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#26: The Good Audit Episode 1: Willow Street Snacks with The Rind PR

Join Alison and Karin as they audit Willow St. Snacks with Stef Shapira and Lindsey Leroy of The Rind PR! Learn about everything you need, from influencer affiliates to product photography, as they look over this up-and-coming CPG brand. 

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#26: The Good Audit Episode 1: Willow Street Snacks with The Rind PR 

[00:17]
Calling all consumer goods, business owners, and marketing professionals. Does planning content ahead of time stress you out? Do you want to run Instagram and Facebook ads but just aren’t sure where to start? If your answer is yes and yes, then our mini course was made for you. It’s 100% free and packed with essential tactics that you can implement as soon as today. To join in, visit our website at umaimarketing.com/minicourse. All right, let’s get on with the pod.
 
Alison Smith: [00:44]
Hey, welcome to the UMAI Social Circle, where we talk consumer goods tips to help business owners and marketers grow. We’re Alison and Karin, co-founders of UMAI Marketing. And we are being joined today, by Stef and Lindsey from The Rind PR for our special four part series, where we’re auditing young CPG brands on PR and digital marketing. So welcome everyone to episode one. We’re diving into Willow St. Snacks, which is a grass fed biltong, I hope I’m saying that right, who offers flavors like cherry habanero, buffalo mushroom, and sweet and sour pear. Really cool and fun flavors. So let’s kick off this audit with The Rind. They’re going to take the lead on their PR suggestions and tips for Willow St. So ladies, take it away.
 
Stef Shapira: [01:40]
Okay. I guess, I will kind of kick this off then. So yeah, for PR, we want to look at a lot of different things. But really, what we focus on is storytelling and brand awareness. So the first thing we looked at when we were doing this audit, was the website. Looking at the messaging on the site itself and kind of digging into different parts. Obviously, there’s the different products and about those. And then ideally, our brand is going to have a bit about their story and a bit about what sets them apart. So we were looking at that on the Willow St. Snacks page and the product section where they kind of talk about what they do differently is good and clear about how the jerky’s made. And there’s a lot of focus on the quality of the beef and the handmade approach. But one thing that we saw that was clearly missing here, is that it doesn’t really say anywhere on the website that they make biltong.
 
Stef Shapira: [02:48]
If you look at the product, you see it says biltong on the packaging but it doesn’t really say anywhere that they make biltong, which is different from jerky and how it’s different. So yeah, definitely if you’re doing something different from the norm, it’s a good idea to call it out in your messaging. And the messaging could be on your website, but also it’s one of those things where overall, when we’re, as peer professional sharing a story with the media, we want to be able to easily find those things and call them out. And then when people are going back to the website, it should connect there as well with those kind of key differentiators.
 
Alison Smith: [03:32]
We made that note as well. Karin and I were lucky enough to work with a biltong, I don’t know why I struggle with that word, brand back in the day. But that was the first time I’ve ever heard of it. And so I’m assuming the average consumer, that’s probably something new, the average consumer who’s very familiar or eating beef jerky, would come here and not fully understand right off the bat. So I think that education on the website and then through all the other marketing materials, would be really crucial for them.
 
Stef Shapira: [04:13]
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So it’s something that I think we can agree, that is an obvious differentiator that should really be called out across all marketing platforms, really. So, yeah. And then other things that we are looking at, there’s the, our story page on their website and you can tell they wrote it themselves. It’s really casual and fun, but I think adding information about who the founders or the makers are, is always really important as well. It’s a big part of the story and a lot of times, it’s like, “Why did you decide to make it? Are you solving a problem that you saw and you are trying to solve that with your product? Or is there nothing else like what you’re doing on the market or nothing else that is the right quality?” Or things like that. I think that is something that they could call out a bit more and even just like, “What are the qualifications of the founders or the people that are making them?” That can be another part of the story of the brand and why people want to buy it.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [05:28]
So I think something else that we noticed just on a first initial pass, is understanding really clearly where the product is available beyond the website and beyond direct to consumer. And I think obviously, you want to maximize D2C sales and your website is kind of how you’re going to do it. But also, giving additional points of sale options like walmart.com and Kroger. Even if they’re not necessarily available at that time, having a “coming soon” on the website, just so you’re consistent from social media to your website. You want to make sure that how you’re telling your story is consistent across all platforms. And Alison, you mentioned that, making sure that you’re telling your story from all of your marketing materials to your website and then to the media and that it’s consistent but also easy to understand.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [06:30]
And then when we’re looking at how to reach the media, it really starts with how to tell a story and taking a step back in understanding the story. And so really making sure that all of your talking points on the website are pretty easy to understand and I think Stef kind of hit the nail on the head with maybe not everybody knows the difference between jerky and biltong. And really calling that out on the website, I think, would go a long way. Because as publicists, we can explain that to our media contacts, but having somebody have to search through the website, you may lose that customer.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [07:16]
We also kind of dove into the website and did a kind of a quick Google search to see what media coverage there may have been and found a couple links and I think it’s awesome to be able to leverage that press and it’s great that they’ve gotten that media coverage already, but maybe having a separate section on the website, whether that’s another tab or landing page where people can go to view where it’s been covered and just making sure that all of the links are clickable. Because I think that there were a few links that may have either been dead links or went to, not necessarily the right website.
 
