Making coffee and wine is a craft, why not apply that same mindset to making peanut butter?
Stu thought and did exactly that. Founding ManiLife, which is commonly referred to as one of the best PBs out there.
[0:00:01] George Reid: Welcome to us, Always Day One. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned amazon consultant each week on the podcast, you're going to hear industry experts, brand owners and amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions you should be asking yourself bang your amazon business now, let's jump in. Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode off. It's always day one, a little bit rusty for me. I'm coming back after some time off. Really excited to launch a new style of podcasting series. The next eight are going to focus on grocery as a category and I'm excited to have stew Macdonald from Manny live cam chat to us stew. How are you today?
[0:00:43] Stu MacDonalds: Very well, it's a lot earlier than is over there. Uh excited
[0:00:47] George Reid: Good man's just give us a brief 22nd background as to what you are, what you've done, what my life is etc.
[0:00:56] Stu MacDonalds: So I'm a son, a husband and friend who started about six years ago. Many life basically makes and through applying the same levels of craft that were used to seeing in coffee, chocolate wine creates what we believe is the world's best tasting peanut butter. That's things like singular state, small batch production, like kind of, we sourced direct from all our suppliers. Um yeah, I need to send you something as well. If you haven't tried it,
[0:01:25] George Reid: I would, I would love you, I was actually looking at your content before your contents phenomenal, which starts off my topic nicely. Um I like how you've just re thought about that category there and I've got a good question later. What about validation, but because your contents banging? Let's start with that, to begin with, how does your team think about content creation?
[0:01:51] Stu MacDonalds: So it's interesting on the one hand, we have like delicious looking product and I think we've done a lot of that recently and that we can consider that as the man in many life on the other hand, which we did far more of back in the day and we're going to start doing more of now is the kind of life and what really drives me and drives. I think a lot of the team is kind of relationships that impact on people, so we try and get a balance of light mns style deliciousness with like people enjoying the product or people in our supply chain or the team? Uh but basically having fun and one of my kind of little projects for the next few months is get a lot more of the consumer base, our supply base, the team kind of up on up on, I guess instagram amazon because people buy from people, which is such a cliche but it's true,
[0:02:47] George Reid: it's a cliche I've not heard it for
[0:02:50] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, I'm in
[0:02:52] George Reid: London. Um so I completely resonate when you say Mns style deliciousness that they absolutely nail it there. Do you think you're, you're pushing the people element because that resonates with the audience? Or is it just because that's the company you want to run, kind of what's driving that, Is it strategy or is it just personal belief?
[0:03:16] Stu MacDonalds: I think it's absolutely just the company we want to run. Um there's an element of like it's what we did at the beginning and I think people bought into it. Um but yeah, and it's also, I think it's one of the businesses and definitely the teams like super strength and we're all pretty, I'd say pretty fantastic at building relationships and we're all driven by that makes people happy, but that's more than we, we get up in the morning, more because of impact on people and the people work with than creating great products, ironically
[0:03:56] George Reid: yeah, I completely together, I heard a phrase on a previous podcast where we were talking down amazon owned brands, you guys are pretty strong and ours and we said they lack soul as a rule of thumb, but then I look at your content and you sense more soul even though I haven't bought the product before, but you do sense that in your content.
[0:04:20] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, it's really interesting actually because if you think about amazon amazon amazon as a business and I guess the brand like they are underpinned by just like operational excellence and I've worked or come across if you like exams and people in the grocery business and like, no, it's there's kind of lots of things which are common about and one of them is like brand marketing is a waste of money, it's all performance marketing and it's all just like get get the stuff right. And it's quite funny because I mean it's been amazing for them, but you kind of get the sense that as soon as amazon stops delivering, people will jump something else. And obviously I think don't ever stop delivering, whereas I don't know, brands like apple, I guess coca cola and potato brands, but you kind of imagine that they could stop delivering for a wee while and people would still be loyal and obviously couldn't keep messing up for years and years, but there's there's almost like an emotional affinity to to off amazon brands versus amazon brands which are really like nuts and bolts. That's what I think. I'm not sure we agree.
[0:05:34] George Reid: You completely understand that having been at amazon all of their decisions are data driven, but from data driven comes a data driven brand with all of their personal brands. Whereas yours obviously you talk about your offset was focused on where people people and we like to push that forwards and you can see that from some of your content as well. Like sure, we've got a brilliant product over here, we're very confident in that, but we're also speaking to the fact that we just want people to have a happy life and people connect with that and I think that's where you can achieve more sustainable success and if you don't deliver, you know, if you, for whatever reason faced supply shortages, for instance with the last two years, which I'm sure you may or may not have had people are more forgiving, right? And that allows you to retain those customers. Would that be correct? Is that what you've seen?
