says you had a national accounts guy. Okay. We went and made the call. Uh, from there, I went to Hanson's for a short period of time.

I'll call it. My shoulda coulda, woulda. Um, Mark Hall recruited me from Arizona Tea at the time they didn't have monster. So everything that I was putting on the shelves was not working. It was just miserable. Then, I had gotten an opportunity to go to someone called fresh Samantha. So I took the opportunity fresh. Sam ended upscaling from five to 45 million under three years, uh, in under three years and salted world wall. So for those who don't know the brand, it's, it's an owl Dwolla it was the the East coast code Walla at the time. So had our own trucks, own distribution centers. And, um, grew that brand nicely. From there, I ended up going to a nine company roll up with naked juice, being the primary, uh, the brand that everybody would know, but it was naked juice. Sigler's Natalie's orchid Island, the ultimate juice, uh, for our Cara to Saratoga water.

I'd have to think of the other ones we get down to Fantasia, which was bread, bread bar horns brand was one of the brands that are roll-up. And I, I ran, um, uh, I was president, uh, ran half the country. We had our own distribution, uh, in several markets and, um, went direct in a lot of other markets. To learn quite a bit there. Then I owned a couple of my own brand sites on spring water, which I built from 2002 to 2008. It was the number two important water in natural foods nationally behind Fiji. So we did a good job in natural, um, bid a lot of own label type stuff. So if you go into Walgreens today, you'll see Iceland pure water. I created that for Walgreens in 2004. It's still there today. So it's, what's work. You go into vitamin shop, you'll see it.

I signed the quarter. We created that form in 2002. Um, so, um, I had a lot of fun with that, that business, uh, also created an ice tea at the same time called newly-filed state, uh, built that up and, you know, unfortunately, Oh eight happened. So I had two exits in a way, one in a water business, which was a good day. And then one in the ice tea business, which was a forced situation needed to figure out how to I had it, my entire net worth. I had mortgaged my house in that that business had my child's college funding. And, um, you know, he wasn't, he was in college. I have four children, easy, all this. So, uh, I had to figure it out. I, I ended up, um, selling into a public shell and taking ownership, but our public company and taking some ownership, but they'd get some of my highest risk money off the table.

Um, which was only about a third of what I had in with, but it beat the alternatives. So ended up running that company for a couple of years, a board wanted to go one way. I wanted to go another, I wanted to get it out of the public show. There's a lot of complexity to go public in terms of, um, just all the reporting and the cost of doing business in a public shell. And, uh, couldn't get the board to go there. So I moved on and consulted for a five year period of time. And during that time, I got involved with some food brands, um, food, and beverage. I did 45 assignments in five years. We, we did anything like if you wanted to sell your business, we would figure out how to help you do that. You know, like, uh, you know, we'd put a banker in and then help guide people through the process.

Um, so a lot of fun doing that. And then I got a call from radios and it was because of a banker and a lawyer who I, I was on the other side of, on two transactions where I helped entrepreneurs sell their brands, uh, recommended me to the radio speaker. And there was a cut in pay to go back to be a CEO of a company, but high profile, there was stuff going on within the company where it was on the front page, in New York post. The shareholders were also in each other and a lot of turmoil. Um, so during that time, we, um, during that time, we, um, I took, I took the position and had to do a complete turnover, but the only way I could get the shareholders to agree to move forward was to sell the company. So from August 26, I want to say August 26th of, uh, Oh, that'd be 17.

Maybe it was 16. I'd have, I'd have to go look back. But within 10 and a half months we stole a company. Then we sold it for a great value for the shareholders. They all did well. I transitioned the company for about another kind of eight, nine months, and then moved on to my next opportunity, which was popcorn. Opolis got the popcorn Annapolis thought it was going to be a three-year run. And Wally, the founder said to me, you ready for another 10 months run? I said, so what do you think? And he says, well, I think the time to sell is now, you know, while he's just at an age that he just wanted to get his chips off the table, as you know, to, to a degree and kind of have some time to back themselves. So, um, it ended up being exactly another 10 and a half month run. Um, here I've transitioned for a little over a year and I finish up at, then I finish up within the next week. So that's my story.

Dan: Well, I appreciate your sharing that. So let me ask you real quick, uh, beverage versus food, which is easier.

Eric: I don't think any is easier. Right? Um, and it depends on the, it depends on what channel and what category and food. Like I loved the pasta sauce business for its simplicity. And you knew exactly what channels you had to go after you were going, you were going against grocery and you were going against club know club mass. So you, you, weren't thinking about convenience. You weren't thinking about food service, you know, the, at the time, and I'm talking about four years ago, the online sales were so low because of the weight of a case, the pasta sauce that, that then even make sense to develop to any grade the grade. We had a little bit of it, but you know, it just didn't make sense to really put a whole big focus on it. Whereas if you go into the snack business where I'm in now, you know, you can go to every single channel. So it's very much like a beverage in that sense. Yeah. Snack and beverage parallel each other very, very well.

Dan: I loved being a DSD driver going way back. And, but I remember the guys who were carrying the beverages, man, their knees gave out early cause that, that stuff's heavy. And so carrying a box of chips, no big deal. I can't care of several at a time those Pepsi guys or whoever they were, uh, kind that stuff's heavy. So I, I have great,

Eric: Well, our mutual friend, Michael, our mutual friend, like GLA or Donald compared to them and the five-gallon bottle of water drivers to athletes. Oh, you kind of have to be, you know, it's, it's the way he looks at it. And as a result, working comp claims or our Workman comp costs are very high for those guests.

Dan: Oh yeah. But I could run a lot faster with you with a case of chips. Just kidding. No, I ran my butt off, but what the cool thing was is I can wake up in the morning and I could decide how much money I wanted to make. And this is kind of where I'm leading into where I want to talk about today. The cool thing about being a DSD driver is you have the ability to impact your sales on a daily basis. And you have your impact, the opportunity to impact yourselves on a micro-level. You know, something I hadn't really thought about till I was talking to Brad Bon horn last week. And yet those are the skills that help me get to where I'm at today. So as you're learning about DSD and about all those intricacies and working closely with individual retailers, how did you leverage it or parlay that into what you're doing today? How important was it?

