This podcast is an audio natural products accelerator for food startups, entrepreneurs, health-focused brands and retailers. Matt shares his story and the top insights he gleaned from interviewing 162 industry thought leaders on his Food Startups Podcast.

Today I’m excited to introduce you to Matt Aaron of the Food Startups Podcast. I learned about his show at Expo when I was talking to Tim Joseph of Maple Hill Creamery in an earlier episode, episode 11. I thought it’d be great to bring Matt on so that Matt could share some of the insights that he’s gained from talking to and interviewing so many leaders in the natural channel. What I didn’t know before recording this is that Matt used the podcast to gain insights into the industry to help him grow his business. What a great story. In other words, instead of going to your traditional natural products business schools, Matt brought the school to him, and more importantly, he was able to share those insights with his audience. Insights that he’s looking forward to sharing with you. Join me in welcoming Matt to the show.

Hello Matt, thank you for joining me today. I heard about Matt’s podcast, The Food Startups Podcast when I was at Expo, and I was asked to explore and find out a little bit more about them. I thought it would be really good to invite Matt on the show today to talk about, if you will, the best of The Food Startups Podcast because Matt has a unique, I would say, view on the industry, because he’s had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different brands. Matt, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And then later I want to explore why you started The Food Startups Podcast, and what you learned from it?

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BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES

PODCAST #13

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #13

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. Today I'm excited to introduce you to Matt Aaron of the Food Startup Podcast. I learned about his show at Expo when I was talking to Tim Joseph of Maple Hill Creamery in an earlier episode, episode 11. I thought it'd be great to bring Matt on so that Matt could share some of the insights that he's gained from talking to and interviewing so many leaders in the natural channel. What I didn't know before recording this is that Matt used the podcast to gain insights into the industry to help him grow his business. What a great story. In other words, instead of going to your traditional natural products business schools, Matt brought the school to him, and more importantly, he was able to share those insights with his audience. Insights that he's looking forward to sharing with you. Join me in welcoming Matt to the show.

Hello Matt, thank you for joining me today. I heard about Matt's podcast, The Food Startup Podcast, when I was at Expo, and I was asked to explore and find out a little bit more about them. I thought it would be really good to invite Matt on the show today to talk about, if you will, the best of The Food Startup Podcast because Matt has a unique, I would say, view on the industry, because he's had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different brands. Matt, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And then later I want to explore why you started The Food Startup Podcast, and what you learned from it?

Matt: Sure. I'll try my best, I'll say as a disclaimer, it's always difficult. I've never been strong at summarizing myself. But yeah, I'll try. Basically I started The Food Startups Podcast in 2013 because since around 2012 I've been involved in food. I started importing things from Peru and selling them on Amazon, now I have an exotic organic produce business. I kind of started it, to be honest Dan, to learn for myself and really figure things out by talking to people that were three or four levels ahead of me, sometimes more. It's continued, and yeah, four years later we're 162 episodes.

Dan: Impressive. Yeah, and I've listened to several of them and I certainly highly recommend that everyone go out and check it out. It's The Food Startups Podcast.

Matt: That's right.

Dan: Matt, can you tell us a little bit more about what you learned? I mean first of all, the notion that you started this very authentically looking for, it sounds like, the knowledge, or trying to gain the knowledge to help grow your business. Tell us a little bit about that. How did you get started? Why did you go down this path versus other paths?

Matt: Yeah. I got into food because I got very into nutrition in 2012, that's what kind of helped me make a shift. The podcast actually started with another buddy who has a chocolate company. He ended up having to leave the show after a year, just because he didn't have enough time, and the show, I'd say, it's transformed, right? It's transformed since the first year. Obviously people want to get tips, but the way we remember things is through storytelling. Around episode 50 we became very focused on telling stories and making sure that any guest that came onto our show would say something different than their feature article in Fortune or The New York Times, or some food publication, because you can get that anywhere.

I really put an emphasis on having authentic content, and also not preparing guest, understanding that ... I would prepare, but I would not give the guest the questions beforehand, which I used to do. Because I want to make sure they're kind of tapping in to all of the knowledge they have and not just giving back pre-programmed answers about their company.

