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Umai Social Circle Homepage

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A Podcast for Food, Bev, and Wellness Biz Owners and Foodies Alike

Umai Marketing Co-Founders Alison and Karin just launched a podcast!

Every other Thursday, they’ll share irresistibly inspiring food, bev, and wellness brands as well as interviews with CPG industry leaders.

You better believe these two are gonna peel back some layers to reveal the why behind work – what makes this modern world of social media marketing + advertising so special? Let’s find out together.

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#4: Shaking up the Market with Pasture-Raised Eggs and Cricket Protein

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#4: Shaking up the Market with Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs and Exo Cricket Protein

Believe us when we say we’re eggstatic to share this week’s episode. 😬🥚 We chat with Jason Jones, Cofounder of Vital Farms – a company created with revitalized farming methods that prioritize animal welfare!

Not only that, he’s an advisor to entrepreneurs and CEO of Exo Protein (🦗). And, before you ask – yes, we’ve tried their Whole Roasted Crickets! And yes, they’re amazing!!

Let us break it down for you…

[1:29] Meet Jason Jones, Cofounder of Vital Farms!
[3:31] Touching on conscious capitalism.
[4:49] The “Pasture-Raised” difference – how the term and method was created to set a fresh, more ethical trend.
[9:00] Recall how the food, beverage, and wellness landscape looked during Vital Farms’ inception. Were there any other brands created with transparency as a driving value?
[10:18] Transparency sometimes means sharing the dark side of your industry – then, uplifting a positive message with your company’s mission.
[12:44] Logistics! Egg breakage and refrigeration issues. How’d your team troubleshoot fragile packaging? Any tips for CPG brands with sensitive product?
[15:33] Let’s move into your consultation biz. What’re some of the biggest pain points that entrepreneurs experience?
[18:21] Some issues that result in failure for a new business more often than others.
[21:00] What was your background leading up to Vital Farms? Wandering, but not lost.
[28:26] Staying humble – a quick company culture blurb + when Karin met Jason.
[30:28] How’d you end up at Exo Protein? Tackling new marketing challenges when you sell crickets to the U.S. market.
[38:47] Barrier to entry for western consumers – how’re you solving for this today?

Alison (Recorded):
Hey, hey, y’all, Alison here, I wanted to quickly thank you for listening to our podcast. I know you’re about to get a lot of valuable information from it. But I also wanted to hop in and share with you guys a free SOP, which stands for Standard Operating Procedure. We use this SOP every single day in our agency to authentically grow and engage our audiences on social. It is 1000% free, and I’d love for you to have it, and use it in your biz as well. So, just go to umaimarketing.com/engage to go download. All right, cheers.

Alison:
Welcome everyone to the Umai Social Circle, where we talk about CPG marketing to help business owners and marketers alike grow. This is Karin, and I’m Alison, we are the co-founders of Umai Marketing, and today we have Jason Jones. He is an entrepreneur extraordinaire, and CEO of Exo Protein. I added a little flair for you.

Jason:
Hey, y’all. Good to be here.

Karin:
Thanks for joining us, Jason.

Jason:
I appreciate the invite. Good to see y’all.

Karin:
Yeah, so a little bit of a background. Jason and I met while he was the president and co-founder of Vital Farms. This is my first real CPG job.

Karin:
Jason, can you tell us a little bit about co-founding Vital and what those early days looked like?

Jason:
It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years, I think, since Matt and I, we started the company. So, to be clear, Matt and Katherine had the farm, so they purchased the land in ’07 and had chickens that they had put out to pasture quite literally with the idea of producing a better egg. In late 2008 or 2009, I met them, heard about what they were doing, heard about these birds that were running around outdoors in south Austin, and that just sounded like something that the world needed.

Jason:
So, I met Matt out at the farm, and just loved what they had started there, and we formed a company. And, the meager Jones nest-egg went into the company as our working capital really, for a while.

Jason:
And, we set out to bring that really honest and authentic, very small farming method. We wanted to, how do you keep it small and true to the ethos of high, high animal welfare that centered on the life that that bird got to enjoy in contrast to factory farming, which we’re probably all familiar with by now.

Jason:
But how do we do that and keep it honest, keep it really legitimate on the farm, but scale it up? And, the early days were more humble than you would believe. There was a lot of mistakes that we made, but we really figured out on the farm, what it meant to raise a bird outside.

Jason:
That’s very contrary to pretty much how any other egg at the time was being produced, and found some great partners in different parts of the country where it wasn’t quite so hot and dry, and that worked out well. We were able to find some good partners, some good supplier farms up in the north-west Arkansas area. That’s really the first place we went. And, climate worked out really great, and we found some willing partners who would do things our way, and worked out a model that was really beneficial for them.

Jason:
Karin, you remember, we were always talking about our stakeholder model and that version of conscious capitalism that really, it’s not just all about the profit and the bottom line, and making the shareholders wealthy. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but business can and should be so much more. And, I think we’re all acclimated to that now, especially in the natural food space. And, here in Austin where everybody seems purpose-driven and mission-minded, we can go sell a lot of product and do well for ourselves. But, we really are making the world better.

Jason:
Anyhow, we tried really hard to embody that from the beginning of Vital, and I give that really purpose backbone that we always worked off of. I give that a lot of credit for the success that Vital has seen, in addition to the wonderful people we had, like yourself, who were part of that crew in the very beginning, and then kind of in the middle bit, and now today in its current incarnation there’s great people walking around who are championing that very important message that we can do better, and we ought not have to compromise the well-being of another sentient creature to get cheap food.

Jason:
And so, it feels good to do that. And really, it’s validating because customers are out there, willing to buy these products and usually pay a little more for them. And, we did that at the right time in the right place with a lot of the right people like yourself. So, it’s been quite a run.

Karin:
Giving me all, saying a lot of nice things. So, Vital Farms really did champion the term “pasture-raised”. It was something that we always, everybody else was cage-free. They were free-ranged. And, what do you think Vital did so right in making it such a huge explosion of the term and a way of raising animals?

Jason:
Yeah, that was a very conscious decision. I remember having a discussion with Matt very early on, how are we going to talk about our product? What is the label claim, or the term, that we’re going to use to talk about this stuff, how the birds get to live, truly, every day?

Jason:
And, it was always pasture-raised because that felt like a term that had not been adulterated yet. You got to rewind 11 or 12 years from where we sit today. The concept of even grass-fed beef was not nearly as prominent as part of the vernacular as it is today.

Jason:
So, we needed a term that hadn’t been bastardized, unfortunately, by larger producers. Cage-free was a thing back then. And, that’s arguably a step up from being in a cage. But still, it’s not a great way to live if you’re a laying hen. And then, there’s free-range, which conjures up a certain, I think, a mental picture for most people until you really get educated on the matter, and you realize that means you have access to the outdoors, but you may not be taking advantage of it, or it’s not really a nice lifestyle.

Jason:
So, pasture-raised, it was really, as of then, it was undefined, and we saw that as, we definitely needed to claim that term and be very proactive in defining it, so education was always, arguably, what we were doing. We were marketing, but we were really educating, not very sophisticated, but we were really honest about it.

Jason:
You know, we were always talking about transparency and authenticity. And, somebody had a question about, what did pasture-raised mean, and we would tell them. And, we got as specific as they would want to. You can’t put all that stuff on your carton, but it needed to be somewhere for the consumer who’s interested. And, we would tell them whatever they wanted to know. We would even talk about some of the less shiny parts of farming. The chickens don’t live forever, that kind of thing. What do you with them when they get some age on them? And, we would just be transparent.

Jason:
And, I think we got a lot of credit for that. But, it was much more about, what does pasture-raised mean that it was about Vital Farms, the brand, in the early days. And, people didn’t really know about us yet. I think today, we’ve advanced quite a bit, although there’s still loads of room for people to be buying better eggs.

Jason:
But, when you’re a new brand, you can do what you can to get your name out there. We had a great logo and imagery, and stuff you were doing on social, Karin, was really getting us out there in a big, big way. But, there’s a lot of people, a lot of consumers out there. And, because Vital Farms wasn’t recognizable yet, we would feature that term, pasture-raised. And so yeah, we definitely were more about, what does pasture-raising mean than, here’s our cool brand. Let us tell you about our sales. It was more, let’s describe, really, this farming method.

Jason:
And, that was at a time when everybody was hungry for more information. Michael Pollan had been writing his books for a while. And, we’d seen some documentaries that were telling us we needed to be more careful about the food choices we were making, how we were voting with those dollars and that kind of thing.

Jason:
And, we were there to meet that education, not starved, but hungry consumer, and take them wherever they wanted to go. And thankfully, I think pasture-raised now stands up as a term. It has not been green-washed or homogenized in any way. I think people see that now. You’ll see it on a carton of milk. You’ll see it on butter and eggs, obviously. And, I think people really do know now that basically the animal got to live like it was intended, running around outdoors at least during the day.

Jason:
So, we were a part of that, I think, not all of it. But, I’m really proud of what we did.

Karin:
Yeah, sorry.

Alison:
No, you’re good. So, I wanted to ask, when was Vital Farms? When did y’all found it?

Karin:
2009.

Alison:
2009. So, when you guys were founding? Wow.

Karin:
Founded.

Alison:
When you founded Vital Farms, were you looking at other CPG brands that we also as transparent as y’all? Or, were y’all carving that path?

Jason:
Yeah, it’s a great question. It was definitely the early days of the industry. And, by this time, in natural CPG, I think Vital is one of the more, one of the pillar brands I would say. There wasn’t a lot of this going on. You had Organic Valley. You had Niman or Niman Ranch, I’ve never actually known how to pronounce that. You got the sense that they were doing things right. And then, they’ve been other brands like Maple Hill up in New York doing really amazing, truly grass fed and pasture-raised dairy.

Alison:
Love their milk.

Jason:
Oh yeah. The cheese is so good. It’s different from the cheese we grew up on. You know something’s different about how that cow is living, which is a good thing, but it’s a different taste profile.

Jason:
But yeah, there weren’t a whole lot of models, honestly. Really, we were focused, we were always very careful, and this can be a tough needle to thread if you’re a natural, organic, better for you food company. You need people, in certain cases, to understand kind of the dark side of what you are an alternative to. And in our case, it was, our chickens don’t live like this. They have it really good. And, if you were a chicken, you would want to be on a Vital Farm than opposed to a big factory situation.

Jason:
But, you don’t want to lead with the negative. You want to have a positive message that talks about the good aspects of what you do. And, it’s tricky. Karin, you remember this. We needed people to understand where most of their food was coming from and what that was like, and then, present a better alternative without having a downer message. I think by that irreverence and bit of a humor that we established, I still remember stuff you were doing with hashtags and stuff, “Put an egg on it”, and stuff like that, it kept it light, but also got people to think, because consumers in the age that we’re in with all the information we have and questions that get raised that maybe 10, 20 years ago just wouldn’t have happened if you grew up eating out of a Campbell soup can like I did. We were there to meet that.

Jason:
And yeah, now it’s everywhere, especially in our neighborhood, or neck of the woods, of the industry here with all of the better-for-you concepts and brands that are getting launched. It’s a great time to care about what’s going into your body, what you’re feeding your family and your kids, and that kind of thing.

