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Episode 74 - Consult with Bixby Chocolate

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Scott:

I'm gonna be talking to Kate, the owner and founder and woman extraordinaire for Bixby Chocolate. Bixby Chocolate is a chocolate company out of Maine, and they do ethically sourced materials. So they go to south America and central America and bring their raw materials up and produce bean to bar chocolate in Maine. And I gotta say I I've had some of it and it is absolutely fantastic. It, it, it exceeds the quality bar of anything I've seen before. So welcome Kate.

Kate:

Thank you, Scott. I'm so excited to be here.

Scott:

Excellent. Excellent. So why don't you start off by explaining a little bit more about chocolate than I do cause you guys have a really good back story there.

Kate:

Oh, sure. Absolutely. So Bixby chocolate is a chocolate company that I started with my mother Donna, and really our reason for being was to make clean, natural, organic chocolates that were made these ingredients you could pronounce and nothing artificial or funky such that we were finding in candy at the time in 2011, if you can imagine 10 years ago. And and it does, it does. So we started out with our first product was called the bar, which was a bar it's still innovative for the category made with real fruits, nuts or spices and real chocolate. So no compound chocolate, which we can get into they're gluten free. We have vegan options, no corn syrups, additives, or preservatives. So just like a clean, natural, the way chocolate candy should be to line from Maine. And from there we've really grown our portfolio to have so many products. Now it's really exciting. And we became our states first, what's called be to bar chocolate maker or kind of taking chocolate to the next level, if you will. So importing the beans directly and processing and making our own chocolate, which is really only a handful, I think less than 200 companies do that in the us. So we really pride ourselves on being innovative, pushing forward boundaries and of all doing this right here from mid coast, Maine, which is exciting.

Scott:

What made you want to make chocolates that let's just call it pure or authentic ingredients? Why was that so important to you from the very outset?

Kate:

Yeah, so I think there were a couple things that really influenced that aspect of my reason for being as it became. So in college, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and that really became, I think, a turning point in all of our lives where we were just thinking about what kind of foods are people eating and where's food coming from? What breeding the ingredients, just kind of like getting a new, you know, in the, when you're getting your eyes tested, you get that like clarity. So sometimes you have these life focused moments. I call them that was one of them. And then another was, I reflect back. I had the real fortune in my junior year of high school of doing a study abroad program in France. And I'll never forget my, my French host family, you know, thought Americans were barbarians that only ate at McDonald's.

Kate:

Had everyone had guns. So they were really gung ho on showing me as they described it, you know, the French way, which was pretty impressive. I mean, they literally shop every day for their food or every other day, maybe. Yeah. And every day they get their fresh bread. Just to show the commitment to the, you know, like Brent is so important in the day to day life that it's worth going to get every day, which I don't think we would do in America. But anyway, one of the things that also stood out is just our level of pastry and chocolates and hot Coco, which is really called like chola show, which is like hot chocolate versus Coco. You know, just these little nuances where the French way, if you will kind seeped into my conscience. And I think that that, that whole kind of coming of my mom's illness having been exposed to some other cultures and countries and cuisines, and then, you know, having a liberal arts degree, which I always think is so generic, you don't know what to do with it.

Kate:

So you have to kind of channel yourself and chocolate became this medium through which so many you, my interest could come together, which I think was one of those keys, right? That you, you don't feel like you're working when you find something that just really intrigues you. So the history of chocolate is so nuanced and mm-hmm, <affirmative> being able to incorporate and express flavors. So we recently won a good food award, which is a national own competition for our CRE brulee bar and CRE you know, is one of the most popular desserts in America and in France. So we took that dessert and wanted to translate that into a track bar and really push forward the concept of white chocolate. What is it? What could it be? What should it be? And express that in the form of that bar. So that's just to me is just a great example of what you can do with chocolate.

Scott:

Well, the, the a couple themes I hear you saying one is quality ingredients equals quality health, and the other one is it's okay to indulge, you know, when it's a high quality thing and not absolute garbage, which is kind of the same, but, you know, I think that's the French thing where they, you know, French are known for being healthier than Americans, but they still have things like chocolate in their lives.

Kate:

Absolutely. I think that chocolate, certainly in this pandemic has been a great resp for people in the sense that little luxuries, right. Help you get through the day or the week or the month, or what, what have you. And I, I love how positive candy is. Like, it's just something people feel nostalgic for or happy about. It's kind of fun. You know, sometimes at the end of a really long day, you gotta be like, well, we made chocolate and it's fun. <Laugh> yep.

Scott:

That's, that's awesome. So you've been doing this now for 11 years. So the 20 11, 20, 22, 11 years, how has your, is how have you grown your business? You know, how large was it when you started and like, where is it at today? You know, where, where can you be found? What sort of presence do you have? What sales sales do you use?

Kate:

Yeah. So it's been an interesting navigating whitewater rapids as I call them journey. So I think that

Scott:

You say that because I actually have a philosophy that I call leaf in the stream, and that is, most of us are a leaf in the stream and we get to choose whether we go right or left around that rock. But basically the river's taking us where it's taken us kinda thing. And your rapids thing is, is kind of that to the next level. Like you're really not in controls sometimes you're just trying to stay afloat and battle is coming at you.

Kate:

<Laugh> yes, definitely. Sometimes that is the case. I, I think that the interesting thing about being in a perishable food category, we'll put it or perishable weather dependent temperature dependent has

Scott:

Explain that a little bit for, for the audience. Cause I, I, what you mean when you say that mm-hmm but you have a unique situation.

Kate:

Yeah. Well, so one of the things early on that I learned about why we'll call it big chocolate succeed. So, so well is that they invented compound, which is what I mentioned before, which is where, so in C the fat is cocoa butter and that is the natural fat and the cocoa be and cocoa butter is the kind of like the culprit. I'll put it for <laugh> the complexities of, of chocolate. It's an art and a science anyway. So the big chocolate companies, if you replace cocoa butter, fat with another type of fat that has less complexity. So like a vegetable oil based fat, it doesn't melt at the same temperatures and thus is less heat prone to sensitivity and melting. And it doesn't bloom as much, et cetera. So chocolate is perishable real chocolate. We'll say now, coming on chocolate is perishable really over 75 degrees and over 50% humidity give or take. So <laugh>, if you're shipping to a very hot warm place, chocolate does not like that. And it is even in the climate control of our factory, a couple degrees of humidity or temperature can just create havoc on your capability of producing good chocolate and temper, et cetera. So here

Scott:

In Maine where it gets humid, do you have DEIT dehumidifiers going,

Kate:

Oh, we run dehumidifiers year round and air air conditioning year round. Yep. It's definitely climate control is one of those must haves. And it's crucial to this industry. That's really different from some other categories. So that's been one of the challenges that it's, so it's perishable over call it 75 degrees. So from a shipping perspective, logistics, manufacturing, you become like a weather <laugh> person, constantly looking up the weather to where your ship and whatnot. So if there's

Scott:

In Miami, in August, what do you do for shipping?

Kate:

Yeah, we watch the weather carefully. We also instituted a shipping policy that we don't ship over weekends. And that is because you don't know what happens over weekends with things shipping. So from ups, FedEx, us P S the packages typically stop moving. They could be somewhere, you know, once they leave, you it's really outta your control and they might be passing through a really warm area. So we try to Institute more control. So we ship Monday through Wednesday, try and get the packages delivered by Friday. That is sometimes really challenging in the summertime or to very warm climates. And we, you know, try and source as eco-friendly, as we can, <laugh> packaging materials, but that is also, you know, it, if it somehow gets exposed to extreme heat, there's just nothing that can really prevent that from melting. So it's a delicate dance sometimes if it's extremely, extremely hot.

