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Welcome to your Food Business Success. This podcast is for early stage entrepreneurs in the packaged food industry ready to finally turn that delicious idea into reality. I'm your host Sari Kimbell. I have guided hundreds of food brand founders to success as an industry expert and business coach. And it's gotta be fun. In this podcast, I share with you mindset tools to become a true entrepreneur and run your business like a boss, interviews with industry experts to help you understand the business you are actually in, and food founder journeys so you can learn what worked and didn't work and not feel so alone in your own journey. Now, let's jump in!
Welcome everybody back to the podcast. I have a special guest on with me this week. Karen Green is here with me today. And she's basically my counterpart. We're very similar roles in businesses. She is based. She works with clients in the UK, and she actually lives in France. So possibly the farthest different timezone I've talked with. So very excited to talk with Karen. She is also known as the Food Mentor. She works with food and beverage drink challenger brands in the UK, helping them to grow and get retailer listings. She is the best selling author of Recipe For Success, The Ingredients Of A Profitable Food Business, and a regular speaker at foodie events around the world. So welcome, Karen!
Thank you for inviting me, it's really exciting to talk to you.
Fill in some of those details for me. Tell us a little bit more about you and your background, who you work with, etc.
So I've always been in retail right from well, I was born into retail, my father ran a department store. And I started retail at university and then went to work for Tesco, which is a big grocery multiple in the UK. And then really have had a career on a sales and marketing basis, working for a variety of different, both retailers and then brands. And in the last seven years, I've been running my own business, Food Mentor. And you know, place in the title, I mentor food and drink businesses, helping them to grow and the majority of my clients are the smaller startups who have got ready really to go out and sell to back to grocery retailers. So kind of almost bringing my career full circle. And yeah, they honestly vary from, oh my goodness, sushi to kombucha to coated nuts, anything, and chocolate. I'm having a quite a lot of focus about chocolate at the moment.
Oh my gosh, I'm so on board with the chocolate.
Yeah, no, it's a really interesting category. And it's yeah, so that's I've got some clients through the UN. So I'm working for the International Trade Center with 11 Gournay and chocolatiers. So it's, and I've just come back actually from a trip to Ghana to visit some of their factories. So it's been really interesting. Very, very blessed to do that.
Yeah, we get to work with the most amazing people. And the variety is so fun and all the different kinds of businesses that I'm sure we both get to work with.
Yeah, absolutely. Keeps it fresh.
All right, I am excited to jump into buyerology. And this is a framework that you've developed, you're writing a book about it. It's something that you use with your clients. So let's talk about buyerology and how that can help people listening here today.
So buyerology is, yeah, it's a word I've coined. And it's basically the study of buyers. And it's very much focused on commercial, corporate buyers rather than consumers, although I think it is. It is relevant to consumers but it's largely looking at how buyers function. And you can't have a book or a concert without a matrix. And I have a 3 by 3 matrix which basically looks at the interaction between the buyer as a person, as a human, as an individual. And then how they interact with the corporation and then the impact of the corporation because I think in a lot of cases when we're selling, when we're selling into retailers, or selling to anybody, we tend, if it's a corporate business, we tend to focus on the corporation. So we go, okay, what is this business do? We might if we, if we're good at what we do, we might go well, let's go have a look at the strategy, let's look at their website, etc. And we have a good understanding of the corporate requirements. But we maybe don't think well, who's going to be sitting across me on the table? And as I say, there is that then that third element of how is that buyer as a human interacting with the corporation? And that's another bit that's really interesting to think about. So, in terms of the buyer, what I have worked on is digging into how do we find out who we're going to be selling to as a human before we get to the meeting? And there's various tricks that you can use to find that out. And also, obviously, when you get into that meeting, what do you do when you're sitting across that person? How can you very quickly go right? Actually, I've got the measure of this person. And, therefore, adapt how you sell. And that's the crux of it. So you can do all this research and understand but then the second part of the concept, and the book goes on to say, well, actually, now what, what do I do? So can I give you an example just does that help just to flesh it out? So one of the kind of the most important part to me is the buyers personality. So there's a couple of ways you can look at this, the simplest one is, are they visual, are they auditory, or are they kinesthetic? So we all absorb information in different ways, or learning in different ways. So I'm very visual. So I like to watch things. So if I'm going to a lecture or a podcast, actually podcasts not an example, I want to watch somebody do something. An auditory person is listening. So a podcast is perfect for that. And I do listen, you know, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I walk. But my key learning style is visual. And then there's the kinesthetics, who actually are, they want to touch. So if you're actually and now, you know, we are more doing in real life, in person meetings, you need to give that type of person something to hold. So the way, you can assess them is you listen to their language. So I would say to you, I see what you're saying. So I'm talking in a visual language, or you might have some go, oh I hear you. Or you might have some go, well, I feel da da da. Now we all use those phrases in different situations. So you know, it's not a perfect model but it will give you an idea of, you know, do you need if you're selling to somebody, do you need to show them pictures? Or do you need to talk to them? And it's the same if, so then you transfer that into whether you're going to, if you're going to write an email, so if I'm sending an email to me, send me a picture. If you're sending one to an auditory person, maybe you just put a little video with some sound on it. It's thinking that through. So that's one model. And then another one, which I use is disc profiling. And that's a whole other opportunity to profile a buyer. And you can use LinkedIn. And it's really interesting, and it's really accurate. So I'll stop talking because otherwise I'll just carry on all day telling you.