Dan: Makes sense. How did that work for you? How did that help you better connect with your audience? Or I should ask you, did that help you better connect with your audience?

Matt: I think it made the show better. It's difficult sometimes to know how you connect with your audience with a podcast. Because out of the people that listen, we around like 10 to 15,000 downloads a month, so let's just say that's two or three per person. We'll say somewhere in the 4,000 to 5,000 range. Only a fraction of the people actually reach out to you. You're making decisions based on the people that actually contact you and tell you want they want for the show. The only thing I can say is that I feel like we've gotten better at the content, so hopefully that identifies more with the listeners. I think we've definitely gotten more compliments as we've grown.

I will say that all people ... There's so many different types of food startups, there's so many different types of people in the audience, whether they just started, or maybe they've been on the show, they're in natural foods, they're in X category, they're more focused online, or retail. I do hope that maybe one out of every, let's say, seven episodes identifies with the listeners. They can go through 150, there might be a good 30 or 40 that identify with them, because not everyone's going to identify with every single person.

Dan: Well, and that makes good sense. Do you have a specific kind of focus, or do you tailor more towards small brands, or toward retail, or toward ... ? What was your goal?

Matt: I got to be honest, I don't know if I had an exact goal. I appreciate you following up on the question because I kind of dodged it subconsciously. But okay, I've really tried to have a different ... Okay, I like diversity because I ... I've had famous authors, I had Jim Rodgers, who's the George Soros investment guy, I've had people from very small startups, I've had Honest Tea, right? Which sold to Coca Cola, really big. I like the diversity, and also from different countries, as well as different parts of the United States. For me, I try to provide diversity. I don't want to have the same company profile every single week.

Dan: Makes good sense. And also that it provides a lot of variety, like you said. Your audience, who does your audience do you think they consist of?

Matt: Yeah. I'd say the audience is ... I can't give you percentages here, I can guess.

Dan: That's fine.

Matt: A certain percentage have their side food hobby but they're still at a full-time job and they're trying to break out. Then the other part, they've broken out, they have their own food business. And then some VC's, private equity people will listen. And just some random people that are interested in food I'd say is the last category. But I focus on those that are looking to make the leap, or those that already have their own food business.

Dan: Interesting. Do you get a lot of follow-up after the show? You mentioned that you get some comments. What are the comments? What do they consist of? Are they people asking for more, or are they just saying, "Hey, great show?" What does that go?

Matt: Some people will make suggestions for people to come on the show, but most people are like, "Hey, just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate the show," which that's probably the main thing. They might tell me a little bit about ... Anyone that reaches out, I'll always kind of figure out what they're doing about the show. Then certain guests I've had on that are kind of like experts, consultants, or logistics companies, or food brokers, a lot of times they'll reach out wanting to get introduced to them. We've done a couple things where like Tim Forest came on, and he's awesome, and we gave away four or five consultant emails. Sometimes people reach out for that. Yeah, and then of course I'll get questions, maybe some feedback on a certain episode, et cetera, et cetera.

Dan: Interesting. Now the hard question.

Matt: Sure.

Dan: How did this help you with your business? In other words, were you able to put all this to use and how so?

Matt: Oh, that's a good question and I've thought about it. I can't say that it's helped me in terms of sales. Perhaps there were some ... I can think of a couple things, but I'd say it's more osmosis than maybe being aware of how I transformed. But I think having conversations with these types of people, hopefully that's helped me in the food business. One that comes to mind that seems very mundane, but I think very important, that I can tell you, one this year, is with Busy Coffee, who they just blew up the sector on cold coffee with the individual servings on Amazon, and now they're ... And they did these road trips, which were really cool, on the east and west coast.

They're adding, I don't know, like 1,000 stores this year, over 1,000 stores. What I noticed with them, is man, they always had really good gear. I thought about it, there's certain times we overlook just easy low hanging fruit. One of them is if you just buy high quality clothing with your company logo on it, and just look good when you're selling. That's one thing I can say I definitely got out of the podcast. But it's been a labor of love. I mean, it's not something I would say ... It may not have the direct ROI that some people think when they're making content websites.