Kate:

So Arizona August, we just sometimes have to say, I think we should cancel your, or if you'd like to wait, <laugh> for it to cool down a bit. We can, we can do that for you. Another one of the complexities is breakage. So we have these adorable chocolate bunnies that we'd make for Easter and no matter what they would just arrive destroyed. And we need them curbside only. And of course, everyone wants them and we get all these questions. Do you ship, can you ship, will you ship? And I have to unfortunately say no, not this product.

Scott:

Yep. Yep. So I, I took you on a tangent there. We were talking about how you got started in, in what your sales channel was in 2011 and how you moved that over time to, to now.

Kate:

Yeah, well from day one we always had a website. That was my, we always my millennial mindset. No, we started out with oh gosh, I don't know if I'm gonna get this term. Right. But I think it was an Adobe on a WordPress maybe with equid.

Scott:

Does that sound right? That's actually a company based here in Southern California where I'm at, and, and it it's a lot, lot of European developers these anymore, but that was a, a fairly popular platform for

Kate:

A while. It was, I think it was outta the UK, maybe. I don't know. Someone recommended it and someone designed like some Adobe page was like a one pager back in the day because it was really not a lot. It yourself at that point in time, I guess it was WordPress with WooCommerce. Yep. We switched to, and then I remember vividly new year's day of, I can't remember what year, but I literally hit like delete and just started shot Shopify by myself with Shopify, like support, explaining how to connect my domain, which we had in GoDaddy or whatever, because the word, the WordPress situation was just untenable. I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't manage it myself. And we were launching a lot of new products, taking pictures. I needed the flexibility to kind of be nimble and adapt. And I just didn't feel like that was provided in the WordPress situation. Maybe I just didn't learn the language properly. I'm not sure, but Shopify was like a huge breakthrough for us. I was able to manage it myself and get a ton of products listed online, whereas before we were really limited.

Scott:

Yep. That makes sense. And you know, WordPress, you know, is not designed first for eCommerce, right. It's designed, you know, first for publishing articles and pictures. So, you know, Shopify was designed for selling products. So it's just natural, you know, it's, it's easier for stores cuz that was its first intention where with, you know, WordPress actually got w commerce, which is an add-on to a platform that wasn't designed for commerce. So that to me is one of the reasons why Shopify is so much easier, more intuitive than other platforms cause it was designed for commerce.

Kate:

Absolutely. And the ability for someone, a layperson to go on and figure it out is so much easier.

Scott:

Yep. I, I totally agree. And they, they keep making it easier over time, which is nice to see. So when you started out, you had a website, how much of your business was brick and mortar versus online? How has that changed over time?

Kate:

Yeah, so, so we've always been incredibly diversified. So I like to say that, you know, a local natural food store, I think was our, one of our first clients we sold wholesale to. Yeah. So we always had a wholesale and then one of our first chain partners was whole foods market, which set us up into some distribution because I mean, long story, short, whole foods kind of, you have to go through distribution if you're a certain type of product. So we've got into some distribution that way and then partnered with some other retailers. We also have, we did have a store, but with COVID and we need to expand our production of certain products, we sort of took over what was our tasting food for, for more cooking area actually. So we remain, we always were curbside pre pandemic on ironically, I don't think anyone knew what that was.

Kate:

We still offer curbside here at the, and then we are planning on opening a chocolate cafe with Colby college, which is one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges here in Maine in December, 2022. It all goes well, well, we've been working with them, they're building a whole new stunning, an art center. And so it's gonna have movie theaters art performances and a gallery. And we're gonna sort of be the little concession stand within there, which we're really looking forward to. And we also have, so I mentioned wholesale distribution. We also like provide chefs with baking chips. We were talking before we started, one of my machines is causing us great heartache right now. That is of course the one for the making of the product for chefs. People want a lot of chocolate right now for Valentine's day. So <laugh> I hoping we get that back on my I was like having dreams of like alternative ways to think about doing that and none came to mind yet, but yeah, so we, we kind of, I like to think that I like to dream that we'll have chocolate somehow in every type of category.

Kate:

So I'm hoping like beer makers will use our chocolate. First out bakers will use our chocolate and baking or cooking. We have our retail like finished chocolate candy products. And then we have our specialty truffles that we predominantly sell on our website or to hospitality industry. So that's another channel where we work with amazing hotels. We're in Maine, which is called the vacation land in case some of your listers are not familiar. It's literally on our license plates. So there hospitality and lobster, our chocolate lobsters <laugh> are so popular. I, I just don't know. I still can't really wrap my head around it, but it is, it's a funny thing. People just love it. It's a one pound chocolate lobster or chocolate lobster, peanut butter, like claw we're in Rockland mean, which is lobster capital of the world and they have a lobster festival. So we sort of got into the lobster game by nature of where we are. But most of the demographic that buys it is actually not for mean. Yeah. So maybe's shipping a bit of mean to where they are. So that's been a really funny development and you helped us segment that off actually, which again, it's good to have outsiders look in because sometimes you're just in the thick of it, you can't even see the magic that's there. If that makes sense.

Scott:

It does. And you know, remember as a kid, I had this, this old brass piggy bank and it was of a potato and it was the Idaho, it was an Idaho bank, you know, piggy bank. I don't know where I gotta see yard sale and stuff. I grew up in Connecticut. But you know, every state has an identity or multiple identities. Some states have no identity at all. That's another problem. But you know what you do a great job of is saying we're from Maine and we're proud of that. And you know, you know, you're not, you're not only Maine, but it's a, it's a part of your identity and a, and a bit of your brand, you know, right now for those watching the video, I've got the, the puffins, which is a bird, you know, you can find in Maine and, and the the lobsters up on the screen and they're just cute, adorable. Right? And I've got actually seen your reviews that people love them so much. They don't wanna eat them. They're like the, to eat. Right.

Kate:

The is such an interesting story. So again, being here where we are, there's a lot of inspiration. There's the, a project Puffin initiative of which is rehabilitating puffins off the coast of pain because they, I think, I mean, don't quote me on this a year, but maybe 25, 30 years ago, there were, the puffins were dying off and they've rebuilds up the population I guess is the right term. Yep. Here. And and so we thought the in the market was, there's no chocolate puffins, you know, there's a lot of chocolate bunnies, lot of other objects. So we had these custom Puffin made Mulin molds made. And and still there's some confusion. We are constantly differentiating between AEG win and a Puffin.

Scott:

Yeah. They're a little bit different.

Kate:

They have similar coloring, but they're quite different. And that's our Puffin story. We donate a percentage of proceeds of those Puffin to the, to the project puppet. So

Scott:

Nice, nice. So in 2022, it sounds like you've got an online channel. You've got retail wholesale where you're selling finished product. And then you've also got ingredient wholesale or raw material wholesale where you're selling, you know, ingredients that people who are reusing your ingredients for whatever they're manufacturing from that. How does your business balance out across those? Which ones are the, the, the most profitable minds and which ones do you wanna improve upon in the next year? Let's say

Kate:

Great question. So everything right now, to be honest is a bit of a moving target. We are faced saying some serious increases across the board and I'm trying to get a beat on, is this inflationary market gonna settle down or is this permanent increases? So yeah. Increases in material costs. Yeah. Raw material ingredients, some ingredients you can't get it's it's rough and ready <laugh> for sure. So I feel like we're trying to get an assessment on, is it gonna settle down cuz this was throughout 2021? It's tough. It's tough because we're having to put some price increases in which there's never anything really anyone wants to do <laugh> so I would say right now, you know, the most profitable channels are probably direct to consumer. Although shipping costs have continued to increase and you know, we're not part of that. Like the shipping companies dictate the shipping costs or just a pass through and people get really upset with shipping costs. And I just dunno what to say. I mean, it's not Amazon, you know, we don't have billion dollar contracts with ups. We're getting the rate through Shopify, which is getting a dis that we pass through. But yeah, it's expensive and it's not like we're centrally located, you know, we're in Maine. So if you're ordering across the country, it, it, I dunno what to tell you. It just costs way more

Scott:

Well. And some of the things that people forget about, they're like, oh, Amazon is free shipping. Like, no, you paid $110 a year for the right to get free shipping free with air quotes kind of thing. Right. And, and you know, I'm one use it all the time. I'll order like a toothbrush and get, get it the next day for free. But I paid over a hundred dollars for that. So, you know, even Amazon is not free shipping, but they've done a great job in making, making people think it's free and that's the difference, right?