Alright, so much good stuff there to unpack. I think the first thing that comes up for me is just a reminder that it's not the entity of Whole Foods or Costco, you are actually interacting with a real buyer, a real person who's having human emotions, who's having good days and bad days. We were just talking about this inside Food Business Success on a group call and one of the members submitted her samples to Whole Foods and it was very much, you know, very nerve wracking and we just reminded her that, you know, there's a real person behind this decision, and that they do care about other people and they care about the health of their store. And fingers crossed, those samples will arrive on a day that they are having a great day and they are really open, but you just never know.
Yeah, exactly. And that's one of the pieces of that 3 by 3 is actually yes, you can you can look at the personality, but as you say, they might have had a row with their partner, they might have had a really bad journey into work, they might have some other crisis when you hit them with, oh, buy my product, and they might reach, you know what, I just don't have time for this. And, you know, in some cases, you know what you can do about that, you have to just put it in context. But it's, if you're aware of all these things, I mean, you we can overthink it, obviously. And, you know, if you get into it, it just blows your mind. But if you're at least aware of it, it can enable you to adapt and change your presentation. I think, you know, I used to run a program called Pitch Perfect. And I've changed the name to Retail Ready because I suddenly had a realization probably about a year ago, I was like, there isn't a perfect pitch. Because every pitch has to adapt.
Yeah, if you can adapt and shift and pivot on the fly, then then it would be a perfect pitch.
Yes. And I think, certainly, for a lot of my clients, and I don't know about yours, but they're probably more fledgling in the art of selling, that pivoting takes experience. And I often, I sometimes accompany my clients when we've got a major meeting with a major malt. And I'll be, or we'll be presenting, and they'll say it, the buyer will say something and we get into a conversation, and then my client will go back to the pitch. And I'm kinda like, oh, okay, let's just, and you need to change direction, and that needs a bit of confidence. And I run as I've mentioned this program Retailer Ready. And we do teach some confidence techniques. So some techniques of what to do when you're in a situation where you go, oh my God, this is getting a bit scary, or a bit stressful, which I think is also really helpful.
I feel like that's so important that we are practicing on less intense, less stressful situations, right? That we can practice around us when we go out to eat or go to the coffee shop, or hanging out with friends and really start trying to pick up on some of those social cues and awareness and pivot the conversation in a low stakes environment.
Yeah, I'm just I think, like I say, knowledge is power. And being aware of it is I think, is half the battle. If you kind of go okay, I know that, like to say if you can practice with less important one so you get well it's like it, which is why I think the progression from, and I don't know if your clients do this, but here in the UK, it's a lot of markets. People tend to start with markets, maybe do a little bit of direct to consumer, so they start to get to know their marketplace. And then they might sell to their local deli, but they probably know the local deli because they've been shopping there so all of those are comfortable. So what you've got to do is just keep expanding what is my comfort zone. And I'll be honest, you know, when I go and present to somebody like Tescos especially with clients now, I always have a little bit of a butterflies in my stomach. I still go, oh my gosh, how's it gonna be, even though I got, you know, gosh, 30 years of experience of doing this. So the more confidence and experience you can build up in your comfort zone, and then you can start to extend that out.