Dan: One of the things that I've noticed both this time, and the first time we talked, and of course on your show, is the level of confidence that you bring to your communication. The ability to articulate what's going on, what you see, et cetera. The reason this is so critically important is because when you go to a trade show, a lot of people, they mumble, they don't bring business cards, they don't communicate their value. The notion that you're able to pick that up, I'm assuming you got a lot of that from the podcast, would you agree?

Matt: It's possible. I think you're on to something because, I mean podcast interviews are kind of like the human brain in the sense that, what do we do as we go about our day? We kind of ask ourself questions, right? You're like, "Should I go get some coffee? Should I do this work today or tomorrow? Should I call X, Y, and Z?" I think the practice of asking people questions and articulating questions definitely is a side benefit to having a podcast. I think facing your fears ... Honestly, it still happens, before every single episode I get nervous before I interview someone. But it's a healthy stage fright thing. Not nervous as in I'm freaking out and I need to take Xanax, but just kind of like, "I want to make sure I bring it." The person that's giving me an hour of their time today, they've been in the business for 25 years. I want to make sure that I'm prepared, right? And that we put on a good show. Does that answer your question?

Dan: Oh yeah, no, it does a great job. How nervous are you today? Just kidding. Anyhow, I won't make you answer that. In your labor of love, putting together this show, what would you say are some of the highlights? What are the key things, takeaways that you got from this show that you could share with the audience?

Matt: Okay. Highlights in terms of learning from the show? Or my own personal highlights?

Dan: How about both?

Matt: Okay. I'd say when we passed 100,000 downloads was pretty cool. I think getting Seth from Honest Tea. Just some of the really solid brands and really brilliant people on the show. It felt good to see that. Then also of course, as cheesy as it is, just getting the thank you letters and things like that. Because listen, as you know, it's a lot of work to put on a podcast every week. It's nice getting the feeling that people appreciate you. That felt good. I'd say highlights from the show is just going into these stories. I'd say that some of the best episodes have been where I come in with an idea of someone and then I learn how much deeper either their business, brand, or person is. Sometimes a combination of both. I can tell you that with, for instance, the WTRMLN WTR company, which blew up, Beyonce invested, et cetera, et cetera.

I knew they were very good in design, it had very pithy and [inaudible 00:12:35] copyrighting. You could tell that they had that down. I think WTRMLN WTR, just really nice branding. So I was like, "Okay, this is cool. I definitely want to have them on the show." But I learned about her experience, right? Jody is a ... What is she? Experience design. Think of the Apple Store, I think is the quintessential example, experience design and understanding how everything matters in the overall experience. From their office, the brand name, WTRMLN WTR has no vowels because they believe in minimalism. The level of attention to detail and integrating art into a business, that was fascinating.

I had no idea going into the interview that we were going to talk about that. I think those types of episodes are just really fun because you hit things on a deeper level. Even talking about that, it reminds me of ... I don't know how easy for someone listening this is, but being able to tap into your values, and subconscious, and really, really making something cool, how important that is if you want to have lasting power.

Dan: I absolutely cannot agree with you more. In fact, that's what the whole show's about and everything else, it's focusing in on those values. Something that you said really resonated with me, back to the labor of love. Do you feel that ... I mean, I can hear your passion, which by the way I absolutely love. Do you feel that labor of love and do you get that essence every time you talk to someone like a WTRMLN WTR?

Matt: Yeah, for sure.

Dan: Then how does that transform you and your audience?

Matt: I think the audience enjoys the storytelling because ... I'll mention one more thing that's pretty relevant, is every single one of these businesses, doesn't matter if they've gone to 30 million in revenue in three years, or they're about to get acquired, blah, blah, blah. It's always very pretty on the outside but ugly on the inside. There's just so much chaos going on. And anyone who runs a food business, man, we all have so many stories. I'd say that transformation for me and the audience is, you sometimes see this, people are people, and even the top entrepreneurs go through so much hardship, they think they want to quit.

