Natural food brands learn a lot from CEO’s, founders, & industry thought leaders. Proven actionable insights from Gary Hirshberg, Seth Goldman, Miyoko Schinner, Kyle Garner, Sheryl O’Loughlin, Chuck Muth, etc to accelerate brand growth in 2020 & beyond.

Welcome. Today’s podcast episode is really special, but before I dig in, I want to thank you for listening. I want to thank you for sharing this podcast with all your friends as well as the other brands in our industry that need this kind of information, this kind of advice, this kind of brand building support. This is exactly why I started this podcast. In fact, just last week someone was asking me why I decided to do this. Well, the timing was perfect. So as we round out this decade and as we began to start a new year, I thought it’d be great to take a quick look back and appreciate some of the wisdom and the advice that some of the leading CEOs, founders, and industry thought leaders have shared on this podcast.

The stories to help you scale and grow your natural brand. I believe that if you want to know where you’re going, it’s helpful to take a look back to see where you’ve already been. To be able to appreciate all the things that you’ve learned and then be able to build those or bake those ideas into your brand’s DNA. To help you scale and grow your natural brand faster. After all, this is what this show is about.

So back to the question, why did I start this podcast in the first place? Well, I’ve had the privilege of attending and participating in many of the natural products business schools, industry seminars, product incubators from big brands. And in addition to that, I’m on the Champions Council for FMI Emerge as well as being a mentor. And I’m on the selection committee for different groups, including Nutrition Capital Network. My point is this, I get to see firsthand what a lot of brands are learning, the information that you’re getting to grow your brand. And I’ll have to be honest, I saw a huge gap that needed to be filled, thus this podcast. Let me explain. We do a phenomenal job of teaching brands how to raise money and then how to raise more money, and then how to raise more money after that.

Well, I have a belief. And that is that a CEO should not have to be a perpetual fundraiser. So what I wanted to do is to teach you how to get more out of your available runway. In other words, once you get that money, once you get that investment, how do you use it more effectively? How can you use those monies to drive sustainable sales and scale your brand? Also, how can I help you, your brand become a more valuable asset to the investors? In other words, if you’re more valuable to them, then you can negotiate for better terms so you don’t need to settle for scraps. And the best way to do this is to invite some of the industry thought leaders, leading CEOs and founders on this podcast to share their advice with you. Put a different way, instead of spending the time, the money, the air travel, and everything else to attend one of the industry events, I’m sharing those insights with you.

Podcast episodes referenced on this show, Secrets:

  • 100 Insider secrets with Gary Hirshberg, Seth Goldman, Miyoko Schinner, Kyle Garner, Sheryl O’Loughlin, and Chuck Muth
  • 032  Sage Wisdom with Phil Lempert The Supermarket Guru
  • 137 The Future Of Retail With Walter Robb of Stonewall Robb and Whole Foods Market
  • 105 Brands need to have a clear and compelling message that resonates with shoppers
  • 052 Selling from a master storyteller with Jon Sebastiani of Sonoma Brands /Krave /Smash Mallow
  • 129 Knowing Your Core Customer Is Critical To Your Success At Retail With Ethan Hirshberg From Ethan’s
  • 136 The Retail Game – What You Need To Know With Bob Burke of Natural Products Consulting
  • 008 Brand building strategies that work by putting the shopper first with guest Joel Warady of Enjoy Life Foods 
  • 139 Explosive Growth – The Result Of A Solid Brand Position With Suzie Yorke of Love Good Fats
  • 115 Success = Brand Strategy + Execution With Michael J. O’Donnell From The Belmullet Food and Beverage Group
  • 142 Sales Success Begins With A Solid Business Plan With Michael J. O’Donnell From The Belmullet Food and Beverage Group
  • 045 The importance of a solid business strategy with TJ McIntyre of Bobo’s Oat Bars
  • 038 Mission based brand success stories with guest Seth Goldman at Honest Tea and Beyond Meat
  • 035 Sales extend beyond retailer’s shelves with Chuck Muth with Beyond Meat
  • 036 The importance of a compelling selling story to get your brand on store shelves with guest John Foraker with Once Upon A Farm
  • 058 Start with a Mission in mind – what big brands can learn from disruptive natural brands with Kyle Garner of Organic India / Climate Collaborative
  • 059 Proof that advanced strategies and fact-based selling stories add rocket fuel to your growth with Steve Hughes of Sunrise Strategic Partners / Boulder Brands
  • 088 Proof that becoming a category leader opens doors and grows sales with Russ Forester of Hain Celestial
  • 054 What retailers really want —  insider to getting on shelf with Mathis Martines of Enlightened / Formerly Kroger 
  • 122 What Retailers REALLY Want – Brand Building Success Strategies with Mathis Martines of M2 Brands, Formally Kroger
  • 126 A Well Defined Business Strategy Will Add Rocket Fuel To Your Growth With Dustin Finkel Of KAPOP
  • 123 Essential In-Store Marketing Strategies That Put Customers First And Grow Sales with Andrew Therrien of Big Orange Productions
  • 023 Salesmanship 401 – In depth sales strategies every brand must use with guest Andrew Therrien with Big Orange Productions
  • 042 Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield shares his passion for natural organic brands and how we need to inspire and educate shoppers – why this matters
  • 011 Sales growth strategies that focus on shopper satisfaction with guest Tim Joseph from Maple Hill Creamery
  • 050 Killing It – Life lessons of humility, love and inspiration with Sheryl O’Loughlin of REBBL and Clif Bar
  • 091 Disrupting the category by looking to the future for innovation with Justin Gold of Justin’s
  • 094 Reinventing favorite foods with Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Kitchen
  • 089 The importance of having a sold digital brand selling strategy with Madeline Haydon of Nutpods
  • 104 The Essential New Item Checklist – The Recipe For Success with with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies
  • 106 A Blueprint To Ensure Category Growth with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies  
  • 107 To sell more and grow beyond other brands in your category, you need to use strategies they overlook with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies 
  • 108 Maximize Promotion Effectiveness To Grow Sales with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies 
  • 110 Know Your Numbers – The Blueprint For Success with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies 
  • 112 Help Shoppers Find Your Products With The Right Assortment with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies 
  • 114 Innovative Proven Strategies To Exponentially Multiply Sales With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies 
  • 117 Simple Solutions To Maximize Broker Effectiveness And Accelerate Sales Growth With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies
  • 121 Make It Easy For Shoppers To Find Your Products With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies
  • 118 Focus On Shopper’s Market Basket Size To Exponentially Increase Sales With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies 
  • 134 Category Review Strategies To Grow Sales And Profits With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