Eric: Just the engine? Look, it's a Jew. When you do what I've done over the last 30 years, you get a lot of experience in a lot of areas, right? So I'm more of a J GM generalist general manager, but understanding your consumer, understanding your customer, and being able to articulate that to you, let me back up. So understanding who your, your actual end consumer is, and then being able to articulate to that, to your customer, who is a chain is really, really important. And I think that's more about, I think it's the most important thing. You've got to have a reason to be on the shelf and too many people walk in and they go, well, I've got this great brand and then I've got great margin. We know Michael, and I actually talk about this and they forget to tell the retailer what's in it for them.

Right. So, you know, I think what I've learned, what I've learned is you've got to answer what I call the Wii, WIF, M what's in it for me. And this goes back to the margin piece that we've talked about and that the need for, for 50 margins, if you think about this business, it's like the simplest hardest business in the world. Why is it simple? I've got to put a box or a bottle on a shelf. How hard is that? Right? But along the way, when you think, about it, you've got to sell your broker. You've got to sell your distributor. You've got to sell a retailer, you've got to sell your sales staff. At the end of the day, you've got to sell an end consumer. And every one of those people wants to know what's in it for me. And typically that involves dollars, right?

So you have to have the dollars in the margin structure to be able to support that. And if you don't, you've got to know that you can get there. So, like I've had the Bates with people in the industry about it. Even matter, people will tell you, Oh, go grow, grow, grow, grow. And you're going to sell your company to Coke or Pepsi or, or, you know, whatever for a whole lot of money and you don't need to make money. Cause they're going to make money. That is absolutely not true. It might be true if you're in the hottest plant-based space and you want to run in today's world. But if you're in pasta sauce or bottled water, that's not true, right. Even on matters because you gotta be able to support that all the way to law. And when you do eventually want to sell your company, even I was going to be one of the key drivers to drive the most. If you've got good, even though you're going to drive a lot of value, particularly if you have a couple of the growth,

Dan: How would you define it? What's an easy way to, for people to think about what EBIT is and why it matters. What do you mean? Well, I mean, I hear a lot of people talk about it's, it's a huge, really scary term, but when you're talking about the valuation of your brand, how do you discuss it? Because I

Eric: It's new, you make money. I mean, this is where I get back to 50 margins. If you have greater than 50 margins, you're going to have either a, unless you don't have the pieces that you're really good at tradesmen under control. Cause you know, we've all seen trade spends in that 25 range and you're not gonna make it if you've got trade spends in the 25 minutes. Right. Um, so, you know, high, high margins are having the pathway to get to a higher high margin is really, really important. And I can tell you just from experience, if you can couple high margin with, with good growth, the 20, 20 rule, if you could have 20% growth and 20% EBITDA, you're going to sell your brand or your company for a whole lot of monetary. And if you can't get there, if you could show that you can get there to someone that is valuable, right. Um, you, you know, and, and that's, that's a, you know, I mean, that's, that's the magic you get in there, but you know, the world's changed obviously in the last kind of, you know, 120 days, right? We've got, we've got valuations coming down. So while my argument that even on matters like a year ago was important. I think it's really, really important now because I think people

Dan: Well, and thank you for sharing this, this back way, way up. One of the things that you touched on, which thank you, because this is the area I focus on. One of the, one of the biggest areas of focus on is a customer. And the point is this, Eric, that a lot of the big brands spend a lot of their time talking at us. We're the best word, the biggest you need to listen to us because we're the best, but really providing no value, the opportunity that you have, the DSD driver, it forces you to be in the trenches, working directly with your customer, your immediate customer, the retailer, and then helping them helping educate them about who your end shopper is. And the reason I wanted to go here is because a lot of brands pay lip service to that. They generically think about who their customer is, who they're trying to serve.

And yet my position is that retail is broken. And instead of looking at how do we extract as much margin out of a single product, we need to change that conversation to how does your consumer shop the store and when your consumers in the store, what are the things that they buy? And so the reason I wanted to go here, Eric is I wanted to get your thoughts. First of all, about that focusing on the market basket, the total, the sum of all sales, but more importantly, how the end customer relates to that and your job as a salesperson is to help the retailer appreciate and understand the value that, that customer, that your brand attracts drives to their store. Your thoughts.

Eric: Yeah. So I agree a hundred percent. And it's funny because, you know, if you look at 84 51, the Kroger data or the smart team reports from Albertsons Safeway, they're highly focused on that. They want to know what customer, you know, they, they've got to kinda, you know, they're, they're different basket size customers, and they've got their best customers that are there the most that spend the most. And you want to be in that bracket with your brands. You want to be in that highest, highest basket because they are paying attention to it. They're paying a lot of attention to it. So I recently looked at a report, you know, and I won't say what brand, but really recently looked at a port report where a brand was attracting the best customer, the average basket size and 74 bucks. I think that's like 20 or 30 bucks more than the normal basket size. While the sales of that particular brand might not add the velocity of other brands that were attracting their best customers, your best customers were buying that product. So the retailer was highly interested in,

Dan: Thank you for sharing that. Cause that's another thing I get into a lot big brands can buy velocity. So how many sales you have on the shelf? Again, the mindset that I'm trying to squeeze as much margin out of a single item and traditional retail focuses only on that item and forgets about all the other products have in the store. So when you're focusing on margin and you're focusing on market basket, then you're looking at the overall product, Oh, the overall all the complimentary products. So let me ask you this, because this is something that I see, and this is an area I'm trying to fix. That retailers tend to commoditize, actually, everyone, commoditizes the shopper, all-male, all female, et cetera, without digging down into what that real good that customer ideally looks like. In other words, you're talking about a pasta sauce.

Okay, well, I can buy a lot of different pasta sauce. I can buy two for a dollar, you know, the cheap stuff, et cetera, or I can buy the really high-end stuff. And what I'm getting at Eric is if I were to buy an organic, natural pasta sauce with all clean label ingredients, et cetera, and that customer, that buys that probably buys it because they're more interested in the value that they get from that product, that customer, therefore, is far more valuable than the customer that buys regular or something like that. So how do you communicate that value, that incremental value to the retailer? And then how do you help the retailer communicate that to their end customer?