It's so easy to look back at times, right? "You've been running this business for five years," and they're like, "Yeah, when we got started, blah, blah, blah ... " But when you're really honest, there are certain times you want to quit, where just everything goes wrong, the truck breaks down full of your popsicles. So many different memories like that. So understanding that you're not alone. I think one of the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur in any sector is the emotional and psychological, call it mindset. Probably more so than the tips from people, that might resonate the most with my audience.

Dan: That makes good sense. In fact, one of the things that we've been talking about even before the show is again, bringing the authenticity of the show because I believe, I've seen it in the numbers and the projects I've done, that that authenticity, the value proposition in terms of the transparency, the clean level, et cetera, is what translates to the consumer, to the end consumer. It's that end consumer that is driving sales across every category, across every channel. Do you have any insights ... Let me ask you this, have you ever followed up with any of the brands? And do you have any stories to tell about something perhaps they learned from your show?

Matt: Yeah. Well, I can tell you personally there's brands that have listened to my show as they've developed their business, and some have came on the show, but others have just kind of evolved. And obviously it's not just the show, but it's definitely something that [inaudible 00:16:45] when they're doing their packaging. A couple of them I see are going to be ... I think they're going to be pretty major players in the natural food space.

Dan: Cool. Can you tell me a little bit about your business? And again, going back to how did this help you? Another question I have is why Columbia? Why did you move down there? I mean obviously closer to your supplier, but what motivated you to go down there and be a part of that community?

Matt: I moved to Columbia, officially 2010, but around 2009, 2010, more because I was bored. I think as Americans we always try to tell this narrative, it's like, "I did it for X, Y, and Z." I was living in the suburbs of Maryland, and I was kind of bored to be honest, and I was doing a lot of remote work. I wasn't involved with food at the time, I was doing freelance web consulting stuff. I found a volunteer project in Columbia, it seemed very interesting to me, and I went to do that project for six months. It was a writing project for this ... I guess you call it a nonprofit, about volunteer work. I did that, but I ended up staying. I kind of randomly went down there on a whim, not with so much logic. That was the first question, why did I go to Columbia? Was, my business.

Andes Fruits Columbia, A-N-D-E-S, like that Andes Mountains, Fruits.co. I have a business partner who has the packing plant, and we lease an organic farm. We export the golden berry, a burgeoning super-food, better known as a dried fruit in the US because it just opened for access to the US. Since July 2015, we were the first ones to ship. We've been sending golden berries to the United States, and the end goal is to expand to more exotic fruits as they are allowed by the USDA over time. I stress over time because bureaucracy moves slow. We are particularly interested in working with affected Guerrilla zones. I don't know how much you know about the history of Columbia, but they have a tenuous peace deal hopefully being passed, but we'd like to take the conflict zones of war and violence and turn them into productive organic agriculture zones, and kind of really build the supply chain that way.

Dan: Now that's a really interesting give-back if you will. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Matt: Sure. Well okay, I'm definitely not an expert on the conflict, but I can tell you that ... Go ahead, you were going to say something.

Dan: No, no, no. My point is there are a lot of brands that really give back. "Buy one, donate, we'll give clean water to a third world nation," or whatever. But here you are trying to turn what to me sounds like a wasteland, some geography that was perhaps destroyed or really brutalized, if you will, to use probably the wrong terminology, to turn it into something productive that gives back to the community and to others.

Matt: Yeah. Let me make a point, just being real, real. Looking at a lot of brands, Daniel, is a lot of brands, they have this give back thing, but they're actually full of crap. I mean that in the best way, but I've seen people say that, "Oh yeah, we want to help farmers in Ecuador with our chocolate," and you see that it's actually made in Italy and they buy this Fair Trade cocoa. Fair Trade is another organization that I'm quite disappointed by. I've been working on this article about ... I know there is two Fair Trades, which is part of the problem, but my point is there is a lot of propaganda in the industry. I just thought it was worth mentioning to people. So be aware of that. But yeah-

Dan: Agreed.

