Living on the “Fringe”

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” –Charles Darwin


Sales, the life blood of companies for decade upon decade. The recipe was fairly simple.

Even when I entered the Natural Products industry over two decades ago the times were already changing in a big way.

In the 1980’s

  • Family owned brands, Fewer brands
  • The Independent Retailers were the dominant force
  • Marketing was Print, magazine, mailers and it worked
  • No existence of Internet
  • No existence of Social media Platforms
  • No Cellular technology

In the 2000’s

  • Family owned companies began to sell to Big Pharma and capital groups
  • Independent Retailers began to lose major market share to Corporate Chains and Internet retail
  • Marketing was Print however the emerging Internet was beginning to offer advertising vehicles that showed great potential. Some jumped on early and reaped great rewards.
  • Internet was in infancy stages and opening peoples ability to search, review and engage
  • Early stages of  Social media Platforms
  • Cellular technology growing

2017 and beyond

  • Family owned brands are Few, seemingly endless amount of brands
  • The retail landscape has totally changed. Amazon has become the ultimate disruptor. Other key channels are major online accounts, Specialty Chains, and the resurgence of strong Independents.
  • We are in the internet age of Google, of Amazon , and of Social media
  • Advertising has done a 180. The way you communicate with your Tribe is through engagement. The social Platforms open opportunity that was unheard of in the past.
  • Everyone walks around with what a few years back seemed fantasy- a smart phone, a actual personal computer/phone in our pocket that unlocks limitless connections.

So this is all fine and good however where does it leave us in our quest as professionals?

What has changed in how we operate from a brand perspective?

I do not claim to have all the answers, only my opinions that I base largely on experience and on the study of friends and colleagues

Lets give this a whirl,

Brands that exist must recognize that the way that they operate in the modern era of wide open communication is 100% different than how things were done in the early years of the industry. When there were few brands and most were family owned coupled with mom & pop stores it was a very personal marketplace. 

**In today’s market understanding and embracing technological advancements can potentially become not only a amazing connection tool but also the ultimate force multiplier of that engagement. 

Old way – brand communication with stores + connection of stores to community = opportunity 

Today- brand communication through robust engagement utilizing available platforms +showing up everyday= opportunity 

What do you notice that might agitate some- the Brand is the sole entity responsible for the brand. Many do not like to hear this from someone like me when they all seem to be in pursuit of every and any “hack ” they are able to conjure up. Sigh 🤔

This weekend was another business trip to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic , my 20th. Much has changed, oh so much has changed. I leave colombus inspired despite the fractured nature of business the majority of brands and executive team possess. The many fixed mindsets inspire those of us that truly are free of the Matrix and possess a Growth Mindset. 

I leave salavating at the opportunity in my crosshairs. 

Why? Because I never have been about Ubiquitous branding- keep that for the trash heaps. 

It is I exuberantly proclaim the era of the “WEIRD” the “NICHE” the “FRINGE” 

“People like US do things like THIS” 

Remember this life is in itself Transient ” lasting only for a short time, impermanent. 

With that very reality in mind – Why? Why try to be everything to everyone- not only is it exhausting, it’s a futile battle too.

Let’s start each day reminding ourselves that it is about mattering more and in the grand scheme 1>0 Always.  

This weekend I was inspired by several entrepreneurs and their vision. They are on their way and I am proud to call myself a friend to each of them. 

The first was a absolute “brother from another mother” Patrick making the most badass nut butter blends imaginable. 

Patrick’s brand, http://www.EpicSpreads.com is absolutely amazing and he is a Artist, he makes beautiful nut butters – no copacker thank you. He talks to his community and has no intentions of doing anything but show them everyday through his actions that it is always about them. Check him out and show him some love. 

Another friend was told several years back that no one would by sarcastic marketing, fun flavors and honest labels. So he told them that’s quite alright. Thus started my homie Jason and SLAP nutrition. Clean, fun, not too serious and guess what? He is another entrepreneur who “gets it” with 95% of his sales coming direct, his “friends” are absolutely some of the loyalist folks I have yet to meet. 

Check him out http://www.weslap.com with products like “slap o Lantern” preworkout- C’mon y’All!

What if I told you a beautiful story, a story of something finer , something exotic , special, something Italiano?

That is the vision that motivates my long time Italian brother Diego and his Italian dream, draped in Flourescent 

http://www.4plusnutrition.com 

Diego and the vision of #GustoItaliano 🇮🇹🇮🇹 in 2017 is a reality 

Something for those of us looking for more, not for everyone and not everywhere. Talking with Diego over Cappuccino this weekend he understands who he is and who his Amici Americano are. Look out boring bar market #Tortino is coming

The next friends I enjoyed seeing were also “non industry ” folks. Laura and Gary are food artists. Laura runs the absolutely amazing start up brand http://www.BhuFoods.com out of sunny San Diego with a diverse team of aspiring artists. What she is creating has been taking the protein food market by storm and what she handed me this weekend- game changer! The first KETO Cookie. USDA Organic, non GMO verified, gluten free, vegan, kosher and omg Delish! She is a fun loving lady that is more into doing great things for others than making products.  It was refreshing seeing her he and learning of her success in key partner Vitamin Shoppe. Much love 

Last but absolutely not least I must make a mention of the Brand of Brands at this years show and it’s honest, iconic leader. 

http://www.rich-Piana.com , ok the tattoos, the cursing, the no holds barred talk all are synonymous with the larger than life Rich Piana, and many who laughed at his booth of “outliers” in recent years are not laughing anymore. 

This Dog can HUNT. why? 5% Nutrition has some unique high quality products no doubt but what really makes it a brand that is polarizing is the man up front. 

As I chatted with a established brands executives the comment that 5%ers are like Trump supporters sparked a very well timed reply on my part ( I often am not so on point 😛)

Yes I stated – absolutely and the reason 5%ers are so loyal is exactly a page straight out of “Tribes” by Seth Godin, Rich engages, embraces and does everything so deeply for those in his “tribe” that they fight for him- and if you don’t like it go kick sand is their attitude.  It works because it’s real. Just as her analogy about Trump and his voters/ supporters is very true. If the person at the top / the brand does absolutely everything to make their supporters happy and they really care that is how a community forged in Iron is formed. 

You may hate the imagery but respect the honesty. 

Oh one last thing I noticed was a chance encounter at the 5% booth between Laura and Rich- could she be a 5%er??

The way to the shelves is no longer through a sales representative or broker. It is much more in the brands own hands and many simply do not grab that responsibility. Some things are a must such as you actually must have a story that will resonate with your Tribe, and produce something special.From there it comes down to driving consumer demand. Through the places people communicate – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, also through using all new emerging features such as Facebook live, Instagram Live

Care like your life depends on it because it does. Ciao! 

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