Eric: So I think the retailer, um, the retailer just leans into what's selling, right? But how do you communicate that as a brand? I mean, everything I've done in my life is premium. I'm in a premium popcorn business. Now I was a premium pasta sauce business. Before that I was in a premium water business before that, you know, if you were to take these categories, if you if you have your every day, you know, used rag, go retail, it probably makes 26 cents a jar on Ragu. I don't know that number to be true. I'm just saying they make a low number on where I go. If you go to Cucina, Antica, or arose, the retail is making two bucks a jar on it. A pretty simple story to go tell the retailer provided you got some velocity now in order to be able to get those types of dollars.

And that difference you have to have whatever is you have to have the best possible product in your jar, your bag, your bottle, you know, whatever it is you're going to be premium. You got to be premium and you got to give the consumer a reason to do it. So, you know, as a brand, you've now got to create a trial to reach that consumer, to get them to try it. If your brands are the best, they're going to come back and buy it, right? Creating trials really important when you have that, that dollar difference. Difference. I haven't met a retailer that when you show them as long as the margins the same and they're making more dollars, they like more dollars. They like a higher ring in the basket. It's really important to them. Right? So walking in and being able to tell that story of I'm going to attract your best customer and your basket size is going to be bigger because they're putting my jar in versus someone else's or my bag of popcorn versus someone else's retail is not going to argue with you on that. They just won't. But it's an important story to tell them it's an important story to show them, because if you don't show them, they're not, they might not be thinking about it.

Dan: And so on that note, then how do you recommend a young, and I'm trying to figure out how do I have that conversation? What strategies do you use? And the reason I wanted to go here is if I'm trying to build a brand, how do I successfully build and grow that brand? So one, and then two, how do I communicate that to not only just one retailer but every retailer. In other words, everyone on the sales team needs to be in lockstep, communicating the value of this product, the same way in the same passion as the founder.

Eric: Oh no. And that's absolutely true. When you think about it to go beyond that, you've got your sales team, but in a small team, you really don't just have your sales team. You have a broker, you have a broker team that, you know, is your Salesforce out there. And they have a lot on their plate. They have a lot on their minds. So it makes it what makes you different? Well, you've got to think about what that is. And I go all the way back to my Arizona. I see this. And I go out, you know, I think about how a guy named Mike shot that I learned this business from put 311 distributors on in 11 months across the country. It was just a March across the country. And he had to get everybody locked step in the same, same way. And I, and I use the same technique today that I, that he taught me there.

You could ask anybody and I mean, anybody, any Arizona tea organization or their brokers, what do you do at Arizona tea? And if you couldn't answer it, you'd be gone that day. But the answer was, we put our brands on the shelf. Eye-level next to snapper, very, very important like who we were next to. We price it at 99 cents. And that's, you know, the Arizona tea can, that's kind of the kiss at that. There's been struggled. They've struggled to get out of that 99 cent price. We put three signs up on every store and we identified where we put those sides. One at the cooler door, one on the front door, one at the register, right where you want it, you wanted it everywhere. That was visibility. And we've backed it up with quality service, right? So when I work with young brands, I try to figure out what their mantra is.

What's their easy mission because you know, those four, four things are really easy to remember. I could, I could get a broker for us to remember that, you know, years ago, years ago before, you know, people had iPhones and computers. I remember I had one brand print business cards with their mantra on it that they handed out that their brokers. So it was just very easy here. It is in today's world. You can email it. Then you can send it to them a lot of different ways. But, uh, getting that mantra, understanding your brand, understanding what you want it to be is very, very important. Otherwise, someone's going to get it and they're going to make it what they want it to be correct.

Dan: Exactly. And in fact, actually on that note, what's interesting is last summer, a lot of big brands reached out to me and started reaching out to me and asking me, how do you maximize the broker? How do you get the most from? And, and it was interesting. A lot of people that I talked to, in fact, one of the podcast episodes talking to Madeline Haydon with Nutpods and her bottlenecks issue sharing with me was, uh, how do I hold my broker accountable? And I said, well, wait a minute. If I'm working for you and I'm not performing, you'd fire me. Right? Yeah. Well, why, why don't you hold your broker to the same accountability, the point being, and this is why I came up with the free turnkey sales story strategies course is you've got to have everyone in lockstep to your point. You've got to be able to carry out all the different things that you're supposed to do, KPIs your merchandising, et cetera, to make sure that everything is being done correctly at shelf. What strategies did you use, first of all, to implement those and then all the whole people accountable? And the reason I wanted to go here is a lot of brands don't really understand how important execution is at shelf.

Eric: So I've done this right? And I've done this wrong. You know where, when I say that with none, I've done it wrong. I've expanded too fast. I've gone everywhere and your message gets diluted because you can't reach everybody. So the key to this is creating what you want your brand to be, where you want your brand to be how you want your brand to be positioned really, really dialing in and understanding that, and then picking a geography or channel, and then owning that child and not going into five channels or five geographies is, or, or, you know, whatever. I mean, when I look at the new leaf thing, when Oh eight happened, right. Things happen, right. You know, uh, you had nine 11 happened. You had the crash of 2008 happened, right. We've got a pandemic going on right now. Right. Things come up and things come up that you don't prepare for.

Like no one would have prepared for any one of those three things they wanted to thought about it. I should say no one, some of them might've gotten the financial crisis. Right. Um, but, but you, you're not prepared for those things. Sustained tight focused and keeping everybody, uh, you know, knowing where you want to be. And then, and then articulating that and then inspecting what you expect. I mean, you know, it's just like, you know, it was trust, but verify, right? So I trust you to get it, but I want to see it get done. So if your core is, I want to grow from Washington DC domain, you're going to identify every chain you want to be in, in that area. You're going to identify where you want to be on the shelf. And then you're going to go work with your broker and kind of make that happen.

Now, if you try to take that strategy as a young brand to do it across the country, you're going to get too diluted. But if you're within a four-hour variety of yourself, you can get to any store to make sure it's coming. You know, what's happening and, you know, building relationships with your brokers. So I know a lot of brokers now want to assign you one person, and that's your kind of person that you go, and you're not allowed to go to all the other brokers. Well, I don't work that way. Right? If I'm going to work with a broker, I want to be able to talk to the account rep at whatever account I want to go to directly. I don't want someone in between me, because then again, what happens? You're diluting the message. Every time you have someone between the founder of the sales that had the sales or whoever it is and you, so when you have someone trying to direct traffic, well, how do you know that the person that they relayed the message to got it the way you wanted them to get important, to be able to like, you know, and, and you can't manage your broker for us, you know, even a smaller, even a smaller national broker is five, 600 people across the country.