Matt: Columbia is the most, by density, is the most bio-diverse country on earth. It's quite behind, it's not maximizing its potential. If you look at Columbia from a bird's eye view, unlike Peru, they haven't bet so much in agriculture. They've been heavy into oil and mining. As you can see, what's happened with oil, the price has tanked, and mining is just awful for the environment. For me, I feel like agriculture is the answer. Can we be a small part of that? I hope. We need tons and tons of people to get involved, because it would be great. I think retaking the land and doing something sustainable with it would be awesome. And yeah, the conflict is really complex. Again, I'm not an expert, but yeah, people have been kicked off their land, all the violence, it would be great to start building these types of programs and infrastructure in the country.

Dan: That's amazing. I agree with you, there are a lot of companies that, if you will, blow smoke. But again, it goes back to that authenticity that we were talking about before I hit the record button, where it's those brands that communicate, or can properly convey that messaging to the end consumer, where consumers genuinely want to be a part of that brand's success. How do you take advantage of that? I don't mean in an exploitive way, but do you capitalize on that with your brand?

Matt: Yeah. I'm not sure. I think one very cogent point is that ... I mean, you work, you're an expert in this and that's why people pay you to help them out. Some people have amazing brands, and they're very authentic, but their packaging and branding doesn't tell the story. I'm sure we could do a better job telling our story. I feel like we've done some pretty good things, but I can't say 100% that we're fully communicating what we do. And to be honest, I don't know how much our story matters to certain consumers. I'll give you a great example, is eco-packaging. I used to use this, and my business partner uses this when he sends it to Europe, right? Because I handle US, he handles Europe.

On surveys, Dan, people will say that, "Yeah, I love eco-packaging." But when you tell them you have to pay 22 cents more, right? For your dried kale chips or whatever, I'm just making this up, whatever it is, they will not pay for eco-packaging. Having that authentic story, I guess it depends if it's an authentic story that resonates with consumers. Also, I guess, in produce we try not to be a commodity, but a lot of buyers look at it as a commodity, even though we feel pretty strong about our differentiators. Organic being one of them for a lot of our product. But yeah, that's my long, complicated answer. And maybe a realization, yeah, we probably could do a better job with authenticity.

Dan: Some of the shows we were talking a little bit about earlier, how you framed your show and how you differentiated it. One of the things that I've done, and granted, this is a pretty new show, is that I've put in place, if you will, the pillars that I think help our brand succeed. For example, in episode six we talk about how the messaging needs to extend off the packaging. In a recent show we talked about the packaging itself and how you can be very flexible in terms of being able to produce something right away. Another show we talked about the allergen free, or being able to produce a product that is free of, or consumer friendly if you will, for consumers who have allergens, and issues, and things like that. In the show just recently I also talked about the emerging markets, which is Columbia. By the way, I'll talk about that in a minute.

My point being, is that I think you're touching on all the issues or all the opportunities in terms of how to help a brand grow. When you think of your product, and you mentioned the messaging on the packaging, do you have something in place ... You talked about being a web designer, do you have something in place to help consumers better understand what your product is beyond the four corners of the packaging so to speak?

Matt: Yeah. I'd say our website does a pretty good job. We get a lot of people emailing us about it. The one thing I will say is we are working with a very unknown food, and that education takes time. But yeah, I'd say we have it in place. Okay, and it's not just us, the Columbian Golden Berry Initiative, and Pro Columbia, which is kind of like every country has an export agency, they've done a good job. I do think there's a little bit of serendipity that we're playing a lot of angles, doing a lot of press. But once we get some famous person, like Jessica Alba, blah, blah, blah. Once people realize, if you look up the health benefits of golden berries, I think it stands favorable against goji berry, acai, some of the main super-foods right now that people are aware of. I believe that a little bit is just kind of that luck to make it happen. I don't know necessarily the brands of kale chips made it happen, I think it's more like bloggers, people start talking about kale, and that made the opportunity for the CPG brands. I guess I'm kind of outsourcing the work and I'm just hoping that eventually the quality, the nutritional benefits of this fruit are going to shine through. I'm kind of betting on that.