I'm a really big fan of building up confidence with small steps. And I recently just had a podcast about building courage by doing kind of micro dosing courage moments and working up to that, because I have clients I'm sure you do too, where they just want to take such big leaps, like would they just launched a product and they want to get in front of Costco. And I really think that you need to build up the muscle of confidence and courage. And I do think that this buyerology framework is something that can be a really great tool. Start practicing it now on the smaller accounts and in social circles, so that you feel really comfortable when you have those big accounts and those big pitches.
Yeah, and the other thing I think you have to think about is who are you? What's your style? Because I remember, I mean, this is a long time ago, and just even admitting it sounds ridiculous now. But when I first started working, I think it was for booths actually, I just assumed everyone was the same as me. So when I came across people who, I'm a high read, I'm very active. I'm an action taker, I want things done now. And I came across someone who didn't. And I was like, why is this guy really so strange? And then they sent us on some course and we did some personality analysis. And I realized, actually, he was a completely different, the opposite side to me in terms of his approach. Your self awareness is really important when you're selling because if I meet someone who has a blue personality, who's very detailed, who's very slow at making decisions, because they need to have covered all the bases, and you can hear, I'm actually slowing my voice down as I'm talking about them. And I go in, right, so I've got this product, and it's 2.99. And, you know, this is the data, and you know, you should stop it. That person is going to be going whew. So it's so, but also, you know, I had a buyer who has a very strong blue personality, and I was commercial director, and he drove me insane because he used to ask for information. I was like, why do you want all this stuff? You don't need to know. And I, and it was only when I came across this whole idea of disc profiling. And I profiled him and I went, oh, my goodness, that's the problem. You're finding, you need to think about who you are, and why this guy is causing that problem. So yes, knowing yourself can really help you sell better as well because you'll understand what you need.
I've heard those colors before, might have been an Amy Porterfield podcast, but I think it works too. You know, it's one thing when you're pitching to a person, like a retailer and a buyer, and you can learn more about that. But also thinking about your, if you're doing direct to consumer, like your emails, you should have something that speaks quickly and directly to the reds. But then you can also include more detail and, you know, really get into the weeds a little bit more for some of the other personalities. So I love that framework.
It's hard to do. Because you've then you've got the people who are all much more about, hey, how are you? Did you have a great weekend, and I've been doing this, and da da da. And I get it, if I get a people person, I'm like, we're gonna get to the point. Where's the point? What do you want?
Well, I think when you're crafting emails and this would definitely be like going to a buyer. And also like your emails to your online customers, is like, sometimes I'm a red, right? I get to the point, I'm direct, like, write an email, and then I'll go back and include the hi.
And then maybe what you do for the detail vehicles as you add an attachment or something or send them somewhere, I don't know. But you're, you're right. It's a little bit like I did some training and there when you're speaking and again, this is important in pitching people can either be auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. So you need something someone can watch, something they can listen to, and something they can get hold off. And again, it's thinking about how do I weave that in to the overall and it's interesting actually, because obviously podcasts are just auditory. And I listen to podcasts when I'm out walking the dog. But I was listening to us, I don't know if you guys ever listened to Stephen Bartlett, the Diary of the CEO, I can really recommend it. He did some amazing interviews. But I was listening to it in the car actually, I was really struggling. And so, and I know I'm not auditory, I'm for visuals. Maybe I need to watch him doing it. I don't know.
Right. So many people have do it on YouTube as well.
They kind of brings it back to the fact that when you're selling, an understanding of your buyer needs to go much more deeply than we normally do, which is probably pop down and have a look around the shop before we go and sell.
And that your buyer in the case of a retailer is then also thinking about their buyer. So you kind of have a two layer, you know, you need to pitch to the retailer why this would be a good thing for their buyer, actually.
Yeah, it's the B2B is B2B and therefore B2C, it's complex, but I think, you know, if your listeners are thinking they're going oh my gosh, oh my gosh, this is too complicated. Ah! Don't sweat it. Honestly, just being aware of it is half the battle. Because, you know, even if you go away with just one thought that I don't know, maybe think about the buyer as a human. I think that's, you know, at the moment again, and so many people pitched last week, and now they're going to me, I've not heard anything yet. And I'm like, it's like literally only four days. Think of the buyer as a human. They just got back to the office. Monday is biggest day, they've got 100 other things to do. You're not top of their priority list right now.