Alison Smith: [08:02]
Yeah. I didn’t even see any press when I was looking through. So if they have some press hits, let’s see them. That’s such good clout, right?
 
Lindsey Leroy: [08:13]
Exactly.
 
Karin Samelson: [08:14]
Right. And yeah, when we’re pitching to media… Before you’re going to buy something, before you’re going to cover something, if you’re a media person, you’re going to do some Googling yourself to see what’s already been covered. And having a little bit of clout is good, or even knowing what’s already been covered and figuring out what is still left, what hasn’t been covered, is also helpful for media. So it’s all kind of part of how you’re presenting yourself to them, just on the internet, essentially.
 
Alison Smith: [08:50]
Yeah. And you all are talking about the two links on their website, on the homepage at the bottom that are dead links?
 
Karin Samelson: [08:55]
Yeah.
 
Alison Smith: [08:56]
It’s such a good reminder to us all, to just audit our website a little bit more often than we’re used to. Because that’s amazing to have those hits and to get picked up like that but if it’s not leading to anything, what’s the use, right?
 
Stef Shapira: [09:12]
Yeah, exactly.
 
Alison Smith: [09:13]
Is that something you all see a lot with different news or media sites changing links and then you’ve lost your back link? You’ve lost the link as the customer or the client?
 
Lindsey Leroy: [09:28]
It sometimes happens and I always recommend making sure that you’re capturing all of your press hits and keeping them either in a press report or even just creating something on Canva is great, because then you can use that as a template to share on social. You can include it in a newsletter like, “Hey, have you seen us in Fox News?” And being able to leverage that ongoing, even if for example, if a website does a total overhaul or God forbid, with media publications kind of closing, you run the risk of having a great press hit on a publication that is no longer in service, that’s kind of defunct now. So you want to make sure that you’re keeping everything in a master press report. Those can also be used for pitching decks for investors or you’re sending it out to potential retailers. Those are great ways to just kind of show how you’re seen in the market and give you kind of that credibility that a lot of people are looking for.
 
Alison Smith: [10:45]
Yeah. I love that idea of keeping a Canva template. Is that what you meant by a Canva? Yeah, because I mean, that is huge proof for if you ever want to run ads, if your target market, if you want to run geo targeted ads in Boston or retail ads in Boston and in that ad, it’s a quote from the Boston Herald and their logo or what have you, that’s going to be a lot more influential than not having that. So definitely keeping track of that and just remembering to utilize it across all of your channels.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [11:27]
Yeah, exactly. And another big thing that we do at The Rind in addition to media relations is influencer relation, and I know there’s a lot of crossover in those types of services with the rise of social media and marketing and PR agencies, just because it’s such a great tool. There’s such a low barrier to entry for a lot of brands that may not necessarily have a huge budget for campaigns. So when we were looking through the Instagram account, didn’t really see any influencer campaigns. And a lot of times, just taking a quick look through a tagged post and seeing if there was anything that was UGC reposted on the Instagram account, but didn’t really see much of that. And I think that’s definitely a great area of opportunity to dive in and really gain some visibility.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [12:31]
And I think there’s a ton of opportunity with CPG brands and influencer campaigns these days, because a lot of influencers, while they are looking for paid opportunities, a lot will still support some of these smaller brands, especially if it’s more of a micro influencer and it’s a niche product. I mean, something like this I think… Biltong is something that’s still kind of unique and I think people would be… Influencers specifically would be really interested in. Especially if there’s kind of a paleo health angle.
 
Karin Samelson: [13:03]
Something that’s like… I don’t know if we were completely clear on this because it’s not really clear in their marketing, you get what I mean? I know we can see their offerings, but they have vegan options. They have mushroom jerky on top of their grass fed beef jerky or biltong, my bad. And it’s just like, “Wow, this is…” I feel like the opportunities are a little bit a lot more open with being able to partner with micro influencers because you can go for anybody. Anybody can either have vegan mushroom jerky or beef biltong, right?
 