[0:06:24] Stu MacDonalds: Absolutely. And it's funny you're saying that just kind of picking up a few other things. Um, I didn't start money like because like a product dream, I started my life because I met the family that runs the estate resource peanuts from and I love them. I met our roastery and love the guy that runs it. And like we were started off of for the first year, we basically run by volunteers and they're all people who are either friends in the first place or people I've met through, I don't know, like shows and stuff and we all kind of grouped together. Um, and yeah, there's, I mean again, a big cliche, but there's a lot of love in the brand uh, in all directions.
[0:07:02] George Reid: Yeah, that certainly comes through with the content and I guess are you trying to pull that back to your roots now? So I see a lot of great storefronts where they focus on that really rich, engaging videos And I remember seeing you remember Dwayne johnson or the rock brought out that tequila brand. Yeah, he did this cleaner brand and he brought out a video during the build up to it. I don't know if you saw it, but it was a kind of hype video, but they go to the local farmers and they filled them and it's just a beautifully done video. Obviously you've got the budget. He's got, I guess that's kind of the direction you're going because it was Argentina to begin with, wasn't it?
[0:07:40] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, exactly. And we've now launched a rich cocoa product that has like cocoa comes from this amazing collected in Tanzania. Um yeah, I mean completely, it's funny because like there's, there's a keep using a cliche, there's a lot of cliche in like going back to sort of making these amazing videos, but I think you can kind of tell whether it's authentic or not and I'm sure the rocks is authentic. Seems like a great guy be out during lockdown product and we plan to get back to farm. Obviously lockdown could happen. So it's been two years since my original flight. I do plan on going there fairly soon.
[0:08:19] George Reid: It's on the list and with that being said on the content piece, before we go into community, which I think would be a great shot. How do you think about content across different channels? Obviously your website's got its certain Viber, then your storefront on amazon your content and amazon mimics out to a degree. Do you look to have that common theme or
[0:08:41] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, we definitely look to whether we've executed on that well is another question, I think with everything. Um, and we kind of struggled this much with everything. I feel like you have to have a kind of hook to get people to look under the hood because because there's kind of so much juice in the manner of brand, when we tried to communicated all at once, it's just like people don't really engage or very few people do, but it's almost like if you can show them a really interesting door to use that metaphor, uh they're more likely to look inside and find out everything else. So I guess like website is where the richest is, but even on where amazon it's like, okay, we're looking for this stuff that's going to make them dig a bit deeper.
[0:09:34] George Reid: I think that's, that's coming now. So at this stage of recording were november 2021 amazon are pushing those storefronts so hard, right? And it's becoming a bigger, bigger play for them. You're your websites beautiful and that you can really sense that message with everything you're doing there. Um so I think you're certainly the right trajectory by completely get that hook and I think it will will obviously come in time.
[0:09:58] Stu MacDonalds: Thanks George. I just think I just about done like friends, that's fine. If you want to know you
[0:10:02] George Reid: would we include everything on this podcast, but I'm not one for editing. Um so let's shift over to the community element, like I'm a massive believer in building communities, particularly in the suitable space, take me through your mindset around that.
[0:10:20] Stu MacDonalds: Um so I guess the simple answer is like if you are human and like as human as possible, then the community kind of comes naturally. You see a lot of brands that try and build communities through like special offers and discounts and all that and like learning. That's complete bullshit. I think community comes from like individual interactions and then those kind of flowing through. So we've got, we were kind of rules uh where we never center all and if we do, we're very clear that it's the center all nothing can always be more than like a Hey, really good to hear from you. Like I'm basically like emails that address you like an individual, but they're so clearly a center like 10,000 50,000 people. Um so we can try and have make every interaction meaningful and whenever there's a problem, like I pick up the phone and speak to them, um that's a delivery problem. And yeah, I think it's like individual relationships cascade out long answer for a very short.
[0:11:41] George Reid: I completely get that. I got those small interactions you have with someone on instagram dM where it's a human on the other end and it goes for 10 minutes instead of an efficient one. Right?
[0:11:54] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, exactly. Like we don't do also applies really and if they do, it's just to buy time to give a proper apply the woman who runs up, it's Graham, Like she, I think she applies to everyone. It's Yeah, it's like, I mean it's hard work, but at the same time, because I think we naturally enjoy those kind of things. It's it's not as hard as it can be.
[0:12:16] George Reid: And how do you deem that a success? Is this, is it just something you feel, you know, in your gut that it's working or is there any sort of number when you go? This is where we're at.