Yeah, my takeaway is like, it's not about you. Make it about them. And don't take anything personally, realize that, yeah, they are human, and they're having, maybe they're out on vacation. Now they're catching up from vacation, or they're dealing with a lot of, you know, I know, when I worked for Whole Foods Market, there was a lot of internal pressures, right? And so I had to balance my priorities to, you know, to be successful in my job with other people's requests.
It's a juggle, Sari.
So even talking about buyerology in this framework and the colors, what would you say is the biggest takeaway that someone could put into action right after listening to this podcast? That could be that next step because I know it can maybe feel a little overwhelming all of these pieces at once.
Get to know the person in any way you can. Do your research is probably the best, the best advice I would give. So do the research on the person if you can. And, you know, once you get two or three people in front of you, maybe you've got a buying panel, or you've got a buyer and her boss, then that's when life becomes very interesting and quite complicated. But I think, at the basic level, just do your research. And LinkedIn. And actually, LinkedIn is your friend. And I'm a massive fan of LinkedIn. And some people like yourself, like me, highly evolved, do a lot of LinkedIn. But then, for example, some of my companies don't have a profile, or it's not really set up properly. Please do that. Do LinkedIn, get connected, so that you can go and find these people. And you learn so much about the company or learn about the people, you'll learn about, you know, you might find out what their interests are. And it just makes it that much easier. But those are bigger corporations. For the smaller ones, you know, like your independent, even your independent, you know, go and see what they're doing on Insta, see what to see if they've been in the local news. It just gives you a hook and it makes you stand out especially if you're in a competitive marketplace, and you want to stand out from the rest. People like people who are interested. Can demonstrate that. That's really good. So yes, the one take one thing I would do is do your research. And the second one is sort yourself out on LinkedIn.
I love that. And I love that you talked about building your networks and community and how important that is. I just had another guest on who was talking, that's all we talked about was LinkedIn and creating community, but you're not going to do this alone. And the more you can tap into, even working with people like yourself or me, like it opens up your whole world to all those other, you know, to all the people I know. And then people in my group and your groups who know people. So important, and I think it's really underrated and misunderstood.
I think it is misunderstood. And I think you knew I've run how many, I think I've run four cohorts now this program in different formats. But the thing that's come out most strongly in the last two I've run is the supportive nature of the group, even though yeah, they've learned lots of stuff. And we've done some, you know, lots of practice, and we've profiled buyers and we've done pitch documents and we've practice pitching and selling. The bit that everyone seems to talk about is oh my goodness, it's been so great because such and such was so supportive, and I had a picture of the coop and they've helped me with that. And that's kind of gold dust that just comes. And I think we're missing a bit of that with this whole, you know, I don't know what it's been like in the US but this whole remoteness for the last two years when I was at Bread and Jam last week. It's the first time I've seen a lot of these clients in the flesh, you know, actually met people and the energy and the vibrancy of meeting people in person is quite awesome actually, so. yeah, but it's not so easy.
Yeah, well, there's, I think there's a place for both. And it is really special to have those in person. But it is nice to have online and virtual because people can be coming from anywhere. And you know, they don't all have to be in the same place. But I think it's just such an underrated benefit of working, you know, inside groups. And so it's the investment of working with somebody like yourself or working with me, but then take advantage of that benefit of the community. So I just can't put a finer point on it over and over again, how important that is. So I'm glad you said that. Let's transition. And, you know, as we're both work with a lot of clients, and sometimes I just, I look from afar, and I say, gosh, if I was you, here's what I would do, I wish I could wave my magic wand. So if you were in your clients shoes right now, you know, 2022 heading into the holidays, obviously all the issues of inflation and all the things. What are three things if you were in charge that you would do if you were a food business?