Stef Shapira: [13:49]
Yeah. I mean, I will admit, I didn’t even notice they had mushroom jerky because there’s a video of a cow on the homepage. They’re really leaning into the beef component of it, which is great. It’s part of the story but it seems like that got lost and is a big part of the story as well. And yeah, there’s definitely vegan vegetarian influencers out there that would make sense to have them share it. And then you can have your keto, CrossFit, et cetera, type people with the beef. That’s just one type of influencers, there’s obviously foodie influencers and things like that that you can kind of tap into. So, yeah.
 
Alison Smith: [14:40]
I mean, even if it’s beyond just going straight vegan for that product, that there’s such a huge push for just educated, smart consumers to be more plant based. And that could really be more of the value prop behind that product, these products are from cows and are made and really well. But if you’re trying to include more plants into your diet, there’s an awesome… I mean, vegan buffalo mushroom jerky sounds so good. I really want to try it too.
 
Alison Smith: [15:22]
Yeah, it got lost on me too though. I didn’t notice it.
 
Karin Samelson: [15:24]
When it comes to those, stuff, when you just said that, it kind of peaked my interest because we have opinions. But when you’re looking at the keto, paleo influencer versus the foodie influencer, is there influencer that you think moves the needle more? Like lifestyle? There’s so many different groups.
 
Stef Shapira: [15:46]
I mean, I feel like it really depends on the brand. I don’t think really across the board, there’s a certain kind and we can fit people into these, or influencers into these different buckets and verticals of lifestyle or vegan or whatever. But a lot of times, there’s other things in their accounts that aren’t only that as well, and there could be overlap, it could be vegan and lifestyle or there’s just different things that you kind of realize when you’re researching influencers. But I mean, I think it ultimately comes down to what the brand is and what their goal is and then trying to hit as many of the different influencers as possible. Of course, with budget and time that goes into outreach, you can’t always hit up all of them at the same time.
 
Stef Shapira: [16:40]
But also one thing to think about too, is coming up with custom influencer packages for the different types of influencers, finding like-minded brands, finding other vegan brands, right? And then sending those to the vegan influencers or something that’s like all keto snacks. Or even if it’s a wellness influencer, there’s maybe some other, I don’t know, just some other wellness brand that makes sense. Whether it’s like, I don’t know, water bottle or… I’m blanking on other good ideas right now, but…
 
Karin Samelson: [17:22]
That’s really interesting. So are you kind of suggesting these PR boxes to influencers, it is a good idea to include an array of products? That’s a new concept to me, at least.
 
Stef Shapira: [17:35]
Honestly, influencers, the way you approach influencers has really changed. I mean, at the core, it’s still kind of the same, you’re sending them something and asking them to post or share in some way. But the actual packages, if you’re thinking about how many packages any given influencer or for this matter, the same thing actually applies to media samples too. The amount of packages these people get every day is crazy, right? So you really have to get creative and think, “What is going to make my brand’s package stand out?” Whether it’s something that’s just going to look better on social media, or if… I think we found that there the most impactful packages in terms of ROI or ones that have things that are items they could also use during their regular day or if it’s a whole package with all the components of a recipe. So they can actually make it, not just like, “Here’s a shirt and some biltong.”
 
Karin Samelson: [18:39]
Oh, good idea.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [18:41]
For something, I think that is attached to a seasonality or an event. So if you’re sending something out in the beginning of summer, maybe it’s like “ultimate road trip pack,” or if it’s in August, it’s like a back to school survival guide, something like that. And so you’re potentially wrangling other like-minded brands but also items that kind of make sense or that really showcase how to use that product. I think those are the ones that kind of make the most impact. And then to kind of tag onto that with influencers, I think the most effective campaigns, and you probably see this in your world a lot with newsletters, is that having some sort of call to action is the best way to really measure the effectiveness of that campaign.
 
Alison Smith: [19:38]
Yeah. Can you expand on call to action? What that would look like?
 
Lindsey Leroy: [19:43]
So I think a great call to action for an influencer campaign specifically, can range anywhere from a special discount code that is exclusive to that influencer. So anytime you see somebody post like, “Use my code, GEN20 for 20% off your first purchase,” that’s a great incentive for their followers. You’ll also be able to track that.
 
