Getting on to the Consumer's Plate
Starting a business presents a clear set of challenges and creating a scalable business, vs. just a hobby or lifestyle business is entirely different set of challenges. Just having a great product does equate to successful acquisition of shelf space and does not insure your product gets on to the customers plate. "I believe in being in front of my customer's. No one can sell my product like myself." According to Todd. He needed a brand image and I created the "Dirt Man" character to help his brand stand out from the competition. When Todd is the "Dirt Man", he transforms himself into a crazy and fun guy with his customers. He is selling the experience of Todd, the brand, and of course the product but in a way that customers enjoy and remember: remembering him when they use the product gets that all important repeat purchase the next time the customer is in the supermarket.
Using a niche marketing and viral marketing approach he started a grass roots campaign, meeting customers at shows, festivals and in store demo's. Social media in food today is a critical marketing tool and Todd embraced Facebook to develop a community and virally propagate his personality as the brand. One check of the Todd's Dirt website and you will see a series of video's of Todd in many venue having fun with his product. Everyone in the videos is having a great time talking about the products, how they use them, how much fun they are to use and how it takes mundane foods like hamburgers and turns them into a culinary experience. Have the customers taste the product and teach them how to use it.
Todd's Dirt is a dry rub that enhances food in a way that marinades don't but most of us do not know how to use a dry rub. Todd created numerous videos that of course show how easy it is to use on grilled meats but how the consumer can use his seasonings it for everyday cooking. This is important for growing the brand since grilling is limited and educating the consumer in a fun way through social media on every day uses increases the usage occasions of his product and of course sales.
"My approach has allowed my company to grow and have such a strong passionate following." Says Todd.
Takeaways for Food Entrepreneurs
Todd's Dirt Seasonings is a case book example illustrating there is more to a successful food product than taste. Most food entrepreneurs starting a specialty foods business are motivated by the accolades of friends and family about their great tasting product. The realities set in all too quickly on keys issues such as:
How do I make the product on a mass scale? Copackers are one answer but finding one is akin to getting married. You have to find that needle in a haystack relationship.
How do I get the right packaging? You have less than 7 seconds to get the consumer to notice your product on the shelf. Packaging is THE #1 marketing component for your brand so choose your packaging suppliers for not only price but how they can help you with compelling packaging.
How do I differentiate my brand from the competition? It is more than taste. Todd decided his personality would be the brand and vice versa. That does not always work so consider what makes you different. Then ask yourself of the retailer will give you shelf space because the buyer is convinced your brand is different enough to warrant shelf space.
Todds Dirt Seasonings distribution is growing steadily, currently in 32 Whole Foods in the Mid-Atlantic. He landed a major retailer, Giant, with over 118 stores. Additional retail distribution: 118 Ingles Markets, Eddie's and Graul's Market in the Baltimore area.