[0:12:29] Stu MacDonalds: So there's something that we look at and again, it's like by almost making a data point in like devalues the whole thing. But we look at some called Net promoter school,
[0:12:38] George Reid: which is,
[0:12:39] Stu MacDonalds: it's like the central people recommend you and a lot of that product based. But I think there's also like an emotional face to that. Um one of the things which we're looking to do, and we had again at the start, but smaller numbers is create like an inner circle. So whether that's 100 or 1000 people that um like we treat very especially and that's beyond like first dibs on products or special discounts. It's like, I think the vision is and events parties like behind the scenes content of a business,
[0:13:16] George Reid: you find
[0:13:17] Stu MacDonalds: quality idea eventually quality out of eventually bringing a few people back to the back to the farm.
[0:13:23] George Reid: Yes, that's a great idea. And how do you see that? So let's say you've got 100 in this inner circle now, do you see that having good impact on the business and like is there any, how do you attribute that sort of thing?
[0:13:40] Stu MacDonalds: I mean, Absolutely. And I think people kind of forget that like we were kind of fall into this trap. People forget that like a really valuable interaction with the consumer is actually worth then. Plus all then all their friends, all their friends, that consumer product. So how we've grown almost from the start, they get less so now. But I'm going to go back to, it's like we worked, we basically have meaningful interacts with 100 people and we knew that they would tell 100 their friends and it was almost like word of mouth backed by powerful relationships, but an incredible product. So I think, yeah, 100 court. If we made a circle 100 people, I think that would generate potentially thousands of new consumers if they haven't told me already.
[0:14:32] George Reid: Of course. And then mentioning that. So those 100 obviously you can guarantee for that customer attention, what else are you you folks doing to encourage that lifetime value? The customers are coming back. Is there anything in particular that you're doing that you think has worked quite nicely for you?
[0:14:51] Stu MacDonalds: Um, so, again, like vision is pretty better than what's been executed, but it's, I guess it's all in the details. So it's like how the delivers a package, making sure we're very fortunate to have like, just an incredible product. So a lot of their attention just, just comes from making sure that consistent, make sure it's good. Um going forward. I think it'll be more around kind of, not necessarily personalization, but like handwritten notes in, in packages like sentinels, but like come on, not the ones that treat you like an individual, that kind of a, I guess a bit of humor. Um Yeah, just kind of treating people well. It's yeah, it's interesting like I think a lot of brands relationships where consumers are quite transactional and I don't think transactional relationships, they get loyalty.
[0:15:56] George Reid: Yeah. Hey folks, it's George here. I'd like you to check out my new site georges dot blog. It's where you can find all of my famous weekly emails as well as how we can work together to repeat. That's George's dot blog. Now, let's carry on with the episode. I mean the way I look at it is any opportunity you've mentioned that how the delivery is packaged and the opportunity to invoke an emotion is an opportunity that you've got to grasp because those are marginal gains, which compound in my opinion, so you can reserve a little bit of space inside that consumers or the customer's mind. So next time there is an offer on pip and nut, Let's say they're going, I don't care. I'm not price conscious, I'm happy to pay an extra two quids going many life, even though for me, the taste may be the same, I just want to buy from them because the packaging was lovely. The note that something was lovely, The christmas box was lovely. The instagram conversation was lovely and it just compounds around.
[0:17:04] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, I had a thought was lost. Uh, it was, it was another really, really great opportunity is when people complain, I reckon, I don't have not ever known this, but I think the people who've complained to us, uh, probably some of the most loyal customers ever because when we get a complaint, we like, we really engage, we call them up. We have a chat about what's gone wrong, We explain what it is. We are obviously replace everything. And yeah, they always end with like God, this is actually really great, but you can call me. Um, so yeah, I think complaints are big opportunity.
[0:17:47] George Reid: I completely completely agree still on amazon as well. You know, looking at all of those complaints are looking to kind of address them individually. Um, thinking about that community. Still obviously going back to the inner circle piece, I saw you obviously released your, it's not chocolate spread. I remember you said it was cocoa rich cocoa. How is it? You're very specific with it, which was cute. How do you go about utilizing that audience to validate new ideas.