Jason:
So, all of us say this a lot. We’re all doing the good work, from the ground up, changing an industry for the better. We’re not depending on some government agency to change a law or something. We’re just putting better alternatives out there for people. And they go for them, once they understand why it’s worth it.

Karin:
Yeah, and I think defining the term, setting really stringent standards and abiding by them and sharing them transparently, I think that was such a huge portion of people’s passion. They believed it. And, little touches, like the Vital Times in each carton, it was like, even while you were growing and the brand was growing, there was still little pieces that made it seem really like small farm. And, I think appeals to a lot of people. Well, being honest too, because the eggs do come from a lot of small farms. So, very cool.

Karin:
I did have a quick question about logistics, and off the marketing, but the breakage, the refrigeration, looking back on it now, with all the brands that we’ve worked with, I’m just like, how on earth did y’all handle that? And, what would be your best advice to an entrepreneur that has glass jars, and they experience a lot of breakage and challenges logistically?

Jason:
Yeah, man, it turns out when you take an egg and ship it across the country, lots of stuff can happen. And, we would have bouts of this where a truck driver just wasn’t careful or maybe the road was icy because they were coming through the Ozarks or something. And, as it turns out, eggs are fragile.

Jason:
The first thing that you’ve got to do is to plan for it. You don’t want to be starting your brand, coming up with your unit economics, and telling a buyer, here’s our pricing, and this is what we will give you in trade-spend. You can’t forget about spoilage of any type, whether it’s, something gets broken in transit, or it gets hung up, or it’s not moving, and it goes out of code-dating while it’s sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

Jason:
You need to plan pretty conservatively, especially when you’re small because you just don’t have the scale to smooth out bumps like that, and they will come. So, I guess the first thing I would say that may sound somewhat intelligent anyway, is just plan for it so that your model accounts for a healthy degree of that, especially in the early days because issues are going to come, and I’ve worked with companies like you.

Jason:
I’ve done a lot of consultative stuff and mentoring younger entrepreneurs or just road-stage companies. And, there’s some unfortunate stories where you know what it costs you, so you come up with what the economics you think are going to be, and this is how much cash you’re going to need to keep it all going, and you didn’t plan for the $80,000 charge back you’re going to get from the big grocery customer if any number of things go south. And, there’s the front end, and the consumer story, and the branding, and all that. And then, there’s the reality of, you can’t run out of cash. And so, planning for that, well ahead of when you’re going to need to get through that batch of broken eggs, or expired product, or your co-man put your labels on upside down, and it’s just going to take three weeks to get it done.

Jason:
Stuff happens. And, that’s just the struggle of needing to have good partners and be able to control your destiny a little bit. It’s just harder to do when you’re small and in the early stages. I don’t know, the first thing you should do is plan for things to be a little rougher than you think they should.

Karin:
Cool, well seguing out of Vital and into your consulting work that you just mentioned. What were some of the biggest pain points of the entrepreneurs that you worked with? What did you just hear constantly?

Jason:
Well, entrepreneurs, especially the more visionary types, they’re their own breed of cat. And, I think it’s really hard for anyone to be a super well-rounded, I guess you’d say leader, where you come up with a concept. You can breathe life into this thing. You can sell the shit out of it, whether it’s to a consumer or a buyer or people online, and then also get all of those nuts and bolts we were just talking about where the rubber meets the road, much less the economics of the exercise. And, you’re out raising money and trying not to run out of it, keep your investors happy, whether it’s your uncle or some equity firm.

Jason:
So, there’s a lot of disciplines going there in this exercise. And I guess, one thing I’ve come up against more than once, is just a founder who birthed something into the world, and it definitely has its place, and they have some level of momentum.

Jason:
But, it can be hard for visionary types to get out of their own way. I’ll say that nicely. And, either take advice about, hey, I can see around this corner, because I’ve been to this movie before. And you should prioritize this and maybe put a little more focus on, getting a good accounting system underneath you, or maybe getting a better co-manufacturer because this one’s totally killing you. It just reads like a book, even though it may not be that clear to you.

Jason:
Rare is the visionary who is also a great operator. And so, that’s advice I would often end up hearing myself say to somebody, is like, hey, it’s time to go get maybe somebody who really, really has moved a lot of stuff around the country before, and not just somebody, a friend or relative, who you’ve put in this position, or an expert in accounting who actually understands CPG, and trade-spin, and the games that UNFI will play with you, and how they extort you this way and that, instead of the guy who’s done your dad’s taxes for the last 20 years. Yeah, he’s an accountant, but he doesn’t understand this industry.

Jason:
So, I guess knowing when to bring in seasoned help in certain disciplines and from the industry, that’s something that it probably takes everybody a while to learn, but, the quicker you do, the quicker you, like I said, can get out of your own way and start delegating to people who actually understand a certain function better than you, because it’s quite enough to be a visionary and put something new out in the world.

Alison:
Have you seen a lot of great entrepreneurs with a lot of product fail because of that in your time as consultant?

Jason:
Yeah, fail, I guess there’s a spectrum of that. I’ve seen a lot where they should be much further down the road than they are. By the way, I’m not trying to come off as some expert who would do everything right or knows all the right moves. I sure don’t.

Karin:
Who does?

Alison:
Yes.

Jason:
Nobody. But, I’ve seen businesses fold, for sure, because you just run out of cash because you weren’t planning well, or you weren’t focused. Another thing that happens a lot, is being so eager to launch your next product line when you have way more room to go do what you’re already doing much more deeply. And, those are things you can get kind of a sixth sense for just being in the industry a while.

Jason:
But yeah, unless you have a billionaire backer who just keeps writing checks, and I’ve actually seen that happen before too, which is, you could argue, equally unfortunate because sometimes, things just need to run their course and get cleared out of the way. But, it usually does come down to the economics one way or the other, and it’s a ruthless game. I don’t think it’s quite as tough as, say, opening a restaurant, where, I guess, what I’ve heard, is 90% of those don’t hang around.

Jason:
But yeah, it’s tough like any industry. There’s lot’s to rope together and get right. And you have to be in a favorable set of conditions. I won’t call it luck, but you could look at Vital. We put this out in the market at perfect time. We were really just ahead of the crest of this wave of awareness and desire for something better. We were also in Austin, so right up the road you have Whole Foods, and then an hour the other way, you’ve got HEB.

Jason:
You’re in Texas, and I was talking about this earlier today, there’s such a pride for whatever it is that makes Texas, Texas. I was talking with somebody earlier who spent a lot of time abroad in the first part of their career, as did I, and we, just saying, you can be in a bar in Roppongi in Tokyo, and somebody hears you’re from Texas, and you got something to talk about, because that’s like its own brand, and even within that, Austin, as we all know.

Jason:
So, not sure where I was going with that, but…

Alison:
So you’re saying, if you have a CPG brand, and you don’t live in Austin, you better get down here quick.

Jason:
One way of looking-

Alison:
…in Austin.

Jason:
We’re not going to mention that city outside of Denver that shall not be named.

Alison:
Yeah, no.

Karin:
It’s where I went to school.

Jason:
You were smart.

Karin:
It’s a nice place.

Jason:
I think I would check that one out too, if I had it to do over again.

Alison:
But, what was your background before Vital? Were you in CPG? Were you just interested in CPG space? Or, what were-

Karin:
We were just interested in chickens.

Alison:
Or, do you like eggs a lot?

Jason:
I just couldn’t get enough eggs in the morning. Maybe, I don’t know, wandering but not lost. I didn’t have a background in agriculture, didn’t really think a great deal about the food space. I guess, my journey, I always knew I would peel off and do something more for myself as opposed to being in a larger company. I guess in 2008, I had been at Motorola, which was a Fortune 50. You’re talking 40+ billion in revenue, 150,000 employees when I joined.

Jason:
And, that was amazing for a lot of reasons, learned so much. It was a great, in some senses, place to kind of come up and cut your teeth. But, I always knew because it’s been in my family’s blood, we’ve always just kind of done our own thing, I supposed, and finished my grad school up in Chicago. And, we just wanted to be in Austin.

Jason:
So, we got down here mainly because we just love the town, and love the vibe and the energy that was here, and we also knew it was friendly for young business. And, that certainly proved to be the case.

Jason:
What I really knew I needed to do differently, was I needed to care about what I was doing when I popped out of bed in the morning. And, in a big, massive company, it’s easy to feel like it doesn’t really matter what your function in your cubicle is. I couldn’t deal with that anymore. It was soul-crushing.

Alison:
Real quick, what were you doing at Motorola?

Jason:
Man, everything because I would get bored. So, I started out in finance. I did audit. I got into a risk management strategy role for the CFO, traveling abroad a lot, which was super cool, especially before family and stuff. But then, I got into supply chain for a couple years. And then, my last role there I was managing the global marketing strategy for mobile devices.

Alison:
Wow.

Jason:
Ah, it’s a fancy, long title. What it meant was, that I was super frustrated because we could all see that smart phone was coming. This was, iPhone launched in ’08, and we just knew that the wrong people were driving there. We were over-engineering products and totally missing what the consumer really wanted. And, a lot of us knew that, but weren’t able to impact it due to the culture of that once-great company, very unfortunately.

Jason:
So anyhow, that really, I guess, teed me up to say, enough of this. I need to control my own destiny more, and I need to care about what I’m doing. I needed to be advancing something important in the world, and I just didn’t feel that was. And so, getting in to Austin was part of another young venture, kind of an international tourism play with some friends. It was doing well, but it wasn’t going to scale quickly enough. And, that’s when, like I said, I met Matt and Katherine and the farm they had started, and I guess, the bones of that brand. And we kind of formalized it and grew it from there.

Jason:
And what I knew was, it’s kind of funny, it was more of a heart decision than a head one. I was that early consumer who was looking for something better, and preferred organic, and this was before gluten-free and all these other nerd badges you can throw on something. But, just being that consumer, I knew there was a place for it, without having any sophisticated market research or anything. We just had a napkin, and on the back of that, showed that, hey, if we get a little slice of this, if people are willing to pay, and we found out very quickly they were.

Jason:
So anyhow, I wasn’t a farmer, but I also wasn’t, I don’t deserve credit for much. Maybe I do for at least being humble enough to have had a really nice, secure, high-paying job and fancy degree from Kellogg and whatnot. But, you fast-forward a couple months, and I’m out kicking around in the dust, chasing chickens around with a fishing net, quite literally.

Alison:
Is that literally how you catch a chicken?

Jason:
The longer the handle on the net, the better because they are fast.

Alison:
Wow.

Jason:
Oh yeah. We went through a lot of nets-

Alison:
Like a pole skimmer.

Jason:
That would have been smart. They were quick, man. We were going to Academy like twice a week to buy more nets. It was ridiculous.

Alison:
Oh my gosh.

Jason:
There was so many stories. But you got to be humble enough to go knock around in the dirt in the 100 degrees and figure out what the hell does a chicken need when it lives outside, especially down here, and go to farmers’ market and schlep your eggs that you’re really proud of. You can’t really be above anything when you want to part of getting something off the ground.

Jason:
And yeah, it just always from the beginning felt really good to be in the food space because we can all relate to it. It’s all, in times of COVID, it’s essential. If there’s anything essential, it’s this. And, to be elevating that and improving, I really do believe, the quality of people’s lives, and health, and wellness, and our consciousness too, depending on what you believe. Nobody would feel there should be more suffering in the world. How about we don’t cram chickens into a, let’s cut off the front of their face, and cram them into a cage with eight of their friends? That’s not a good way to live, and we can do better.