Kate:

It, it is. And it's really a barrier because I don't know how, unless people keep reiterating shipping's not free. <Laugh> if there's free shipping, someone's paying for it. That's one of the things that I just, I struggle with personally, because you're beholden to the shipping companies and I, I guess their costs have increased too. So I think that's just the reality of what it is

Scott:

Worked on a business in the past year, similar to yours where it's perishable food and one of the things they did and, you know, they were high quality just like you are. And, and they ship in, in, you know, very protective eat resistant packaging like you do. And what they did is they said, all right, our $50 products are now $7 with free shipping. So instead of having variable rates shipping from east to west coast, depending on the dis, they just peanut buttered that cost out for all customers and wrapped it into the price. And then they get to save free shipping. They tested it last summer. And for them, you know, they felt like it didn't hurt sales and they couldn't all there wasn't, it didn't improve it either that they could see a meth difference. It was like neutral. And they felt that it was just easier to message that, you know, Hey, yeah, it's free shipping. So it's something they tried and, you know, you might want to try something like that. There's, there's some risk there, but that was one of the ways they handled it is they just raised the prices to include shipping and then said free shipping. Yeah.

Kate:

I think that's great. If you have of kind of like a product that's bundled or larger, maybe if you will. And I've always felt like some people have kinda lectured me on this, but we'll let someone buy one chocolate bar. I mean, <laugh>, if they wanna buy one chocolate bar. So sometimes that is the shipping and the price of the are the same. Yes. I love the, the idea of getting your average transaction up to some like crazy good high number, but then there's also all those people that wanna buy, like one thing or maybe their budget constrained. And they only wanna spend like $20 under. And

Scott:

Especially for you where, you know, your high quality chocolate has a high quality chocolate price behind it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> so you, you know, you're asking a lot for someone to say, you know, give me a hundred dollars, cuz I got the best chocolate in the world where you say, Hey, how about $10? They can try it out and go, oh, I do like that. Maybe I'm gonna, you know, spend some more next time. It it's sort like giving them a, a low cost sample. Right. And giving them the, the right to test out the quality before they invest more in that purchase.

Kate:

I know I heard of like an online meat company that their minimum order was something like $150, but you get free shipping and it's like frozen meat. So again, I think that's interesting, like personal consumption or a gift chocolate's such like a consumable, you know, like you eat it and then there's no more <laugh>. Yeah, it's interesting. But I certainly think that back in the day I was thinking about like starting a business. I don't think I could have fathom how complicated <laugh> it would actually be. And that I've learned some of the whitewater rapids on how challenging it is for sure. With the par the parish ability aspect really adds to the dynamics. So, yeah. Yeah. It's been an interesting learning curve, cause a lot of the big chocolate companies, for example, don't do direct to consumer. They just do all through distribution into grocery stores because they're just such a high volume, you know, where they ship pallets at a time. Yeah. We definitely have noticed not only on the consumer basis, that freight has exploded. It's also exploded on the pallet scale mm-hmm <affirmative> so I'm sure everyone's aware of like the national trucking crisis. It's definitely a thing that like freight has increased dry freight refrigerated freight because we ship pallets under climate control as well to warm areas or in the summertime and that's just increased substantially. So

Scott:

It is amazing how different the world is in 2022 than it was in 2019. Right. We have inflation, which we haven't seen in forever. We have global supply chain in issues, which I couldn't have dreamed of in 2019. Like, it'd be, you have a hard time getting a computer chip or, you know, whatever materials you're looking for. And now we have this, you know, other supply chain thing where there's not enough ships or there's not enough forklifts to unload ships or whatever the cause is. Yeah. And then the other one that I wanted to ask you about, that's kind of crazy in these times is labor. What is labor like for you in Maine? Is it easier in Maine than it is in other parts of the country because it's a challenging time for labor right now. So

Kate:

I, I don't have any, I'm trying to think about how to be funny about this. It's, I'll put it this way. The positive of being in a family business. So my mom and I are the owners and my dad, you know, was lassoed in because he's my dad and her husband, the three of us probably have never worked so hard. We not in and down in the trenches in the sense of like, we were the fulfillment arm of the business for like the past two years. <Laugh> we like were in production. We, we did everything and anything just to help fill in the gaps and it's what you gotta do, right. To make it happen. And it it's hard, I think in environment it so challenging children and like their kids get home on quarantine or there's like potential exposure. There's just the fact that like, there seems to be a whole percentage of people that aren't working anymore, which I can't wrap my head around.

Kate:

It's just a very intense and strange time. I, I just like, can't really figure it out. But yeah. I mean, thank goodness from my parents and myself, we, we got in there and like when we were working with you, you were amazing, like really pushing us forward on our website. And there was like a piece of me that wanted to just <laugh> let it sit there because if it, it grew that meant we were gonna do it, but it's, it's worth, it's hard to grow, but it's worth growing. It's just like that. But

Scott:

Labor's one of those things that it, you can't just bank on. Well, I can put more money down, you know, to hire more people and I'm gonna be able to grow that way. Cuz hiring is, is that unbeliev, at least in my experience and the people I've been talking to in the past couple years of like the whole labor market it's changed quite a bit.

Kate:

Absolutely. it it's I mean we tried to hire forever. We've been able to hire some people we've lost some people <laugh>, we just hired some more people, which is very exciting. You don't wanna get too excited though until it all, all pans out, you know, for various reasons like sometimes maybe it's just the, the layer of chocolate that I don't know that that there's a misperception of what it might be like, but it was really funny. We work with a local chain in Maine. That's a family owned, amazing company and they came to do a TV segment with us. And the owner of this store came and worked on the line and had his loose steel ball moment. And he like really had a reflection point where he was like, wow, lot of this is hand, hand done. And I, I said, yeah, it <laugh>, it's artisanal.

Kate:

So I think that that's, you know, it's, it's fun. I also think that it's definitely like you are, it can be fast paced. It can feel overwhelming at times just because like on the line and things will comment you, but you, you, you, you gotta like step back and take a deep breath and it's okay. Like someone can come help you and deep breaths. But it's so funny to see other people try <laugh> some of these projects in the chocolate making process. So yeah, I think also it's, you know, we don't offer a, a remote more job, right? Like it is we're here. <Laugh> making stuff. We gotta be here to make it. That was one of the things like during the pandemic, we, we stayed open cuz we were in consider an essential business. Cause if you're like registered with the FDA, you're, you're an deemed an essential mm-hmm <affirmative> manufacturing operation. So where our retail was shut down by our governor, but our right to manufacturer was, was still there. So we kept on making chalk the whole time. <Laugh>

Scott:

That's awesome. Your most profitable channel is your online channel. Yep. Where are you getting your traffic from for that today? And what do you wanna do? And you know, here in the beginning of 20, 22, do you have a plan for what you're gonna invest in to increase that assuming you can, so, you know, hit all those challenges you have have of labor ingredients, inflation and, and all that good stuff.