Alison Smith: [20:13]
And you can track it, right.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [20:14]
You want to kind of see what types of… I mean, effectively, you want to have influencers be your partners and you want to be able to work with them again. And so creating this partnership that is beneficial for them and you, is the best use of everybody’s time. And so if they’re seeing a lot of their followers find this really beneficial, they’re going to want to work with you again, or if they’re set up as an affiliate and they’re getting a commission on the back end. We’ve worked with brands that have done that, where the influencers receive a certain percentage commission on any sales that they push to the website. So yeah, I think doing some sort of promo code or special offer, anything that feels exclusive or feels special, whether or not it actually is, you could be working with a couple different influencers if it is like a sneak peek at a flavor that you’re releasing that is special just to them, something that just really kind of feels a little bit unique.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [21:27]
You can also… If you don’t feel comfortable doing a discount code, if you’re pushing something that is a new product where it’s limited release, that’s another call to action where there’s this kind of finite amount of product and people are going to want to scoop it up immediately, things like that. So there’s a lot of different roads you can kind of take and yeah, I think it’s a great way to be able to track ROI as well.
 
Alison Smith: [21:58]
Yeah. For us, that’s the most important part, is being able to track it. Awesome. Well, hot tips coming from the PR ladies. What else do we got?
 
Lindsey Leroy: [22:07]
So in our dive onto Instagram, took a look at what are some of the community engagement or relationships that Willow St. Snacks has, whether that is retail or wholesale partners, or what are some of these giveaways with other brands and also really taking a look at what some of the competitors are doing and doing really well. And I think finding like-minded brands and opportunities to collaborate, whether that is a giveaway. And so that’s kind of like a group giveaway, where you have five products and you have to follow all of the brands in order to win or comment, it’s a great way to build your social media following and to gain visibility on some of these other brands’ platforms. It’s also a great way to potentially create other newsworthy PR moments, if you’re doing some sort of like a collaboration or partnership.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [23:19]
So a couple of opportunities that I think they did really well with, the CLEAN.FIT box is a great way to leverage other brands and really kind of create those connections on social media and really just kind of showcasing your products alongside the CPG community. And seeing what other like-minded brands are doing on social, and maybe it’s teaming up with another brand to co-host a hike, or including a bag of product in a swag bag at an event that is like a wellness event or something like that.
 
Stef Shapira: [24:05]
Those are basically like community building and partnership type things, which is in a sense, we have three pillars of what we do, which is media relations, influencers and then community building and partnerships. And those are the three ways that we pretty much suggest a brand is utilizing with PR to create brand awareness in different ways. So if someone sees a media story and then they also notice this brand is sponsoring a hike they’re going on, it’s just building that brand identity a bit more. So yeah, we’re always trying to think of, what are the ways in these three areas that brands can get in front of more people? Or even just build a stronger relationship with the same people.
 
Alison Smith: [24:56]
So do you guys have a set amount of giveaways or collaborations that you try to produce and run for clients? Is there a number that people should try to be hitting?
 
Lindsey Leroy: [25:13]
Not necessarily, I think it kind of just goes back to what your goals are and if your goals are to increase your social media following by X amount of follower in six months or something like that, that’s just one of the tactics and just kind of measuring how successful some of those partnerships or giveaways are, and then reassessing as needed. But I think for us, in this community building area, a lot of times, clients are really looking to increase visibility but also create partnerships that give them authenticity in that community and allow them to connect with people in a really different way. I mean, it’s a lifeline to consumers that doesn’t feel like they’re being advertised to. And so we’re always trying to find, as the landscape changes, we’re always trying to find creative ways to reach a target market. And this is just one of those different avenues that we find really effective and can be really fun.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [26:34]
Any sort of collaborations, whether that is a CBD brand coming up with a custom ice cream, it’s one way to get in front of the community and talk about the brand. And it also creates a newsworthy PR moment that we can then use to pitch to media. Plus, it allows great social media content. We can send it to influencers, which then creates UGC content. It offers up opportunities for marketing in newsletter content. And I think also connecting with like-minded brands, provides opportunities to lend yourself as an expert, whether that is giving tips on types of vegan snacks to bring on a picnic or entrepreneurial stories and tips for other brands, whether they’re using it on a guest blog or a newsletter and then vice versa.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [27:51]
So I think it just goes back to, long story short, figuring out what your goals are and what you’re hoping to achieve through that, and then kind of creating a strategy. But I think when you’re looking at I guess, Willow St. Snacks specifically, in terms of what some of the other opportunities and areas of opportunities are, we noticed that they are available in a couple retailers and leaning on them to help leverage their availability there, like Foragers in New York for example, opens them up to their network and using them as a resource for tips as well. So kind of using the same tactics with a different type of partner.
 