[0:18:22] Stu MacDonalds: So again, not nearly as well as we would like to, but I guess it's just so vision is involving them in the mediation, involving them in the, in the trial. Um again, it's funny, I mean british Coco was saying we want to slaughter that kind of coincidentally all our consumer base appears wanted us to launch it too, but I do. So I'm not sure how much I buy into the like launch what your consumers tell you they want. I think there's, there's definitely a role for and just yeah, yeah. I kind of and it's like, again, like so many cliches around, you got the Henry ford or whatever, but one of the best product we've ever launched and it's the first one is in the world, but we, we were the first brand in the world to create a dark graced peanut butter. So we call it depressed and there's no way that essentially it's like just below burned peanut butter. How we made it was we actually burnt peanut butter. Uh and there's no way that if we'd asked like the peanut butter world before that product that they don't be like, yeah, I really want like a kind of like almost burnt peanut butter, but it's for, for three or four years, it was the only peanut butter brand in history to be awarded three bed two stars like wins everything in terms of taste potentials. And it was just yeah, like internally built as opposed to externally
[0:19:56] George Reid: love that, which does turn everything that I would have thought about validation of asking asking, asking completely on its head and go, sometimes you can stumble and they'll just love it.
[0:20:08] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah. Yeah. And I think with the validation of stuff, you can kind of get lost a little bit lost in the, in the data and I'm not sure whether it probably delays maybe outsources big decisions. Mhm
[0:20:26] George Reid: Yeah.
[0:20:27] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely scope for a bit of that day. For sure.
[0:20:32] George Reid: Okay, let's pivot across cause I don't want to keep you forever today. I'm appreciate you're a busy man thinking about traffic. How important is it for you right now to drive traffic from multiple channels, particularly given obviously facebook's a bit of a ship show right now. Is that something that you're conscious amount?
[0:20:51] Stu MacDonalds: I mean, yeah, really important how, how we do it is another another matter, but we're still, we're still like a pretty tiny brand and I think Only five, but we've got our penetration, the UK is 5%. I don't know what penetration of Germany is, but I can still be less than that. So there's a lot of white space that and yeah, is driven by driving traffic. Yes. Uh, it's funny for the last few months. I think we've, we've kind of been chasing traffic and chasing sales, which is absolutely what one needs to do. But again, really important that marries up with, but the more emotionally that like brand content. So yeah, No one really likes. I don't believe anyone really likes brands that kept them with adverts regardless of how good the advertisers. So you've got to be careful.
[0:21:50] George Reid: And I think if your product is winning three great Taste awards year after year and consistently invoking such an emotion with your audience, you don't need to necessarily obsessed with those different traffic channels. But then if we talk about amazon briefly, what's your mind towards amazon because traffics there, right?
[0:22:12] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah. And it's also quite a transactional platform. So yeah, the key for us is finding people who haven't tried us and bring them to the brand. We've got like, I think ludicrously high, illiteracy, high percentage of the people that by making our returning customers coming back and just search many life and that's great. But what we can do is like we want, we want as many people to be by many of searching peanut butter, I don't care about the debates peanut butter. Um and yeah, through that we know that our attention is pretty high is that will kind of, I guess exponentially grow the brand on amazon. Mhm.
[0:23:01] George Reid: Yeah. And obviously amazon is giving you great data around that now to make well informed decisions. Last question you go, you can make a big point,
[0:23:11] Stu MacDonalds: you know, so because you obviously an expert amazon is, is the primary way to drive new customers to, I guess your amazon shop, whatever is it paid ads or are there other? Hey dad like it ranking or are there other means
[0:23:35] George Reid: ultimately there are, there are two different forms are there that's paid an organic, there's so much you can do from the organic piece by having phenomenal content largely your main image to attract that click in the first place, looking at your, your keywords and you're listening to help with that S E O. Side of things as well as the structure and keywords in your title to help encourage those clicks, all of those things will contribute towards organic piece as well, content in your reviews as well. So good reviews which mentioned keywords are going to contribute towards it. That's all great. But ultimately to get that organic flywheel spinning traffic needs to come from somewhere and that's where the paid ads comes in on amazon is if you're driving traffic from amazon paid ads on amazon allows you to appear um, at the top of search where a lot of conversions happen for primary, secondary long tail terms, So prime, it would be peanut butter for you second. If we might be roasted peanut butter for instance and then long term might be roasted peanut butter for caramel shortbread, for argument's sake. So what your objective then is to do is to create a compounding effect where you start getting sails. So clicks conversions and sales clicks is when they click on conversion, when they have to ask it sales is when they fall on converted by getting that data for a keyword. So you become more relevant to it to do that. We push the ads to get those clicks conversion cells but what a lot of brands for short on its, they don't utilize other channels like social advertising, email list, facebook group To send free traffic on the 23 pieces email and social group to amazon, which amazon loves, they go, I'm gonna set like sacrifice march and if I do that, which yes you are going to do but your views and amazon to go up, relevance goes up, your organic ranking goes up and this flywheel kicks in which in turn positions you much more strongly from an organic rank position and put your position in six months time where you go, our objective is to be number one on amazon for these top three terms and that's where you can utilize those communities of yours to help your amazon fly will spin and also sending social traffic back to amazon rather than just your website because as you acquire new customers more mid top funnel that are wherever you necessarily, amazon is a great place to create that first conversion because the conversion rates higher. So Deep response to answered about three minutes, which is probably a 20 minute answer. But does that make sense?