Kate:

Yeah. It sounds like a party, doesn't it? <Laugh> oh

Scott:

Yeah, totally. Well, as you well know. Right. What I always tell people is, you know, when people like, oh, you own your own business. That's great. It's like, yeah, I get to choose what 20 hours a day that I work. That's the freedom I have, which for don't I work. I right. It is, is, you know, it's so much harder than anybody who's not done. It thinks, and you're doing a really good job explaining. It's like, yeah, you gotta do everything. If, if, if no one else does it, you have to do it regardless of what that is.

Kate:

Yeah. Well so some of our strategies we have some collaborations that our bananas, so I'm so excited. We partnered with all brewing company, which is a phenomenal, main based beer company. And we had developed this beer brittle, which is peanut brittle with beer kind of right before the pandemic. And we just sort of like soft, launched it to test viability when people like it. Cause it's expensive cause of the beer, which you can't control. The price of, it was like a very, kinda get up and go tested out product. I worked with all to <laugh>. We just got our new of packaging in and we were waiting for over I think, six months for it. I know what you're gonna tell me. I, I need to get pictures up there. I know we

Scott:

<Laugh>, I didn't say anything yet. Kate.

Kate:

I could, I could read your mind. So,

Scott:

Well here's the thing is if you're doing aand with all gas, which is a brand that knows, you know, people have a familiarity with how come their logo isn't on the page or is that coming?

Kate:

Well, so yeah, I have to, they have to sign off on everything cuz it's technically their trademark. So I actually, this was, this was on my list to talk to you about how do we ramp this up because there are really great teams. So one of the things that I, I mean, who knew, right? Like January, blah, blah, blah is national britle day. <Laugh> that date was last week. We about national brittle day and all posted on Instagram. Yep. And they have way more following than we do. I mean, we are, we're like the little kid on the block, so it drove more orders on our website, in the history of forever on beer brittle. Just because of their, and they did a story, a series of stories, I guess I should say, which is the Instagram story dynamic. I, I, I emailed them and I was just like, you guys are amazing. I can't even believe this. And like I need more beer <laugh> we're out. And it's, it's really funny. So of like beer laws or state laws or whatever, I have to go get the beer down from the brewery.

Scott:

So let let's unpack that for a second. Cause there's one example that that's a really good one. Right? So first of all, you have a marketing calendar.

Kate:

Oh, oh, you're gonna love this Scott. I, I am developing one. I have one Microsoft word. I have one of Microsoft word with like bullet points and then I was like, no, it's gotta be in a calendar. I'm working on putting it in a calendar.

Scott:

Well is, is national brittle day on that calendar.

Kate:

Oh, oh. So you'll love this. I'm a member of retailers international and a really long time ago. So I think three or four years ago, they make this, that's a physical that you get. If you're that has holidays for somehow, she figured it out. And every year the, the holidays just show up in my outlook calendar now. Yep. Yep. She's a gods. I don't even know how she that. So like I, our social like day we should like the good food awards, you know, it's a national thing. I don't know how well known it is here in Maine, but we sent that information to the local TV stations and they just absolutely went bananas for it. And we had three TV stations do segments on it with again, drove a ton of conversion on the website. You've

Scott:

Got two great ones. I wanna go back and I'm gonna come back to this one because I wanna like explain the genius of what you're doing here. Right? So on the britle one, you're doing two things in my mind. One is you're getting a partner. Who's going to market for you in addition to yourself. And of course you always wanna find a bigger partner than you have, but sometimes they'll be smaller kinda things. So by partnering with the beer guys for your beer brittle, they're gonna market that for you. And that's gonna extend your brand to new people who hadn't seen you before. And that got you your biggest, you know, sales order day in addition to following the national brittle day. And it's the two of those together, right? So your marketing calendar, I bet you there's a national blueberry day. I bet you there's a national CACO day, a national chili day.

Scott:

Right? And you have all these different in honey and you have all these different ingredients and your marketing calendar, right. Can tie on all of those. And it, it just gives you an ex. I, I say it, it sounds kinda negative when I say it, but I don't mean as a negative, it gives you an excuse or a reason to communicate a unique message that's relevant to that date and time. It amazes me how much Americans love to follow what everybody else is doing. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> on's day. We all buy chocolate and flowers on St. Patrick's day. We all drink green beer, right on Easter. We all have, you know, eggs and chocolate bunnies. And people love, you know, in Lin and mye and different events that have now been created by these false marketing calendars, just cause Americans have lots of time and energy to, to do things. And your calendar like the national brittle day should have all those different ones. And you don't have to do veterans day. For example, although, you know, you might have some kind of veterans chocolate kind of thing, cause your, your product probably has so many days for its ingredients already. On top of the, I'm sure there's a national talk with a national bond bond and all that kinda stuff.

Kate:

You're totally, you're totally right. And I think you have to like kinda pick and choose and be strategic. I think one of the benefits I was reflecting January is such a weird month that people were looking for something kind of nice and positive. I bet to, to talk about and you know, snowy up here. So something other than snow, if you don't like snow or whatever, but I think to your point, another really great collaboration that I'm really excited about. So in Maine, we beyond lobstered grow wild, main blueberries mm-hmm <affirmative> and I have always loved main blueberries since a child coming to Maine and always having blueberries. So when, when we develop products, we always wanted to incorporate main blueberry and there's the wild, main blueberry commission, which I'm sure other states have, you know, state programs to their agricultural products.

Kate:

We, we worked with them, they, they declared an official wild name, blueberry weekend. And this summer they're talking about having a group of influencers coming and they always wanna incorporate us because it's different than just a blueberry farm. Right. So you can see the aspect of incorporating the product to the next step, to your point. I think that there's sort of endless ways to look at collaborating or partnering. Another thing that I'm so excited about if it happens soon we're gonna be launching our first ever oat milk, milk chocolate bar yep. Made with main grains oats. So their phenomenal, I guess, grain company is what you'd call them and their oats are amazing. And so we're gonna make an milk, milk chocolate for the plant based or, you know, lactose free dairy free community that is seeking delicious milk chocolate without the dairy.

Scott:

Yes, that's awesome. You've got those collaborations going on. You've got this building out a marketing calendar and like, mm-hmm, you know, if you do national, let's just say, you know, chili day or national crim day. Cause I on the screen, your a chocolate bar and you know, if that doesn't strike a core, then you know, the beautiful thing about your marketing calendar is for 2022, you build it out. And in 2023, you just go, well, which campaigns worked and which didn't <affirmative> and you do more of the ones that work, you try, new ones, you didn't try. And the ones that don't work, you do less behind those kind of thing. And the beautiful thing about it, it's repeatable. Right? And you're gonna build on your expertise, the messaging, what, you know, what the conversion rates are, you know, how, you know what here's a real example for you is there are certain holidays that if people forget they, they care and there's other holidays that they forget it's over.

Scott:

Like if you don't hit Easter, it's over. But if you forget your wife for, or your significant other for Valentine's day, you're making up for kind of thing, right. <Laugh> but you can actually do that in search queries, right? If you look at the search queries for holiday, some drop, you know, a day before the holiday or the day of the ho and others go on for three or four more days and you can incorporate it into your marketing calendar and you know, you forgot your wiper for, you know, Valentine's and then get her some chocolates, you know, get her gift card for chocolate on the day of, and kinda thing. But you just learn over time, how people behave for certain events and certain holidays, and you incorporate that into your messaging. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> so, and the other thing you talked about, which is, which is totally, you know, a, a good best practice is you wrote the content for the article, for the press, right?