Download the show notes below

BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES

PODCAST #159

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #159

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's podcast episode is really special, but before I dig in, I want to thank you for listening. I want to thank you for sharing this podcast with all your friends as well as the other brands in our industry that need this kind of information, this kind of advice, this kind of brand building support. This is exactly why I started this podcast. In fact, just last week someone was asking me why I decided to do this. Well, the timing was perfect. So as we round out this decade and as we began to start a new year, I thought it'd be great to take a quick look back and appreciate some of the wisdom and the advice that some of the leading CEOs, founders, and industry thought leaders have shared on this podcast.

The stories to help you scale and grow your natural brand. I believe that if you want to know where you're going, it's helpful to take a look back to see where you've already been. To be able to appreciate all the things that you've learned and then be able to build those or bake those ideas into your brand's DNA. To help you scale and grow your natural brand faster. After all, this is what this show is about.

So back to the question, why did I start this podcast in the first place? Well, I've had the privilege of attending and participating in many of the natural products business schools, industry seminars, product incubators from big brands. And in addition to that, I'm on the Champions Council for FMI Emerge as well as being a mentor. And I'm on the selection committee for different groups, including Nutrition Capital Network. My point is this, I get to see firsthand what a lot of brands are learning, the information that you're getting to grow your brand. And I'll have to be honest, I saw a huge gap that needed to be filled, thus this podcast. Let me explain. We do a phenomenal job of teaching brands how to raise money and then how to raise more money, and then how to raise more money after that.

Well, I have a belief. And that is that a CEO should not have to be a perpetual fundraiser. So what I wanted to do is to teach you how to get more out of your available runway. In other words, once you get that money, once you get that investment, how do you use it more effectively? How can you use those monies to drive sustainable sales and scale your brand? Also, how can I help you, your brand become a more valuable asset to the investors? In other words, if you're more valuable to them, then you can negotiate for better terms so you don't need to settle for scraps. And the best way to do this is to invite some of the industry thought leaders, leading CEOs and founders on this podcast to share their advice with you. Put a different way, instead of spending the time, the money, the air travel, and everything else to attend one of the industry events, I'm sharing those insights with you.

I'm going well beyond how to raise money by asking these founders, how did you get your product on the shelf? What challenges and bottlenecks did you overcome and how did you do that? In fact, on more recent podcast episodes, I actually helped solve those bottlenecks for my guests, so you get that insight as well. My primary objective with this podcast is to help you scale your natural brand with confidence, with proven strategies to grow sales and profits for your natural brand. Put another way, how can I help you get your products on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers and that includes online as well. Another major limitation that I wanted to address is that all the articles that I've written, in literally every trade publication in our industry, have been limited to about 500 words.