[0:26:23] Stu MacDonalds: I ironically that's probably the most useful thing that's been said most podcast. So thanks very much.
[0:26:30] George Reid: You're another host make this is it mr stew Macdonald hosting. Yeah, I've got one final question for you. We can have a separate chat about any amazon bits you've got to ask me in the future, but one is around pricing. And what strategies are you thinking about particularly on amazon? Where is a big driver when it comes to pricing?
[0:26:55] Stu MacDonalds: So Mhm. It's interesting. We we command a premium and I think thus far it's weak amount of proven for many reasons. Someone's cost ones better product, two reasons. Uh and thus far that premium appears to be being paid by many, many people. There may come a big decision sometime in the future where to kind of reach the scale we desire. Um there's a kind of sacrificing margin piece to get to those people that just simply aren't willing or unable to purchase at that kind of level. Um There's we don't necessarily go, Hi Les, but because we're really good product promotions tend to really work for us because you kind of go for people that think they can spend, let's say ВЈ8 of peanut butter and then once they try they realize that they're willing and able to spend 10 pounds of jumping myself. One thing that which is super obvious that we are doing for every reason didn't latch onto is that like 10 lb Commission Cliff. So I don't actually know this. And then I found out we obviously changed, but below 10 quid everyone know this is this is your blow. 10 quid. amazon Commissioners a percent. I'm not sure that's still true. But above it was 15. So there's this huge kind of gulf of line at 10 to ВЈ12 where you're not actually making any more Contribution ship to the business. So we found that out were we dropped from 12 to 10
[0:28:42] George Reid: and saw and saw then that order rate go up significantly, which I guess on amazon you're looking, you know, your attention is good, right? So even if you're spending too quickly adds to acquire that ВЈ10 sale and that arose a bit of your profit. If you're really confident on that back end, like you said, a massive percentage are repeat. It allows you to be a little bit more aggressive on the front end and go, we don't mind something ВЈ3 to acquire that customer because we're really good at keeping the
[0:29:12] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, and that's very true. And that water going forward. We, it's funny you're talking about content and listing and like using community or families and that's basically been all ourselves today. We spend About 1% of our sales on Amazon advertising. And I've heard that Many brands spend upwards of 10, 15. Um So but yeah, I would happily spend two quid to attract customers.
[0:29:42] George Reid: Mhm. Certainly another discussion. We probably could have that, But we've been 29 minutes of your lovely mornings shoe and you've got a lot going on in your life at the moment. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to you and one final thing actually because I saw this in one of your videos that you had done and you had a video of people trying your product for the first time and the immediate reaction to it was written on their face straight away, which I thought was beautiful. And it really made me think about capturing first impressions of a grocery product on camera is perhaps like the best lifestyle picture will ever need.
[0:30:21] Stu MacDonalds: Like that does the job. It's
[0:30:23] George Reid: so
[0:30:24] Stu MacDonalds: as well. Yeah,
[0:30:26] George Reid: yeah, but it's like a baby smiling like it's so natural.
[0:30:30] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, so I completely agree that, I mean I'm not sure it's really saw, but one of it is we made and we lived off it for ages was from when we basically launched the brand, we got these guys that understand it from what we're doing. And then as we, they went on, we realized that what I think film arts, film film consumers and some of the reactions we got uh just
[0:30:55] George Reid: great on the website. So good. I think it must have been, it seemed a bit, you're like a market stall or something like that and there was so natural and that's what you want that on the website. So that's all you need.
[0:31:08] Stu MacDonalds: Yeah, I agree
[0:31:10] George Reid: stew. Thank you so much for the time. I hope you've enjoyed the rest of your morning and look forward to speaking soon paul George, that was great. I really
[0:31:19] Stu MacDonalds: enjoyed it.
[0:31:20] George Reid: To his buddy. Hey guys, just a quick one. If you are enjoying the podcast, I either have some actionable next steps or new ideas I'd really appreciate if you could one subscribe to the show and leave this review. These are really, really important to us, as you probably know, being in the amazon world and two. If you're looking for additional support with your brand, head over to the website, it's always day one dot co dot UK where we've got links to other resources as often our guys speak soon.