Scott:

You created the story, the press, wasn't looking for a story, you the story, they liked it and picked it up. And what a lot of companies don't understand when dealing with press, press, like everybody else is super, super busy mm-hmm <affirmative>. So the more you can do their, your, their job for them, the more likely they are to pick you up. So if you have a story and you pitch the story and you write it and even, you know, I've done ones in the past, we would actually write the story for the reporters and send them off to them kinda thing. I've had other ones where reporters like, do a really bad job. I'm like, can I edit that for you? And then let me edit it. And, and that ends up being way better kind of, of thing. Right? So doing the work for the press sounds, you know, a lot of people like don't get that, but it's super, super helpful. Give them the stories, tell them the message. One of the things I always say is, you know, if you don't tell your story, whatever that is for, you know, for your story, this one, you know, it's the brittle day or it's this or that. If you're not telling your story, no, one's gonna pick it up. Repeat it for you.

Kate:

True. It's and you know, you, you've done a really good job at helping coach. I think so many people on just realizing that they think they're telling their story <laugh> yeah. Yeah. But they're not, it's, it's hard. We all have great stories if we're working with you and I think you're really good at helping us try and tell the story better.

Scott:

<Laugh> well, it it's hard. Well, it's, it's hard for some people, right? Like narcissist is totally easy for them, make it all about themselves. Right. But most decent, you know, hard work and small business owners, they, they don't like telling their story. They don't want to be on the camera. They're they're just, you know, they're problem solvers, not show boaters. And when you own your own business, you gotta be a bit of a show boat too. We're talking about 20, 22. You've got some really good strategies with press and co-marketing what other things are you looking at doing to grow your business?

Kate:

The new product launches and I'm definitely trying to amp up social media more. We are

Scott:

Social. What is your goal from that? And how are you gonna do that? Cause, cause a lot of people talk about social and don't explain a little bit of the details and

Kate:

Sure. So we have an Instagram account, a Facebook account Pinterest account, and we're gonna try and do more Pinterest. We're gonna try and do Instagram. We've always done Instagram, but we're gonna try and do more consistency of stories. And then we're trying to do reels. I feel like I might be a little late to the real party, but that's okay. And looking at TikTok, I mean, I did listen to a couple your webinar, sorry. Not webinar wrote podcasts on the TikTok outlet. Yeah. Yeah. I definitely think I need like help on that. It's not something I personally feel capable in handling. So trying to look at TikTok. So what

Scott:

I saying is you wanna, oh, go ahead. Create more content for social channels, whether that be photos or videos. You're thinking about it more from, I'm gonna call it the organic side, the content creation side. Is that accurate?

Kate:

Yes. Yes. And then also email. So trying to translate some of that content into email marketing with the setup that you told us about and helped set up. I just wanted to tell you, Scott created this. I don't know what the technical term is, but it's been phenomenal in terms of really articulating our story in the sense of an email series. Oh,

Scott:

This is your welcome series.

Kate:

Yes.

Scott:

I'm a big fan of welcome series and, and a lot of people will tell you the number one you can do for your brand is have a good welcome series to the point where some of them, I forget how many emails we have in yours, but some people will do a welcome series. That's 52 emails long. So it goes out for the next year. Oh

Kate:

Wow. Yeah.

Scott:

Well, and you're like, there's no way I could do that. And today you probably, but in a year from now, you could probably easily add 10 more emails. And the year after that you add 10 more emails from all the content that you're creating. All the other things you're doing, you decide which ones are good stories to tell, like you could do an email for every product, right? So you could talk about here's need S and here's a video about need so that, you know, three years down the road, you know, you already, you suddenly have an email, you know, 50 emails in the welcome series, where if you start day one with that as a goal, you'd never get there kinda thing. Cause it seems daunting. But if you just take it a day at a time in a year, at a time, like one of the things I, I like to do with my business is I set one, cause I'm a one person business, right?

Scott:

Really small. I set one big goal for something I'm gonna do to different or change or improve upon per year. Just one per year. All I do. And like it was start a podcast 20, it was get better at JavaScript. 2021 was get a free app in the app store in 2022 is to get an paid app in the app store. And for me as a small business, that's enough of a big goal on top of the normal running my business and, and things, you know, going along. I make one big goal each year also.

Kate:

Oh yeah. I, I think email is still a great conversion tool and oh, absolutely. I'm trying out the videos and figuring out to get that email too. So thank you. Summarize it really well. Taking the content, creating and dispersing it across various outlets. Yep. Is one of our big goals. I'm trying to expand our blog

Scott:

Well, but you know, to be clear that the reason you have a blog is for organic search traffic. Right?

Kate:

Well the blog was to have recipes predominantly like how to use our product. Okay. So

Scott:

That would be a post-purchase thing. If somebody buys the ships, you'd send out the, the recipes and that kind of stuff.

Kate:

That's an idea. I hadn't thought of that one

Scott:

For like your all your raw ingredients ones. You should have a flow that goes out with the recipes, like one a week for the next, you know, four or five weeks. Like now that you've bought this great product, here's how you can use it. I

Kate:

Just wrote that down. <Laugh>

Scott:

There's no shortage of ideas. Right. So, you know, discerning which ones the most important, cause you can't do 'em all right. And prioritizing which ones. Cause when I look at your business, I'm gonna pull up some numbers for you here. Right. Cause I've gotta access your Google analytics. Yep. And this is for the last week. Right. And what I see down here is purchasers, you had a 5%, 5.2, 1% conversion rate. And the way that it's measured in this report and every reports a little bit different, but a 5% conversion rate. Isn't good. It's better than great. Like I would call that super and every business. Oh really? Yeah. Yeah. Well, well that's a great thing, but by the time we get done this conversation, you're gonna find out it's a negative and I'll explain what I mean by that. So, and, and that, that could just be an abnormality, right. So let's just look at the last 30 days. Okay. And here in the last 30 days, which does not include holiday anymore. Cause this is February 1st, I'm recording this right here. 5.5, 7% still super. And then if I go to the last 90 days gonna do a custom date from November 1st to today, 6.6, 2% conversion rate. So what this tells me is your products are very desirable and your website is a good conversion funnel

Kate:

And well that's thanks. That's thanks to you.

Scott:

Not about me. I don't make your products at all. Right. Your products are all you.

Kate:

Oh, correct. But you helped us get it shoppable in a digital capacity. Which, you know, that's an expertise that you have that I not have. And it, it, it really gives the product a chance to stand on its own digitally. Yes. And I think that, that is just huge.

Scott:

So, so here's the thing, right. Is you've got 6.6% conversion rate for the past 90 days or so, which is unbelievable. Now I've met a couple stores that have slightly higher, but they so, so rare, right? Most stores are at 2% and fighting to get to three and you're twice as high as that. So that tells me that your products are desirable. Your price is good. Your service is good. But if we look at your sources of traffic for that same time period, and you have this abnormality where we we change your domain, used to be viby co.com. And now it's, viby chocolate.com. And we just did that in December. So you can see your number one source of traffic. That's direct to none. A lot of that is because we're doing that. And Google is still accounting for that, even though that was like 45 days ago, Google is still factoring in the old domain and the new domain.

Scott:

I actually looked up your numbers and search console and it's still using both of them. So a lot of that direct traffic is actually being redirected from BI B O. So over time, we'll be able to see the source of that. A lot of that, you know, is probably organic traffic or links to your old domain. Now your number one source of traffic below that is Google organic, then Google, you know, CPC, then email. And then it starts dropping off really quickly. The numbers of things, the point here, Dan is your Google is let's talk about your Google CPC. What's are you doing shopping ads?

Kate:

Yeah. So, but the one thing that is super weird right now, and I just dunno if I'm even gonna say this correctly is that they're requiring you to have UPCs with each item. Some of our products are not up, but,

Scott:

And, and the reason they're doing that is in, in the Google, this isn't, these aren't Google AdWord ads, they're Google shopping ads. Right? So what Google's trying to do is say, Hey, somebody is searching for a bicycle and we know the UPC for that bicycle is X, Y, Z 4 25 or whatever. And then they find everybody across the internet who's selling that same bicycle. So they're trying to aggregate, everybody's selling the same product and be able to show the different vendors of the same products and that's.