Well, I can't give you the answers that you need in such a limited amount of space. So this podcast, my YouTube channel, my website, the free downloads that I give you at the end of every episode, those are designed to help you go well beyond what I've been talking about all these years. Please take advantage of them. This is my way of giving back. I honestly believe that if I can help you succeed, then I can help improve our healthy way of life. In other words, if I can make your products more accessible to more shoppers, well then we can fix a lot of the problems that we're talking about on this podcast and beyond. Issues like compostable packaging, what is it, why does it matter, and how do you leverage your best strategies. How to effectively manage your broker? Or more importantly, how do you maximize your trade marketing or ROI, the gray area that every brand has to deal with? Something that I'm digging more into in the future. So stay tuned.

Well, after 158 episodes, it's kind of hard to choose just a few that I want to share with you. So let me start with some of the most important, some of the most iconic interviews that I've had that I've been able to share with you. Let me share a recap of some of those insights so that we can revisit them so that we can use those to build on and grow our brand in 2020 and beyond. One of my favorite episodes was episode 100. On episode 100, that was a milestone episode. I managed to get the insider information from Gary Hirshberg, Seth Goldman, Miyoko Schinner, Kyle Garner, Cheryl Loughlin and Chuck Muth, six industry icons in one episode, answering questions. The questions that you asked me to ask them, all based around the four primary points that I built this podcast on.

Number one, I believe our food system is broken, especially on main-street. Retailers spend more effort trying to get us to buy the products they wanted to sell us as opposed to selling what we want to buy. Number two, I believe that our food system is broken. We're told from birth that we are what we eat, but the products available on most store shelves are processed foods that lack the nutritional benefits that our bodies need and want. Number three, I believe that retail is broken. Small brands are unfairly burdened, frequently shouldering costs that big brands can ignore or overlook. They're expected to participate in programs that do little, if anything, to help attract new customers. On top of that, most retailers focus on the wrong things when measuring a brand's success. For example, velocity, retailers spend a lot of time looking backward while shoppers are looking forward to solutions that meet their needs.

And number four, I believe that our educational programs are broken in natural. The bars kept low and natural. Small brands don't know what they need to know while big brands invest heavily in education and in nurturing their employees. Hiring outside consultants and participating in mastermind style programs, not available to small brands or at least not at the same level. That's again why this podcast exists. So in podcast episode 100, I asked these six industry icons, key questions, the questions that you've asked me to ask them. For example, what advice would you give your younger self? What do you wish you knew back then that you know now? Here's an excerpt of that podcast episode.

What advice would I give my younger self? What do I wish I knew back then that I know now?

Chuck: Chuck Muth. What advice would I give my younger self? The advice I would give my younger self would be to accept you will make mistakes and see those mistakes for what they are: opportunities to learn from them.

Kyle: Hi Dan, it's Kyle Garner. I'm the CEO of Organic India USA, calling following up on your request for the 100th episode. The advice I would give to my younger self would be to network more. I grew up in big corporate America, and one of the things that we often focused on was working within our teams to launch a new product or to develop anything. And there was a ton of teamwork internally, but there was a lot less focus on networking, meeting people from other companies.

What I learned, coming into the natural industry is that all success is based on relationships, and I started a lot later than most of my peers, and so I've made it my mission to try to connect to join organizations here locally, like Naturally Bolder, but even joining the B-Corp community or meeting people within the industry at trade shows and really going out of my way to try to meet as many people as possible because not only am I building life long relationships and friendships, I'm also learning a lot based on how others do business.

Miyoko: Hi, this is Miyoko Schinner. The advice I would give my younger self would be to trust more in my own intuition and instincts, something that I did not do when I first started out. Over time, I realized that my intuition was actually quite good, and I needed to listen to myself more.

Gary: Hi Dan, It's Gary Hirschberg, in answer to your first question, what advice would I give to my younger self. The advice I would give to my younger self would be to ignore the doubters.

Doubters are easy. It's super simple to throw fruit from the sidelines or the bleachers, but life really is a temporary condition, and you've just gotta believe in yourself. If I had listened to any of the doubters who thought that we could never make it, I'd never, never have gone forward. So ignore the doubters. Stay positive. Keep leaning in.

Dan: What was the transformational moment that motivated me to go down this path?

Kyle: The transformational moment that motivated me to come into this industry was really a personal one. I had never really thought too much about the natural products industry growing up in corporate America, and focusing on big billion dollar brands. And through having my first child and starting to re-look at the way I was taking care of myself and what I valued in terms of giving back to people and the planet, I realized that there was this entire industry out here, of people that were really dedicated to driving the mission and advancing, using business as a force for good, while trying to heal people on the planet. And I knew I wanted to be a part of it. And so I jumped in with both feet and have never looked back.

Chuck: What was the transformational moment that motivated me to go down this path?

Transformational moment for me, that motivated me to go to Beyond Meat was the realization that there really was no finish line as I just retired and realized it wasn't really what I wanted to do. So I literally was sitting, having a glass of wine with my wife at a bed and breakfast discussing the future and this opportunity was available and we decided that Beyond Meat was just one of those ... This instructional transformational companies that can literally have an effect on the way people eat. It's a mission that you look back on your career and you realize you really may have made a difference here, so that's why I chose Beyond Meat and this opportunity.

