Episode #14

Brooks Hitzfield From Seven Sons Farm

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In this episode of Beyond the Inbox, Sam and Brooks Hitzfield, the Director of Digital Marketing at Seven Sons Farm, discuss the marketing strategies that have helped Seven Sons grow their business. Brooks shares his insights into the importance of email marketing, segmentation, and customer avatars.

One key takeaway from the conversation is the emphasis on understanding customer needs. Brooks stresses that the more an email is targeted towards a particular customer's needs, the more likely they are to open and engage with it. To achieve this, Brooks uses Drip, which allows for a high degree of segmentation. He notes that it's essential to segment customers based on where they are in their journey with the company and to make sure that people who are new to the company and going through nurture campaigns are getting the right messages.

Brooks also discusses the role of social media in their marketing efforts. While Seven Sons have a presence on social media, Brooks notes that they haven't seen much organic growth from these platforms. Instead, they use social media primarily for advertising through Facebook and Google. He emphasizes that their strongest customer base comes from word-of-mouth referrals and organic search, which has helped them maintain consistent growth rates year over year.

Customer avatars are another crucial aspect of Seven Sons' marketing strategy. Brooks explains that the Marketing team has identified four customer avatars, including people who are proactively taking control of their health, people who are reacting to a health crisis, people who care about animal welfare, and people who are environmentally focused. Brooks notes that they have optimized their content to hit each of these avatars, with the focus being on making sure that the messaging stays holistic.

In conclusion, Brooks emphasizes the importance of staying true to their brand values. He notes that Seven Sons takes the responsibility of providing high-quality products very seriously and that they take pride in the nerdy side of agriculture. He also mentions that the company has recently started working with an SEO firm to create recipe and blog content, which has helped them rank for both informational and commercial intent keywords.

Overall, the conversation highlights the power of email marketing and brand authenticity. By understanding customer needs, utilizing segmentation, and staying true to its values, Seven Sons have been able to maintain consistent growth rates and a strong customer base.

Show Notes

  • (18:28) Brooks discusses the role of Chad in their digital marketing team
  • (19:14) Brooks talks about how they segment customers and use workflows in Drip
  • (21:22) Sam asks about Seven Sons' use of social media, and Brooks discusses how they use it for advertising and brand awareness
  • (24:16) Sam asks about Seven Sons' SEO strategy, and Brooks talks about optimizing for product keywords and creating content for recipe and blog keywords
  • (26:26) Brooks discusses how word of mouth and direct traffic has been important for Seven Sons, but they are now focusing on advertising for growth
  • (29:21) Brooks talks about the different customer avatars they target and how they create content for each one
  • (33:32) Brooks emphasizes the importance of trust and responsibility in their supply chain and business practices
  • (35:17) Brooks provides links to the Seven Sons website and YouTube page

Read the transcript:

Sam (00:04): Brooks, welcome to Beyond the Inbox. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us.

Brooks (00:09): Hey, I'm super excited to be here. I actually didn't officially hear the name of the show yet, so beyond the inbox, I like it. Excited to be here and, uh, and share more.

Sam (00:18): Thank you very much for the compliment. It's always nice to know that the name resonates with people, and we're definitely going to explore a host of topics in this episode. But before we do, can you tell us a little bit about the history of Seven Sons and how it's evolved over time?

Brooks (00:37): Yeah, absolutely. Um, so trying to, let's do the two, three-minute version. So, um, kind of how it's evolved. You know, my parents are first-generation farmers, so Seven Sons is an actual, uh, farm. Um, they farm very conventionally raised confinement hogs and, uh, row crop corn and soybeans, you know, kind of that rotation. We're in the middle of, uh, northeast Indiana, so that's in the middle of the corn belt section of the country. So, you know, that's kind of what they knew. They bought the farm from an existing, uh, farm and just operated the same way, uh, eventually through a series of family health crises. Um, it got them thinking very differently about how they were going about agriculture. So my mom developed actually a pretty severe autoimmune disease, and it, it got them kind of thinking about, you know, hey, how can they use nutrition to improve her situation?