Jason:
And, it’s a cool time to be alive because there’s a lot at our disposal, but let us make advancements in the world again from the ground up, and particularly in the food space. The barriers are low. Anybody can come up with a healthier version of something in their own kitchen, and then take it Wheatsville. That’s a beautiful way to move through the world. And, there’s all kind of rewards out there for us. But, we’re making the world better. I really believe that.

Karin:
I like that. And, I think there’s something to be said about making a business plan on a napkin. I feel like that’s a recurring thing. A lot of great businesses come from a napkin. So, maybe that’s the goal.

Jason:
A good buddy of mine, he’s from Zimbabwe, but he’s been living in London, or outside of London, for most of his life. But, he gave me a book called, “The Beermat Entrepreneur”, and what they mean is like the little coaster that your pint sits on in the pub. But basically, exactly about that. And, I suppose I’ve taken advantage of some of the highest forms of business education, where I got to go to school and things.

Jason:
And bottom line, none of it’s rocket science. There’s formulas and fancy methodologies and models and whatnot. But yeah, it doesn’t have to be super complicated. It certainly wasn’t for us at Vital. The main thing you got to do is put something out there where people are going to really go for it on its own merits. If you’re having to market too hard, y’all probably know this better than I do, to a degree, the product really needs to sell itself. Otherwise, it’s going to be pushing uphill pretty hard.

Jason:
So anyway, it’s neat because we get to tinker around in that space in the food world, and it doesn’t take years or millions of dollars to come up with something great and differentiate it.

Karin:
Yeah, well.

Jason:
And drink more beer, by all means, you’ll be a better [inaudible 00:28:22] person.

Karin:
I love the humble aspect. I remember one thing at Vital, where [inaudible 00:28:29] here. You guys were having interviews, and some guy came in suit, and it was immediately, he was like, no. He didn’t care-

Alison:
Poor guy.

Karin:
…what the guy had to say, it was just like, no. So, true to the roots. True to the farming roots, I appreciate that.

Jason:
Yeah, enough with the-

Alison:
Know your audience.

Karin:
Know your audience. That’s important. One take away from this, know your audience.

Jason:
We thought that guy was going to be too high-maintenance for us.

Karin:
We don’t even remember. [crosstalk 00:29:00]

Jason:
I remember interviewing you. I actually do.

Alison:
What was Karin wearing? Like, overalls? And, I don’t know [inaudible 00:29:07]

Karin:
I had piece of wheat coming out of my mouth.

Alison:
Like, spot on.

Jason:
It wouldn’t have been a bad move. I can’t say I remember that. But, I just remember you leaving, and then, you remember who else was probably in the room. And, we just kind of had a pow-wow after we probably gave you, I don’t know, a dozen eggs and said, thanks for coming in.

Karin:
A six-pack.

Jason:
Sorry.

Karin:
So already, I can tell what you felt about me on that.

Jason:
Times were tough. Maybe we were sold out. Look at it that way. But yeah, I just remember looking around, and everybody was like, she’s exactly what we need. And, of course, you were and helped really take our online presence and really the face of the brand, if you think about it, for probably most people anymore. I don’t know so much about eggs, just categories, certain ones are more, that’s probably a little less prone to D-to-C exploration, but anymore, really the front of your store is online. And, that’s the first exposure most people are going to get to whatever it is you’re offering. And yeah, you’re a big part of the reason we’ve been able to grow Vital and get to where it has.

Karin:
Ay yay, Jason, this isn’t about me. That’s very nice though.

Jason:
It’s certainly not about me.

Karin:
Well, it is. I personally, we’re friends. And I don’t even know how you ended up in Exo. So can you talk a little more about your new venture?

Alison:
Exo Protein.

Jason:
Yeah so, I’m a sucker for something that really is disruptive, I suppose. So, really was neck-deep in Vital, kind of running the whole ball of wax for most of the early years of it. And then, we started bringing on people who were, just had a lot of potential to take the thing forward, probably in ways that I just couldn’t have. And certainly, I was also really tired and kind of worn out. It takes a lot out of you, especially when you don’t have a lot of equity money behind you to go have some of the things that are nice to have when you’re trying to scale quickly.

Jason:
Anyway, I took a bit of a break. And thankfully, things aligned for me to be able to do that. I had missed an awful lot, kind of family stuff. We have three kids by now, and all of those came after Vital. And so anyway, was able to just kind of decompress a little bit and decided, yeah, I definitely don’t want to leave the food space. There was just too much good stuff going on, and my heart is here.

Jason:
So, I would work with in an advisory, or consultative, or mentor capacity, bunch of brands across categories, really learned a ton, and I think, hopefully, had some nice impact along the way. I guess in that period, probably about four or five years ago, I got to know the founders of Aspire Food Group.

Jason:
And, they are Canadian, but they had located the company here for the same reasons that many food companies want to be established here because of the network and other things. Anyhow, their purpose is to solve for all sorts of problems across the global stage. The idea about having access to great quality protein in turbulent times, whether it’s climate, or economics, or population, or whatever, they had won a million bucks in a business competition, that Bill Clinton handed them a check back in, I think 2013, to go explore, hey, can we help feed the world with great quality protein and really rounded nutrition offering through insects?

Jason:
And, they had been hard at work ever since, working out the R&D, and all the manufacturing capability and production. This is new to the world in once sense, at least the way they’ve come across it, in kind of a modular, scalable, very economically efficient way, in a way that had never been done. Basically, they have achieved a great deal in a matter of 5 short years, they have done what probably took the poultry industry 50 to do, and that’s to bring the grow-out cycle, or the life-span, of a mature, in their case, cricket to maturity in basically 30 days, down from 60.

Jason:
And so, they’ve made massive leaps forward from a technological standpoint. And, I knew them to be just amazing humans. That’s something that I, it really matters who you’re doing something with as much as what it is that you’re actually pushing on. The people are everything, and I just had loads of respect for them, just as humans, as well as what they were trying to accomplish in the world.

Jason:
And anyway, about this time last year, I re-connected with Muhammad, one of the founding team, and basically was giving him some advice, how to approach the consumer space. And it just, long story short, sounded like a really interesting challenge that I wanted to put more time into, that involved into me coming onto the Aspire Food Group team as the chief growth officer to basically try to figure out, that really the sales piece, but the consumer piece. It’s one thing to produce all this stuff, and they’ve, we’re the leaders in the clubhouse globally in how to do that at scale with great economics that get it down to where it can compete with almost anything as a protein ingredient.

Jason:
But, the question still remains, and it sounded like a fun one to me to try to figure out, well, how do you convince the Western consumer to go for this stuff? Because there’s obviously that stigma there. And the thing is, there’s tons of really amazing reasons why it does make sense, and I wanted to think about really the marketing puzzle that that presented.

Jason:
And, that’s what I’ve been doing for 9 or 10 months now, with our Exo brand, and we’ve done a ton of very deep, primary consumer insights work that we now have in the hopper as well as our experience of selling the Exo line for years now. And, we’re kind of in this innovation and product development phase where, we’re not out here saying, this is going to be $100 million market in two years. I don’t think it’s there yet.

Jason:
But, we’re trying to be thoughtful about how we can position and then present this in formats, and in a format and brand that maybe make the most sense and can maximize on what we understand the TAM to be, as well as selling it into the pet food market, where that’s not going to be nearly as much of a challenge, and we’ve already done a good job with that.

Jason:
Yeah, it’s a fun one. And, I know it’s a little out there still for some, but we’re going to get you. You’re going to come around to it, just a matter of time.

Karin:
I like them.

Alison:
Tastes like a corn chip. [inaudible 00:35:56]

Karin:
Yeah, for people who maybe don’t know what Exo Protein is, it’s cricket protein. I think y’all have crisps, you have flour, and bars, is that right? Now you’re in that food space?

Jason:
Yeah, that is a good synopsis. We recently discontinued to crispy line, though, which was the actual whole cricket.

Karin:
That’s the one we tried, yeah.

Jason:
Yeah, it was not because people didn’t like it, actually. It was very problematic from a supply chain and production standpoint. And, this is one of those choices you make when you need to focus. And, we needed to focus on stuff we can just make with our powder, or flour, which is just kind of a roasted and ground up. It looks like flour or protein powder. And, we’re not really limited as to how that can get applied.

Jason:
So yeah, we have the Exo line of bars. There’s protein and energy bars, and they’re relatively really high in protein. And, it’s a complete protein. It’s kind of the same protein profile in terms of the full amino stack, all nine of the essentials, as you get in beef or pork or chicken, other kind of livestock-based proteins. But, it’s much, much lighter on the environment and our resources, and so less that it requires as inputs to make a pound of that.

Jason:
It’s also a lot less harmful gasses and things that are the result of the production. It’s kind of the environmental footprint of plants with the nutrition of animals. That’s one way to look at it. And, we’re just trying to figure out what really we should best go do with that in a way that navigates that stigma and addresses it and educates, and there’s going to be a lot, I think, that we learned on the Vital journey that will come to bear here.

Jason:
But, no final answers, yet. But, just telling you, telling you right here, remember this. It’s coming. It will be a thing. It is a viable, very, it’s the most responsible form of protein we can take in. And, our job is to make that in the way we define pasture-raised and animal welfare and quality in that part of the store, this is a viable option that we need to take seriously for ourselves as well as the earth.

Alison:
Yeah, and I’ll tell you, if you just go down to Waco’s Hollywood movie theater, outside there’s a ton of crickets. So, I’m sure.

Karin:
Go harvest.

Alison:
[inaudible 00:38:19]

Jason:
Yeah, send me an address.

Alison:
Okay.

Jason:
Did you go the Baylor? How do you even know that?

Alison:
I’m from Waco.

Jason:
Okay.

Alison:
Yeah. Yeah, well I mean-

Jason:
If you got a pickup, we can head up there-

Alison:
Oh, they would love you.

Jason:
[crosstalk 00:38:37]

Alison:
…y’all to swing by.

Jason:
We’ll get our nets from the first Vital farm-

Alison:
I know. There’re a lot of similarities, between Exo and Vital, it seems like. But yeah, I kind of just have one more question. You talked a little bit about the barrier, I’m sure there’s a big barrier to entry for consumers, especially Western consumers, I’m sure taking into the flour, maybe help. But, what other ways have you solved that challenge, for someone to go try a cricket?

Jason:
Well, I guess one response is, we don’t think we fully have yet, but one thing that you know across food is that, it has to be delicious. So, taste is the table-stakes. And, we’ve been, we’ve had some formulas that we had inherited for the bar line, and we’ve been tinkering with those quite a bit, to improve the eating experience and the flavor as well as the nutritionals and the macros and things.

Jason:
Our protein line is going to be 14 grams of protein and only 3 grams of sugar. So, you get into the space where that’s appealing to people on all sorts of low-carb diets.

Alison:
What does the calorie look like for that? The calorie count?

Jason:
It’s under 200. So, I’m telling you, it’s quite potent nutritional.

Alison:
It’s not going to hurt your tummy, like whey protein in the end?