Miyoko: The transformational moment that motivated me to start my business was when I changed my diet and I began to see the connection between the food on my plate and the impact, not only on my health, but to the lives of animals and the health of the planet. When I made that connection, I felt motivated to start a business that would support that mission.

Gary: The transformational moment that motivated me to help start Stonyfield was when I sat at a board meeting of the rural education center, the organic farming school from which we started, and got to taste Samuel Kaymen's ambrosia-like, incredible plain whole milk yogurt with the cream on top. Once I tasted that, I knew that even though I knew nothing about business, even though the market was nonexistent, nobody was eating yogurt, and nobody knew what organic was, I knew with something this good, we couldn't go wrong.

Dan: What self doubt, insecurity, or fear did I overcome and how?

Sheryl: My name is Sheryl O'Loughlin. I am the CEO of Rebbl, super herb beverages. I overcame fear last year because I was able to face it head-on. And that is our house was actually destroyed in the Santa Rosa fire that happened at the end of 2017. And our house burned to the ground and we were driving around in our car with two boxes of things that we bought during the week and clothes we had donated, and that was it. And we traveled, probably stayed in 11 different places, and we're still in the process of building back and haven't even broken ground on our house yet over a year later. But we faced it. And we thrived, and we are now actually tighter as a family and appreciate every moment because we realized that we could actually live with so little. So facing your fear is really the greatest way to overcome it.

Gary: I overcame self-doubt, insecurity, and fear by raising money from my mother and mother-in-law, which meant that it didn't matter what I was fearing or doubting, I had to go forward. I had many, many shareholders and board members who were telling me it was time to pack it in. But because I had my family's money, and because my family had invested in me, I was absolutely determined to stay with it.

Chuck: What self-doubt, insecurity, or fear did I overcome and how? I overcame my fear of failure. Almost every promotion I had early in my career, I came to the position with a fear that I really wasn't qualified to handle the opportunity for the position that I was given. So my approach to that was really to just really button down and work hard, work as many hours as necessary to overcome my personal anxieties. I basically refused to fail. And as my career progressed, of course my confidence grew, and with that, those fears went away.

Miyoko: I overcame my self-doubt over time. Actually, through the support of many people who applauded my efforts. The support of our customers, our investors, and just people around me really helped me believe in what we were doing.

Kyle: I overcame my fear of working outside of my comfort zone, in terms of really just trying different ways to approach things by practicing. When you grow up in an environment where the policies and procedures and everything is so well-structured in the organization, there's a ton of benefit to having that, those best practices handy and following a playbook that you know will work in the marketplace. And it's scary to try something new.

And it's scary to just jump in and take a risk and try something completely different. But for me, practicing that skill has been a huge benefit, and the more I did it, the more I learned that I loved it. And now, what I like to do is be able to apply some of those best in class practices that I learned on how to grow the brand and how to manage a category and how to truly do best in class brand building and apply that in unique situations based on the natural channel.

Dan: How do I stay motivated and focused and maintain the stamina to run a successful business and avoid burnout? What does my daily routine look like?

Seth: Hi there, Dan. It's Seth Goldman, from Honest Tea and Beyond Meat. And I got your email, and so gonna leave you an answer to the question about staying motivated. So to stay as motivated and focused in order to run a successful business, I always make sure to make my own life balance, and that means physically and spiritually and just in personal relationships. So I make a point of getting out every morning and spending at least an hour on my own doing some kind of exercise, which is also a great way for me to reconnect to the natural world around me and keep things in perspective. And then I also really do make a discipline of making sure I'm able to spend enough time with my wife and my family so that I have that both the security in that and the cushion or buffer between that and work, work never gets too overwhelming. And so those are some of my techniques for keeping it honest as I keep growing, keeping to grow myself and the business.

Gary: How do I stay motivated and focused in order to run a successful business? For me, it's daily exercise. Even when the days were ridiculously long and we'd milk cows and make yogurt, and deal with creditors all day long, I still found time to play tennis or take a walk or bicycle. Even sometimes at 10PM at night. I just knew that if I went to sleep without some kind of exercise, without letting the steam off, I'd be in big trouble.

Miyoko: To stay motivated and focused, in order to run a successful business, you have to continue to believe in your mission. Never forget what caused you to start the business to begin with.

Kyle: To stay motivated and focused, I really have had to focus mostly on my emotional and mental health. Being the head of a small company deals with a lot of challenges. It's also a pretty lonely job at times. And so I focused a lot on teaching and practicing meditation for myself and building a practice that really works for me to make sure I'm as present as I need to be when I need to be, and then also be able to disconnect and focus on my family and my friends outside of the office environment.