You can't reach them all. So you got to pick a geography, hopefully, it's the one you live in or where you manufactured, right? Because what does that do for you takes your travel costs down. It takes your transportation costs down on getting the product to the shelf, right? Your, your logistics, no cost as much. So, you know, building in your backyard or wherever you're, you're making your product becomes important as well.

Dan: And on that note, we were talking about a product that a company reached out to me recently, I was talking to Michael about this too. And so the company is in California, they have a distributor that put them in Florida, put them in Texas and Louisiana and in Indiana doesn't make any sense at all. This is one of the biggest challenges that I find brands run into is that without understanding their business, understanding their backyard, this is where you need to grow and succeed. This is where if you make a mistake, it's not as big a deal because you're right there and you can fix it or solve it or whatever before you start growing. And then those little mistakes,

Eric: Well, you, yeah, hopefully, you've created a relationship with the person. You made them, you know, the retailer you've made the mistake app where you can go in and say, okay, I didn't get that right. Work with me. You know what you can't if you're all over the country and the challenge. And I understand it, cause this is where I say, you know, I've done it right. And I did it wrong, a new leaf. I was like, I know the beverage business. I'm going to March this sucker across the country and open up 137 distributors in 38 States. Right? All of a sudden the weight comes in my ability to raise money. It was pretty much gone. And it, my ability to control that was pretty much gone. Whereas when I take my New York distributor who happened to be Manhattan beer at the time, his first year out, he did 125,000 cases were on track to two 51 that when the, you know, when things hit the fan, if I was just in that tight geographic area, we would have figured about how to navigate through that.

But we would try to support everybody. And you just can't, you can't get to that many people. So, you know, look, lessons learned. So the focus is important. Focus is one of the most important things, understanding geography. And the thing is you learn from that focus. And you know what I mean? You're in Denver. If I, if I can make something work in Alfalfas in Boulder. Well, there's a likelihood that I can take those learnings and then go back. It works in whole foods in that region or in natural growth. Right. So, you know, and then once I make it work in natural grocers, well guess what, maybe now I can go down to Arizona and call off sprouts. Cause now I've got a story and I know exactly what I've got to do. And I can go in and take those learnings from alfalfa's and say to the buyer at sprouts, Hey, here's what I've learned.

Here's where my brand works. And you know, the other thing I think about it's, it's funny where, where I go back to the Arizona ice tea days with that mantra, part of it was on eye-level shelf. What we wanted, the full shelf of product. If the store would only give us two facings, we told the store, thank you. But we're not going to take the business because we knew we couldn't succeed without the billboard. So you have to be willing to say no to business. And this is where it becomes hard. This is why the one you mentioned and you know, who's got, I've got business in Indiana and Florida yet they're in California, you're hungry for business. You're just getting started. Someone comes to you with, with them, again, excited. You're like, boom, I'm going to go get that sale. Do you know? And I, when you and I were talking the other day, like, I, I, I think about this business and it's hard and you really got to learn, and that's why you want to learn small.

And I go back to Iceland spring, where I saw my first truck. I'm excited. It's a $16,000 sale. It's do you want to fight? And I had taken that brand over for someone who had started it like a year before. And I didn't realize the trade spend that they had going on and everything they're going on. So my wife was my accountant at the time we are, and I worked together for almost 17 years off and on. And she calls me up when the check comes in and she goes, I got good news and bad news. I'm like, well, what's good, she goes, well, we got the first check from you and a fi well, what's the bad news. She goes to 12. The check was for $12 and 31 cents. And that was on a $16,000 order. Right? But it was almost, there were all this whole trade span and stuff that accumulated that they decided they were going to thing on that check.

And, and like, you know, lessons learned, you go small, you go within your own geography. You can manage all of those. You can even manage your trade spend. You're not like this in from it. You're not relying on your broker without you being with that broker all the time to manage that trade, spend that you're doing it yourself. So tight focus really, really important. And it's really important when you come back to like maximizing value, as we've talked about if you have a brand that could do well in grocery mass, convenience, food service, so on and so forth, pick your channel, prove it when it's time to go maximize and maybe sell your company, pick another channel and prove that it works there, but go very same thing. Like starting all over, go very, very tight geographically, leave that growth for the next guy. Who's gonna, I'm going to buy it, but prove it can work there, right?

If you have a brand that can go multichannel, I mean, multi, multi, multi-category, right? Don't go into five different categories. You don't want to be in a beverage in a, a, some of us. And I, you know, some, some brands have that expandability show the people that they can get up there, right? Like, prove that you can get there, find the co-packers, but don't try to go do it all right, because again, you're diluting, the more you dilute focus. If you know, if you have a miss, when you dilute focus, it's going to hurt your brand value. So you want to prove it on a very, very small, low level, but that leaves growth for the next person who takes over to go grow. If you've proved that just smaller territories. So I try to stay focused on everything I do.

Dan: Well, thank you for sharing. Cause you're right. It's so critically important. That's why I wanted to have this conversation. That's why I was so thrilled that we're going to be able to talk. Here's the challenge I run into when I, I, I mentioned that I don't think I mentioned this time, but I've worked with, with, I've had the privilege of mentoring and working with hundreds of brands from pre-revenue all at the multibillion dollars in sales. And, and the thing that I find that's true amongst most of them is that they're not experts in everything. The more you know about your brand, the more you understand your brand and that begins with understanding your customer. And the more I believe a brand should keep their hand on the rudder of their ship. Then you can start driving those decisions. And where I'm going with this, Eric is that unfortunately in this industry, we spend a lot of time teaching people how to raise money.

And then we teach them how to raise money. And then we teach them how to raise money. And then we teach them how to raise money. And then we tell them to go hire a broker and brokers are good and bad, just like every other profession, but they don't necessarily have your best interest. And they might be even supporting your competition, or they may not be experts in your customer and your brand, et cetera. And so in that scenario, being able to say, here's where I want to grow in my backyard. These are the stores I want to call. I want to be able to grow in, et cetera. And then hold that broker accountable. That is my mind is the best way to do that. And to go one step further, this is where you have a scorecard that holds them accountable. I talk about this a lot of podcast episodes, et cetera.