Jason:
No.

Alison:
It’s a lot better, yeah.

Jason:
Yeah, so cricket powder is prebiotic inherently. So, it’s actually really great for digestion and gut health. And the fiber content is something that’s kind of a bonus. We’re actually getting to be kind of deficient across the board as a nation, I think, with respect to fiber. A lot of people are anyway in the way similar to Vitamin D and some other things, due to the way we eat anymore.

Jason:
So, there’s a fiber, a prebiotic content. There’s more iron than spinach, and great B12 and Omega 3s in all this stuff. It feels not dissimilar to the early Vital Farms days when we had all this crap to say, we need to distill it down in the most cogent way and that’s digestible.

Jason:
But anyway, yeah, it has to taste great. It has to be in a format that is not off-putting. Also, the education obviously is going to be central to, why the hell should I do that? We kind of think of insects in a certain way. And, we’re actually kind of unique on the global stage, or compared to many other cultures across the globe for whom this is already just a very natural food source. If it’s on the planet here with us, and we don’t have to be naked and afraid to take advantage of some humble but very powerful protein here.

Jason:
And yeah, don’t have all the answers yet, but that’s kind of the core of the job. And then, we’re also standing up all of the other stuff you need just as a company to go do things well in the CPG space, both grocery and D-to-C. We’re primarily D-to-C now, but the bars have been in HEB for almost a year and a half now. About a third of the HEBs out there are going to have our protein bars and energy as of this month now.

Karin:
Congratulations. That’s awesome.

Jason:
Yeah, HEB. There’s a Texas connection there, but they deserve a lot of credit. They’re kind of a mainstream grocer, but they’re way better. They’re progressive and very forward thinking, and we just had an amazing call that was so helpful with our buyer just yesterday. We were having some real talk. Like, hey, it would be great if your economics were a little bit better, about the purpose, but you need to provide us the dollars and cents.

Jason:
And so, it’s a good thing we’ve been working to go improve our supply chain and how we manufacture and our cost structure, so that we can have great answers to those questions when they come, because you can be real special, but a slot on a grocery shelf is kind of priceless for that retailer. So really, this comes full circle if you think of a stake-holder model or a consciously, capitalistic way of moving through all this.

Jason:
It has to be good for everybody, whether it’s a farmer, an animal, the consumer. Your HEB buyer. He needs to look good, or she, just in our case it’s a he, but they need to, you got to be careful today. It has to benefit everyone to be viable, or v-buyable. Think about that.

Alison:
I’m mean, we’re huge HEB fans.

Karin:
Love it.

Alison:
And stakeholder model fans. Well, thanks Jason, for joining us.

Karin:
It was fun.

Alison:
It was so nice to hear expertise. Do you want to tell everybody where you can find Exo? Besides HEB.

Jason:
Well, we’re primarily D-to-C, but all your usual online channels, be they our website or Amazon. And, we’re in about 30 HEBs today. We’re in every Cost Plus World Market that there is. They’ve been a great partner as well. It’s actually a really great account that is non-typical, but it’s a really great one.

Jason:
Yeah, a lot of other mom’s and pop’s and stuff, but we’re looking to drive our grocery presence and get that door count up. And, we’ve been doing a lot of work in the online space too to better target folks, and be able to cut everybody good deals for trying what we’ve got. So, hope everybody does.

Alison:
Yep, and they are delicious. So, don’t let the crickets scare you.

Jason:
Yeah, get over it. It’s just food.

Alison:
Get over it already, shoot.

Jason:
That’s probably not a good tag line.

Alison:
Get over it already?

Karin:
Yeah, you don’t need to pay us for that. That’s free advice.

Jason:
Congratulations on Umai, and I know for a fact from just being out there in the space that y’all are kicking tail out there, and it’s so cool to see. You can stand up food brands, you can also stand up companies like what you’ve done. And, you’re to be commended for that. You’re providing a great value, and it’s doing well by y’all as well. It’s a great space, but congratulations on your success there at Umai, and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s going to be fun to see how y’all track as well.

Alison:
Yeah, thank you.

Karin:
I mean, hey, you get a lot of credit for starting this.

Alison:
Yeah, I know. All those lunches. We owe you lunch again too, probably, once this is all over.

Jason:
Could we get arrested for going to a restaurant?

Alison:
Probably.

Karin:
I know. We’re sitting very close to each other right now.

Jason:
Yeah, I may call the authorities.

Karin:
Be safe. Stay safe out there.

Jason:
…headset.

Alison:
Yeah, we disinfected it though, so we’re clean.

Jason:
Thank you all for having me. I sure appreciate it.

Alison:
Thank you.

Jason:
Yeah, enjoyed it, and congrats.

Karin:
Thanks, Jason, we’ll talk to you soon.

Alison (Recorded):
Umai Social Circle is a CPG, agency-driven podcast based out of Austin, Texas. We’re excited to share more behind the scene insights, chats with industry leaders, and whatever else we learn along the way. Follow us on Instagram at Umai Marketing, or check out our website, umaimarketing.com.

Alison (Recorded):
Catch you back here soon.

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#3: Siete Foods Mukbang, How They Nurture a +300k Community of Engaged Followers

Siete foods podcast episode cover image
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#3: Siete Foods Mukbang, How They Nurture a +300k Community of Engaged Followers

Y’all are in for a literal treat this episode! It’s this duo’s first mukbang: chip and dip Siete Foods edition. 

Alison and Karin taste test Siete Foods Spicy Blanco Cashew Queso with Grain Free Tortilla Chips (Sea Salt & Jalapeno). Then, break down the brand’s mission to better understand why their sizable Instagram following is soo engaged.

Let us break it down for you…

[1:03] Today’s mukbang product is Siete Spicy Blanco Cashew Queso! Initial thoughts, branding, ingredients.
[2:50] First, it’s time for a taste test.
[5:50] Before this, picking up Siete Foods from Whole Foods.
[6:18] Then, we take a deep dive into the greater Siete Foods brand! How’d they get their engaged, devoted audience – stellar following AND engagement (an honestly rare combo).
[9:37] Customer delight in the comments section + how our agency engages.
[13:45] Positive impact of leveraging user-generated content on their (and your own) Instagram feed
[14:29] Showing up through IGTV During times of COVID-19 getting on the IGTV!
[16:48] Posting more than just product photos – maintain authenticity and leverage software (our recommendations).
[19:20] Messaging buckets in action. Problem-solution minded approach.
[20:25] Supplemental content on Stories and how it turns a brand into a family that you want to be a part of.
[23:03] Touching on influencer partnerships and a memory from Expo West.
[28:41] Beautiful content, specifically photography created in house. Duping that content for retail advertising.
[30:15] Finally, the use of witty copy across the board. If you’re a fun brand, be fun and funny!
[32:00] Wrap it up – take the elements that would work for you (and your brand) and implement them TOMORROW. Piece by piece.

Alison:

Hey, hey y’all, Alison here. I wanted to quickly thank you for listening to our podcasts. I know you’re

about to get a lot of valuable information from it, but I also wanted to pop in and share with you guys a

free SOP, which stands for Standard Operating Procedure. We use this SOP every single day in our

agency to authentically grow and engage our audiences on social. It is 1000% free and I’d love for you to

have it and use it in your biz as well. So just go to umaimarketing.com/engage to go download. All right,

cheers.

Alison:

Hello everyone. Welcome to the Umai Social Circle. I am Alison.

Karin:

I’m Karin.

Alison:

And that’s Karin. Today, we are doing a little taste test. We are tasting Siete Foods’ Cashew Queso and

Spicy Blanco. I’m not going to lie. I already ate probably the majority of mine, but that’s okay.

Karin:

Yeah. And I know… So Alison and I have the exact same cashew queso. But for some reason our lids are

different, but I’m sure they just ran out of blue lids and had to put white lids on. But, it’s smells. I mean,

it smells like queso, it has that tomato-y spice smell that comes with any cheesy queso.

Alison:

Smells good. Also, can we just talk about how cute this is? All Siete branding is amazing. They really play

into the Mexican culture, use a lot of colors and it just kind of makes you want to grab it off the shelf, no

matter what product. I’m also having some of their chips too, and just, it’s all colorful and bright and

definitely not boring, which I like.

Karin:

Absolutely. I mean, if I was in the aisle and I was looking for a vegan queso, I mean, even if I didn’t know

what the Siete brand was all about, the packaging just is going to immediately draw me in.

Alison:

Yep. It’s fire. And also, we had talked about this a little bit before the pod, but it’s blowing my mind, the

ingredients in this queso, so number one, first ingredient’s water, then cashews and then it has your

tomatoes and onion, green pepper, but basically you’re hydrating when youKarin:

Yeah, first ingredient’s water. That means it’s okay that you ate the whole jar already right?

Alison:

Because I’m about to finish it. Okay. Let’s dig in.

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Karin:

Yeah, let’s try it.

Alison:

I’ll pretend like it’s my first time. (silence) So it’s nutty, it’s cashew obviously. So you kind of get the

nuttiness, slight queso taste, but really, to me it’s not… It’s like another dip. It’s not a queso, but I love it.

Karin:

Yeah. It’s delicious. I mean, how… So, full disclosure, I am not vegan. I don’t eat a lot of vegan foods, so

I’m not sure how the nutritional yeast plays into giving it that cheesy texture and flavor. So I don’t really

know what that’s supposed to taste like, so yeah, I completely agree. It tastes like dip. It’s delicious. If

someone had this in a bowl at a party, I would be eating it just like it was a bean dip, even though it’s

not beans.

Alison:

It’s also paleo, gluten free, vegan, grain free, dairy free, soy free, justKarin:

It’s delicious. Yeah. I don’t like using the phrase, “guilt-free,” I don’t because guilt should never be a part

of eating.

Alison:

Oh my gosh.

Karin:

But it’s just like, I could eat this whole thing and really not regret a second of it.

Alison:

[inaudible 00:04:15] I did it. No ragrets. Yeah. Really great. I always wonder if you’re a truly vegan and

have been your whole life and never tasted a queso, I’m sure this is it for you.

Karin:

Right? And I mean, the texture, when you come in right out of the fridge, it’s a little bit thick, but heating

it up, they said, “Use a saucepan,” I used a wide pan. So it would heat faster and be more even, and it

really did come out a little bit more liquidity, but still really thick. So I mean, if you can make some

nachos out of these, some vegan nachos.

Alison:

I did see on their stories yesterday that one of their customer delight specialists that, they all get on and

do stories, which is really cool, did a avocado toast topped with some queso, yeah. It looked great.

Karin:

I like that. I mean, it’s not spicy, sorry.

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Alison:

I’m getting a little… But again, it could be my chips.

Karin:

Yeah. You’re eating the jalapeno chips. I’m eating it with just their grain-free sea salt tortilla chips. And

it’s not coming through, not even a hint of spice. I mean, it’s delicious.

Alison:

Yeah, but not spicy. It’s more for us regular [inaudible 00:05:36] who can’t handle… I’m like, “This is

perfect.”

Karin:

A lady at Whole Foods… So Allison and I went to whole foods to pick this up and she was navigating us

to the refrigerated section, the vegan refrigerated section, plant-basedAlison:

Great point, it’s refrigerated. Your other run of the mill quesos are on the shelf, all those preservatives in

them.