Chuck: How do I stay motivated and focused and maintain the stamina to run a successful business to avoid burnout? Well, I stay motivated and focused, first of all, my mental health is really great place to be for me. I'm enjoying the work, and so that makes it a lot easier to stay in a good mental frame of mind. Physically, though, I actually do exercise a minimum of 60 minutes per day. I also bike to work a couple days a week, which is around a 15-mile roundtrip, so those things keep me physically in pretty good shape.

I encourage you to listen to the rest of episode 100 wherever you get your podcast.

Again, this is why I do this. To be able to share these kinds of insights and as validation of these strategies, this is why I do this. I've been able to get some amazing feedback from listeners, including several of my guests on the podcast. For example, here are just a couple of them. "Listening to a half dozen of your podcasts with a breadth and depth as many as they are, you can listen to half of those and get an MBA in entrepreneurship." That was from Scott Jensen, CEO of Rhythm, Superfoods and Stubbs legendary barbecue sauce.

Phil Lempert, the supermarket guru, you see him on TV occasionally. He says, "Dan and I talk about what retailers and shoppers really want, how to get your brand on shelf market. Market changes, insight trends, small brands, and the future of the CPG industry. Always a great time and discussion with Dan, one of the smartest and most intuitive natural food leaders in the industry. Thanks for having me on." And Seth Goldman says, "Scaling mission-based brands takes a specific playbook, Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast sheds light on getting on the shelf. It's working for Honest Tea and Beyond Meat."

While I could go on and on for literally hours, I wanted to share these with you to help validate the importance of the strategies to help illustrate why this matters and how these strategies will help you scale your natural brand with confidence. You can see a list of all the podcast episodes at brandsecretsandstrategies.com/podcast. Let me share a little bit more with you. In episode 32 I had a great conversation with Phil Lempert, the supermarket guru, on the future of retail and the future of the CPG industry. And we talked about the importance of small disruptive brands and how they're making an impact in CPG and how they're the future of our industry. In fact, on that note, on episode 137, Walter Robb, the former CEO of Whole Foods, and I took that to the next level and beyond. We talked about what's in store for this industry, including things like reducing waste, solving the mini problems around food deserts, etc.

One of the episodes that I'm most proud of is episode 129 with Ethan Hirshberg. In this episode, I share with you strategies to help you capitalize on the most important thing that you have, your customer. Let me explain. It's your customer that is driving sustainable sales across every category. It's your customer that retailers are most interested in and using this appropriately, you can leverage this against other things like slotting and menu fees, etc. This is how you help your retail partners compete more effectively in any market, in any economy. Let me explain. Retailers generically want three things, more shoppers in their store, a reasonable profit and a competitive advantage in their market. If you understand who your core customer is, and I don't mean the generic customer, female head of household, 2.3 kids, etc. In other words, you need to understand who exactly your core customer is.

This is something that literally, and I do mean literally every brand overlooks, including the big brands. In fact, they spend so much time talking at us that they don't focus on who their core customer is. This is exactly why I created my free turnkey sales story strategies course. If you have the discipline to leverage the strategies in that course, I guarantee you're going to get a significant competitive advantage. The point is this if you can understand who your core customers, how do they shop? Are they socially active? Do they hike? What are their friends like? What type of groups are they involved in, etc? If you can understand how they use their product long after they take it home, but how they share it with their friends and then leverage these insights with retailers, this is how you can help your retail partners grow sustainable sales. Take this course, again, it's free. It's why I created this.

And in podcast episode 129, I teach Ethan the importance of understanding who your core customer is and how you can leverage those insights to help you compete more effectively to help you get your product on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. So once you understand who your core customer is, you need to be able to bake that into your story, into your brand story. Episode 105 is focused on teaching you how to leverage those insights, how to build them into your selling story. And on episode 52, Jon Sebastiani, a Sonoma brands, Krave, and SmashMallow, talked about how to become a master storyteller. He talks about the romance of storytelling. This is an episode you're definitely going to want to check out. John's background is in wine. Think about it, and wine companies talk about the grapes and the ground and the water and the amount of sun the grapes get. All those nuance things.

Then wine companies celebrate. I mean, if you think about it, when we talk a lot in our industry about our products, we don't talk about the bouquet, the way the product smells. We don't talk about a lot of the things that the wine connoisseurs celebrate in value. After all, what is the difference between a $3 bottle of wine and a $3,000 bottle of wine? Sometimes it has a lot more to do with the way the product is sold. Well, we should leverage those strategies when we're talking about our products. After all, it costs a lot more to produce an organic product than it does a mainstream product full of preservatives. More importantly, it's our products that are driving sustainable sales across every category in every channel. It's our products that are responsible for the growth in every category. While mainstream products are struggling to hold their own.