And then you use KPIs, which are the guardrails. So when you were saying that you had the, it's a pretty bold statement to tell a retailer, look, we don't want your business unless we can have a billboard. You had a reason for that. And so how did you adjust? How did you identify what those KPIs are? Those key performance indicators. And then how did you leverage that within your sales team and then at retail so that your product, Arizona, Tia, at that point had the ripe ripe product placement, the right shoving, the right signage, the right everything else so that the brand could thrive and grow. Because if you hadn't done that, I guarantee you wouldn't have been anywhere near as you wouldn't have done anywhere near as well as you did.

Eric: So Arizona tea was a demanding place and they demanded a lot of their employees and they demanded a lot of distributors. So it's a bad example, and I'm not sure you can get away with it in today's world. You know, we, we used to walk into our distributors and say, we want 95% non-chain distribution in the first 30 days. And people would look at us and go, I have course, and I don't have 95% distribution in my non-chain accounts, but really it was a build, the independent building, independent, the independent would bring the chain to you and you wouldn't have to pay the slotting dollars because you'd have built the man for your right. So, and it worked, I mean, it worked in a big way, but you know, we were bold and we asked for things and I'm serious. Everybody looked at me like I had two heads when I walked in there, uh, their, their distributorship.

But that said at the same time, I'd be out on a Saturday, resetting shelves, putting glide racks in getting it, showing it, you know, and there was the way I made it work, and this was a, I worked with a guy named Len Ganley and, uh, RL Lipton in Cleveland, Ohio distributor of, of, you know, all other distributors at the time. So he didn't have it ended up buddy. Then, of course, he had all of it, right. It ended up Miller, but, um, I led and I set up what I'd call a showcase route. And we went out and made her outlook beautiful. And then we held the salespeople accountable to execute against that showcase route and, and do the same thing we've been there. And like I said, the fact that I was out on Saturday and Sundays, building that show showcase route went a long way with the rest of the Salesforce. Cause you were

Dan: Well leading by example. So thank you. That's a great, great story. And this is a, I think gets back to one of the things that we're talking about in terms of retail execution, a lot of brands say, Hey, you need to go out and do this. And they don't really explain what this is or what the display should look like or how it should be merchandised. So that's a really good idea. So how did you come up with that? And then how do you feel it helped overall with the business and your role?

Eric: I'm not taking it to light. I'm not taking any license in not coming up with it. I mean, I'll actually tell you a quick, funny story. I built the showcase route Mike shot, who was my boss at the time, says he's coming to Cleveland to see me now. Mike happened to know Cleveland and I didn't the whole thing done yet. So I pick up Mike at the airport and I'm driving over to the showcase route. Cause, of course, I want to show him my best work. And Mike says, no, no, no, no, no, we're not going there. Let's go turn here, turn here, turn here. And he takes me to like stores that are selling cigarettes as Lucy's right. Like, you know, and Arizona, he was in every one of those stores, but it wasn't set right. It wasn't done. He went to four stores.

He asked me to take him back to the airport. So come back to the airport, I'll spend the day with me. And he went into the airport, he got on a phone. And at the time you had a voicemail. So he voicemail the entire Arizona team and said, good morning, theme, Arizona. This is Mike's shot. I just toward the market in Cleveland. Now he went to four stores just toward the market and Cleveland and the market sucks, no reflection on Eric. I invited him back 30 days later and every single store looked like my showcase route. So, you know, I mean, you learn was, you know, I think I was 28, 29. It was a rough, rough lesson. And I had done, I mean, I had been there a month. I had done my job, but I didn't have my job a hundred percent on it.

This was the type of expectation that was set by this leader that you were going to go build and you are going to get your distributors and leverage them and tell them that same form for point messaging, you know, of price, position, point of sale. It's pretty simple stuff. Right. Uh, and, and you were going to execute it. The expectation was there and you know, a lot of people didn't live. They didn't make it. You know, people lasted less than a year in that environment because they couldn't do it. I lasted well, well, more than that, because I chose to learn. But what was great about it is the people who left weren't bad people. They just didn't like that type of style or environment. And the amount of people that left. I created this giant network for myself, cross country. If people left Arizona and went somewhere else, it's actually pretty good.

Dan: Well, and on that note, those are the bosses, hate them when you've got them. But those are the bosses you learn the most from. I was a grocery manager at price club years ago. Well, before it became a Costco and my boss, well, great guy, but we'd walk the floor every single morning. And he'd say, how much of this did you sell this week? Yesterday week before last week, I had to know all my numbers. Why did you put this on an end cap? How much has coming in? What do you anticipate the sales to be? What do you think the margins going to be? This is back before we had a lot of the sophistication that brands have today retailers have today, but yet I learned so much from them from him and it helped me throughout my entire career. So thank you for sharing.

Cause that is again, the reason I do what I do, the reason that we're having this conversation, Eric is how do we help the brands that are listening, avoid some of these mistakes that other brand that everyone falls into. And so if they can learn from that, I think that gives them an edge. So as you're talking about that, and you'd built the network, talk a little bit about how that was relevant. Why was that important and how did you, were you able to leverage out later? And the reason I wanted to go here is what's interesting about this industry is you keep bumping into the same people periodically. And yet there are people out there in this industry that can really help you explode your growth, take your business to the next level and beyond, for example, bumping into you and having that opportunity to, to learn from you and, and then connect with the people that you have in your network.

Eric: Well, I see it. So, Dan, it's a good point. And earlier on you, you, you made the comment that donors don't know everything and the good brand owners, the people that really, really go far in this place. So the people who identify what they do really well, and they do that really well. And then they bring in people around them that can do the things they can't do well. So bringing in a guy like you bring in someone like a bread barn, horn on board, you know, and working with a founder, um, you know, back when I was consulting, bringing in someone like me to help on the business strategy plan and that focus, what is that focus? How are we going to win? Because you know, sometimes you come out with a product and it's not right, and you have to pivot. So that's why focus is really important because if you're all over the place you can't pivot or your pivot costs you a whole lot more money, right?