I guess, I mean, we're recording this kind of end of July. So in terms of time specific. In the UK, Christmas is bigger than Thanksgiving. But regardless, I think I would be thinking about what have I got my plan in place for those two big holidays. And actually now, of course, we have Black Friday, which is the Amazon piece as well. So I'm not so sure about Black Friday, but I guess certainly Christmas now, if you're not ready for Christmas, you're probably a bit late. I don't know whether it's same in the US. But certainly in the UK, it's a bit but I would certainly be making sure that I have the Christmas range sorted out, the Christmas countdown in terms of marketing, which is really hard to do. It's 35 degrees here in South France today and thinking about, you know, snow and Christmas is really hard. But I would certainly be focusing in on that. The second thing I would be doing is working on the marketing on a broader sense, I think a lot of food businesses, especially the smaller ones that we deal with, are so preoccupied with making the products and getting them out there and getting them delivered and maybe going and doing some food markets that kind of forget, you need to be out there doing your marketing, you need to be putting your content out, churning it out, and getting that engagement. So I think that would be a second point. And then the third one really is about the tough conditions that we've got at the moment because again, you know, in the UK, we have a lot of inflation, I know you guys do in the US as well. And food inflation and transport and packaging and Amazon have stolen all the cardboard. Maybe they haven't, but that's what I heard. And so basically, we're in this position where supply is compromised. The shape of, the availability of some raw materials is changing. So the traditional shape that you would might be expecting, so there might be a shortage of this or a shortage of that. So I would be wanting to look at the business and say, right, what do I need to do for inflation? So many of my clients are guilty of not keeping an eye on the profit level. You know, are you making enough money? Are you charging in your own time? Actually, I mean, this isn't about inflation, but it's just my own little personal bugbear that I'm going to weave in just here because it seemed like a good place to put it. But you know, are you making money from your product? Are you accounting for the inflation? Are you, you know, are you ready to go in? And if you've already got a few existing listings to go in and say look, I'm really sorry but the price is going up. And if you haven't already think about well, what's the mitigating opportunities? What can I do to offset some of that cost? You know, are there possibilities to compromise on the ingredients? Are there possibilities to substitute something that's a bit cheape? Which I know for a lot of smaller businesses, you know a lot of artisan food companies have set themselves up to offer something better. And if you are offering something better, then I'm afraid people are gonna have to pay for it. So you don't have to take cost out. But I think these are tough times. And, again, the cost of money is going up. So if you need to borrow for your business, invest in your business, then again, thinking about that element as well, which is all kind of serious stuff but we don't want to be busy fools.
Yeah, oh, my gosh, okay, I love these. But, yeah, essentially, I mean, all of them really dive into planning. And like you said, there's a lot of people working in their business, right? Doing the things but working on your business is really the part of being the CEO of your business and stepping back a little bit, taking that, you know, 35,000 foot view versus right on in it. So when it comes to the financials, I mean, knowing your cost of goods sold, having a cash flow, I can't tell you how many times I talk to people, and they're not including their labor, their cost of goods sold isn't up to date, and then they're not doing a regular cash flow. And they just have no idea what's going on in their business financially. And then everything is last minute. Oh, I think I need to raise my prices!
And, you know, it takes time, most sort of buyers, especially if some of the smaller months and the bigger months, you know, they're gonna take as long as they can. So you could be like three to six months before you get that price increase through. So it's, and I get it, it's hard. You know, if you, if you spent all that time planning Christmas, and working on your marketing, and selling and making the stuff as, I get it, being an entrepreneur is tough, it really is tough. But if we're doing all that, and at the end of the month, and I've had, you know, even in my business, which is consultancy, so I don't obviously have a cost of goods, but I spend money on marketing and in the various bits and bobs and I've sat down with my accountant a couple of times and gone. So it says I have this, why haven't got any money?
You should know, and I'm like well. Yeah, it's tough. Don't be hard on yourself. We're all in the same boat. But yeah.
Well, I think the best phrase we can have that I utilize a lot is, it is what it is, and not in a defeatist way. But like, okay, this is what we're dealing with. And then let's get to work. But I think a lot of times we're avoiding the issue. And so we spend a lot of resources of like procrastinating and spinning in our brain instead of just saying, let me put this on my calendar. This hour, I'm going to work on my cash flow, or I'm going to update my COGs like it doesn't actually take that long. It's just, I think sometimes we spend a lot of energy trying to avoid it because it feels big and overwhelming.
I think that's true. And I think a lot that now there's so many packages, accounting packages that can do most of the heavy lifting for you. And I think that's really useful as well. So you're right, it's an hour, maybe an hour a month and that's it, but it's an hour a month that we often don't find so.