Dan: I'd like to challenge you a little bit on this show. One of the things that I talked about earlier on before I hit the record button again, is that it's the attributes within your product that are driving sales. Here you've shared a lot of great information, and what I wanted to challenge you with Matt is trying to really focus in on the fact that your super-food and some of the different attributes that you've shared with us because that's what's driving sales. It's not the big name celebrity, it's giving consumers the products that best meet their needs. It's making sure, for example, lets pick on organic, or use organic, better, as an example. If a consumer eats perhaps the best main stream bread out there. They're hungry after a couple of hours. If you eat organic bread, then you're satiated even longer. The point being is that if you are what you eat, and you give your body the proper nutrition, then that's going to help you out longer, it's going to sustain you longer.

In fact, even a better example, you interviewed Tim Joseph of Maple Hill Creamery. Tim's the one who turned me on to you to begin with. If you think about his product, grass fed, what he's doing. Cows aren't designed to eat hay and grain, cows are designed to eat grass. If you are what you eat again, then being able to focus on what the cow eats to produce that raw ingredient in yogurt, et cetera, that's healthier, that's more sustainable. It's that nuance, if you will, that helps brands like a Maple Hill Creamery continue to grow and succeed. Back to you. If you can focus in on those attributes and those benefits that a consumer would get from eating your product or consuming your product, then I think that's the winning strategy going forward. And with every other brand that I talk to.

Matt: Yeah, I think you might be right. I probably do have a little bit of complacency there admittingly. It's hard, sometimes it's hard to describe it. I'll tell you what, I'll send you a link right now into Skype. What do you think? I'm very curious what you think, you're an expert in the natural food space. Click there on that link. I mean, look at the nutrition facts. This is three and a half ounces as a serving size, just so you know, we sell them in five ounce packs. Let's say maybe roughly 60% of a package of fruit, which you can definitely eat in one serving. It's low glycemic, it's lower glycemic than keno. I mean, it's diabetic safe, not too many fruits can say that. I think it's very high in certain vitamins too. I'd say if you look at the nutrition facts, I think there's a lot there to work with. That's my two cents.

Dan: No, that makes good sense. In fact, okay, let's go back to the beginning of the show, again, before I hit the record button. We talked about the struggles that brands have in working with retailers, buyers, and getting on the store shelves. You hinted on the fact that you've talked to a lot of different brands, you've learned a lot of thing, but the reality is is that there's a certain way of doing things in this country, or actually probably anywhere. The point being is that if we continue to do what we've always done we're going to continue to get the same results. Hold on to that for a minute. Now, if you're able to focus on helping the retailer understand the value of what you have, that's going to help the retailer grow sales and compete more effectively. I'm looking at what you just sent me, thank you, and I can see where, I mean, for a fruit, it's got protein in it, it's low calorie, the fact that it's low glycemic. My guess is that-

Matt: Look at the percentage daily values of vitamin A and vitamin D.

Dan: Oh hey, not there yet. Oh yeah, wow. That's fantastic.

Matt: Yeah, I think it stacks up pretty solid.

Dan: Well, and those are the attributes that are driving sales. Those are the attributes that retailers need to know about. It's not so much the fact that Beyonce recommended WTRMLN WTR, it's the fact that you have products that produce low glycemic so they're diabetic friendly, products that have a lot of the different vitamins and nutrients that consumers would want. Actually, I've got a lot of ideas about this, and we can talk about that later because certainly I know you've got a call coming, or a hard stop in a little bit. But the point being, is that if a brand can help a retailer understand who that core consumer is that gets what you're trying to do in terms of reads this package and the label, and all the different vitamins, and the different attributes within it, that's what's driving sales. At the end of the day, that is the story that I believe that you and other small brands need to focus on.

Not so much of, "Well, you know, I look pretty on the shelf, and my package looks nice." Again, it's delivering true, authentic value to the end consumer. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that deliver value, and you have a product like that. My recommendation to you and to all the other brands listening is that if you understand your consumer, you understand why they buy your product, leverage that with the retailer and help them understand how that product is what's driving sustainable sales across every category. It's not just your product, but it's the other products the retailer sells that fits into that same niche. What I'm getting at is, if you buy organic bread, there's a good chance you're going to buy organic spread, and organic mac and cheese, and organic whatever else in the store. Your contribution to that retailer's bottom line is far greater than the person that walks in and just buys your average loaf of bread and leaves.