Why don't we celebrate these more? In this podcast, episode 52, we talk about ways that you can leverage those insights to help you better communicate the value of your brand to the consumers that buy it. Now, before you play any game, you've got to know what the rules are. In podcast episode 136, I had a great conversation with Bob Burke about exactly this. You've got to know what the rules are before you play any game. It doesn't matter what the game is. Once you understand the rules, then you can learn how to adapt and how to modify your strategy to capitalize on each and every opportunity to get your product in front of more customers. To differentiate your brand on the shelf. When I started this industry several years ago, mainstream used the exact same strategies that natural uses today. Because of the hyper-competitive nature of mainstream products today, because of Walmart and Amazon and companies like that, we had to learn strategies to help us take our brand to the next level and beyond.

This is what category management is about and this is at the core of the advanced strategies I talk about on this podcast and throughout all my content. The point is this, once you understand how the game is played, then you can layer on these strategies to gain a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. Like I talked about in the beginning of the podcast, this is how you get more runway. This is how your brand becomes more valuable to potential investors. This is how you become a leader in the category and a valued and respected and trusted retail partner, which by the way, can open up a lot of doors to you in terms of incremental promotional opportunities, incremental merchandising, incremental distribution, etc. I know firsthand because this is how I built my career. This is exactly how I was able to push around brands like Proctor and Gamble, Frito, and many other brands.

It worked for me. It can work for you as well. And on that note, we talk a lot about branding in this podcast. In episode 8, Joe Wardee talked about the importance of putting your shopper first. In episode 139, Susie Yorke with Love Good Fats talked about how understanding your customer can help you position your brand more effectively. In her case, she was able to leverage the importance of her brand, the brand positioning, by understanding her customer to create a super-premium product that is literally crushing every other brand in the energy bar category. And in podcast episode 115, success equals brand strategy plus execution. I had a great conversation with Michael J. O'Donnell. This podcast episode is the inspirational podcast episode. In other words, for any brand willing and able to adopt these strategies, here's what's possible. Here's what you could have if you were able to effectively execute these strategies on a large scale.

In fact, on that note, we had a followup podcast episode, episode 142 where we talked about sales success begins with a solid business plan. I mentioned earlier that I've had the privilege of working with and mentoring literally hundreds of brands in the natural channel. From pre-revenue all the way to multibillion-dollar companies. Sadly few, if any of these brands have a solid business strategy. Let me explain. When I have the privilege of working with brands for the natural products expo pitch slam or other brands for other pitch slams or reading business plans as I work on the selection committee for nutrition capital network and etc. Why do those strategies talk about how a brand is going to go from $50 to $3 million in the next year? They generically list a couple of different retailers. In other words, there's no path to their success. They don't have a game plan.

In podcast episode 142, we talk about what matters. In other words, if you had a solid business plan, a solid business plan in my mind is a plan that you could hand to anyone else and they could execute it on your behalf in your absence. A robust plan that says, this is how you're going to get from $100 in sales to $3,000 in sales to $1 million in sales, etc. You're going to start at this retailer. Then you're going to expand into these retailers, calling on these stores specifically. When do you plan to innovate? How do you leverage your broker to grow your brand? These are all the things that need to be built into your business plan. And by doing this, not only do you have a solid roadmap for success, but again, this makes your brand more attractive to potential investors. This helps your brand stand out and if you can do this effectively, then you can negotiate better rates with the investors so you don't have to settle for scraps. What we were talking about earlier.

A solid business plan is something you can also take your retail partners. In other words, what commitment can you make to them to support your brand? After all, that's what all retailers want. They want to know that if they put your product on their shelves that you're going to support it. These are things that are good to have in your business plan. So as you're working with an internal sales team or even your broker, you can hand this to them and you can then hold them accountable for the results that you know you need to achieve. And don't worry, this isn't something that's chiseled in stone. This is something that you can adapt and modify at any time. In fact, you should. On the podcast, you're going to hear from leading industry experts how they use these advanced solid strategies.

For example, podcast episode 45 with TJ McIntyre of Bobo's Oat Bars or episode 35 with Chuck Muth of Beyond Meat. Or on podcast episode 59, had a great conversation with Steve Hughes about how he uses the advanced strategies and the fact-based selling stories, to add rocket fuel to his growth. And then in episode 88, we talk about the proof of becoming a category leader. And now that can help open doors with Russ Forester of Hain Celestial. And then in podcast episodes 54 and 122, I talked to Mathis Martinez, the former natural national category captain for Kroger about what retailers really want. And what he shared on those two episodes are the strategies that validate everything we've talked to date. The point being is this, these strategies work, they can help you stand out on a crowded shelf. And this is what retailers want. Retailers want brands willing and able to step up and help them drive sustainable sales in their category, what I would call a category leader.