So you don't always know, you may have an idea of who your consumer is for your brand and you might be wrong and you might get it on the shelf. We'll find out that you have a completely different consumer. You're all over the place. It's very difficult to react to. If you tight, you're focused, you can react to that. But I do think knowing who you are, what your best strengths are leaning into those strengths, and then bringing in people around you, um, to help is, is important. And we happen to be, we happen to have an ecosystem here with a lot of, there's a lot of advisors out there. There's a lot of really good advisors out there. So you can always find help for what you're not good at. Right. And that's how you're going to leverage those folks relationships. Because if they're good advisors, I mean, I can tell you, you know, if I work with some of my Rolodex is open, whoever I, whoever they need to be in touch with that, I know I'll put them in touch.

And how does that work with you? You've talked about it. I don't, if I have to think about a chain or a distributor, I don't want to have to sit there and cold call anybody anymore. I'm sure I have a friend that knows that person. And I mean, I'm at a point where I'm probably one degree of separation away from anybody I need to get through in this business. Right. Where I wasn't, when I started here, I probably wasn't 10 years ago, 15 years ago. But now I'm probably at that point where I'm, you know, about one of separation, you know, maybe two but two would be, would be a stretch, um, to get to anybody that I need to get to. Whereas if you're a young entrepreneur, you don't have those contacts. So you bring in the advisors around you that

Dan: And surround yourself with quality people. So thank you for sharing that. And this is why I always say this is what makes natural natural. The point is that there are so many talented qualified people out there. And that's why I do what I do with these free webinars to expose people, to experts like you, to get these insights. Because you know, one of my favorite sayings we use this last week with Brad horn is if you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with a team. And it's that team that you surround yourself with. And this, my next question, my next thing I wanted to focus on. How do you know you're getting the right people? And as a master brand builder, this is the secret sauce. This is the magic of what makes you stand out. Because to your point, you can't possibly know everything. You need to know about everything in business, et cetera. But how do you identify the very best people to surround yourself with so that you can take a brand and explode the growth, or as you said, take people at exit? How do you develop a team to help you achieve that goal?

Eric: Well, it's really important. I mean, you start with your court team of someone, you know, and trust, right? So you're going to bring in people that I, at least me, I'm going to bring in people that I've worked within the past that I've trusted have executed for me in the past. And that I don't really have to worry. You know you go, you go to the next step. It becomes difficult because everybody you hire, you will, you know, hiring mistakes will be made. That's it. You got to find out if you made, if you made a hiring mistake, you have to do address it quickly. And you have to determine now what hiring mistakes I went to when I make a hiring mistake, I consider it my mistake. So I will develop that person if they can be developed, if they can't be, then, you know, I made a hiring mistake and it just wasn't right.

But if I made the mistake, it's my, it's my obligation to develop the people. But you know, it goes back to like, it's, it's the old adage. You know, you kinda, you yeah. Hire people who are motivated and you train them for skill. So as long as you can bring people in that really, really identify with you and your, and, and the passion that you know, you have for your brand. And they have the same. I think you can train them and teach them the skills to get there. And a lot of times, passion, belief, and commitment will overcome experience. Right? I go back to my fresh Samantha days when I went to fresh Samantha, they hit, it had to about three, $4 million in sales. And they did it by hiring people. They were based in Maine. So they would sell in delis, bagel, stores, things like that.

You know, my best guy, they found it in a bagel store to this day. He runs the DSD operation in, in the Carolinas, the guy who ended up being the best in the business. But he had a, I used to say, look, if I cut that guy, he'll bleed juice, right? We sold juice. I said, he'll plead freshman that we hired for passion. He didn't have the skill, but he believed in the brand. So when you can hire people who believe in, surround yourself with people around that, that have some level of skill in whatever they're doing, you can build on that and train them and let their passion will overcome. Uh, their passion for the brand will overcome whatever is skill deficiency. They may have.

Dan: You know, when I work with a lot of different brands that I helped them in hiring or choosing the right people for category management and help them identify who those people are not hiring specifically. But I always say hire someone with a CSI mind mentality that that TV show used to be really popular. And I'll teach them the skill to your point. That is so critically important because a lot of people overlook that you think you can just go pick one off the shelf and they're ready to go. The thing I want to applaud you though for and this is something I don't hear. Unfortunately, a lot of brands is that you took ownership of your decision to hire that person. And instead of just hiring them and saying, well, you know, you didn't work out today or maybe you didn't button your shirt the right way or whatever.

You're gone working with that person and giving them a fair shot and trying to help develop them. And one of the things I been focusing on a lot, Eric recently is that with this pandemic, a lot of people are thinking about getting rid of people who are cutting headcount. I think that's the biggest mistake is you spend all the time hiring and developing and training people. And yet now you're trying to cut people so that you can get your budget, right. But yet there are a lot of other ways I've tried marketing and more efficient, you know, we're S uh, drive your business in your backyard, et cetera. So I know that you've got a hard stop and I want to respect your time. What

Eric: People, uh, are an easy one, right. For companies. So that's where they tend to go. Cause it's harder to do everything else true. Right. But if you cut your people yet, what ends up happening? You know, you cut people, you end up where morale issues with the people you have left because they're like thinking, okay, when am I next? So you're not getting productivity out of them. So if you can avoid the cut at all costs, I mean, don't get me wrong. If you got to cut, you got to cut. If you're, if you're, if you're overweight, you know, you got too many people, you gotta cut. But if you don't, if you have the right number of people, you just got to figure out how to deploy them, to grow the business profitably versus got cutting

Dan: True well. And, but developing, and, and that's another thing I think I love about one of the things I love about this industry. And they're getting the reason why we're doing this is how do you, how do you develop those people? So the people that are listening to that listen to this now, and in the future, hopefully, they're in a position where they're saying, you know what? I could develop myself. I could develop other people around me. I've got a belief that if I work for you, my job, my responsibility is to make you look like a hero to learn your job and become very proficient at it. So I can help push you up the ladder. And I believe as a boss, my job is to develop if, you know, reverse the other way, my boss would be my job. Would he be to develop you and to help you along and help you to grow?