Matt: Yeah. I will say that in produce it's definitely a challenge I'm trying to figure out is we mostly work with distributors, so we don't work directly with the retailers, it's just the way the logistics in perishable goods is set up. We can. We do have ideas to maybe work directly with retailers, but then it's educating the distributors, I guess, to educate the retailers. If we could somehow generate that grassroots demand where the consumer's asking for it, I think that's going to be the strongest.

Dan: Absolutely. Let me go one step further. A lot of brands I talk to effectively hand their keys to a distributor, to a broker, to somebody else, to a third party somebody and say, "Here, go sell my stuff," and then they're disappointed or frustrated because they don't get the results that they thought they should get. But yet they didn't clearly communicate what their expectations were. My point being is if we could replicate you and we could have you go in and make every sales call, that would be the win, win right? If you can help, not go beyond the distributor, but start communicating directly to the retailers on why your product's unique and different, that's going to help make the distributor's job easier. If you can arm them, your distributors, your brokers, and whatnot, with the right tools for success, that's how you grow a brand. That's how you help the retailer better understand how you can drive sales in their category and within their store.

Matt: I agree. I think that's a very fair point. Yeah, you have to develop the trust. I have two awesome distributors. One distributor we have on the east coast, I'll just mention one, for organic. They reach all the co-ops and small natural food stores that obviously we could not sell to directly. They do a great job. Obviously, with any distributor, at least in produce because it's a little bit different than CPG, where UNFI and [inaudible 00:33:58] dominate. They're smaller distributors, so you could potentially sell directly. There has to be a very strong level of trust where they'll let you talk directly to the retailers.

But I think that's the answer. I think I have very good trust with the two or three distributors we have right now, but being able to develop that trust and communicate to the distributors that work for us, "Hey, if we want to be successful, this is what we have to do, this is what we have to highlight in order to sell the product." Making that extra effort into, "Can we make some type of display that highlights the benefits?" Because most people don't know the benefits that golden berries have. Most people aren't going to study the nutrition facts. I'm glad you reminded me of that.

Dan: Well, here's another thought. Instead of trying to do, if you will, the traditional push strategy, which is essentially what you're doing, use a pull strategy. For example, if I walk into a retailer and I absolutely love your product and I want to buy it, and I continue to tell the retailer over and over and over again, "You need to bring this stuff in." And I tell all my friends, and my friends tell their friends, et cetera. Guess what? Eventually it's going to show up on the shelf. My point being, is if you educate the consumer, you educate the retailers on why you need this, then the distributors job is just really to fill orders as opposed to going out there and doing the hard sell. Just think about that.

Matt: Yeah. Agreed.

Dan: Is there anything else you want to cover? I know you've got a hard stop pretty soon. Again, thank you for coming on the show and for sharing all this. Anything you want to cover in terms of anything we missed and anything you've got coming up in the near future?

Matt: Well, yeah. First off, it's a pleasure to be on your show.

Dan: Thanks.

Matt: Man. I think you did a really good job touching all the areas of the stuff I'm working on in the food space.

Dan: Well, I'm trying. Again, it's about trying to give value. This show is not about me, it's for you and it's about you, meaning the listener. It's about giving value back, and it's about helping make our natural healthy life more accessible. Thank you for that.

Matt: Right on.

Dan: Well, I really appreciate your time Matt. Thanks again for coming on, and I look forward to future conversations with you. I'd like to follow up with you in a few months at least to see how things are going and to see if you've had any traction in terms of implementing some of the strategies that I've shared with you today.

Matt: Yeah, for sure. That sounds great. Yeah, everyone listening, a pleasure to be on.

Dan: Great. Well, thanks Matt.

Matt: Oh, you're welcome.

Dan: I'd like to thank Matt for coming on today. I'm going to include links to his websites. That's AndesFruits.co and The FoodStartupPodcast.com on my website and in the show notes. In addition, the freebie today is my strategic solutions to grow your brand. You can either text strategicsolutions at 44222, or go to this session on this episodes page BrandSecretsAndStrategies.com/session13. Thank you for listening, I look forward to seeing you on the next show.

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