(01:24): Cuz she had doctors that were telling her she might be bedridden by the time she was 40 or so. And, um, you know, it's good that it kind of got them thinking differently cuz if you look at her today, you know, it's been a tough journey for her. But, uh, definitely none of those, um, uh, you know, futures came true for her, which is great. Um, so it got them thinking differently about nutrition, which also led them down just this path of, you know, how food is raised and how that contributes to the nutritional profile of what we put in our bodies. You know, uh, they really subscribed to what you eat. Um, and it kind of was a light bulb for them. So that had them thinking very differently about how they were contributing to the problem being in agriculture themselves. So there was a complete 180 paradigm shift for them at that time.

(02:06): Uh, dad, uh, sold the confinement hogs. He started, uh, converting the row crops into, uh, planning pasture and building fencing. Uh, and then he started raising, uh, livestock. So started raising, uh, cattle, grass-fed beef out on open pasture. Um, eventually got us into pork and poultry and a lot of other, uh, animals as well. So it was kind of really a, you know, a leap of faith for them. A really odd thing to see a farm do in the middle of the corn belt to have a, you know, you don't see a ranch and animals out in the pasture on here that happens all out west. Um, so it's a leap of faith for them. Definitely was not a business decision. Um, but, you know, we got very fortunate, so the name rings true, there are actually seven brothers. So eventually, um, you know, my parents, they had several, they had to really develop quite a few different, uh, means of income on the farm because they were just so financially strapped to make that transition.

(02:56): Anyone in agriculture who's made a transition like that knows that it's, it's financially intensive. Um, and eventually, I had a couple of other brothers who got involved on the farm as well and started to, you know, realize that there was a developing market for products like grass-fed beef and people who just were thinking in a similar way that my parents were, you know, 10 or five years ago, you are what you eat. Um, and we started retailing, um, the products that we're raising, um, at the farmer's markets through a farmer's store. Eventually started selling it online, which really kind of was great timing for us. This is probably back in 2010 or so, um, because we got online in the early days of as e-commerce was kind of making that really steep incline and growth. Um, but also the awareness for pasture-based foods and, you know, getting connected directly with your food source and your local farm. That was a growing trend as well, kind of at the same, uh, time. So those two things were kind of an inflection that really, really helped us out. So kind of just from 2010 for the last decade or so, uh, it feels like we've, uh, you know, been learning a lot and just trying to keep up with, uh, you know, the, the incredible customer base that has decided to support us, um, and know where their food comes from.

Sam (04:08): It sounds like there were multiple inflection points. I wanted to ask you how has the shift towards ethical and sustainable farming practices affected Seven Son's business model and how has the company adapted to these changes?

Brooks (04:22): Yeah, I tell you what, it's, uh, you know, as far as, you know, if you think about it in terms of the farm, so like that shift from raising hams very conventionally, you know, my dad was raising, you know, hogs, uh, in, you know, confinement in tight spaces. You kind of see, you know, I think a lot of us have watched the documentaries that, um, at this point and, you know, those are, those are tough conditions for the animals. You're having to use, you know, daily doses of, you know, antibiotics to keep the animals healthy. And, you know, for us, you know, that's, you know, especially when you grow up in agriculture, um, you know, nobody knows really anything different. So that was the way, uh, for things to go. Um, when it comes to the business model evolving through that, um, you know, as I mentioned, there's, there's a lot of financial investments that need to be made, um, to, to be able to go through that.

(05:11): Um, and it's, it's actually not super, but it's mostly tied into infrastructure and land costs. When you think about having to convert land from, uh, row crops to planning pasture and building out fencing, there are just some very steep investments to kind of make those decisions. And when the reason why I think more farms don't actually make the conversion and switch over to a more ethical style based farming practice, cuz there's a lot of benefits long term to do that, you know, um, as we're, cuz at the end of the day what we're really focused on today is, um, you know, soil health. If we're able to improve the health in our soil, that's just going to help us increase the forage yields that we get, which is, of course gonna be the, um, you know, food for the livestock and the animals. Um, and it decreases our dependency on chemical fertilizers and other inputs that we have to use, um, on the farm as well.

(06:06): So those are obviously kind of ongoing costs. So when you look at the long-term benefits of what we're doing, there's a lot of benefits that I think a lot of farms look at and wanna get towards. But making the transition is the tough part cuz it's a, you know, it's a very, you know, uh, you know, 3, 4, 5-year transition to be able to do that, um, to be able to, um, make that transition. And what you're basically doing, though, when you make the transition is your, your overhead costs have to go up, um, while at the same time your revenue and income streams kind of, you know, take a dip. Um, so to get through that transition period is just really tough, and it takes a major leap of faith. And when you look at agriculture, it is definitely, especially when you're thinking small family farms, uh, you know, it's, it's, it's a tough business to be in.