Right. And so it needs to become a priority and then the same with the planning of your holidays. And you know, for some of my client, yes, Thanksgiving can be the your biggest one. It's Christmas and the gifting and then I have some clients that, you know, kind of that January health, you know, people wanting to get healthy and all the resolutions is the thing. So in any case, you know, we are working on that and Food Business Success in August making sure people have a plan but yeah, I agree. I mean, when I was at Whole Foods, we had our plans in July, which also meant that you know, bigger brands needed to be getting their their holiday products ready like a year before so that we knew what was coming up because then we had to have a plan.
Absolutely. We used to do a review. Once people came up with their Christmas ranges. We would be planning for the following Christmas. So you do you would do a range review probably in December with a view to locking it down, probably April time. Because of course, a lot of products, certainly here in UK brought in from the Far East. And you've probably got six weeks, six, sorry, six months lead time, longer with shipping because the shipping now.
Yeah, and that's the same for all of these things, right? Like, in order to plan for the holidays, like what is available, and you might have to shift from what you've done last year because of supply chain. So just getting in front of it. And again, you're gonna have to make it a priority and put some time on your calendar. But doing something ahead of time takes way less energy than trying to do it last minute, because you're gonna be like, oh, it's November, and oh, I should have a Black Friday thing, right? It takes way more time. And you're going to be paying rush costs, and you know, those.
Yes, say, plan,
Plan, plan, plan, yes. And things like getting, you know, the content, the photography, and the packaging, like there's a process there. And it does take time. So I think those are spot on. I love that. That's. And again, it's easier said than done. But this is part of being an entrepreneur and putting on your CEO hat. So just it's gotta be a priority. Yeah, yeah. And that's why we're here. That's why we help these people, you know, all of our clients to help give, I think accountability is a big one, right? We talked about community already. But when you have somebody, you know, you made an investment in a program, and then you have somebody as a mentor or coach that's holding you accountable. And you know, you don't feel so alone, and you don't feel like who cares anyway, it doesn't even matter.
I mean, I had a book coach, actually, when I wrote my first book, and that was a really good 12 week structured program. And there was group calls, but I actually had the the add on, the VIP, which I offer in my course as well, where you had a weekly call, and I didn't want to let it down. I was like, goodness me, I also was. Because I was kind of like, well, there were I think there would follow the people on the grip. And I was like, well, I want to get my book finished. I don't want everyone else to have a book, and me don't have a book.
Right, so I love that because you're strategizing ahead, like, I know, I'm not gonna want to do this, sounds terrible. My brain is saying this is hard. But if you plan in and you make some investments in a coach and a group that's holding you accountable, it'll really help you keep going even when you don't want to.
I think, it made me think about something actually, and but you need to be ready to come on a group because every time I run one of these programs, there's probably, there's certainly one person, maybe two, who I never see, they hand over the cash, you know, like, you go to the gym thing, right? I'm gonna, I'm gonna go to the gym, this is gonna get me fit. And you hand over your whatever it is $50, $100 a month and you think, right, I'm going to the gym and you maybe go twice. And you don't cancel it because you think well, I might still be going, I estimates and they've got great gym, great lessons, great everything you need to get you fit and you don't go. And occasionally, and I have somebody on my group that we're just closed out. And she kind of went. But I haven't. I haven't achieved anything. And I'm kinda and there's that question of well, have you done everything? Have you, you know, what's missing? What are we not? What's not being done? And then there's definitely one person who never showed. I've just been so ridiculously busy. And I did sign up to something. And I will go back to it but I haven't done all the modules. And I think when you do think about doing something like that, if you're coming, say you are coming into the Christmas period, this is not the time, that would not be the time to sign up to a program. If Christmas is your big and it is for a lot of food businesses. So December is a big selling month. Do not sign up for program. No to my own self. I'm not going to launch another retailer already in December.
Something completely new. Yeah. Start a whole new thing. So good. Yeah, it happens in that and we're human that's part of it. We get a little excited, right? Go join the gym but the next piece is like showing up, and committing and putting on your calendar, making it a priority. All right, let's talk about Bread and Jam fest because I'm not super familiar with this. But this is the biggest, one of the biggest food founder festivals in the UK. Will you tell us more about it?