Kate:

Yeah, but you can't do that in Shopify. Like you have to go into Google and like add it or something,

Scott:

You upload your feed to them. It's it's a little bit of a process. Absolutely.

Kate:

Yeah. The other thing that's interesting is you can't advertise alcohol containing products. Correct. So like the beer brittle and our bourbon bar and Bourns and coffee, Brandy we can't do on Facebook or Google.

Scott:

Yep. Oh, my clients can do supplements. You know, they have the same problem. You can't, you know, promote supplements in a lot of places. And advertising for them is very, very difficult.

Kate:

Oh really? Really? It's for supplements too. I didn't know that.

Scott:

Well, some things are FDA regulated, some supplements are anything trying to make a health, health benefit claim will, will be a regulated thing. So, you know, vitamin C isn't, but know if you're promoting, you know, brain energy or whatever, then, then they come down on you kinda. But, but I wanna make here is youre converting really, really well. And that to means you're,

Scott:

You're not driving enough traffic, your conversion rate should be lower because you're driving so much traffic to the store. So right now you're getting like 30% of your revenue from email, which is fabulous. Or actually I think it's, it was higher than that over the holiday, which makes sense. Cuz in holiday, you're actually marketing to people who already know about you usually. But what I, what I would love to see you doing is paying for more traffic, more ads, instead of relying on just organic. I don't want your email volume to go down. I just want your new customers to go up and with your email, I don't want that to go down. I want you to keep monetizing your existing customers and reengaging them the way you are. I just want you to add more new customers. So every year it gets bigger and bigger.

Kate:

Yeah. And do you, do you have a suggestion on like what specific channel of ads like Google or so social or yeah,

Scott:

So there there's two main, there's two main ad platforms, right? Google and Facebook. And then there's a couple second tier ad platforms. Right. And, and in Google, right. You've got AdWords. You've got, and, and they've got the shopping ad. So there's more than one type of ad in Google. The same thing in Facebook, you can in Facebook, advertise on Facebook, advertise on Instagram and advertise on their network and all that. So those are the big ones. And then there's smaller ones like Bing and Pinterest and those kind of things for you. I would try Pinterest first being in the food sector. Right. And, and we know, you know, the Pinterest is more, you know, the, the happy decorating and, and that kind of stuff. It's not, it's not car mechanics showing off their latest engine kinda thing. I would think that Pinterest would be an interesting one to test out. And because there's less competition in the Pinterest space because it's not one of the big boys, Google and Facebook, you might be able to get a little more traction there to start off with. And the other ones are so big. They get really complex to understand for your business. I would try starting off of Pinterest and doing paid advertising and see what you can see, what kinda return you can get for that.

Kate:

Have you also heard of like radio digital radio?

Scott:

Is that like audio ads?

Kate:

Maybe I'm not entirely sure.

Scott:

I mean, is that ads on podcasts and that kind of stuff

Kate:

Might be,

Scott:

There's no wrong answer for me. The, the, the question for advertising and any channel, right, is I fully believe in doing things a step at a time. I wouldn't go out and attack Google ads, Facebook ads, and Bing ads and Pinterest ads. At the same time, I would focus on one, get good at it. Then move on to the next one. Now, if, if you were, you know, a fortune 500 company, you would attack all at the same time because you would hire a person for each one of those platforms and they'd be the product manager or whatever for that platform. And they'd go figure it out for you. But as a small business where you're doing most of this in-house so you, you're probably gonna wanna hire some experts. You're still gonna wanna do one at a time just to, you know, learn and grow over time.

Scott:

I would start with Pinterest to see what it does. If you get a good positive ROI, sort of, you can get out of it. And then decide once you can good at that, you keep that running and then you move on to the next platform for you? I would probably try Facebook. So what I'm, what I'm pointing out here is I think, you know, because your products are so visual, but I think just look beautiful. And that's part of the appeal. If you get photography, that's so good. I can, I can taste it. It makes my mouth water. That's gonna be way more powerful than Google AdWords, where people are searching for chocolate. You don't get to show them what your chocolate looks like as much you do in shopping ads, but not in, not in the, the AdWord ads. So I'd go to the platforms that are more, you know, visual and, and more have, you know, image like Pinterest and Facebook and see if that works for you or not. OK. But you, this, you know, as you talk about your, you know, diversifying of your businesses, one of the things you need to think about diversifying is your sources of traffic on your website, the easiest way to grow traffic to your website is to pay for

Kate:

It. Yeah. I noticed the H the Huffington post article. So we have partnered with an amazing local PR firm. Yes. Yep. Here in Maine and, oh my goodness. So I've always heard about Huff post, but I have never like been a business behind it. So we were in one of these funny Valentine's day list articles. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and we, we were like one of the team items with the lo lobster dinner, it was bananas. We, we really converted a ton of lobster dinners online and it was awesome. So Huff post <laugh> was a point of traffic.

Scott:

Yeah, that, that's awesome. Right. And in all those little, those PR ones, they're awesome, but they're usually a one time hit, right? So you were on that one Huff post article or 2022 Valentines. Now that's gone. You gotta do another one. And there are a lot of work, but when they hit, they're fantastic. Where advertising is youre more in control, where in PR you're not in control, someone else is making that editorial decision for you. We're in advertis say I'm gonna, and a lot of small business have a hard with spending money on advertis. I've actually been small business owners who are like, I don't believe in marketing, right. I build a great product and I'm like, that's why you're gonna fail, because it's all about the marketing. It's all about the customer acquisition. Any of these, you know, you think about any of the success stories you've seen in the Shopify space, whether it be all birds or gym shark, the really, really big billion dollar business now.

Scott:

And they all started as small companies. What they did is they invested in advertising. They paid for traffic because no, one's gonna get to be a billion dollar business organically. And, you know, you could say, well, Kylie Jenner did well. She's the exception. And she also had a world famous brand before she launch her cosmetic store. Don't look at the exception cause none of us are as popular as Kylie Jenner. You know, look, look at the, the really hardworking all birds and gym sharks and see what they do and how much money they spend in advertising and have to build that into your, a business model, whatever your cost of acquisition is, whether it be through PR or organic search or advertising, you know, that has to be patted into your, your cost structure already

Kate:

A absolutely. And I think that that's something we definitely learned when we're trying to pivot harder into this direct to consumer channel, which is you've gotta have the budget and the plan scoped out and then execute on it. So I think that, and you were the one who talked about marketing calendars as simple as that seems, it sometimes takes that discipline to really write down and think about it now. Well,

Scott:

I love that you used your Valentine's landing page for your Val. See, this is your, one of your recent emails that went out and you, you know, Valentine's chocolate. And I love that when you click on that, it takes you to the Valentine's landing page.

Kate:

There it's, <laugh>,

Scott:

You know, branded for that holiday and that kind of stuff. Cause we look back at your data here again at your landing pages, or these are your top pages. Let's actually look at your landing pages. What I don't wanna see is your homepage is your number one landing page, right? And what do I see? Your homepage is 32% of your landing pages. And the reason I don't wanna see that is the only people that should land on your homepage are people that search big speed chocolate into the search bar, because any traffic you send to your website, and this is really hard to do, but I say this all the time, right? Any traffic you send to your website, you should not send to your homepage because you know something about this, your homepage is meant for people who don't know anything about you. So if you know that, you know, you're doing a Valentine's campaign, you send 'em to the Valentine's landing page.