(06:53): It's a low-margin industry. Um, so it's tough to be able to make that transition. So, you know, for us, uh, that was the biggest thing is just getting through the financial investment. Um, you know, there were definitely days where my parents did not think that they'd be able to make it, and their, you know, dreams of being able to have a farm, um, you know, would not be a reality just because of the financial side of it. Um, but again, you know, we, I think we got fortunate, fortunate on timing. Um, and, uh, you know, looking back now, I'm, I'm very grateful for it. My parents are definitely a bit more, um, uh, they make, uh, decisions based on, uh, convictions where I've gotta put a pencil to things a little bit more. I'm not sure if I would've had the gumption that they had to just, you know, dive in because, at the end of the day, they weren't making a business decision. They were making a decision for, you know, the product they wanted to raise and feed their own family. And, uh, you know, and it's what they felt was the right thing to do. Um, you know, when it comes to just, at the end of the day, if you're in agriculture, you're, you know, you have a, a certain responsibility when it comes to the health of anyone who's gonna consume that product at the end of the day.

Sam (07:54): You mentioned earlier how you've built this customer base, and I wanted to ask you, can you walk us through the process of creating that customer base and how you've used retention and loyalty marketing to build and maintain that base?

Brooks (08:11): Yeah. Uh, you know, at first, uh, again, we benefited from the inflection of the internet growth that I was talking about, uh, before. So, um, a big area for us was, um, you know, SEO, and the early days was really how we, you know, uh, you know, uh, were able to find or really wasn't us finding customers. I feel like we kind of went from a transition, and it's really evolved for us over the years. Early on it was people finding us, um, you know, because we were positioned as a farm using the internet, which most farms are not doing. Um, and we're especially not doing that that time. Um, that gave us a lot of visibility, you know, and at first, you know, we used to just go to local farmer's markets. We had a little, uh, store on our farm outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and we actually had customers who were finding our website, and they were driving all the way from Chicago to load up their coolers and haul product back.

(09:00): You know, that's a three-and-a-half-hour drive. So, but that just goes to show you how, especially at that time, how hard it was to find, uh, you know, the products that we, we offered. So that was, a strong benefit for us early on. We were fortunate because one of the primary tools that we leaned on to communicate and interface with our customers as email. Um, you know, we spent time on social media here and there, but, you know, it quickly became apparent to us that, hey, when it comes to being able to reach our customers, it's much easier to get into their inbox than it is to be able to, you know, beat the algorithm to get in front of them on Facebook and, and Instagram. So we really leaned into email early on. Um, you know, probably going back to 2012, 2011, we've been absolutely religious about a weekly newsletter.

(09:45): Um, this is back, I think, you know, I think we, early on, we started out with some free tools on our e-commerce software. Then we were using MailChimp, but, you know, did not get any more sophisticated than that. We're just creating content, doing a lot with video, because at the end of the day, we knew that our customers were buying from us because they wanted to have, you know, they wanted to have confidence in where they were buying, uh, their food. They were tired of just trusting the, you know, blank piece of paper or label inside the grocery store. So they really wanted to know what we do, what goes into, you know, raising these animals, uh, the way that we do in an ethical way, in a way that's, um, you know, sustainable for the land and why that ultimately matters for them.

(10:20): So we really leaned into email paired with video. So lots of videos of, you know, just, you know, the day in the life of, of the farm and, and, you know, explaining, uh, what we do to them. So, um, those two tools were really strong for us eventually. Um, you know, you look at that period from 2012 to about 2017 or so, uh, it was just organic growth from there, you know, rents and repeat continuing to do, um, really leaning into email there with a weekly newsletter. Uh, eventually, we wanted to, uh, we had ambitions to grow faster, so we started hunting down an acquisition marketer. We were like, okay, if we can just get an acquisition market on our team, that's, you know, we'll grow through new customers. So we ended up getting connected with a, a drip certified consultant at the time, um, brought into the business, and we're just looking at doing a couple of projects, and, you know, he was the one who looked at our business, so looked at the size of the email list and the number of customers who had purchased once, you know, over the years, but never purchased again.