Sure, so Bread and Jams been going for, I think it's six years pretty much as long as I have. Um, and they support food and drink challenger brands or startup food brands. So probably very similar space to you and I. And through the years, they hold socials, they do some webinars, there's a great group, Facebook group called Food Hub forum. They've got about 12,000 food and drink members in there, which is really useful to go in. And if you've got a question, and I use it as well, as people, you know, do you know such and such. Again, back to that community thing. And then, once a year, they have this enormous festival. It used to be in October, but they've now moved it to July. And basically, it gives challenger brands two days of meeting people like myself, so you can, they have an exhibition of all service providers. So whether you're looking for packaging design, or accountants or business mentors, all of those people are there. But they also have, I think it's five stages, with different speakers through the two days. So anything from again, how to raise finance, how to claim tax back, how to, they did some interviews with successful brands, I did an interview with the lady who won a Gordon Ramsay food stars program and what she's been doing. And then the piece that I'm involved with, which I sponsor is the retail pitching. So they bring along some of the key smaller retailers. So people who would be right for their target audience as a startup brands, and you can apply to pitch. There's no guarantee they had a staggering 2,800 applications this year. So you can, if you put that in quotes. I didn't know, I think there was probably about 200 opportunities to pitch, I haven't had ended up actually. So a 1 in 10 chance. But we did really well, my clients got well over 20 pitches, I think one of the people on the Retail Already program got six pitches. So you put that in context, we've done really well and have some really good success. So that's what Bread and Jam is. Two days of frenetic activity and meet loads and loads of people. If any of your clients want to come over, it's a really, it's a really good session. And I had, I have clients, I worked with the UN. And we had people over from wherever they from Caribbean, Eswatini, Africa, West Africa, as well as East Africa. Quite a range of people and we took them around and showed them some stores as well. So if you're if you're over next year.
I am putting it on my bucket list. I'm coming, I'm hanging out with you, maybe I can be. Well, that well. I asked you what some takeaways were for you. So tell me about personal branding. So personal branding is key. Tell me a little bit more about that.
It's something that's sort of came out quite strongly. So Victoria from Sunlight who I was interviewing, she makes a health and wellbeing products. And she was talking about how she'd got to where she was, and how she'd promoted her brand. But she'd also been working on her personal brand. So she has her own Instagram, plus the brand Instagram. And another client. In fact, the lady who I mentioned, you had the six pitches, Lauren. She won, she got a listing in a small retailer as a result of the last Bread and Jam actually back in October. And she's been putting herself out there. She's regularly on LinkedIn, she shares how the brand's going. She shares her successes. But she's also now you know, I think she spoke at Brendham. She definitely spoke at another event. There's a business called Enterprise Nation, which again works with small food businesses. She spoke, definitely spoke there. So she's been really raising her profile. So I think the benefit of that is that if you can put across your own personal value set, which obviously have to resonate with the brand, when you do go and turn up to see that buyer or you write them the email, they know who you are, you know, I teach that you have to touch someone seven times before they take action and you know, it may well be more than that. But we go through seven different ways of touching somebody or so that the buyer has, hopefully had the opportunity to see you seven times. And actually, if you do the personal branding piece that's kind of, you're doubling your opportunity to be seen. And so, and they did, there was a couple of people spoke about how personal branding has really helped them make a difference to their business. And then of course, the other upside is if you are looking for investors, it makes it so much easier if you are relatively well known, or you've got a good following, because, again, you can tap into that network, but also you are better known. I mean, you know, when I went to Bread and Jam, so many people were like, oh, I read your, I read your posts on LinkedIn. And oh, I da da da. And they know who I am. Although I use the brand Food Mentor. It's slightly different because I'm a consultant. So I am known for it as well. But I think you have the balance of the two is really key.
Unfortunately, for some of my clients, they're groaning right now. People don't like to put themselves up as the face of the brand, and I get it, it's more work.
And I have clients for whom their brand is a side hustle as well. And that's a challenge. Because if you're in IT, which a lot of my clients seem to be, you're not going to want to go oh, and by the way, yesterday, I was going to market selling hot sauce, because that's incongruous for my career. So I get it, and sometimes it doesn't work. But, you know, I think personal branding has come out to me as something that maybe I, I certainly haven't taught it as a module. And I've taught LinkedIn as a module, but I haven't taught personal branding. And I'm going to be adding that to the next Retail Ready program, because I think it's important.