Karin Samelson: [28:43]
So many partnership opportunities. I love that. It’s like, why not? We talk about it on digital so much too. If there is an audience overlap, not overlap, but likeness, you got to partner. That’s how to find… I mean, it is one of the best ways to be able to grow your audience. So-
 
Lindsey Leroy: [29:02]
Yeah, for sure.
 
Karin Samelson: [29:04]
… great tips. Cool. Is there anything else PR related that you guys saw that you want to go over before we jump into the marketing and digital side?
 
Stef Shapira: [29:11]
I feel like that pretty much covers it.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [29:14]
I think there’s a lot of opportunity and I think it seems like a really interesting product. And I think there’s a great base with photography and with the story to kind of build on that, to create a lot of opportunities.
 
Karin Samelson: [29:29]
I love that. Opportunity. Good. And excuse me for the gentleman across the street revving his motorcycle engine. If you guys hear that, that’s what’s happening. So hopefully, that doesn’t bother you too much. But okay, so we’ve covered PR. Let’s get into a little bit of a marketing dive audit if you will, and we’re going to start with Instagram. So that’s always the first place that I look generally. I know I should go to a website, but I generally do look at the Instagram. Because I’m like, “What are they doing? How are they active? What kind of social proof do they have? What are they posting?”
 
Karin Samelson: [30:06]
So as I look through it, the main thing that catches my attention right away, is that it’s just product, product, product, product, product. And what we generally like to do, not generally, we always like to do this. We want to establish what we call messaging buckets. People call them content pillars. You can call them whatever you want, but there’s just these themed pieces of content that you can establish and create subtopics beneath it. So that the content that you’re putting out on social is super varied, it’s engaging. People are entertained and they want to keep following you. There’s no reason to follow anybody on social if you’re not being entertained in some way. So establishing those messaging buckets is going to be key. I don’t know if they’ve done it yet. It just seems like super product heavy, so I don’t feel like they have. But if you have, maybe just add a few more things. And one of the things that I think you guys can touch on so much more, is that when I look at your bio, I love your headline, biltong, jerky and vegan snacks. Super searchable, anybody can go in your search and find that, and it might bring you to their page.
 
Karin Samelson: [31:21]
But the first two words in their bio, outside of their headline says, “Responsible beefing.” I’m like, “Oh yeah, I love that. Yes, let’s talk about sustainability. Let’s talk about regenerative agriculture.” Let’s talk about whatever you guys think of when you want to say, call out responsible beefing. But when I’m looking through the content, I see nothing about responsible beefing. There’s very little to none. Actually, when I look at the past couple months, when it comes to that phrase, responsible beefing, responsible farming. So I would love to see that education messaging bucket super uplifted. And I think that ties into what you guys were talking about on PR and on the website it’s like we’re building a story. When we’re marketing, we’re storytelling, we’re trying to build the brand in that way. And that comes from touching on different aspects of the business, stressing the things that are really important to you and your mission. And that is really helpful in the content that you share. You guys are on the same page about that, right?
 
Stef Shapira: [32:29]
Yeah. And also, media and influencers like you, like most people, are also going to go to the Instagram page. Even if sometimes we send them the website first, everyone’s still going to look at Instagram to further see, visually see how they can flash out their story or if there’s more there. So yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense, to be using their social media account to really share that story too.
 
Karin Samelson: [32:56]
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And another happy suggestion would be, if you guys don’t have a Canva account, get Canva. I want every brand to have Canva because it’s so dang easy and you don’t need a graphic designer and there’s so many templates and you guys have fun branding. So get a Canva account, upload your branded guidelines or brand colors and typography and all that good stuff. So that you can create a lot of fun educational content that way too. A lot of imagery, a lot of infographics and things like that generally perform really well in this space, because there’s a lot of information. A lot of education is shared. And I don’t know, some article posted, it’s just like 90 something, it’s a high number percent of consumers. Especially, the younger generation are talking about how they want to only purchase from mission based sustainable brands. So it’s like, “Let’s stress this as much as possible.” I love that you’re putting it in the bio but give it to me elsewhere.
 
Karin Samelson: [34:00]
Okay, another thing I saw. So link and bio. When we are on Instagram, you can’t add links anywhere else on your post. You have one place to put your link, give it to us, tell us where we need to go to immediately perform an action, a purchase. Giving you my email. Something that you want from me and generally, that’s not just the homepage of your website, unless you have a popup that comes up or something that’s going to get me right when I get to your website. So if there are multiple places that you want to send people, you have a little bit of recipe and blog content stuff. I know that you guys were featuring it lower in the feed. I don’t know if you’re doing it so much anymore. Use a link tree, use something that can insert a lot of different links and just make sure that those top ones are your most important ones.
 