(11:17): And, uh, he saw a huge asset there, and he was like, guys, there's an asset here that you can unlock by just doubling down with your existing base, your existing list, and, and there's growth, there's growth hidden in there. Uh, so that was kind of a light bulb for us. So we went down this path of really leaning into our, you know, uh, the email got migrated over to Drip, uh, really went deep into building nurture campaigns and onboarding workflows with new people who are coming through our doors to build a stronger relationship. Cuz we had 10 years of awesome content sharing what we, you know, what we do, but they only got promoted once on a newsletter and then ended up just dying a blog post somewhere. So we're able to resurrect a lot of that awesome content, get it in front of customers the minute that, you know, they joined the list, um, when they were at the height of their awareness and that recency factor was really high.

(12:05): Um, went super deep at those. And then, you know, uh, we saw the benefits right away, uh, and just continued to rinse and repeat that, um, um, and get a lot more intelligent about how we were communicating with new customers who were coming through our door. Um, and existing customers as well. So, kind of one more point that I'll share there. That was a big, um, uh, k kind of just a big, uh, a growth factor for us when it came to the retention side was, uh, we took, uh, Jeff Walker's Product Launch Formula course. Um, and that guy truly knows his stuff, but, um, it's kind of funny because, you know, Jeff, obviously, you know, a lot of people following him are, are launching digital products courses and stuff. So, you know, when we took the course, we were excited, but then we got a little disappointed cuz we're like, well, how do we apply this to retail?

(12:49): We're a farm-to-fork business. Maybe this doesn't make sense, but at that time, we'd never spent $2,000 on a course. We're like, all right; we gotta at least try it. Um, and I tell you what we did. We tried, um, out the, the formula. We did a, uh, a launch event where we launched, um, um, basically a wild-caught salmon is something that we'd sold for a long time. And we did a kind of a sales event around that, and it had a ton of results. Um, we, I think we sold more salmon in a two-week period than we had the entire year prior to that. And, uh, so Jeff's system of, of the launch formula worked really, really well, and we found a lot of other new products that we could launch, um, and did a lot more sales events from there. So that was another huge tool for us when it came into, again, it was nothing with the acquisition, those were, I was just leaning into the existing customer base that we've built over the last decade and give, you know, found creative ways to give them more compelling reasons to, you know, uh, remember us and support us. Again, there's

Sam (13:45): So much to unpack here. For anyone that isn't familiar with Jeff Walker or the product launch formula, can you break down what it is and specifically how you did it for this wild salmon campaign?

Brooks (13:56): Yeah, the best way analogy of, of how I would kind of describe it, and I think Jeff does this in a lot of his material really, really well, um, is, you know, we've all watched, um, major events that we've been excited for and products that we've been excited to buy before. Like, there are certain times where you just start, you have your credit card out, you know, uh, the minute that you, you have the ability to buy a certain item, um, that you've in anticipated becoming available for a long time. So, you know, I was a big fan of, always have been a big fan of Apple. So their Apple keynote events, you know, it's really cool to see how they've been able to put those together, the amount of anticipation they've had toward those events and the newest and greatest iPhone that got launched. And you see those incredible lines at the Apple stores, you know, early on, especially with the first couple of iPhones there.

(14:42): And it's like, how do you recreate something like that? Well, I think Jeff has really, um, unpacked the secret to what they were doing, and there are many other examples of folks, you know, in the past where, you know, he really has a framework for, um, giving you the ability to create attention and awareness and effectively be able to sell, I mean, really anything, you know, again, he does a lot with when it comes to selling digital products and courses, but, um, you know, we've proven that, uh, you can apply it towards, um, a retail event. So, um, so yeah, the best way, uh, I can describe it, it's the idea of launching either a new product, an event, um, it could be for us, we've launched just a lot of, uh, promotional events where, you know, we give our customers a compelling reason to stock up on more products.

(15:31): So, you know, we, we farm vary seasonally, so, you know, uh, when it comes to raising grass-fed beef here in the northern side of the country, uh, we're doing a lot of that during the growing season, and we'll harvest a lot of animals late in the fall and in the winter. Well, you know, for us, we then have to store that product all year round to make sure it's always available when the customer wants to buy it. So what we do is we actually give our customers a really compelling reason to stock up in the winter when we are really long on product because it saves us costs and having to store the inventory longer. So we give them, um, you know, we run a sales event that basically lets them stock up on beef at the best, the best time and the best price that they will in the other time of the year.