And the point is this mutual situation, this collaborative approach makes a more robust workforce. And, and one of the things that I, you know, the greatest compliments I've ever had was at, I worked for some people that said that they get exactly how they put it. My greatest strength as I was able to make my idea their own. And the point being is that I was able to help guide them. I didn't take the credit for it, but I gave them the tools and the resources and allowed them to grow and thrive on their own. So how do you leverage a strategy like that assuming you do?

Eric: You know, I liked when you're talking about just developing people, it's, it's important to give people the tools to succeed, to guide them. And if you have someone that's motivated that they're going to, they're going to get there. I mean, I, I have a guy in our popcorn company now he ran our DSD division, right? We have, we, we deliver ourselves to some stores. It's a small division. I wanted to teach him convenience. He knew the brand, he was motivated. He got it. He didn't understand the convenience, but he didn't understand the SD, which you know, is the basis of this business as you've talked about earlier. So in the last year, we built a convenience store business from scratch, where we have the hardest working skew and convenience. We've only got 6% ACB in Nebraska, but we have the number one hardest working skew, which he was motivated.

I developed them and look, it took a meeting. Every, it took a meeting every day at sometimes it took a meeting every week, you know, to sit down and go, okay, are the problems I face? What do I do? And I've got the experience of what to do. And he was smart enough to execute against what I told them. So it's a lot of times it comes down to the dynamic people, but you got to spend time developing these, developing people and giving them the tools to win, um, getting them their answers when they don't understand

Dan: Great story and go one step further. And this is why this matters. Everybody is because you will build upon that. Once you start getting that momentum, then 6% becomes 10% becomes 15%, et cetera. And you can replicate those success stories and other channels and other markets, which brings everything we've been talking around about back around. So I know you've got to go in a couple of minutes, any other, Oh, sorry.

Eric: I want to mention one thing because I think it's important. And I think it goes back to you. Do you know, I've always been pretty good at reading data. So I get in the data and I never had a whole lot of value on, um, what I'll call you. You know, you call it category management. I call it performance management. Right. And my last two roles, I have had people who were way better than me and data, and they would find nuggets that I would never find. And when you go in and can sell a story, I don't care if it's one store. If you have a data story versus I have the best brand, you're going to win every single time. So as you think about as, as an entrepreneur that thinks about their team, getting someone, even if it's outsourced, that can mind that data and come up with the nuggets, I think is one of the most important things, because the days of selling without data are not

Dan: Thank you for sharing that well, and that's why I love what I do because it's, it's that advanced storytelling it's fact-based selling. So category management really, from my perspective, Eric, is fact-based selling it's. I mean, it's gotten up sort of it's a nebulous term to a lot of other people, but the point is, how do you leverage those insights? And one of the things that frustrate me, we've talked about this a little bit is that the data is not coated around the way your customer shops. It's not crowded, or, or it's not put together that to really define what's really going on in the, on, in sales. So that's actually why I'm going to do that next webinar and about an hour. And there's a replay on Saturday. I'm going to redo it on Saturday, but thank you for sharing that because, at the end of the day, the thing that makes natural, natural are the ingredients that people et cetera. And if we can help this channel succeed and thrive, this is the opportunity that I believe to change our food system. If we can make it easier for smaller brands to succeed by teaching them the skills to hire the right people, to develop the right people, et cetera, then that's a game-changer. So thank you so much for sharing that. Um, and, and I really appreciate you for coming on. Any other thoughts?

Eric: No, I really appreciate you having me on and, um, you know, that I can't stress the importance of, to your point fact-based selling.

Dan: Thanks. Yeah. Well, can we have a couple of quick questions if you need to drop off that's okay? I can answer them. So, um, okay. So, uh, what are the differences between health, food stores, and regular store chains? Okay. So the way that I would answer that and get your 2 cents Michael, I mean, Eric, excuse me, is at a health store, a natural store, natural doesn't mean anything, but when you think of a sprouts, a whole foods or something like that, versus a Kroger or a Winn-Dixie or something like that, your thoughts,

Eric: Uh, yeah. I mean, look and natural food store, the lines, getting the lines changing. Cause years ago, whole foods was a natural food store. Now I'd say it's more of a specialty food store. So I break things down into kind of specialty natural and, you know, alfalfa's, to me is a natural food store. So yeah, but to your point, a, you know, a conventional grocery store, like a Kroger or a, um, uh, Albertson Safeway is not, what's funny about that though, is the reason line so blurred, if you built in natural years ago, it took you five years to get the conventional. Now it takes me about 12 months because the conventional food stores realize how big the channel has gotten and they don't do not want to leave it to the natural food stores. So once they see something happening there, they're jumping on much quicker than they used to be.

Dan: And here's the best part. Thank you for sharing that. Because the big stores I mentioned before, a lot of brands tend, or a lot of retailers sit, tend to commoditize the customer, for example, and their world LOHAS shop or someone eats a couple of salads and goes for a walk in my world that someone is trying to reduce their carbon footprint and a bunch of other things. And if you can help that natural there help that retailer understand what unique about that customer. That's your opportunity to really grow and scale. Uh, Kevin says, thank you. This is really helpful for those of us taking baby steps. Uh, Kevin, thank you so much for your comment. If you've got more, by the way, if anyone doesn't get their question answered, reach out to me. I put my email address on, on the chat. So thank you for that.

And then Mark says when building the brand, and what point do you start interviewing for brokers? Honestly, I'd like to get your take on that. Eric. My thought is, first of all, you need to have a solid strategy in place before you start working with a broker. And the reason for that is a lot of brokers are going to try to tell you what to do. This is your brand. This is your baby, your name's on it. You need to be able to direct and guide them and hold them accountable to your success. Eric, your thoughts,

Eric: A hundred percent agree. I see people get excited that they got a broker and they think the broker is going to solve all the problems and tell them exactly what to do, and then go do it for him not going to happen. You got to go in with your broker roadmap and here's my roadmap. Here's what we want to do with going back to the earlier question, you got to have a clear roadmap. You've got to articulate that roadmap,

Dan: And then you've got to make sure he stays on the road. Exactly well put. And on that note, one of the things that Michael and I've been talking about our mutual friend is that you should have a business plan. That's so robust and so complete that someone could come in and execute on your behalf in your absence. And you've got to have a broker that can fit into that role as well. By the way, there are good brokers and bad brokers. So interview a bunch of them. Don't just interview one or take one and just accept the first person that comes along. Make sure they're a good fit. Make sure that you can get what you want. Like Eric said earlier if they're not going to let you talk to the people that are actually at the store level. Well, if that's important to you, then don't go with that person.