Yeah, I think it is a really great strategy. And it's something I know I've employed a lot more in my business, creating Sari Kimbell Coaching and having Food Business Success. But the more there's that know, like and trust factor. And so even if you just are, you're showing up more on your brand's Instagram, and you're introducing yourself to people, it's not just all about the product, product, product. I think that that's at least a good first step. Maybe before you launch into like a whole, you know, your personal brand, but this is the way things are going. So better to get on now.
That's the cliche, people buy it from people. So you know, it's worth thinking about.
Is Retail Already, I will put the link to your website in the show notes. But is Retail Already appropriate for people in the US? Or is it mainly for people in the UK? How does that work? How do you think?
I think there are elements of it, I think it would translate better than it did. We did have somebody about three cohorts ago who came in from the US and there's a little uncomfortable because we're talking just about UK retail, I've kind of stopped that now. So what we're teaching is more about the, we obviously do talk about UK retailers, but what we're talking about are the is the toolkit, so the marketing, the personal branding, the trade marketing, the commercial side of it, doing the numbers, making sure you're making money, how to put a pitch together, how to profile your buyer, all of those are relevant, I think wherever you are. The content that goes into a presentation honestly changes in the UK, whether you're talking to a small, Independent Valley versus Tesco, so that adaptation is up to the person but the rest of it. Yeah, I think Retail Already could be really useful and a really good insight and a different perspective maybe, and then only if, and I know your clients are probably at the early stages. But if anyone's interested in coming into the UK, then obviously, as I say we're working with people from the Caribbean people from Africa. And the purpose of that is to help them to export into the UK. So if anyone wants to come into the UK then Yyeah, absolutely. This is a great opportunity for them.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I know we're in wildly different time zones.
Keep the internet and the Wi Fi going for long enough.
Yes. It's been a really fun conversation and is there anything kind of last that you'd love to add and make sure people are thinking about something as you sign off here?
I think I've I think I I've talked about it already, but money, make money. Money's always, I think Americans are probably better about talking about money than the British. But I always find when I listen to podcasts, no one really goes, Let's make some money. And it's about purpose. And it's about the branding. It's about, and I truly believe the branding, and the purpose, and the design are absolutely critical for underpinning. But actually, how can we make money, don't, you know, make deals that make you some money, but pay the bills that you can reinvest back into your company. And my, I guess my, my closing kind of thought is, and I know, well, I don't know, but I suspect most of your listeners will not be massive fans of Coca Cola. But if you look at Coca Cola, it's the world's biggest brands. And it costs them I don't know, 10 cents to make a bottle of cola, and they can sell it for $2. Okay, so that's 1.90 of profit, okay, maybe the retailer took half of it, we've still got 90 sensible profit. Now, what do you do with that? You can put it in your back pocket, happy days. But actually, what you do is you then put it back into the brand, and it creates that virtuous circle to grow. And that's why one of the reasons anyway, I believe Coca Cola is obviously so successful. And of course, it's a mature brand. But so that's why I think, that's my parting shot is just think about, and I get the fact you love what you do. And it's really important and and truly, I do a lot that doesn't give me any money. But think about what I'm doing today is it actually going to contribute to making money for my business today, tomorrow, in six months time.
It's really important, and I know, yeah, maybe we talk about it a little bit more in the US. But for small brands, it can be a really dirty word. Don't talk about that.
I'm like, oh, maybe I should have just done like nice things, but we're in this to make money. We're in this for a business, it's to have a life. And yeah, anyway.
I love it. Yeah, that's such a good parting words. Because if you don't set yourself up to make money, you're not going to be in business very long, and it's not going to be sustainable. And you're not going to be able to do the good that you want to do in the world. So it's important. It's imperative.
It is imperative but thank you so much for for having me on the show. It's been a really, really interesting discussion. So and if any of your listeners want to get in touch then they can get me at [email protected], not mental as somebody said to me the other week Food Mental.
And then LinkedIn is probably a good place to connect with
Linkedin is where I live. They can easily find me.
Good. Well, thank you again, Karen. I hope you have an amazing evening where you're at.
Yeah, just going into evening. Starting to cool down a little bit here.
Have a great day.
You too, take care. Bye bye.
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