(16:13): We run this little launch, uh, an event around that. So, you know, Jeff has a, I think, a five emails kind of series formula, and we've definitely tweaked that formula over the years to when it comes to building awareness to whatever it is that you're going to launch, um, and create, um, um, you know, that event. Um, so we've definitely tweaked it a lot, but, um, but yeah, that I think is the best analogy is to just, everyone understands how Apple has created, you know, the hype that they have around launching new products. I think nobody's done it better than them and just figured out the secret to how to do that. And he's packed it up in a course in a book, and it's, uh, it'll be, it's money well spent.

Sam (16:53): It's a fascinating story, and I remember when the product launch formula was really big many years ago, and I could never have imagined that a non-info-marketer could use it so effectively. So congrats on doing an amazing job with that. I wanted to ask you how you are putting this all together. So you have these campaigns for certain seasons, you, I assume, are still sending a weekly newsletter, and you have automations. Can you share how this is all put together?

Brooks (17:27): Yeah, um, um, and I can't go super deep into the technical details. That's, um, uh, we've got a, again, ch so Chad, um, is our, was the original Drip consultant that we got connected with years ago when we were trying to find an acquisition marketer and, uh, uh, you know, showed us the errors of our ways at that time. Um, and he's now a, um, a part of the team. Uh, I'm on staff as our director of digital marketing, so he's just done an incredible job, um, at, um, you know, he is a, um, for one, uh, you know, he's an end consumer customer of ours as well. So he's, um, been buying from Seven Sons for men New Years and has a, does a very good job at wearing that customer hat. Um, and, you know, so we're super intentional, and he's done an incredible job of having, uh, high antennas up of making sure that, uh, we're doing a good job when it comes to our segmentation and trying to make sure that, you know, every email we send to a customer is an email that, you know, we have a high degree of confidence that they actually, you know, want to receive and will open.

(18:28): Um, because, you know, again, you know better than anybody that, uh, the more that you're just blasting that entire email list, people start to get that fatigue, and we'll, we'll slowly tune you out. Um, so, uh, drip is, you know, drip is the product for us to keep it all together. You know, it has the right degree of segmentation ability to make sure that we're segmenting customers based on where they're at in the journey with us to make sure that, um, you know, people who are, um, uh, new, um, and going through our nurture campaigns, um, you know, are, um, um, um, well, I'll back this up. So kind of to tie it all, altogether, segmentation is he goes super deep into using, um, you know, tags in different, um, inside of Drip to make sure that he's pulling people into the correct workflow.

(19:14): So the minute that we do like a major launch, that's gonna be a period where we're gonna send, you know, five, seven emails to customers in a 2, 2, 3 week period or so. Um, so as you know, when we do the launch, he'll actually have, um, when we do a major launch, he'll have people opt into that. So we'll kind of basically do a sneak peek of what the sale's gonna be about. So if it's a sale that's gonna be on, let's say, you know, grass-fed lamb or wild call seafood, those are things that now all of our customers are interested in. So we'll actually have them opt into being a part of the launch that way. They're going to be the; they have to opt into getting those five to 70 miles in a two to three-week period. Cause we don't wanna do that to the entire list.

(19:56): Right. Um, and then in addition, they will get the, the, um, new Sunday newsletter. Um, and then during that campaign, um, once they've kind of joined the launch, um, we'll apply a, um, I think it's a pitching tab, but basically, it says these people are in the middle of getting pitched an offer and while they're getting pitched that offer, we're gonna press pause on any other workflow that they're in. So if they're in a nurture campaign or a long-term nurture campaign somewhere, we'll press pause on them getting any future emails there because we don't wanna distract or take away from the focus of what we want them to do, which we want them to take action and, you know, take action and, um, you know, give us money at the end of the day. Um, and, um, pretty much during, when we're doing a major launch event, uh, we're also highlighting that launch event in our newsletter.

(20:44): So the new newsletter is probably virtually the only email that it's going to hit the entire list, no matter once. So we're gonna get an evidence inbox at least once a week. But then outside of that, you know, each workflow is pretty intentional in making sure that, um, you know, we're pressing pause, uh, when we need to based on, again, we're doing a lot of different things like you mentioned with this platform. So, uh, Chad does an excellent job at making sure that, uh, we're reducing that, uh, fatigue and inbox load that could happen while we're still making sure that everyone who's interested in an offer is, is gonna be able to see that and have the opportunity to participate.