Karin Samelson: [34:57]
So if you’re offering a percent off or you’re offering free shipping for first time, or a percent off for first time purchasers or free shipping on all orders or whatever it is, have that at the very top to entice people to click through. And then the last thing I want to talk about on Instagram, is variation in actual content. So what I love to see is that this brand is doing a little bit of behind the scenes, trying to talk about some of their employees, giving a little look at them. It’s a good idea to edit those a little bit more, I would say. So whether that’s to just knock off the first few seconds or so of you establishing the set, getting the person comfortable in front of the camera and things like that, you can edit that out. I’m not going to be nitpicky on this though, because I’m just glad you’re doing it. But with reels content, there’s so much opportunity here.
 
Karin Samelson: [35:53]
So just play with video content, keep playing with different types of content. But I would challenge this brand to keep it short and sweet, making some under 10 seconds. A lot of people are talking about the seven second thing right now, and try using trending audio. So a few ideas could be short farm clips. If you’re talking about responsible beefing, show it to me. Show me the responsible beefing. Pouring jerky into a bowl using slo-mo with some trending audio or the process of making biltong. You guys have the production facility. People love those process videos. Give us some of those, make them quick. And yeah, I think those are just some quick ideas that came to mind.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [36:35]
Do you guys have recommendations for brands on, I guess, the percentage of video to static posts and how much-
 
Stef Shapira: [36:46]
I was literally going to ask that same question.
 
Karin Samelson: [36:48]
Oh, well, both of y’all are asking.
 
Stef Shapira: [36:51]
So curious. We have to know.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [36:53]
Video performs really well. And I know that most people enjoy watching videos, but they can be a little bit more time consuming to make. But yeah, what would be your recommendation for that?
 
Karin Samelson: [37:06]
I would say, and it kind of plays into exactly what you said, establishing your goals, but in the same vein. I want to say whatever you are capable, because we’re talking to people, founders who are doing this themselves still. Whatever you are capable of doing with the time that you have allotted for your marketing, and I need you to allot some time for marketing. So if that means that you can only get one video out a month, then get that video out a month. If it means that you are able to get one a week, make it a goal to get that one out a week. So generally, the more video content, the better. You can always utilize trending things online that you see, as long as you ask permissions to reshare and things like that. But there’s so many little pieces of video content that you don’t need to try really hard on. Like I said, pouring jerky into a bowl and slo-mo. And then when you’re scrolling Instagram, they’re like, “Put this audio onto your last camera video and it’s romantic.” So little things like that, just play into it and try and see what hits because you never know.
 
Karin Samelson: [38:17]
But I think outside of just video, because that seems a little bit more intimidating for some people, I would stress the importance of varied content, whether it comes to carousel posts and static posts and video posts. And I think later, which is some social media software, just put out something that out of all of these millions of things that they’ve researched or pulled analytics from, carousel posts are some of the highest engaged, above static posts and above video posts, not reals. So it’s just like, “I want to see some carousel posts here too.” And that’s where Canva can come in, to make it really easy to do that. So there’s not a hard and fast answer to how many video posts I want a brand to do, but as much as you can is always a good answer.
 
Stef Shapira: [39:06]
Yeah. That makes sense. What else did you see in terms of tips, looking at their social?
 
Karin Samelson: [39:14]
Yeah. Honestly, that was… To not overwhelm, I think that’s the starting point that I want to share with them. Just keeping it varied, leaning into the short form video content, refining your actual content buckets or pillars or messaging buckets. And really talking about the responsible beefing part of it. Because if you’re going to put it up front and center like that, I want to see as much of that as possible. Yeah. And then some of this ties into website stuff. When I come to a website, no matter what website it is, I want you to get me with either a banner at the top or a popup that’s telling me that you’re going to give me something if I make a purchase. I want to feel that way, especially with these smaller brands. So a popup that says, “I need something from you, aka an email address, and I’m going to give you 10% off your first order.”
 
Karin Samelson: [40:12]
Because email always, always, always, no matter how big or small your brand is, should be one of your biggest marketing lovers because you own that data. It’s not on the whim of any other big social media corporation, you have these emails that they have given you and you can send them, responsibly, what you want to send them. So I want to see a popup for lead gen or I want to see a banner that tells me that you’re going to give me something in exchange for either an email or a purchase. So I want to see that first. And then, I’m glad that y’all said this earlier, when you were talking about PR, but coming to the website and seeing a picture of a cow and it’s just being grass fed beef. It’s like, “Okay, I get it. That’s cool, I like it.”
 