So thank you for sharing that, Mark. Um, and then someone said, where's the economist, the eCommerce business going today. Honestly, the eCommerce business is here to stay. Um, by the way, Eric, if you've got a job, I understand please jump. I apologize. No, that's fine. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Yeah, I know that's a, I've gone over and I know you've got a call, so thank you so much, everyone. I answer your questions in a second. So anyhow, thanks, Eric. Appreciate it. And I look forward to our next conversation. Okay. So I'm sorry. So eCommerce is here to stay. So what I mean by that is that eCommerce is, first of all, your brand needs to be available wherever your customer shops, your brand has got to be available, where if, if your customer walks into a store and they can't find your product, and that's a mistake on you, then that's a reflection of your, not your ability to not support the brand.

You know, and I'm talking about out of stocks, et cetera, e-commerce should be a critical pillar to every brand success strategy. And if you've got a robust eCommerce strategy, one of the things I talk about a lot and trademarking, et cetera, is how do you leverage it to go traditional retail? And the reason that's important is that then you're getting the best of both. So e-commerce is going to continue to grow because of the pandemic. It's made it a lot easier for customers to experiment and buy staples and things like that through eCommerce, your job as a brand though, when you're talking about traditional brick and mortar is how do you help that, that brand? How do you help that retailer that you're working with becoming relevant or remain relevant to their customers? I hope that makes sense. If it doesn't, please let me know.

But what I'm trying to say is that give the retailer a reason to help them give their customers a reason to keep coming back time and time again. So thank you for that. And then how do you evaluate the general? I do. How valuable do you gentlemen, enhance TPM. Okay. Trade spinning. You know what, I'm actually going to be talking about trade spinning and KPIs to a and just about an hour. So Tom, if you're able to show up to that, uh, let me know. So, okay. Let me answer your question. The traditional strategy is that you just write checks, you buy every promotion. That's what everyone wants you to do. Unfortunately, trade-marketing has become a profit center for distributors and for retailers, one of the reasons we don't have as many distributors as a used to be even the big brands is because, okay, so Tom, that's actually in the chat.

Uh, so it's my website. My short version of my website is CMS for forward slash trade ROI one, which is at 11 o'clock and trade ROI too. So thank you for asking that question. So the answer to your question, as when, when Eric was talking about a 50% margin, there are two ways to get it. One raises prices to sell and, um, raise prices. And the second is the lower cost. Well, you can't always do that. And if you're a healthy brand, you should not have to apologize for having quality ingredients in your product. So I am absolutely against trying to lower prices to the point where it chokes out of business. So the next thing to do is to look at your trade-marketing. If I can help you leverage your trade dollars, get you more trade dollars back in your pocket, that's going to help you grow and scale your brand.

And the reason this matter is because that's how you can grow and scale more effectively. That's how you make your brand more attractive to retailers. That's how you make your brand more attractive to a venture capitalist, other investors as well. In other words, if you're sending think about a shark tank type environment, if you have the ability to tell the sharks, Nope, here's what I need. And here's why I need it. And stick to your grant, stick to your guns because you know how valuable your, your, your brand is that puts you in a, in a position where you can negotiate more effectively. That puts you in a position where you can control how your brand is represented at shelf. If you can control the valuation of your brand, that's going to give you more runway to grow sales. And it's going to give you more runway to support important causes.

I hope that helps. If anyone can show up to that, I appreciate it. That'd be great. Just a quick little taste. I've got a free trade promotion, calculator, trade promotion, ROI calculator. I put on my website. Anyone can use it anytime. I'm going to go deeper into this. This is one of the area's people been asking me a lot about. And so I'm going to start talking about how I'm going to help all of you become experts in trade-marketing and it's a lot more difficult than buying a piece of software and pushing a button. There are a lot of things that those tools, those resources don't cover. So does anyone else, any, any more questions for me? Anything else I can ask I'm here if you need me, thank you so much for showing up. If you've got additional questions, reach out to me, Dan, at CMS or Uh, Kevin, thank you. I appreciate, uh, thank you for your note. Thank you. Um, and so, you know, I'm here for you. The reason I've got the podcast, a YouTube channel, all the content is to help you constantly grow and scale your brand, leverage it, and do me a favor and share that with others in the industry and help them take advantage of it. Thank you, Mark. Okay. Thanks, Mark. I appreciate it. And, um, everybody, thanks. Have a great rest of your day.

I want to thank Eric for coming on today and for sharing his wisdom and his insights. And I'll be certain to put a link to Eric's LinkedIn profile on the podcast show notes. And in the podcast, webpage, as I mentioned, today's free downloadable guide is actually the cool tool, their instructions with it. So I'll put a link to it in the podcast show notes and on the podcast webpage, the bottom line is this the push button strategies that you're probably relying on. Aren't going to help you identify. Aren't going to help you maximize your trade promotions in many ways. They're really nothing more than just QuickBooks for your trade spending. In other words, a way for you to keep track of what you're spending, it doesn't help you analyze the promotion and they don't help you assess what promotions make the most sense. This tool is something that you can use to evaluate not only what makes sense for your brand, but how can you grow and scale your brand incrementally. You can learn more about this free tool or my website, and there are instructions on how to use it. I've made it really super simple. This is my way of giving back. So take advantage of it. You can get there by going to Thank you as always for listening. And I look forward to seeing you in the next episode,

Eric Skae

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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#17 Promotion Analysis Growth Strategies

Promotion Analysis Growth Strategies

What if there was a tool that specifically identified your key opportunities to eliminate wasted promotional spending? Brands are looking for ways to cut wasteful spending while also looking for creative ways to explode sales during these uncertain times. Traditional strategies will only hamstring your brand and undercut your growth strategy. Every slight improvement means more runway for sales growth, higher brand valuations, better terms when negotiating with investors and retailers, fuel for more innovation, greater support for mission-based causes, and more.

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