Karin:

So she told us where it was. She showed us where it was. She told us that Spicy Blanco was her favorite.

And she said that she wasn’t a fan of spice and that she loved it. So thank you for the heads up Whole

Foods employee.

Alison:

Yeah. Very helpful. All right. So today we’re not just eating on camera or podcast for you. We love Siete

brands. They are local Austin, but they go well beyond Austin. I think most people are aware of them.

Great products, great brand, great culture. So today we’re going to talk about how they were able to

build such an engaged, devoted community, because their community is just fire. So we’re going to do a

little deep dive and get in there and give you some tips from what Siete’s done on how you can apply it

to your own brand.

Karin:

Yeah. So we are going to be focusing on how the brand was able to build such an engaged, devoted

audience. Not only do they have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, it’s really the

engagement that those followers provide for them that impresses us so much, impresses everyone. I

mean, this is a brand to aspire to. And it’s one that we always look to for inspiration. And when it comes

to the content, when it comes to the visuals, it’s just something… It’s just really well done, right? So first

off I think that the biggest way that they were able to really… To begin with Siete, seven, it’s

representative of the seven family members, the Garza family that created the brand. And I think that

speaks volumes, right? So the bird, we found out is a heron and in Spanish, I believe Garza means heron.

Alison:

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Right. It translates in some way to Garza. So it’s all about family from, I mean, asset number one, it’s

kind of like their foundation.

Karin:

Definitely. And on their mission page, it always mentions family first, family second, business third. And I

think that that is immensely prevalent in all things that they do in their marketing. I mean, when they do

their commercials and their videos, the family’s there. It’s all of them, it’s not hired actors. So I think that

that’s a very, very beautiful touch that is seen throughout their marketing.

Alison:

Right. Even on this queso, and I’m sure it’s on some other, yeah, all the products, is they have this abuela

approved stamp. It’s right next to their gluten free certified stamp, just a nice little trademark touch. It

makes you feel warm and cozy and you kind of think of this abuela, your old grandma just like beating

you or something like that. And that’s how it feels to eat their products, which I love, so very prevalent.

Karin:

Yeah, I love that [inaudible 00:09:04]. And their slogan, their tagline, [foreign language 00:09:08], sorry

about my pronunciation. Truly, truly sorry. But it means, “Together is better.” And I don’t think that is

only their family. I think that does extend to their overall team. I’m sure they’re all family, but not blood

relatives. And I like how you said that their customer support team is on the stories, that they have free

range to just get on the stories, to share what they’re eating, to share what they’re doing.

Alison:

Right. Yeah. And that, that brings to a next point. If you look at their team page, it’s stacked, there’s

seven people whose job is customer delight, which just goes to show you how much they value making

their customers happy.

Karin:

I think that’s incredible. I wonder how many of them are actually doing the community engagement on

Instagram, right?

Alison:

Yeah. Because it’s a lot.

Karin:

It’s a lot. Yeah.

Alison:

It’sKarin:

They’re responding to absolutely everything.

Alison:

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Right. Every single thing. And that’s one thing that… I mean, what do you say, Karin, would you

recommend a business owner to, I guess not an owner, but someone from a brand to respond to every

single comment? How important is that on social?

Karin:

I mean, hopefully everybody that’s listening knows how important it is.

Alison:

We got doggies.

Karin:

We got dogs and they have new bark collars and they’re dinging.

Alison:

Are they noise or vibrator ones?

Karin:

It’s vibrating, yeah. And it’s dinging, you can hear it. Yeah. I mean, it’s incredibly important to respond to

everything, positive comments and honestly, more importantly, negative comments. We’re huge

advocates of, if there’s something that’s super customer related, customer service related, like I got this

bag of chips and they were all crushed or I got this bag of chips, and I know that they get that, I’m sure.

Karin:

Or it’s almost empty. We want to navigate you to actual customer service on email to get it off of your

social platform. I don’t know what Siete does, if they handle it internally, on the platform or in DM’s, but

what we would do and what we do for our clients is to push them to email customer service and to take

care of them thereAlison:

Get the negative off the front facing things, right?

Karin:

Yeah. Especially if you’re running ads, you want to spend money running ads and serving ads to people

that are going to see these negative comments in this comment section. It doesn’t make any sense. So I

think it’s incredible that you can see… I mean, this one has 70 comments on it and they are all being

responded to. It’s not like they’re just liking the comments. They’re taking time to say words to these

peopleAlison:

Right. So it’s beyond just customer service. Someone comments something back, and they’re at least

saying, “I know, right?” They’re engaging and they’re being witty and fun with these people. So it goes

beyond customer service where, I mean, it ties back to being a community. That’s how you feel if you’re

commenting and interacting with Siete.

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Karin:

Absolutely.

Alison:

Something every business can implement… I mean, it’s not easy, it takes work to get in there and

respond to everyone and think about what to say, but something that anyone can do.

Karin:

Right. And so what we do internally is every morning we sign on for our clients and make sure that every

comment that we have missed from Instagram, from Facebook to Twitter, to DM’s across the board,

that we’re properly engaging with them, that we’re interacting with them. And then we’ll do it

throughout the day. But if we can’t do it throughout the day, we make sure to at least do it in the

morning and the last thing we do before we sign off for the day, because we want to be able to provide

really exceptional customer service and get back to people with any questions they have or praise or

anything like that. And then, most importantly, I think it puts your finger on the pulse of what people are

resonating with, what people really like, what issues are arising. So yeah, I think the community

engagement is so, so key. And that’s how you grow your brand online.

Alison:

Right. Let’s talk about their other themes that you’re kind of seeing, because I mean, it helps, it

obviously helps that they’ve got beautiful branding, full of tons of colors. So their feed is just wow. You

get there and you’re already having a fun time just looking at all these beautiful photos, but what else

are they doing on here?

Karin:

Yeah. I mean, well, going backwards really quick to all of their beautiful photos. It’s like most of these

are user generated. It’s insane. All of them are by really incredible influencers and content creators,

making these gorgeous, stunning photos for them. And I truly wonder how many, if any, are paid for.

Are all of these organic and it’s just love for the brand? And obviously it’s really awesome to get a shout

out on a platform that has 340,000 followers.

Alison:

Heck yeah.

Karin:

But yeah, I think what an incentive to grow a community, not just sales, but literally free content. So

other things that we’re seeing… So during times of COVID, we’re seeing this, Juntos at Home, is that?

Yeah. And they’re bringing people on to IGTV to educate and share, and we’re seeing a lot of brands do

that, but this is super branded, super clean. It kind of makes me think. I’m like, “How do they do it so

seamlessly?” Even when it comes to the cover photo on stories. It’s perfect how in the feed in their 1000

X 1000 dimensions, you can see a beautiful, clear, crisp, bright photo with Juntos at Home. And then

when you click through to that IGTV, the touches of the borders that they put on top and bottom to

make it even more beautiful and branded, but not messing up what’s happening on the feed, it’s just

super thoughtful. Whoever’s doing this is so thoughtful.

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Alison:

Yeah. That’s a big thing that we struggle with too is you want your feed to stay beautiful and what’s the

word I’m looking for?

Karin:

Curated?

Alison:

Curated, right. But you also want to educate in different ways. So I mean, I would definitely, like you

said, look to Siete Foods and see how they did that because it does… It looks seamless. But another

thing that’s great about the Juntos at Home is… Okay, first of all, it’s playing into their tagline, [foreign

language 00:15:54], and then during Coronavirus, that might’ve been an, “Oh shit,” moment, [foreign

language 00:16:03] is obviously not what you want to be doing during Coronavirus, but they spun it in a

way that perfectly resonated with the times and their brand, “Together at home.” Such a great… Yeah.

Karin:

What a pivot. And it’s just so well done, right? It’s it doesn’t seem like it’s grasping, you’re not grasping

for this. It’s very organic, if you will. And judging by the amount of views that are on it, it looks like it’s

resonating with people.

Alison:

But also, I mean, I know you said you do want it to be well done, but I think a lot of brands are scared to

show that inner side or behind the scenes and things like that because it’s not always picture perfect,

nice. So Karin, what would be your suggestion to help some a smaller brand, who’s not Siete yet, post

more than just product photos?

Karin:

That’s such a good reminder. Honestly, sometimes I get lost and I’m looking at this and I’m like, “It’s so

well done. It’s so beautiful. How can we do this?” But it is so important to remember that smaller

brands, where the CEO is running everything, the social, fulfillment, logistics, sales, and it’s not feasible.

So I would say, try and be as authentic as possible because I mean, you see it too Alison, in ads.

Sometimes the most beautiful studio photo does not perform as well as the user generated content. So I

would say, just try and be as authentic as possible and use software to your advantage. So find tools and

software that work for you and are in your budget and create really beautiful content that way.

Alison:

So what would be a good piece of software? What is affordable? Later is one.

Karin:

So personally, I would figure out a good photo editing software. So whether that’s VSCO or it’s

Afterlight, there are so many out there at different price points, but those, I would say are my two

favorite for editing on my phone, outside of the Adobe suite and Canva, I feel like Canva’s super popular

because it’s so easy to use and it’s not very expensive. And you can lay in your logo, you can lay in your

brand colors and templates and create templates. What softwares you like?

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Alison:

Well, mostly I’m doing ad editing. If y’all don’t know, Karin is our organic guru, we have the Adobe suite

so it’s not very fair. I use the Adobe Spark app, which is amazing. I highly recommend that. And then

other than that, I’m using video editing apps. One I use is Splice, and it’s free, but yeah. And then in

terms of scheduling, I think Later would be a good beginner scheduler. I’m trying to think what else,

because like you were saying, if you’re a business owner and you’re trying to do 500 other things, you

need to get your content scheduled out so that you can go on and focus on getting your product into

retail stores or what have you.

Karin:

Right. So we always preach about the messaging buckets. And when you’re thinking of your content

strategy, focusing in on those messaging buckets and then providing your consumer with a solution,

right? So you’re gluten intolerant. You need to find really flavorful foods. You miss all those foods that

you used to have. Okay, well, these are the foods we provide that are gluten free. This is how you can

eat them. This is what you can make with them. These are fun, different ways to use them and playing

off of your mission, why your brand is what it is. And with Siete, their mission is to bring Mexican

American foods to the table, I believe. I’m going to actually look at their website to say that. So “Boldly

build the leading healthy Mexican American food brand,” and with the togetherness and the community

and the family aspect as a leading driver of that. A lot of their Instagram honestly, is really beautiful

food, which brings you in. But the supplemental community content is whatAlison:

It keeps you there longer yeah.

Karin:

Yeah. And it’s the most impressive.

Alison:

Totally. So the Juntos at Home, we love that. Siete Scaries, have you seen that one?

Karin:

So I’ve seen those in real time, in real time on their stories, but it looks like they have a highlight on

Instagram about it, but it’s literally their team members scaring each other, which is the most delightful

thing. It has nothing to do with the product.

Alison:

It brings me so much joy.

Karin:

Yeah. But in all reality, it really does have everything to do with the product. It’s them enjoying each

other’s company. It’s the communityAlison:

They’re a family. Right.

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Karin:

They’re a family. I think it’s so… It’s entertaining and right, social media is supposed to be educational

and entertaining and they have that down, for sure.