Karin Samelson: [41:02]
But let’s try and refine what that headline looks like, what that hero image looks like and the call to action. We want a button, we want to be able to click through and purchase. I want you to tell me where I need to go, I don’t want to have to search for it. So even if you want to have a picture of a beautiful… I wish I knew what kind of cow this was. It’s on the tip of my tongue, if anybody knows. But if you want to have that, overlay some of your packaging too. And have a call to action button that’s like, “Shop now,” or something that will get me to your collections page, to your shop page to potentially purchase.
 
Alison Smith: [41:40]
Yeah, I would love to see product or a product in use, something like that on this hero image. The cow photo is gorgeous though. Definitely you can utilize it in so many ways, but I completely agree with you there. Beyond just that hero image, investing, it’s such a thing. Investing in product photography is just so important for CPG brands. And I think having a shoot, it can be a small shoot with a local photographer, just trying to get some more package photos. And if you have any friends or family, or if you want to hire models to get their hands in the bags or their face in your bag, just getting some lifestyle photography as well as that studio or package photography, I think could really just elevate your entire marketing assets. So I highly recommend doing that.
 
Alison Smith: [42:46]
I would look at EPIC Provisions. I mean, love them. But their product photo is their packaging. And again, with CPG, packaging is so important. It’s what makes people stop when they’re shopping in retail. People want to see what they’re going to get and they like opening boxes and it’s really fun. So I think replacing your current product photos, which your branding is beautiful, to your actual package and then maybe some additional lifestyle photos, could really help conversions there. We had the same note, we already talked about what is biltong. So we know but not everyone else may know. So just-
 
Lindsey Leroy: [43:35]
[inaudible 00:43:35] we know. I had to look it up, but now that I know what it is-
 
Alison Smith: [43:41]
Oh, Lindsay did not know.
 
Stef Shapira: [43:43]
I have had other brands of biltong before, and it is delicious. So everyone should try it. If you eat-
 
Karin Samelson: [43:51]
Endorsed by Stef.
 
Stef Shapira: [43:54]
Even if you don’t eat meat, there is mushroom biltong, apparently.
 
Karin Samelson: [43:57]
She’s a saleswoman.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [44:00]
Sorry, when I started just kind of like Googling to do some more research on what biltong actually is. And I came across a couple competitors and seeing how they were explaining it. I think, Stryve is, I think might be how you say it. A really good job on their website and on their social and getting to the point on what biltong is and why you should love it. So that was something that I noticed. And back to what you were talking about, Alison with photography on the website. Having the lifestyle pictures, just how you enjoy the product, how you’re… Whether that’s like the hand in the bag or-
 
Stef Shapira: [44:41]
A hike.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [44:44]
… bag in your bag while you’re on the go. Just showing how you would use it, eat it and enjoy it. I think is so useful, not just for the website but also for us, for pitching, to be able to have great high res imagery, is such a value add. And it’s a great way to increase your odds of getting meat coverage.
 
Alison Smith: [45:08]
Yeah. I like how you put that, how the user is going to use it. Because when you’re buying a product, you’re really kind of thinking about yourself and how it’s going to change your life or improve your life. So I think that would be huge. And then on the educational piece, again, if you need to, I would do your own research and definitely look up Stryve. It’s S-T-R-Y-V-E, I believe. But try to relate it to the beef jerky eaters of the world. Why should they switch from beef jerky that they’ve eaten their whole life into biltong? And how is it different? How’s the taste better? Why is it better? All of those things are super important and they should be highlighted, as soon as you get to your website or really anywhere else.
 
Alison Smith: [46:03]
And then let’s move to paid social. So there’s no paid ads running but that’s okay. Not everyone needs to start off running ads, but we’d like to talk about some things that you could do, if you decide to run ads in the future. So this is kind of a website note as well, that Karin and I put together. So getting product bundles on your site. So we generally like to see the average order value on your site, at least at the $20 range. So 20 to 40 at least, I would say. So try bundling some of your best sellers and make a best seller pack. Do a three pack of your vegan jerky, do certain combinations based on the data that you’re seeing from customers and create more bundles. Also, I don’t think that you guys are using subscription at this time. This is a product that I think could make an awesome subscription for anyone that wants to come on your site and automatically get these to their door on a bi-monthly basis. So definitely try to get that AOV up just by doing those simple things like bundling and subscription.
 
Alison Smith: [47:22]
Again, the product photos. I think we need some lifestyle photos and show off the packaging again, that’s going to help with ad conversions as well, if you ever want to run ads. And then back to the educational side. So with ads, we’ve worked with a biltong brand before and there is going to be an initial educational piece to these ads, just because not everyone is aware yet of what it is. So I would really look into targeting the big beef jerky brands or people who love beef jerky as your audience is. And then just like everyone has been saying, layout why biltong is better than beef jerky, why you should make the switch. Targeting keto people, targeting people who are into paleo or other health. Anything that your products value propositions touch on, definitely look into targeting those people. And then of course, you can target the vegans with your mushroom jerky. So those are some audiences that you could look at.
 