Sam (21:22): We've talked a lot about email, and I wanna ask you, what role does social media play in Seven Son's marketing efforts? You talked about having a face for the brand, and I love that. I totally agree. People want to buy from people, and they want to see where this food is coming from and so on. You mentioned video as well. Can you talk about how you're using social media today?

Brooks (21:46): Yeah, you know, um, again, it's never been anchored tools for us. Um, we definitely have a presence on there, and we finally officially, as of last year, we've hired someone part-time to help out with just content, uh, publishing. Um, cuz you know, um, you know, there's obviously work that goes into that whole, whole part of the business. Uh, something that we're able to do and that we do a lot of is, again, for most of our marketing and content efforts, it's, it's tied around making content for that, uh, for the email list and for the weekly newsletter. Um, but most of the content that we create for that, whether it's a video that's gonna go out on YouTube, um, we're able to take pieces of that and just repurpose it on social media and Instagram in those places. Um, but, you know, there hasn't been, I wouldn't attribute much of our growth to any organic work that we've done on, you know, Instagram and Facebook and, and, and those platforms.

(22:42): Um, a lot of it's come from, uh, again, we have a pretty strong web presence and SEO presence, so when it comes to organic search, we get a lot of visibility there. Um, and then, you know, uh, we have a pretty strong lead magnet and tools on the website to try to capture an email. So that's really what the focus of the website is to do its job, is to get an email list, uh, an email as soon as possible to then get them on the list where we're putting the majority of our efforts, content efforts into, uh, that weekly newsletter. Um, I would say at this point, you know, when it comes to social media, uh, we are, um, you know, starting to, we have officially kind of brought on a partner for acquisition marketing. Um, so most of our efforts when it comes to creative and utilizing the social media platforms is with, um, advertising.

(23:29): So, uh, ads through Facebook and that obviously run on Instagram, um, and doing a lot of, uh, Google merchant shopping ads on, um, uh, on Google as well. Um, so those are attributing to quite a bit of growth to us. Um, so yeah, you know, we've, uh, we've been doing this for a while, so we'll have a lot of other farms and butcher shops, and people are in the farm, the fork world turn to us too, you know, see what advice, uh, that we have when it comes to growing a customer base. Um, and quite honestly, we don't have a lot of experience of, um, getting a lot of organic growth through social media. I think it's, for us, we look at it as a good interface for people who just, you know, just don't live on email anymore. Um, it's a good interface to be able to still get in front of those customers and be able to have them see our face, hear our voice, and be able to still feel connected to the farm.

Sam (24:16): I wanna touch briefly on SEO because you just brought it up. Are you ranking for commercial intent keywords like buy salmon, or are you ranking for informational keywords where people are searching for how to plan and so on?

Brooks (24:31): A little bit of both. Um, a little bit of both. Um, historically, it's always been, uh, keywords around the products that we offer and that we sell. Um, so, um, uh, you know, the, uh, we've really optimized those, and there's about, you know, a skew selection of 350 SKUs on the store, but we put a, our early efforts, um, when it came into SEO was really optimizing, uh, those products, um, and getting those rankings up. Um, we have recently just started in the last year, uh, we brought on, uh, an SEO firm to create, um, uh, recipe content and blog content for us and optimize those. Um, and they've definitely gotten some traction. It's, you know, it's definitely an art that goes into the making sure that you get the right, um, the right traffic and the right buyer intent from those, because at the end of the day, you know, you optimize a recipe.

(25:22): Um, we're selling a very niche product. Um, you know, grass-fed beef is gonna be about double the cost of, you know, conventional beef that you could find in the local, uh, grocery store and supermarket. So it's been hard for us to, I think, fully leverage, um, content-related, especially to, uh, trying to get, uh, traffic that a historical food brand would try to do around recipes and stuff. It's been hard for us to convert that traffic just because it, we are in more of a niche industry, um, and someone who's searching just for a recipe, again, they, you know, most of those people are not gonna be interested in making sure that they, their recipe related to, you know, a chuck roast is grass-fed versus conventional. I'm paying double the price for it.

Sam (26:03): What would you say is your best channel for the ideal buyer? You're saying it's not always coming from SEO and maybe not coming from social. Is it more brand awareness at this point? A lot of people are familiar with the brand, and a lot of the best customers are coming direct.