Scott:

You know, if they're interested in brittle, you send 'em to the brittle collection of the brittle content. And you can see here, you've done this really well in some of your products, like your admin calendar, which you know, was your number three landing page, right? You add a whole holiday promotion behind that same thing with your lobster dinner, right? So if you're doing some of it, all I'm saying is over time is you drive more traffic through advertising. And through that marketing calendar, this percentage to the homepage should go down mm-hmm <affirmative> OK. Cause you wanna create bespoke experiences for these bespoke marketing efforts that you're doing. So if you're targeting people in Maine for national or monthly blueberry weekend or whatever that was right, you're gonna create a, just a small little landing page around your blueberry products

Kate:

And send there, oh, Scott, we need to do that. Yeah.

Scott:

Yeah. Well, and that's why, that's why you build out a marketing calendar ahead of time so that you know, what landing pages to build, what emails to create and what ad campaigns to, to build out behind this. Because not only are you gonna talk about your, your main blueberry events on your social post, but you might throw ads up there also. So not just people who find you organically, but you're gonna let people know about those things in organically. And that's why that marketing counter becomes so helpful because you can only do so much and you gotta pick what events you're gonna go after. So by plotting out for the next year, what the events are and then saying, well, here's the five I'm going to do, or the 10 I'm going to do the, it'll be, you know, 35 things on that list. You're not gonna do 'em all, but you're gonna do the ones that you do.

Scott:

You're gonna do 'em well, you're gonna build out landing pages, figure out what the concept looks like. And then build out the stories, push it out to social, throw some ads behind it. And those marketing pages, you know, those landing pages you keep live year over year. So they show up in organic search. So if it says, you know, main blueberry weekend, right? It doesn't say main blueberry weekend, 2022, it says main blueberry weekend. So main blueberry weekend, 2023, your page is already indexed in Google and gonna be higher rank. So you don't wanna create a new page each year for the same campaign because you lose your organic search benefit from.

Kate:

So one of the questions I had for you is you changed outta stock, the word to outta season. Yes. It has been causing a bit of confusion for people where they literally think we're not gonna make something again until the next year or in the next season. We have control

Scott:

There in your store. So, you know, to explain to people what we're talking about, there is a lot of your products are seasonal, right? This is your yes, your winter collection. So we chose to instead outta stock when your winter bond bonds, when it turns March, or whenever you stop selling them, we Don keep that product live. Don't promote it, but it's in the store. So people search for it, they land on that page and it says outta season, and we have Theo back in stock form there. So people can sign up for that email. So next fall, when you open your winter collection again, they automatically get an email saying, Hey, the winter bomb bonds are back. Go ahead and order them. Yes.

Kate:

So, but my question for you is if you're dealing with supply chain complexities,

Scott:

So right now we have one status, right? It's anything that's, that's not available right now. We call out of season. We could change field or something. We'd have to figure it out. We could change it. So there's two there's outta stock and out season. Yeah,

Kate:

Because I think that's the challenge that I've been facing. Like when we couldn't get coconut, because it was on a ship somewhere, you know, unfortunately me doesn't grow coconuts <laugh> we had out of stock, this amazing main candy that's called the need. Yep. And it's a main, main potato candy with coconut and the potato theme comes back. People were like, why is it outta season? <Laugh>

Scott:

Well, like I said, we could have two, two tiers there. We have to do it with the Metfield. So a little more work on your, on your side to determine when a product was outta stock, is it a season or a outta stock, but we could, we could totally set that up.

Kate:

  1. Well that was an interesting development, but I, I know for a fact that that email works because that you set up, that you just mentioned cause like the beer brittle sold so quickly. And then I had to add back in inventory and then a whole other wave of orders came. Cause I think they were email notified. I have

Scott:

Many clients who are making back in stock works really, really well for them. And it was something back in 2019 that nobody thought about because we didn't have these global supply chain issues. And now it's become such a common phenomenon that you don't have your products because they're stuck on shift two miles off the coast of California. So I have one last question for you. Chocolate's made with the conscience. Yes. We we've talked about this before and, and it is, you know, as you said, you started it in 2011, that that's your value problem. And it's something you think about all the time, but as we talked about before, if you don't tell your story, your customer will not be able to hear it. Right. They won't be able to repeat it. But what I did is I looked at your reviews and, and it's funny cuz the first review is going to prove me wrong because I looked at your reviews last week.

Scott:

And a lot of them, they all talk about the taste and how fabulous and the quality of your chocolate exceeds all of expectations. Very few of them. And actually almost none of them talk about the ingredients, but this one does. So you know, this one's your most recent review is proven me wrong kinda thing. But what I love looking at here was your customers buy your chocolate. Not because it's made with a C conscience, but because it taste awesome. Seriously. Right? Look, look through your views. All of them talk about weight, the taste and the quality. So to me, chocolates with a is a means to an end. The reason the chocolates are made with a conscious is because that produces the highest quality taste. Mm my point being like some people buy coffee because it's ethically sourced. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I don't think they're buying your chocolate because it's made with a conscious, I think buying your chocolate because it's made with a conscious, which means it's the tasting chocolate they've ever and made with a conscious is one of the pillars underneath that. And there's other pillars like you were talking before, it's artisanal, it's handmade and all and all that good stuff. But in the end, if I was you, I would be selling the fact that this chocolate is the best chocolate you've ever had.

Kate:

Woo that's that's a big statement,

Scott:

But your customers support that. That that's my point. Right? And so what some people would say in your reviews, cause I, I read through a lot of them is they'll say, wow, it's expensive, but it's also worth it.

Kate:

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and you know, we're not the most expensive out there actually.

Scott:

Yes.

Kate:

But I wonder what they say to the most expensive one.

Scott:

<Laugh>, you know, there are some things where, you know, if you're gonna pay, nobody pays for saving the environment and you know, of course there are some people that do, right. But if we all paid for saving the environment, we all have hybrid cards by now. But we all don't a lot of people are very cost conscious. People will pay for quality. They won't pay. Like we all, you know, I don't have an apple phone, but everybody knows that apples made in China. That means that, you know, there's probably some people that aren't being treated as respectfully, as employees, as they would be in the United States. So, you know, we all mostly understand, you know, Chinese, you were policies are a little bit looser than ours are, but that doesn't stop people from buying iPhones. They're buying iPhones and paying a premium for those iPhones because they're high quality phones.

Scott:

I guess what I'm leading up to is very few people spend more money for noble causes, but your noble cause of maybe ex not a no cause right. You made with a conscience is all the end goal of the highest quality chocolate. That's why you're using raw materials or, or raw ingredients or natural ingredients and not processed ingredients. It's all for the quality of the taste. That's the, that's your ends. Everything else is a means to it. And I say that because that's what your customers say. Cool. So I would just think about in, in your, your marketing, shifting that message a little bit like, and being bold, right? Like as a small company, you could say the best chocolate in the world and get away with it. You couldn't say that as, you know, a island that you could suit for that. But you could say, you know, the best tasting chocolate you've ever had or the highest quality or taste beyond your imagination, right? You could get a little bit fun with that,

Kate:

By the way I have to confess, I was extremely nervous about the review aspect

Scott:

<Laugh> oh, nos are awesome.

Scott:

And reviews are the received this as a gift raved about its flavor and riches. So not only did they give it as a gift, right. Which is a step removed, but the recipient actually talked about it. How often do you tell somebody about a gift they gave like, ah, yeah. You're like, oh great wine is the best ever have like no nobody ever does that.

Kate:

Right. I also love the comment like too expensive. You're in Rockland, Maine, not New York city. Well Rockland, Maine's the second, most expensive city in the state Maine because we have the highest minimum wage, which is the equivalent of minimum wage in New York.