Alison:

And it makes you feel like you know them. I mean, yeah. All ties back to family first, family second.

Karin:

And the same with their, they have this workout. They have a huge workout room at their office and

they’re always doing these team workouts together. And it’s just all those behind the scenes that

literally have nothing to do with the brand or the food. It’s just helping bring people back into the social

platforms and engaging with them. It’s fun to say like, “Hey, I see this one girl on Instagram all the time,

she’s on their marketing team. Is that who I’m talking to?” When I comment with them. You’re talking to

humans, right?

Alison:

Yeah. It creates super fans for sure. And Karin and I were talking, we want a tee shirt. We want a Siete tshirt, a hat, whatever we can get, because we’re super fans now. I mean, we love the food. We love

what you’re doing on social. Everything’s just curated and beautiful, but it’s also fun. So I mean, that’s

what they doing.

Karin:

And I mean, we can’t lose focus on how important branding is, too. I feel like sometimes we have small

CPG businesses coming to us and wanting to work with us and their packaging, their website, not

everything is tightened up and it’s not something that we personally would purchase. And I think that

that is very vital in how you think about marketing as a whole. You have to make sure that that branding

is on point to begin with, obviously that the product is on point and then everything else will fall into

place with the right tools and the right work and the right levers being pulled. ButAlison:

There’s still some foundational steps, right?

Karin:

Yeah.

Alison:

Right.

Karin:

Cool. So I think another way that is just so impressive with Siete, is their influencer partnerships. I have

no idea what their program looks like. Everybody’s influencer program looks different, but I just

remember at Expo West, maybe two years ago, I was walking the floor with a micro-influencer andAlison:

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Oh, look at you. You’re famous by association.

Karin:

And we were passing this Siete foods booth and we literally could not get past. We couldn’t get past, it

was stacked to the brim.

Alison:

It was full? Wow.

Karin:

It was full, I’m talking 30 people in front of this booth. And if you’ve ever to a trade show like that, you’re

just trying to get like five to six. You’re trying to build this buzz, but it was just stacked. I couldn’t even

get past, she ended up knowing half of the people there because it was all influencers. There were all

these social media influencers, talking and laughing and hanging. Yeah.

Alison:

And the influencers were just flocking to them.

Karin:

They were just hanging there. Well, and IAlison:

That is not that easy you guys

Karin:

No, no, it is not that easy.

Alison:

Not normal.

Karin:

This is not normal. It’s incredible. And we can talk about it being incredible, but this is not normal. And a

lot of legwork had to go into getting there. Again, going back to the community and building it. But I

have no idea how they do it. One of our favorite Instagrammers, The Defined Dish, such a great

cookbook, such a great Instagram. She is the biggest Siete Foods advocate. I mean, her pop socket on

her phone is a Siete Foods, pop socket.

Alison:

Is it really? I saw her redo a healthy Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme, but with all Siete products, and that

was life changing, so. But how do you think… Do you think that they reached out to her because she’s

big time. Are you able to tell what maybe their influencer program looks like, just from the front facing

things?

Karin:

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I mean, I wish, I feel likeAlison:

Tell us, Siete.

Karin:

I know, tell us, yeah. I feel like this must be… Well, number one, it’s a longterm relationship. I do not

believe that what they’re doing has short term relationships. Like for instance, some brands will partner

with somebody who’s… They’re like, “Yu have to post three times, it’s going to be $2,000. This is what

you say, hashtag ad.” That is not what they’re doing. And there’s such a benefit to that because of what

they’re building. So I don’tAlison:

I think it’s beyond just the business. Here’s the bullet points, here’s what you get paid. It’s more…

Maybe they’re, they’re just sending product to continue the relationship after the business part is done

orKarin:

Yeah. Maybe that’s what’s happening. Maybe they’re doingAlison:

It also helps to have a great product, again.

Karin:

Again, yeah. So I’ve noticed in the past that they would do these retreats, where they would invite a

bunch of influencers then they would have these backyard dinners and concerts, here in Austin in their

office quarters. And I assume that they paid for them to come, paid for all of that jazz and gave them a

super Instagram worthy space that they would share. And maybe afterwards they just provided product.

I don’t know. I’m assuming. And I shouldn’t assume, because I literally have no idea, but something that

we do with our influencer programs is starting off with just engaging as much as possible with these

people and actually making sure, one, that they are an influencer that you want to work with, that has

the beliefs in food as you do.

Karin:

If you’re a food product, I don’t think they’re going to be working with anybody that is posting about

Burger King all the time. And follow them, engage with them, DM them, create a part… Not a

partnership yet. Create a friendship, create just a relationship in general that’s beyond you just trying to

shove your product down their throat. And then following up later, once that relationship has been

established and saying, “Hey, we love what you do. I think you’d love our product too. Can we send you

some for free to see what you think,” and then going from there, right? It’s like, if they love it, they’re

going to reach back out.

Alison:

It is a long game.

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Karin:

It’s a long game. Oh man.

Alison:

And it is a lot of work. It’s a long game, but it’s worth it. Do you think with a Siete, the parties that you

saw in the past, were those mostly micro influencers? Because Defined Dish is big, but do you think they

were focusing on like smaller groups of influencers?

Karin:

No, I don’t think… I mean, different people have different definitions of micro and macro influencers.

And I honestly don’t know the exact definition, but in my head I’m like, “Okay, micro influencers are

people that are under 40,000 followers and above that, they’re more macro.” And I know that’s

different for everybody. Some people will say, “At a million followers, you’re a macro.” So I think that

most of them had more than a hundred thousand followers. They were super Salish and they have… It’s

like this tight knit community of mostly, honestly women. And they all know each other, they all work

together on the same brands.

Karin:

And if you get one of them on board and really loving your brand, I think it’s really possible for them to

introduce it to their friends. And I think last, but not least, when it comes to how they’ve been able to

build such an engaged and devoted audience, is their content being so beautiful and entertaining. But I

do know that they have somebody working internally. I think it’s their creative director. He’s not just a

photographer for them, but their creative director. He used to be a photographer for The Ellen Show.

And his work is just incredible. If you go into their Instagram and you see their Kroger announcement,

it’s not like other retail announcements that you see. It’s so beautiful.

Alison:

It is.

Karin:

Look how well done that is. And that’s professional level stuff. And again, this doesn’t happen. That is

not normal.

Alison:

Yeah. They’ve got a talented team that they’ve built, that’s for sure.

Karin:

Yeah. So for our clients, when it comes to retailer announcements, obviously you can put their logo on a

photo of the product, but a nice touch is going to the retailer, going outside and taking a photo or a

boomerang of your product in front of the retail face. And that’s always a great announcement. You can

use it in ads.

Alison:

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Yeah. That’s the most simple way and it’s effective. Siete has taken it to the next level. So what’s new.

And then other than that, I mean, I know we’ve hit a lot on their content, but I just have to do a quick

shout out of how fire their copy is, likeKarin:

Oh my gosh.

Alison:

It’s witty. And it’s very difficult, especially if you’re trying to get four to five pieces of content out a week,

to be witty all the time, talking about the same few products. So if you’re a funny person, that’s great.

I’m happy for you because it’s so fun to read their copy.

Karin:

Yeah. And honestly, I think you saved the best for last. Their copy is honestly one of my favorite things

about their social media and it’s notAlison:

I’m just LOL-ing reading it right now.

Karin:

It’s not easy to do at all. And I remember looking at this years ago and being like, “How are they going to

keep this up?”

Alison:

Yeah. Seriously. Okay, I just have to give this example. So we were talking about the healthy Siete

Crunch Wrap Supreme. This might be a photo that… Oh, looks like someone else. So I think the divine

dish started the crunch wrap, but now everyone’s creating one from Siete products, but their caption,

“How much munch would a munch crunch munch, if a munch crunch could crunch much?” It’s so good.

And then it goes on, but oh man, I just love that.

Karin:

It’s just, I do not understand how you can create so many puns and I’m really imagining this person,

whoever this is, to just be, spitting this out. Just quick, so quick and just fire every time.

Alison:

Pretty impressive.

Karin:

Yeah. So to close it out, this is a brand that we admire greatly. We think that they’re doing such amazing

work. And I think it’s important for small to medium sized CPG owners to look at brands like this and get

inspired and get hyped because they could be doing the same thing someday. And knowing that they

might have crazy resources that the average business owner does not have, but you can take elements

and use tools and software and friends and family and do your best to create something similar.

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Alison:

That’s such a good point. Don’t let this discourage you. Take the elements that you can implement

tomorrow. Engage, commenting back on every single person. I mean, that’s huge on its own.

Karin:

Can you get your face onto your stories more often? Can you talk to your consumers, talk with them,

instead of at them.

Alison:

And share your mission in everything you do, make that super prevalent because people that resonate

with that mission are going to love everything that you’re doing with it. So should we close this out with

a cheers? A queso cheers?

Karin:

Yeah. Let’s do it. I’ve got to open mine back up.

Alison:

I’m empty, so… There’s crumbs at the bottom.

Karin:

All right. Thank you, Siete, for the product.

Alison:

Cheers.

Karin:

Cheers. Umai Social Circle is a CPG agency driven podcast, based out of Austin, Texas. We’re excited to

share more behind the scene insights, chats with industry leaders or whatever else we learn along the

way. Follow us on Instagram, @umaimarketing or check out our website, umaimarketing.com. Catch

you back here soon.

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Umai Growth Course Launch ENROLL NOW!

What’s the Umai Growth Course…

Something *big* has been in the making for the last year. 🤫 And, boy – have we had a hard time keeping quiet about it.

FINALLY, we can shout it from the rooftops: WE’RE LAUNCHING THE UMAI GROWTH COURSE!!! 🥳

photo of cofounders alison and karin launching umai growth course

So, who are you?

Maybe, you’re an entrepreneur backing their very own homespun food, bev, or wellness brand – sliding into IG Stories whenever time allows? (AKA never… we c u)

Or, could you be a social media freelancer with a bushel of clients – tasked with new goals that you not only aim to meet, but far exceed?

So, what’s the best part about the Umai Growth Course?? Well, anyone in the greater social media realm will benefit from joining in!

After you join up, lessons will be LEARNED. Projects will be ACED. Lasting connections will be MADE.

Are you picking up what we’re laying down?

Okay, here’s a quick breakdown –

Week 1 

Not your average syllabus week!
Connect with the class (so glad you could make it – got any gum??)
Establish Biz Goals (you’ll knock ’em out by the end, we’re sure)

Week 2

Organic Social Part I, $147.50 value

Learn how to create a Content Calendar
with sustainable strategies + free/affordable tools

Week 3

Organic Social Part II, $147.50 value

Cement Content Creation best practices to
Collaborate with like-minded brands and
Cross Pollinate with fresh audiences

Wrap it all up with Social KPIs

Week 4

Paid Social Part II, $247.50 value

Demystify Facebook + Instagram Advertising

Break down E-Commerce versus Retail Advertising
to understand and implement what YOU need

Week 5

Paid Social Part II, $247.50 value

Dive into Creative Visuals and Copy and your plan
to work SMARTER instead of HARDER

Week 6

Email Marketing, $495 value

Organize Email One-Offs to nurture your list
and dodge common pitfalls

Solidify Email Essentials that can
BREAK 🙁 or MAKE $ 🙂 campaigns

Map out your Email Automations,
establishing a continual cash flow

Week 7

Transition to VIP Alumni Status
Review what you learned
Readjust biz trajectory
Celebrate biz wins!