Brooks (26:26): Yeah. Um, you know, if, if, if you asked me that, um, 12 months ago, that would've been for sure. My answer is, you know, we, the brand, there's a strong brand presence, and it's been around for a while. So once, you know, we've kind of had this customer base, word of mouth has just been great for, uh, for, um, and, um, but, um, you know, we have been leaning into, um, advertising again on Facebook and Google, um, and those, that's really starting to, to change the game for us. Um, and we've got some pretty ambitious, uh, growth goals here for this year. Historically, we've grown around and 20 to 25% range in the last seven years or so annually, uh, which has been great. Um, and that's just been this consistent thing, you know, especially when you look back, actually, I'm sure if I dug into the numbers, look back, you know, uh, the decade or more, it's been a consistent, really nice, manageable 20, 25% growth rates year over year.

(27:20): So you can attribute that kind of growth rate. I think with the type of industry that we're in to largely, uh, you know, word of mouth and having just a strong presence when it comes to organic search, um, you know, people get an intent to finally, you know, again, you people usually hit a trigger point that, you know, something happens in their life, uh, whether they've started a family and now they have kids, so they're thinking a little more intentional about making sure, you know, they're feeding them the highest quality products that they can, um, or, you know, someone ends up in a health crisis, uh, as my parents did years ago. So that's, you know, another very typical trigger point that will trigger someone to go searching for a product like this. So that position on, um, uh, you know, Google search, I think, has really helped us, uh, through there.

(28:06): And then that also really, I think anyone who's positioned well on organic search is going to benefit more from, uh, word of mouth, uh, because when you're in, you know, you're hearing a conversation from your friends, and they mentioned a brand, um, and if I go to Google them, uh, you know, the next day, uh, if that brand doesn't pop up, you know, my, my intent is pretty much, you know, it's saturated at that point, and, um, I'm not gonna do a whole lot more to you and try to follow up and try to make sure I, you know, find that brand that my friend was talking about the other day. But if you are going to be someone who easily pops up, um, I think you do benefit more from, from word of mouth. Um, so yes, um, I think, and it's, you know, again, the, the brand tells a good story too. So I think it is something, um, just we're in that type of the farm-to-fork industry, I think benefits more from conversations. People have conversations around their food, especially when they take pride in, um, you know, where they're sourcing that. Um, so there are more conversations I think we benefit from than we would if we were in a different industry.

Sam (29:04): It's fascinating what you're saying about these tipping points that lead people to start exploring grass-fed meat and so on. I wanna ask you, is this something that you're addressing in the copying the creative for these ads? So are you targeting different pain points?

Brooks (29:21): Yeah, you know, we have, uh, so there's, there are about four customer avatars that I would say. Um, we've got, um, yeah, and that's actually been a bounce. I'm trying to figure out, okay, which one do we speak to the most? Um, we actually did a campaign, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the tool, um, right message, is that Brandon did? I am, yeah, yeah, that's right. Put that together. I know they have very strong, uh, drip integration. So we did a survey, uh, with our customers, um, asking, okay, what's your, what's your number one reason for, um, buying from Seven Sons? We always knew we had people who were proactive, um, taking control of their health. So again, that's usually parents who have kids, and they're being very proactive about their health. Um, and so they wanna source from us. Then we have the reactive health people, which I just talked about, someone who's in a health crisis, and they're kind of like pushed down this path.

(30:10): But then you have people who are, you know, supporting us because of the, you know, the animal, uh, welfare aspects. Um, you know, they, you know, uh, so these are people who want to eat meat, but they just are appalled by how, you know, conventional agriculture has, uh, you know, the, the way that animals are raised and the environments that they're in. Um, and then we have the very environmental, uh, environmentally kind of focused person who sees, you know, sustainable and regenerative agriculture as a solution to, you know, some of the, the biggest problems that we're seeing, you know, with our planet and the carbon emissions, um, in today's world. So we knew those were kinda like the four kinds of trigger points. So really inspiring for why people support us. We always assume that um, the proactive, um, person who's just trying to feed the family, uh, healthy is, uh, was our number one avatar, and that's where most of our customers are coming from.

