I started my marketing career with Dewar’s whisky. Dewar’s is fairly unknown in its Scottish home but is the number one selling whisky blend in the USA.
The brand started in 1846 and within 50 years was the market leader, largely down to Tommy Dewar who was an incredibly colourful character, to put it mildly. This blog is not a suitable place to record all of his personal indiscretions.
He constantly caused outrage in the business world, was involved in regular publicity stunts (such as sending a case of Dewar’s to the President of the United States during prohibition) and adopted new technology including the first ever cinema advert for any product.
Over a century later Martin Dickie and James Watt at BrewDog have a very similar style with #DontMakeUsDoThis and their punk beer.
Of course nowadays Dewar’s advertising is very far from punk. As it should be, a nearly 200 year old business which is the biggest blended whisky brand in the biggest market in the world should not be behaving like BrewDog.
But for those of us starting out, it’s good to remember that today’s corporate brands with their multimillion dollar campaigns and everything focus grouped to death, began in a very different way.
When we bought back Diet Chef from Piper Private Equity (who are a great investor!) in 2015 we did this to leverage the massive investment we had made in systems and infrastructure (see Andrew’s post on this).
It took us a little longer to move Diet Chef into a couple of adjacent categories and optimise our marketing but we are very pleased with the 2017 financial results which have exceeded our expectations and generated around £1m of EBITDA.
Our growth strategy wasn’t simply focused on generating cash from Diet Chef but more to invest this cash flow in adjacent categories that our infrastructure can serve.
In 2017 we invested and launched Parsley Box (www.parsleybox.com) a reimagined elderly nutrition brand that is growing very strongly against a stagnant revenue comparison of our two larger competitors.
We have achieved this by letting the management team focus almost 100% of their time on customer recruitment and building the team. Move Fresh has provided the logistics and supply chain to allow the scaling of the marketing at a rate most startups would fail to keep operational efficiency at.
So as we get into 2018 we plan to invest in other adjacent areas and to reach the consumer in different channels, one of the reasons we appointed Henrik Pade to our board of directors.
We will both look at doing this organically and through acquisitions if we can find the right ones. Let us know if you think you can help us on this journey, either as an experienced startup founder or if your company would be interested in joining our journey – its going to be fun!
We spend a lot of money every day on customer recruitment and marketing.
Sometimes I pinch myself and look at the marketing investment we are making and look at the amount we spend – then I think about mistakes we made over the year (quite a lot!).
Cost per thousand (CPT) is the single best way to evaluate the media investment. How much will it cost me to reach 1,000 consumers – something that we forget about.
So get an accurate number of the audience (readership, viewers, impressions) and then look at how much this costs. Don’t be fooled by online and offline – who cares – I want or reach an audience – how much?
We offer everyone that joins marketing this simple training and test:
Compare the following (real numbers!):
An exhibition visited by 1,000 people at £500 + 20% VAT
A TV advert reaching 10,000 people for £2.50 Cost per Thousand.
£10 CPM + VAT for a magazine with 20,000 readers.
30,000 PD inserts at £40 per thousand.
£1200 for online advertising at £6 CPM.
Calculate which would be the best and show workings.
Which would be the worst?
Answers on a postcard (it costs around 30p for a postcard delivered at volume) so what’s the CPT?
It is 10 years this month since we started Diet Chef with £100 of equity investment and some contacts in the food industry.
We have done quite a lot over the last 10 years and also spoken to a large number of other food tech businesses.
The history of why two guys from the technology industry got into food is a very interesting one (worth chatting over a beer about) but the seismic shift of the UK grocery retail landscape was pretty obvious to us 10 years ago.
UK shopping habits in grocery have changed dramatically in that period. We have moved away from “multiple” large box retailers (Tesco and Sainsbury’s) into buying from discounters (Aldi & Lidl) and convenience stores (Sainsbury’s local & Tesco Metro).
This is partly driven by convenience – a large number of smaller stores have popped up in every town in the UK. We therefore don’t tend to do a “weekly shop” (if we do it tends to come by Tesco.com) and pick some items up locally and more often.
Diet Chef was born pretty much out of this phenomenon – it just happened in diet earlier. We used to buy specialist diet products in store, but multiple retailers couldn’t stock over 100 items in 300-400 stores they could stock 5-10 perhaps.