Really, that’s a combined value of $1,285! And, with tons of extra goodies…

We love a good deal as is, so we’d normally price the Umai Growth Course at $997.

But, for a *very* limited time only, it’s 50% OFF!

That’s a $497 investment in YOU!

JOIN THE WAITLIST NOW & SAVE 50%

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Design a Great Landing Page That Looks Good AND Converts!

Y’all, we’re excited about this one: It’s landing page time! 

You can see amazing returns from a well-made landing page that follow these techniques.

First, let’s define a Landing Page (LP): It’s a stand-alone page where someone “lands” after they click on an ad or a marketing campaign. A landing page is not usually found anywhere on your main site, as it generally contains a really great  offer that you wouldn’t want just anyone to see. 

Now, here’s  10 best practices to creating landing pages that we keep in mind. 

1. Know your audience

Before you do anything, get to know your customers. Seriously! 

Yes, keep your brand guidelines in mind when creating your landing page. But, also remember who this page is for. It’s not for you, it’s for your customer. Speak to them by using colors and language that they resonate with.

2. Provide a great offer 

This may be a no brainer, but make sure you’ve got a killer offer. 
 
If this is your entry offer, are you offering a really bad ass mini course, an ebook, or a free-plus-shipping product offer? How can you sweeten the deal? 
 
Consider bundling multiple deals. Don’t get too caught up on if you’ll break even or lose a little on your first offer. You can always add an upsell on the next page!
landing page tips that actually work
You can see here that Winc offered customers (directed from a Facebook ad) 4 bottles of wine for $39. By contrast, users shopping on their website rather than this landing page would only receive 35% off.

3. Clear offer above “the fold”

Users should come to your landing page and immediately know the offer they’re getting. 

Your offer’s language should be clear and concise + fit on the screen (of any device) without a user needing to scroll to see it.

above the fold landing pages

4. Find social proof

Social proof is so important in helping secure the sale. Customers raving about your product on Twitter? Add it to your landing page! 

According to WebDam, testimonial videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%. So, when someone tags you in a video Instagram Story, hit screen record and save for later. Always ask for their permission before use.

5. Address pain points

Know what pain points your offer is solving for the customer. 

Before you start, list out the top three pain points that your landing page offer will resolve to keep your landing page focused when building it out.
pain points marketing tips
Pain point: a number of factors get in the way when shoppers are buying a product online. Solution: Bolt seeks to eradicate those distractions to increase sales and presents a number of studies to prove their methods do just that.
 

6. Less asks, the better

Don’t ask for too much on the first page. 

If you do require a lot of information, like a mailing address or phone number, take care to make it a two-step form where you are sure to at least secure name + email from step one in case the user drops off. This way, you can follow up via email.
landing page examples that work
Daily Harvest’s page is bright, white and clean! Products are clearly presented and both pages ask for minimal info to start so they can always follow up with email marketing if the customer doesn’t decide to purchase right away. 

7. Put their blinders on

This means no menus or links that lead away – all clickable assets lead directly to your goal. There’s no way for us to be clearer on this one. 😉
landing pages that sell
Every click leads to HelloFresh’s delicious offer. Also, that initial pop-up message is a little tricky with a reverse yes-means-no tactic.

8. Brighten button colors

 Your CTA (call-to-action) button should be a contrasting, attractive color that screams “click here!” Our favorite button colors are green, blue, yellow, and orange.  


If your brand is design heavy, feel free to use colors that match your branded color scheme, but do try to make the button pop in other ways. You can make your buttons stand out by –

  • only using a specific color for CTA buttons and not anywhere else on the screen.
  • making your CTA buttons animated: add a button hover or wiggle to make your CTA draw attention.
  • using large text, a drop shadow, or arrows pointing toward your button. 
CTA button color call to action

9. Is it mobile friendly?

Cause it really does matter: “40% of users turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience,” (Compuware). Now think of that in terms of people – if 430 people visited your site (nice!) and had a bad time, you could lose out on as many as 172 purchases (not so nice).

Guesty’s page isn’t just mobile friendly – it’s color coordinated! Bright illustration’s make their objectives clear to understand with just a quick glance.

10. Track conversions and optimize

What’s your goal? Leads, sales, registrations, or otherwise?

Be sure to set and track your goals. That way, you’ve got a benchmark for success and can properly determine if your offer + landing page is converting well. Once you know your benchmark, you can do things like A/B test your landing page design, your CTA button’s text or color, or your landing page offer all to optimize for a better cost to acquire a customer.

How can you use these strategies to put together a great landing page that entices customers to your brand?

Take these recommendations and run with it!

If the process seems a bit much, that’s because it is – but, it gets easier over time! If you’d like a second pair of eyes,   schedule a free strategy call with our team.

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Facebook Shops Launches to Support Small Businesses

Facebook shops Blog Post Cover Graphic_1

The big day was May 19, 2020. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s newest feature: Facebook Shops.

At last, a free way for businesses to set up product listings! On their Facebook Page, Instagram profile, Stories, or in ads.

Really, this couldn’t have come at a better time. As we’ve all seen, small businesses continue to struggle in light of COVID-19 closures and social distancing. A new way for these businesses to market their goods and services online could quite frankly change the game.

What Will Facebook Shops Look Like?

Facebook shops example

There will be a dedicated section for your shop on Facebook where you can catalog inventory. It’s similar to Facebook Groups! You’ll be able to add a cover image and accent colors for that extra branded touch. Organizationally, users will have the option to purchase, save, or share items.

Or, select inventory may be attached to ads, posts, Instagram Live, and Instagram Stories to divert users to your shop.

Zuckerberg reassured audiences that this tool will be an easy one to use: “It’s one simple and consistent experience across [our] family of apps.”

Basically, a lifeline for brands that are masters at their craft but aren’t so tech savvy. If you’re already familiar with Facebook, using this tool may come naturally.

They’re Still Refining Checkout

Though, you won’t be able to complete the entire transaction on Facebook just yet. Users will be prompted to go to a business’s website to complete purchases. 

Facebook has launched an invitation-only beta program for Checkout. It’s currently being tested. This would make it possible to complete a transaction from start to finish on Facebook. But, they do plan to charge a selling fee. They haven’t yet disclosed how much cash this will tack on to each purchase.

This means third-party partnerships are still entirely necessary.

The Facebook Shops Team is Working Alongside –

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Channel Advisor
  • CedCommerce
  • Cafe24
  • Tienda Nube 
  • Feedonomics

Businesses may use these platforms to manage their Facebook Shop as well as their Facebook Shop ads.

Shopify paints a clearer picture of how all this will work, “Facebook Shops allows Shopify merchants to control customization and merchandising inside Facebook and Instagram. Then, they’ll be able to manage their inventory, orders, and fulfillment within Shopify.”

Though, we still recommend you diversify by selling your goods or services on other competitive platforms. Like, Amazon or your own website. Basically, be everywhere if you can. 

Try-Before-You-Buy Augmented Reality 

Another Facebook feature rolled out recently: Augmented Reality (AR). Yep, the future is basically here folks! And, it means you can actually see if that blush and your skin tone are a match made with the help of Facebook AR.

Facebook shops with augmented reality

Not sure which shade best complements your eyes? Now, you can use Facebook’s new augmented reality feature in Facebook Shops. Or, ask for help through a customer service inquiry within Facebook Shops. You’ll be able to message businesses through various channels, like WhatsApp or IG DM.

Final Thoughts on Facebook Shops

As usual, this will not only be a benefit to small businesses. And, it’ll be a huge moneymaker for Facebook. Naturally, an increase in ad spend is likely to follow.

Though, don’t get too excited yet. As par for the course, Facebook does plan to charge a small fee on each purchase made through Shops. But, no specific details regarding this rate have been released.

Another twist, there’s also talk of eventual loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases. Such programs could increase customer advocacy. And, lead to greater brand awareness. So, fingers crossed.

Of course, we’re excited for Facebook to step it up with these new e-commerce features. Because, it’s sure to connect more users with small businesses. Though, we’re still unsure how many people will actually want to complete purchases directly on Facebook.

Lastly, we’ll be following along closely! As always, monitoring analytics during this beta phase. We’re excited to see what’s best for our clients’ sales in the future with or without this tool.

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Become a Facebook Advertising Pro in 3 Easy Steps

INTRODUCTION TO FACEBOOK ADVERTISING

Yes, today is the day! You, yes you, are going to learn about Facebook advertising!!

Why now? Well, we’ve seen entrepreneurs put off Facebook advertising for far too long. Naturally, they’re quick to dismiss this incredible opportunity to reach new audiences and build long-lasting brand awareness.

Hey, you may feel the same way too.

But, it’s our job to change all that by demystifying the Facebook advertising process.

Look familiar? It’s not  Déjà vu, but another one of our step-by-step blog posts.  That means, it’s a culmination of info and real from-the-field insights we’ve gathered in the past. 
 
But, this post is routinely updated to ensure you’ll always get the latest advice to kill Facebook advertising efforts for your brand or client! 
 
If you missed our last one, here it is: How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business.
 
Okay, let’s get right into it so you don’t waste another minute without Facebook advertising $ coming in.

STEP 1: FACEBOOK ADVERTISING INDUSTRY TRENDS

Honestly, launching ad campaigns can be scary. Of course, you don’t want to waste a bunch of money on Facebook advertising campaigns that don’t convert. 

Our first piece of advice? Simply, don’t reinvent the wheel.

Really, the smartest marketer in the room knows what their competition is up to. Start here, by pulling existing inspiration from your industry’s trends to educate yourself on what’s already working.

 Yep, we’re suggesting you spy on your competitors before getting started!

Find the Competition

Now, if you don’t already know who your competitors are, here is a simple way you can find them!

Go to your Instagram profile, then click the arrow next to “Contact”. Up next, Instagram should populate with various accounts that are similar to yours.

Sift through the results,  finding some direct competitors. Go on, repeating this process on more like-minded profiles to discover additional competitors.

Find your competitors on Instagram

Make a List

For this purpose, make a list of 3-5 top Facebook advertising competitors you admire in your space.

On our team, we like to add ours to a spreadsheet that lists the competitor’s assets like Instagram, their following, and website. That way, we can quickly check up on these accounts.

Make a list of your competition

Spy on Their Facebook Advertising Library 

Onto the next step, see what type of ads your competition is running. Above all, never copy and paste their work. In any case, that’s not only plagiarism – your audience will see right through it.
 
To start, go to  The Facebook Ad Library and type in your first competitor’s name. Soo effortlessly, Facebook will populate all the ads this page has run!
 