Alison Smith: [48:32]
And then just looking at your actual product value props. So 17 grams of protein, thinly sliced and tender, no nitrates, no preservatives. Those would be awesome pieces of copy on your ads. Those are also things that you can include in your messaging on your organic social, or through your email marketing as well. So those are some really great value props on your product that you can definitely highlight. It’s also a low calorie, it’s a low calorie snack. So there’s so much stuff to talk about here, which is really exciting. And then talking back to those press hits that you’ve received. So again, those can make some really awesome ads because it gives you an extra dose of clout and social proof just starting off. So say you’re trying to expand in the Boston market or say, you even have a retailer in Boston and you’re wanting people to go and shop in store. You can run targeted ads in that area and use those press hits, those local press hits and really hit that audience hard with all that social proof. So definitely use all those assets that you already have if you decide to run ads in the future.
 
Alison Smith: [49:53]
We also are huge fans of UGC styled ads. So UGC means user generated content. Basically, it’s content that other people have created for you, or you can just DIY it and create it yourself. It looks just like really native looking content that your friend or family would post on their Instagram or on their Facebook. And it’s them taking the product on a hike, making a recipe or just simply eating it. And those types of ads with people in it, that look super native like they were shot on an iPhone, are generally the most highly converting ads that you can run. And the awesome part is, you don’t have to hire a photographer, a videographer to create them. You can send some to your friends and family, ask them to take photos, or if you’re running one of those influencer campaigns, make sure to ask them if you can use these types of content in your ads as well. And then I think someone brought up recipes as well, and I think it’s on your website. So using biltong in different recipes or as like a salad topper.
 
Alison Smith: [51:07]
Showing people how to actually use the product beyond just snacking, could be really interesting for content. We also love any behind the scenes. Like if you are visiting a farm where your cows are raised, or if you want to talk about your story and your mission and why you came to create this product, those types of ads are also really, really powerful. And then highlight definitely that you have free shipping. So free shipping increases conversions, I would say 90% of the time. So highlighting that you have free shipping on your site for all domestic orders through your ad creatives, is really going to help people go and check out. And if you do decide to use one of those lead generation popups on your site, and offer like 10% off if someone signs up for your email, you can also use that 10% off in your ads to help those first time buyers actually initiate a checkout. It’s going to help them push them over the edge. So I just ran through that y’all. Those are my little paid social ad tips. I also think that this brand could kill it on Amazon. I don’t know if you guys are running Amazon ads. We’re not an Amazon ads agency, but I think this brand really suits itself for Amazon as well.
 
Stef Shapira: [52:28]
I was going to say it’s just helpful for us. I think we both kind of know what the other company… What are counterparts in this do, but to hear how it all ties together, like for a press hit, we get the press hit and then it can be maximized on a paid ad. Or we work with an influencer and they create user generated content, which then can be used on the actual account or obviously, a paid ad and other things like that. So it’s like really ideally, a brand is doing all of these things, but I know it’s a lot. So even just taking pieces of this and figuring out how to maximize it from the PR into the marketing or vice versa, I guess.
 
Alison Smith: [53:22]
Definitely, it’s like an ecosystem that you don’t want to work harder. Just really think about how you can use those assets across all of your marketing channels.
 
Lindsey Leroy: [53:33]
And support each other [inaudible 00:53:35] essentially, for the same goal.
 
Alison Smith: [53:38]
Yeah. Yeah. We have the same goal, exactly. Make some sales. All right, PR team, The Rind, anything else you want to leave our listeners with?
 
Lindsey Leroy: [53:52]
I would just say that if you ever have any questions about whether or not you’re ready for PR or how to get started, just contact us. We also, in addition to offering monthly PR services and launch campaigns, we also offer consulting. So we do brand audits just like this one with kind of a tailored toolkit to your brand. So we’ll dive into what you guys are doing and what you can be doing.
 
Alison Smith: [54:26]
That is awesome. I think that’s super duper valuable. And also UMAI Marketing has a free five day mini course. So if you are a young brand or if you’re a marketer who wants to brush up on your digital marketing, you can sign up for our mini course and The Rind PR’s audits. And we’ll link both of those in the show notes.
 
[54:48]
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 @umaimarketing, or check out our website, umaimarketing.com. Catch you back here soon.

 

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