So now that you have these advanced strategies, you've listened to several podcast episodes, you've gone back and listened to the ones that we've talked to at least. Now you begin to understand how important it is to leverage these strategies. So what's next? Well, the next most important thing is that you have the right strategy, the right skill set so that you can communicate the value of these strategies to your retail partner. In episode 23, salesmanship 401, in-depth sales strategies every brand must choose. I talked to Andrew Therin about this. Not only is Andrew a good friend, but he shared some of the best insights I've ever heard about how to sell your brand, the things that are important, what's important to retire, how do you communicate the value of your brand to the retailer, to your end consumer? In fact, we even did a followup episode 123, essential in-store marketing strategies that put customers first and grow sales. Where we take that advice to the next level and beyond. Where we talk about how to leverage those strategies to drive sales at the retail store and product demos.

Perhaps the best opportunity any brand has to get to know your consumers to get to talk to them. After all, when do you have an opportunity to have a one on one conversation with your current and future shoppers? This is the best place for you to do research. Research about the customer to understand what they like, what they don't like. To develop a relationship with a brand. In fact, this is the exact strategy that Dustin Finkel of Ka-Pop! uses. In episode 126, a well-defined business strategy will add rocket fuel to your growth. Dustin talks about how he leverages this strategy specifically with in-store demos to get to know the customers that he serves, the customers that buy his product. These are insights, actionable insights. They're going to help you in traditional retail as well as online. For example, episode 91, disrupting the category by looking to the future of innovation with Justin Gold of Justin's.

Justin reinvented the category completely by understanding what the customer wanted by thinking beyond the four corners of most categories. Thinking beyond the traditional definition of what a category means. And then in episode 89, the importance of having a solid digital brand strategy with Madeline Haydon of Nutpods. We talked about how to leverage those strategies online and in the digital world and how then she could then leverage those insights. The insights from online to help grow our brick and mortar business. And at the heart of everything we've talked about in this podcast are the disruptive, innovative brands. For example, episode 94, reinventing a favorite food with Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko's Kitchen. Who created an amazing vegan cheese that you simply must try. More importantly, she reinvigorated a category. She created a whole new segment out of products that taste good, reinventing the category to address the underserved customer that wants plant-based products.

And then in episode 11, we talk about sales growth with shopper satisfaction with Tim Joseph of Maple Hill Creamery, who got back to the basics. Who highlights the importance of getting back to the way food was intended. In other words, cows aren't designed to eat hay and grain and other things that we feed him today. So Tim talks about how he's been able to leverage that strategy, grass-fed, to be able to produce healthy quality products. And the best part is his cattle are healthier than most cattle using the traditional farming practices that most brands adopt today. The things that we try to avoid in natural. And in the podcast, we also talk about the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people by not being the smartest person in the room. This is great advice from John Foraker from episode 36. And Sheryl O’Loughlin was talking about how to inspire your team with love, life lessons and humility in episode 50. And in episode 81, Greg Fleishman talks about with Foodstirs how to connect generations with a love and a passion for real food.

And then in episode of 42, Gary Hirshberg reminds us that we are what we eat and that if we eat healthy products that give our bodies the nutrients that we need, that we're going to be healthier and that this is a lot better strategy than paying a doctor to fix something that you didn't take care of because you ate improperly. Gary's advice was that we vote with our dollars and it's these brands, your brands that are driving sustainable sales across every category. This podcast is dedicated to helping you compete more effectively, dedicated to helping you get your product on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. Take time to go back and listen to several of these episodes and more. Share them with a friend. I appreciate all of you for listening. This has been a blast and I look forward to bringing you, even more, brand building content in 2020 and beyond.

If you've got recommendations, things that you want me to cover in the podcast, please share them with me. Send them to me and I'd be happy to try to include those in the podcast or in some of the content that I put out. One of the things I've really been focusing on is trying to develop a suite of mini-courses for you as well as robust courses. The fill in the gaps like we talked about earlier, the gaps of things that are not taught in the natural products business schools, the seminars and other events including incubators. The reason this matters simply put is if you want to play at the level of the big brands, you need to be at the level of the big brand. For any brands wanting to take their game to the next level and beyond, I'm going to recommend several podcast episodes that will help you dramatically.

Those podcasts episodes are 104, the essential new item checklist, the recipe for success. Podcast episode 106, a blueprint to ensure category growth. Podcast episode 107, to sell more and grow beyond other brands in your category you need strategies they overlook. Podcast episode 108, maximize promotional effectiveness to grow sales. Podcast episode 110, know your shopper, the blueprint for success. Podcast episode 112, help shoppers find your products with the right assortment. Podcast episode 114, innovative proven strategies to exponentially multiply sales. Episode 117, simple solutions to maximize broker effectiveness and accelerate sales growth. Episode 120, convert occasional customers into loyal shoppers to grow sustainable sales. Episode 121, to make it easier for shoppers to find and buy your products. And then episode 118, focus on shopper market basket size to exponentially increase sales. And then my favorite strategy, episode 134, category review strategies to grow sales and profits.