(31:00): You know, we're a very family, uh, friendly and focused business. I think with, uh, just the story, uh, leans into that well. Um, but, uh, honestly, the animal welfare, um, folks who, who are really concerned about that aspect, um, that we've identified that as our number one avatar. Um, and we've always done a good job at, you know, sharing. I think, you know, again, if you just see what we do, you can easily contrast that from, you know, animals that are raised in confinement. So it really brings true to someone who wants to see agriculture being done that way. Um, and that customer is a very low customer too, because, you know, someone who ends up on a health kick and says like, Hey, here, it's January, and I'm gonna take control of my health, and I'm going to, you know, put more investments to this.

(31:41): Uh, you know, they can fall off the wagon pretty easily, but someone who cares about how animals are raised, um, and have an intention to that, you know, that's not a conviction that easily changes over time. Um, so that customer's been a very loyal customer for us. Uh, we really appreciate those people. So a lot of our marketing, you know, it's pretty easy for a lot of the marketing to hit, you know, that kind of, those top three avatars, the very health conscious people, but then just to show holistically, you know, how if you care for the animals, well that's going to, you know, trans, uh, late into a healthier product at the end of the day. So, um, that's really, we take a lot of pride in, again, just the, the nerdy side of agriculture, of how we go about, Hey, if we care for the soil, well, that's gonna create more nutrient dense plants, which will create more, uh, you know, be, create a, a healthier animal, and then that's gonna translate to your health. So taking that story, it can kind of hit almost on each one of those avatars. So it's not as difficult for us. They're not siloed enough for us to feel like, oh, we've gotta like quickly identify which avatar, you know, each new email is, and, and speak to them very, very differently because I think the message stays pretty holistic.

Sam (32:53): It's so fascinating to reflect on how when you have a value that is so important to you, you are going to do everything you can to protect that value. So in the event of, say, a pandemic where a lot of people were curbing their spending, if you are spending your money on something that makes you feel like you're honoring a value, such as if you see yourself as someone that feeds their family well and they wanna spend this extra money on buying this grass-fed meat, that's something that you're gonna commit to. And that's really worth emphasizing, I think.

Brooks (33:32): Yeah. You know, for sure. And it's a, um, you know, and, and again, for us, it's like, um, you know, we know too that, um, uh, you know, you, you look at this, especially it's been, you know, as we continue to scale up, you know, there's, you see other people in this industry who kind of get into it for the right reasons, but eventually they run into scale problems. So they start cutting corners around supply chain and where they're sourcing product that maybe isn't quite up to what their customers, uh, you know, think it is. Um, and for us, you know, uh, we just take that responsibility super, you know, very, very seriously. Cuz at the end of the day, you know, we know that we have a business because, uh, customers have put their faith and confidence and trust into, you know, that we do what we say we do, and, um, that, uh, you know, we're going to make decisions about on the agriculture side and any of the partners that we work with, we we're making decisions on, uh, on that based on, you know, it's a product that we're gonna feed our families as well.

(34:30): So there's a huge trust aspect that goes into that. So, um, I think, um, I concurrent and agree that there's a strong loyalty that comes from that and, uh, we have a strong level of responsibility to make sure that, uh, you know, again, we, we do right by that and, uh, you know, um, uh, that we really follow through on those, those commitments. Cuz again, anyone, who comes by from us, it's just because they lost trust in Whole Foods. They lost trust in, you know, wherever it was that they were, um, buying their product in before.

Sam (35:00): Well, Brooks, this has been a fascinating conversation. I've learned so much, and I really appreciate the robustness of Seven Son's marketing strategy. So major props there. Where can our listeners go to learn more about Seven Sons?

Brooks (35:17): Yeah, I tell you what the um, uh, the website is Seven Sons, uh, dot net. Actually, we do have the.com. So both of 'em work. We finally got it after 10 years, so, uh, uh, we made it happen. So sevensons.com uh, that works fine. That'll take you to the website. Um, and you can, there's a blog on there that will take you to our YouTube page. So again, we do a lot with video, so if you're just curious to kind of see and learn more about the farm and the partners that we work with, uh, what all goes into it there, that's another great resource as well. Perfect.

Sam (35:47): Well, we'll put all those links in the show notes. And Brooks, I wanna say thank you again for taking the time to join us today, and all the best in the future with Seven Sons.

Brooks (35:56): Absolutely appreciate everything you guys are doing at Drip. Thanks a lot, Sam.