Consumers have therefore used online to fill this gap, and in speciality grocery it’s a great place to do it.
There are lots of great successes over the last 10 years in FMCG direct to consumer but they all tend to be in own brand speciality grocery – definitely where we are focusing.
We launched our latest brand Parsley Box around 8 weeks ago. In this age of digital media and engagement we have seen a lack of digital channels that work for this demographic but have rejoiced in moving back into traditional media (print, direct mail, catalogues!).
Today most digital media talks about response rate, click through rate and conversion rate – all skills that have been prevalent in traditional direct response for many years before it was taken over by digital.
Having recruited more than 1,000 customers in this short period we are using old mechanics like the catalogue to engage in the same way that we use email in many of our other brands.
The majority of our orders are taken on the telephone and we are hearing great stories from our customers that we plan to use in future media.
Finally, TV is going to play a part – and next week we plan to shoot our first TV ad for Parsley Box.
While recipe box companies pile into competitive areas hankering after the aloof millennial we are sticky to the knitting and using direct marketing techniques to broaden our customer base.
Stay tuned for our latest advert once it’s complete in the next few weeks
There are an enormous number of marketing job adverts that say the prospective employee should have a “digital first” outlook.
This is something we disagree with quite strongly. The approach should be “cost per customer acquired first” which may well result in the choice of a digital channel but that is a completely different thing from starting with a prejudiced view that the digital channel will work best.
Nowadays the main digital advertising channels are based on Generalised Second Price auctions. In an ordinary auction (called an English auction) a product will be sold to the highest bidder at the price they bid. In a GSP auction, the first place will go to the highest bidder who will pay the price of the second bidder and so on. (Bids are adjusted by Google based on Click Thru Rates as of course the highest bidder may not receive clicks and will therefore not have to pay for their bid.)
The good news is that the GSP is sightly less prone to the Winner’s Curse than the English Auction (as we need more than one bidder to get their bid wrong). But it is still the case that the number of participants in the auction will tend to increase the price per customer acquired.
At Move Fresh we have found that many of the PPC auctions have now increased so much in cost that we are much better buying more conventional media (such as inserts).
The point is that we are not a digital first marketing company: we are an acquisition first company. We are completely agnostic on media. We think “digital first” is as dangerous as suggesting that a company should focus purely on traditional marketing.
I am very pleased to be spending much of my time now teaching copywriting and marketing to our very talented team.
How does one write copy for Google Adwords or for the other e-commerce channels we use?
Looking back over the course I’ve been teaching I’ve realised that the vast majority of it has been quotes from William Shakespeare, followed by William Blake.
There have been questions about why e-commerce marketing which started in 1995 has been almost entirely covered in my course by Shakespeare (1564) and Blake (1757). Am I not at least more than two centuries out of date?
The answer of course is that human beings haven’t changed that much. And indeed some of the course has even gone back to the Ancient Greek Rhetoric.
If you understand anaphora, anthimeria, archaism, assonance, asyndeton, brachylogy, chiasmus, diacope, epanalepsis, epimone, epistrophe, hyperbaton, hyperbole, irony, malapropism, metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia, paradox, paralepsis, polysyndeton, simile, syllepsis, synecdoche, tautology and zeugma as well as Shakespeare and Blake then you are well on your way to writing a great Google AdWord advert even if you are 200 hundred years after the masters.
One of our advisors has five things he believes a brand has got to get right in order to succeed:
Show expertise – In the old days the only space available to show expertise was on the label which was limited to put it mildly. But customers now expect content (on web, apps and in print) that shows that a brand knows what it’s talking about.
Personalisation – The day of the mass market brand has gone. Consumers now expect something unique for them such as Tails, Moonpig or Diet Chef with our unique recommendations and 360,000 combinations available for the diet.
Trust – This is particularly important in food where the industry has generally got quite a bad reputation. Innocent would be a great example of a brand who have worked for deep levels of trust. Trust is of course earned over years but can be lost overnight.
Care – This is quite a deep one covering production of the product, impact on the environment and the community and of course care of the customer.
Innovation – It would be fair to say that the food industry has not got innovation deep in its DNA. Even heritage brands needs to innovate while preserving their provenance.