Perhaps the single biggest missed opportunity by most brands. I know I've given you a lot to think about. Leverage these insights to help grow your brand in 2020. 2020 is going to be an incredible year and together we can help raise the bar in natural. Together we can help solve your most pressing bottlenecks and give you a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. Thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Oh, and the show notes for this episode, you can get there by going to brandsecretsandstrategies.com/session159. And this week's free downloadable guide, the essential new item checklist, the recipe for success. You can get that on the podcast webpage and in the podcast show notes.

Podcast episodes referenced, Secrets: 100 Insider secrets with Gary Hirshberg, Seth Goldman, Miyoko Schinner, Kyle Garner, Sheryl O’Loughlin, and Chuck Muth

032 Sage Wisdom with Phil Lempert The Supermarket Guru

137 The Future Of Retail With Walter Robb of Stonewall Robb and Whole Foods Market

105 Brands need to have a clear and compelling message that resonates with shoppers

052 Selling from a master storyteller with Jon Sebastiani of Sonoma Brands /Krave /Smash Mallow

136 The Retail Game – What You Need To Know With Bob Burke of Natural Products Consulting

008 Brand building strategies that work by putting the shopper first with guest Joel Warady of Enjoy Life Foods

139 Explosive Growth - The Result Of A Solid Brand Position With Suzie Yorke of Love Good Fats

115 Success = Brand Strategy + Execution With Michael J. O’Donnell From The Belmullet Food and Beverage Group

142 Sales Success Begins With A Solid Business Plan With Michael J. O’Donnell From The Belmullet Food and Beverage Group

045 The importance of a solid business strategy with TJ McIntyre of Bobo's Oat Bars

038 Mission based brand success stories with guest Seth Goldman at Honest Tea and Beyond Meat

035 Sales extend beyond retailer's shelves with Chuck Muth with Beyond Meat

036 The importance of a compelling selling story to get your brand on store shelves with guest John Foraker with Once Upon A Farm

058 Start with a Mission in mind - what big brands can learn from disruptive natural brands with Kyle Garner of Organic India / Climate Collaborative

059 Proof that advanced strategies and fact-based selling stories add rocket fuel to your growth with Steve Hughes of Sunrise Strategic Partners / Boulder Brands

088 Proof that becoming a category leader opens doors and grows sales with Russ Forester of Hain Celestial

054 What retailers really want — insider to getting on shelf with Mathis Martines of Enlightened / Formerly Kroger

122 What Retailers REALLY Want - Brand Building Success Strategies with Mathis Martines of M2 Brands, Formally Kroger

126 A Well Defined Business Strategy Will Add Rocket Fuel To Your Growth With Dustin Finkel Of KAPOP

123 Essential In-Store Marketing Strategies That Put Customers First And Grow Sales with Andrew Therrien of Big Orange Productions

023 Salesmanship 401 - In depth sales strategies every brand must use with guest Andrew Therrien with Big Orange Productions

042 Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield shares his passion for natural organic brands and how we need to inspire and educate shoppers - why this matters

011 Sales growth strategies that focus on shopper satisfaction with guest Tim Joseph from Maple Hill Creamery

050 Killing It - Life lessons of humility, love and inspiration with Sheryl O’Loughlin of REBBL and Clif Bar

091 Disrupting the category by looking to the future for innovation with Justin Gold of Justin’s

094 Reinventing favorite foods with Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko's Kitchen

089 The importance of having a sold digital brand selling strategy with Madeline Haydon of Nutpods

104 The Essential New Item Checklist - The Recipe For Success with with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

106 A Blueprint To Ensure Category Growth with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

107 To sell more and grow beyond other brands in your category, you need to use strategies they overlook with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

108 Maximize Promotion Effectiveness To Grow Sales with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

110 Know Your Numbers - The Blueprint For Success with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

112 Help Shoppers Find Your Products With The Right Assortment with Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

114 Innovative Proven Strategies To Exponentially Multiply Sales With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

117 Simple Solutions To Maximize Broker Effectiveness And Accelerate Sales Growth With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

121 Make It Easy For Shoppers To Find Your Products With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

118 Focus On Shopper’s Market Basket Size To Exponentially Increase Sales With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

134 Category Review Strategies To Grow Sales And Profits With Daniel Lohman of Brand Secrets and Strategies

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at brandsecretsandstrategies.com 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 TurnkeySalesStoryStrategies.com/growsales. 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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The Essential New Item Checklist – The Recipe For Success

New product innovation is the lifeblood of every brand. New products fuel sustainable growth, attracts new shoppers and increases brand awareness. Know the critical steps to get your product on more retailer’s shelves and into the hands of more shoppers.

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