Once you’re there, ask yourself the following questions about Facebook advertising…

Use the Facebook Ad Library to see what ads your competition is running

1. How long has the ad been running:

  • Usually, longevity means it’s a winner.
Facebook Ad Library

2.  What creative is being used:

  • Alright so, do they have lots of videos? 
  • If so, are they educational videos, testimonials, slideshows? 
  • Do they run carousel ads? Catalog campaigns?
Facebook Ads Library Your Competitions Ads

3.  What copy works:

  • Alright, is their copy short or long? 
  • Are they offering discounts or coupon codes? 
  • Or, are they educating in the copy or going straight to the offer?
Long versus short copy Facebook Ads

4. See where people are being sent:

  • Now, where does their Facebook advertising lead? 
  • Click their CTA buttons to view their landing page. 
  • Once you’re in, find out where they send customers – straight to a product page on their website or to a longer sales page (to warm up leads).
Checkout where your competition is sending their traffic, Facebook Ad Library

5. See who’s being targeted:

  • Go ahead, click on the CTA button. And, pay careful attention to their UTMs to learn more about who they’re targeting.
Checkout your competitions UTMs to see who they are targeting

6. Get on the list:

  • Sign up for their email list, gaining a peek into their opt-in flow.
  • Do they send educational content? Or, do they run promos?
  • Finally, what type of ads do they serve you after you’re on their list?

7. Abandon checkout:

  • Go to your competitor’s site, moving through their checkout flow.
  • Next, enter all your information then abandon your cart.
  • Notice, what type of abandoned cart email sequence and ad campaign you get.
  • Do they offer a coupon code? Or, do they push any type of scarcity (Ex. “This offer is ending soon!”)

So, that’s how you can easily spy on your competition and launch better Facebook ads!

Remember, stay tuned in to what your industry leaders are up to via Facebook advertising. And, ask yourself what you could be doing to spice these ideas up. Inevitably, that’ll set you apart.

Now, you’ve got an understanding of what’s already out there. Okay, let’s jump into making enticing visual creatives and copy that actually sells!

STEP 2: FACEBOOK ADVERTISING CREATION

Take note, great ads are more than just pretty pictures! So, let’s zoom in on what makes a truly eye-catching creative. And, one that sells at that.

Though, you don’t have to be a designer-photographer-stylist extraordinaire to get a positive return on your ad creatives. In reality, you just need to know the guidelines while sprinkling in a few of the tips below to produce something your potential customers will love!

Through this series of tips, we’ll show you how to stop the endless social media scroll and awe your audience.

Think about when you’re checking in on the goings-on, scrolling through your Instagram like a madwoman, when something flashy catches your eye.

This is what you, as an advertiser, need to be aware of and emulate to create a great ad.

Keeping your customers in mind, ask thyself when creating ads, “What stops thee in scrolling, and therefore, what will stop thy in scrolling?”

1. Interactive

Movement may appear in the form of a Facebook carousel or catalog ad as well as a poll add-on. Or, you may create movement with slideshows and video creatives.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a videographer! You can use Facebook’s ad creation tool to simply upload photos to make a slideshow or a video with text overlay.

2. Colorful

Eye-catching, bright colors stop users from scrolling but so does negative space. Play around with both, but don’t stray too far away from your existing brand’s attributes.

Examples of colorful ads

Over time, we’ve found that high-contrast and slightly over-saturated photos tend to out-compete others. So, turn up the contrast and saturation ever so slightly to make your ad POP!

3. Readable

We all know copy is important, but the size matters too! For example, when you see text while scrolling that your brain wants to process – it can be more efficiently understood depending on the text’s size.
 
So, we recommend highlighting triggering words that you’d like to get across to your audience quickly by increasing their size. Be highly selective when you do so, adding emphasis to one word rather than every bit of text on an ad.
 
Take extra care, using Facebook’s Image Text Check to ensure your ad’s compliant! Notice, if your ad has too much text – you’ll get a message like this:
Examples of movement in ads
Pro tip: Create folders in Instagram to save any ads or imagery that stopped you in your tracks (scroll).
 
Then, join our CORE 3 Facebook Group – we post new ad, email, or social posts inspiration there every dang day!

4. Dimensions

We’ve all heard it, and we’re here to tell you – it’s true. When creating an ad, you must keep  the platform(s) you’ll be running it on  top of mind.

This way, you can size and resize your creatives to take up maximum space, and therefore exposure, in the feed!

Here you go, the most popular ad types and platforms and preferred sizing:

  • Facebook Feed Desktop/Mobile: 1200px by 628px OR 1080px by 1080px
  • Carousel Ad: 1080px by 1080px
  • Instagram Feed: 1080px by 1080px
  • Facebook or Instagram Story: 1080px by 1920px
  • Video Ratio: 16:9 to 9:16
Now, save or pin this graphic for ongoing reference:
Facebook will let you upload different creatives onto different platforms. This way, you can customize each ad to perform its best.
Simply, click “Select a placement to customize” to upload different creative sizes for different platforms.

5. Tooling

Here, have some of our favorite tools:

  • Canva, free and user-friendly
  • Pexels or Unsplash, free stock images
  • Adobe Spark, a tool in Adobe Suite, so it’ll cost you
  • Cut Story, intuitive phone editing app
  • Instagram Story, create an Instagram Story full of stickers + other fun movement, then download for free (easiest video ad

Get creative and seek feedback from your teammates or influencers in your field.

You’ve got a good idea of what kind of visuals you’ll create, but which ad type should you work with first? Through this next step, we’ll spotlight our favorites…

STEP 3: WINNING EXAMPLES OF FACEBOOK ADVERTISING

‘Cause, not all ad types are created equal! In fact, the first ad type that we recommend to our clients is the Facebook Catalog.

Often called a Dynamic Product Ad (DPA), it’s basically a database of your products ready to advertise and sell.

facebook catalog Dynamic Product Ads

Ad features clothing brand Lou & Grey, a fave among our team for standout fashion pieces.

 It connects directly to your site to collect information on your inventory, like whether a product is stocked and if a price or description changes.

What’s more, your catalog can pull information from your store on a daily basis so your catalog ad campaigns stay up to date.

The Facebook advertising catalog allows you to dynamically retarget users 

It’s based on the product they viewed, and it deep links them directly back to that product page. When you connect your catalog to your Instagram account and Facebook page, those users can shop your profiles directly.

Also, you can even create multiple product sets in your catalog to create specific upsells and cross-sells based on what a user did or didn’t do on your site. 

The Facebook advertising catalog is so great because it’s an adaptable tool

 

A solid jumping off point, it’s generally the first ad campaign we recommend launching as it can retarget users that are the lowest hanging fruit.

Meaning, you can send people who’ve viewed a product or abandoned their cart directly back to the product pages they first viewed.

In this way, these ads tend to yield the highest returns for one’s business. 

 Since this is our absolute favorite type of ad, we’ll dig in a little deeper on how to create a successful one!

 

4 Facebook Advertising Catalog Best Practices

1. Stand out with a frame

dynamic product ad facebook creative examples
Find above, a video ad we made for Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi – illustrates this product’s probiotic pop with a super simple frame-by-frame animation! 
You already know this, color helps catch the attention of a scrolling user! So, adding a colorful frame to your product catalog to show off that mouthwatering deal will almost certainly seal the sale.

2. Be relevant

facebook advertising targeting copywriting social media
If you want a recipe for Chocolate Banana Pancakes with Bone Broth Protein, you gotta check out Ancient Nutrition. 
In your Facebook advertising catalog, you can dynamically retarget people that abandoned their cart and be super relevant when you speak to them through ad copy.

3. Make a slideshow

You must, MUST, have multiple photos in your Shopify product page for this one to work – it’s a great way to showcase lifestyle product photos along with your run-of-the-mill product photos!  
If you’ve got several product photos for each product, create a product catalog – each frame is its own slideshow and catches the attention even more from the scroller!

4. Get creative

facebook slideshow example baby food
Playful catalog ad for Serenity Kids – can’t resist a cute little veggie garden. 

Challenge yourself, getting creative and interactive by making a wide motif with copy that they’ll want to read until the end.

With this ad there is a clear subject that highlights what sets the brand apart to naturally entice the reader to continue a story or idea by clicking through the entire carousel.

Try testing the same creative with different subject lines and copy to see which performs better with your audience.

If you’re not constantly looking for ways to entertain your audience… 

…you’re not doing it right!

For added customer entertainment inspo, browse Facebook’s Ad Library or join our Facebook Group – CORE 3!

Alright, so you’re all set when it comes to the Facebook Catalog, let’s push forward with other ad types.

Creating interesting, educational and eye-catching ads is one thing. But, adding an interactive element will take your ads to the next level.

Let’s talk Facebook advertising polls…

If you haven’t heard of or seen this feature, here’s what it looks like:

Emmy’s Organics is using a Facebook poll to ask their audience which flavor they’d choose!

Timeline-wise, Facebook implemented the ability to add polls to video ads at the end of 2019.

There’s no stressing this enough, it’s so important to connect and engage with your audience. And, polls help you do just that.

Facebook ran a study testing their new poll feature for video ads, with promising  results. They said, “[in] 5 out of 9 brand lift studies, we observed poll ads increased brand awareness compared to video ads.”

Of course, we ran an experiment of our own testing a poll video ad versus a regular video. And, our poll video converted completely cold audiences at a ROAS of 6.30 and had double the engagement. In this client’s ad portfolio, that well outperformed other non-poll video ads.

We’re here to tell you, video ads have always been queen. 👑 So now, just think what you can do with video plus a poll! 👑👑👑

The poll possibilities are endless, so try using polls to:

  • Ask your audience, “which variation of a product they would like best?”, then send them directly to that product page!
  • Learn more about your audience, asking them a question about themselves or their interests
  • Find out if your audience found the information you provided in the video helpful!
  • Discover your customers’ biggest pain point by asking them even more questions
  • Learn which new flavors to launch by polling your audience!

Enough chatter, let’s walk through how to launch your first poll ad:

  1.  First, hop inside your Facebook Ads Manager to create a new campaign
  2.  Poll Ads are only supported with the following objectives, so be to sure to choose: Brand Awareness, Reach, Traffic, App Installs or Conversions in your ad set
  3.  After you’ve uploaded your Video, click “Add Poll” 

          4.  Now, enter your Poll Question and your 2 Choices 

5.  Pro-tip, add specific URLs for each choice that the user can visit after they’ve made their selection!

P.S., Facebook only shows your polls on your video ads in the Facebook feed. But, it will play your video without the poll in other placements.

You’ll quickly start to collect valuable poll data, here’s how to view your poll results:

  1.  First, go to your Facebook Ads Manager
  2.  Then, select your ad with the poll on it
  3.  Next, click on “See Charts”
  4.  Finally, scroll to the bottom of the page to see Interactivity Results

We’re curious, are you testing video poll ads? Let us know, how they’re working for you!

If the process seems a bit much, we’re here to help! If you’d like us to run profitable campaigns for you, learn more by scheduling a free strategy call with our team.

OUTRO TO FACEBOOK ADVERTISING

Yas, you did it! Now, Facebook advertising isn’t so intimidating. Right??

Especially, knowing there are many other food, bev, and wellness (CPG) brands out there like you. Now, you’ll know HOW to look to them for inspiration. And, UTILIZE these tips to refine your ad campaigns + make them your own.

And of course, there’s a balance to strike. But, we believe more is more when it comes to inspiration. 

That’s why we created this Facebook Group: CORE 3

This way, we’ve all got an outlet to share killer ads, posts, and emails that we see on the world wild web.

So, we’d LOVE for you to join up and share what you’re working on.

But, wanna get to know us first? Shoot us a message at hello@umaimarketing.com or follow us on Instagram!

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