Scott:

Well, but that's the kinda things you can explain and right. Quality costs, no matter where you get it. Yeah. You know, you're, you're paying for quality here and, and the best tasting chocolates. And so, you know, you're not gonna make everybody happy, but my family loves your products. I wish they would buy them for your comments are absolutely fabulous throughout I'm addicted. <Laugh> so, and as I've told you before, right. Is, is your customers can say things about your products that you cannot like, you can't say they're the best ever, but your customers can. And if you have really high quality products, then putting those views on those product pages is gonna let the other customers see what your existing customers say about it. And using the, you know, here, here's your need S one, right? I love these candies. They just, just like a need 'em born, raised in Maine need S are my favorite. Like these are need S are my new favorite, just really good comments. And you got pages and pages of them beer. And what's amazing in the year's time you have like over 600 and some odd comments like lost. Yeah. It's amazing.

Kate:

<Laugh> oh my God, Scott. I have to tell you a little side story. I know of someone that like drafted their review for like a month before posting it. Well,

Scott:

The thing about that is the beautiful thing about that is they care so much about your product because of the value they get from it, the high quality taste that they will spend that much time thinking about their review. Yeah. And they care. They wouldn't

Kate:

Do that. Oh my gosh. Yeah. And I was very nervous about review thing. Scott was like, you gotta do it. And I was just like I dunno.

Scott:

<Laugh> so in the end, are you as happy with your review engine as I am?

Kate:

I have to confess I have not been how do I put it? I haven't looked at the reviews, been a little scared to look at them.

Scott:

Do you know if you have any negative reviews?

Kate:

Someone actually complained that she felt like her negative review didn't get posted <laugh>

Scott:

Well, we're using judge me. Right? So you're in control of your reviews and the way I normally set up judgment and I probably set it up for you is we all automatically publish all four and five stars and you have to make an editorial decision to publish a one, two or three star. Right. And I could see five, three star reviews published here and they probably talk about shipping or something like that. But you know, the nice thing about judgment reviews as opposed to Yelp is you're in control. And you're like, I, I know the story behind this when I'm not gonna publish that review.

Kate:

Yeah. I think a lot of it does have to do with shipping or something. Well,

Scott:

And there's nothing wrong with publishing those reviews sometimes if they're informative to your customers and you can, and you can respond to them say, yep. You know, we shipped to, to Phoenix in August and we thought the weather window was good. We were wrong on that. Our apologies, yada yada yada.

Kate:

Yeah. So

Scott:

As, as we're getting ready to wrap up here, we're talking about your 20, 22 plans. Any last questions or comments in there about that?

Kate:

Yeah. one of my questions for you is in terms of any new trends that you're seeing beyond like the paid advertising that you discussed to drive traffic, is there anything new or is it just more of the tried and true?

Scott:

There's always new stuff. You know, I used to work in Xbox and you know, I always saw the advantage for first movers. Like in the team I was on, we rolled out avatars and the first games that had avatars inside of their games, they got a huge boost, you know, on following that trend and, and being right there at the beginning that said, though, right, to be there right at the beginning, you're always gambling. You don't know if it's going to be the next or not. So you have to have enough resources to be able to run your business and gamble on these new initiatives for a business like you, where you're doing a lot of things. You got a lot of tried and true things like paid advertising. You're not doing yet. I'd focus on those tried and true things because we know they're going to pay off when done well, as opposed to putting all your effort behind something, some new, bright, shiny star that may pay off, but also may not pay off. So the, the, the risk reward is high for mm-hmm, <affirmative> trying new things, but you also have to be willing to lose when you do that, like who knew TikTok was gonna be TikTok or maybe the adventures of TikTok, but if you jump on the new whatever thing it might pan out, but it also might not. So I would say stick with the tried and things, you know, some people would actually consider getting, you know, Pinterest advertising new cause not a lot of people do it, even though it's been around for a while.

Kate:

Yeah. Does Pinterest convert? Well, I don't know.

Scott:

As we, everything, it's all dependent on so many variables that you need to look at the data for your business. And that's why for your business where you're selling, you know, high quality food products, which is more aligned to the Pinterest audience of people that are doing crafts and cooking and all that kind of stuff. I think there's a nice affinity there that it might can work well, but that's right. And if it doesn't convert well, then you abandon it and move on to the next platform. If it converts well, you get good at it. And then you add the next platform to it. And so that's the nice thing about testing it. If it doesn't work, feel free to abandon it, right. You've only got so many resources. You've gotta focus on which one, which places to spend your energy that have the highest return.

Kate:

Yeah. And then my other question was, do you see that video converts better

Scott:

Still? Well, by video, do you mean video ads or on the website?

Kate:

Both.

Scott:

So video ads is gonna be a, a production level up for you, right? I, you know, you're not even doing graphical ads yet. So I would focus first on creating good fo photographic ads or, you know, gifts with a couple images and that kind of stuff. First, before I moved into making ads for video, otherwise you'll end up with those and you've probably seen them where you go on YouTube and you've got that stupid machine narrated over thing, going on that a, that a lot of companies that are that really low quality, that that's not your brand, your brand is, is gonna be, you know, authentic shot footage. And that's, that's another quality borrower level up for you. I'd focus on visual assets that are, you know, photos and gifts and that kind of stuff. Before I got into video in ads, right. That said, I could totally see you doing a video series about every single one of your products. Cause you are really good on camera. And I, you know, you multiple videos and I running

Kate:

Outta room for my notes.

Scott:

<Laugh> but I could see you doing a video. If one of the things you could think about doing for the next year is saying, all right, every, you know, whatever day and I would mark it out on the calendar or every two weeks, like for my podcast, I'm gonna come out every two weeks. Cause this is one person's in business. I can't do this every week. It's too much work. Right. But set it up in your calendar once a week, once every two weeks, once a month. And what you're gonna do is record a video for your website, get a tripod, set up, figure out what the process is gonna be. And for each video, I would talk about one single product. Let me tell you about our beer brittle. Let me tell you about our needles. Let me tell you about our muffins. As we've been talking, you gave me a story about each one of those.

Kate:

Yeah. There's a local TV show that does culinary segments and because of ARA, their studio is shut down. Yep. So we, we had to film ourselves. So I think this is gonna be a good, like <laugh> baptism by my own video content creation. And I make note, I'm gonna film part of it while we're all set up for us too. So that's awesome.

Scott:

Well, you're already good in front of the camera. You're comfortable in front of a camera, which most of your competition is not. So you've already got the leg up on them on that. All you've gotta figure out now is, you know, get a, get a phone Mount for the tripod, get a ring light to go around the phone, you know? So just using your existing phone as your camera and then a couple accessories around it so that you have, you know, a better quality shoot than you're doing right now with a handheld or someone else holding it kinda thing and, you know, establish that sort of process where you stand there at, at some bench or something inside the kitchen. And you talk about your each one of your chocolates or each one of your products, but I could see for you a video about each product and you can tell the story behind it, where it came from, your explain, how it's made. Talk about the ingredients. You start doing a few of those. See if they start getting viewed or not see if it helps conversion. And if it works, keep doubling down. That's the video I would focus on. If I

Kate:

Are Scott giving me my

Scott:

Homework, it's easy to build it, to do this. The hard part is prioritizing, which ones are the most important you could, you can't do everything you talk about on this call. So you're gonna have to figure out which things you're gonna bite off for the next year. And I, I would focus on, you know, doing 'em as well as you can and make sure that they're repeatable things or things that add value for a long period, like a video for a product that's gonna last forever. But you know, a video for the once in a lifetime comment event, I'm trying to think of that. That only happens once in a elections coming right. You won't do something around a comment or something like that because it's not, you can't reuse it. Yeah.

Kate:

I got, I got a lot of notes here,

Scott:

So I'm about to let you go. Your chocolates are fabulous. Do you have a coupon code or something that people could use to try out your chocolates?

Kate:

Well, I should create one <laugh>

Scott:

Well, we're coupon code called solutions10.

Kate:

I love it.

Scott:

Excellent. I will talk to you soon.

Kate:

Thank you, Scott.

Scott:

Thank you.


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