food

Marketing Monday: Picky Bars

After looking into the Whole 30 a couple years ago, I started paying more attention to labels. They say that ignorance is bliss, and that’s definitely true for me once I started tuning in. For me, the absolute worst thing was reading the labels on granola/granola bars. “It’s pure sugar” I internally wailed while agonizing over putting it back on the shelf.

Enter Picky Bars, created by Jesse Thomas and Lauren Fleshman. Jesse is a professional Triathlete, and Lauren is a recently-retired professional runner (I’ve listened to her on a few different podcasts now and she’s my hero when it comes to running/motherhood/creativity/health). Picky Bars was born from a need for a way to fuel before/during/after workouts in a natural, not heavily processed way. Way before I started reading the labels on my food, Jesse and Lauren had already been working to create a healthy solution to their problem.

Of course, they didn’t stop at production (this would hardly be a “Marketing Monday” post if they had). Lauren and Jesse found a way to create their product and make it fun along the way.

Social Media

I started following Picky Bars on Instagram about a year ago, which is where this whole thing started for me. One thing that stood out was that they primarily featured their own employees in their content. They have scenes around the office that feature inventory, ‘a day in the office,’ and what their employees are up to (something like “so and so went on this hike today”). From the outside looking in, it seems like a fun place to go work.

pickybarsinsta

Promotions

Another fun thing I noticed on Instagram was the occasional promotions that they run. The week before Halloween, just for fun, all orders were shipped with fake vampire teeth. Sure, it’s not the most profound thing ever, but it was putting ‘out of the box’ in the box, so to speak. They also recently promoted their BFS, or Big Freakin’ Sale, where everything was 30% off. During the BFS, they also ran a Bar for Bar offer that donated a bar to a local charity for every bar purchased in that time period.

Subscription Options and Creative Marketing

While Picky Bars can be found in various retail locations, they aren’t everywhere (the nearest one to me is in Bethel, about 130 miles away). However, they have an easy online subscription system called the Picky Club, where members select the amount of bars they’d like to receive each month and their favorite flavors.

Members also get some perks, like getting a Sneak Peek bar each month and being able to give feedback, and perks not available to the public.

Plus, their call to action is pretty fun. Not to mention the actual names of their bars, from Moroccan Your World, Cookie Doughpness, and Need for Seed, to name a few. My weakness is cleverly named products, and I think this creativity is what sold me on Picky Bars.

pickybarssubscription

The Site

The Picky Bars website is more than just an ecommerce site. From the copy to the font, it reflects the values and personality of the business. You have a pretty good idea what to expect from a customer standpoint. And, that’s what websites are all about, right?

As someone who is fairly active and loves subjects in health and fitness, Picky Bars has found a way to market their already amazing products in a way that’s fun and true to the brand. And, if they ever ask me, I have a few new flavor selections to offer them.

 

 

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Tech Thursday: Online Ordering

This week, we’re looking at some different things (whether goods or services) that you can order online!

  • Local Restaurants: can place orders with substitutions and pay online, for delivery or pickup.
  • Online-Only Sale Offers (that expire in mere minutes!)
  • People to assemble Ikea furniture or pick up your groceries (via TaskRabbit or Amazon Services)
  • And more!

What is it about online ordering that’s so appealing? You’ll have to watch the video to find out!

Give us your ideas for our next Tech Thursday in the comments or shoot us an email!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Who’s Eating This?

Kassie was recently telling me about the website that seems to no longer exist called “Pick the Perp”. You pick who you think was charged with a particular crime. Here’s an example:

picktheperpscreenshot

 

Now in some cases, it seems obvious… until a little old lady is charged with being a serial killer.

Point is, we have a stereotype in our heads of who is our customer but sometimes it pays to do actual research on who our customer is.

We decided to bring back this game, if only very briefly about a much less controversial topic: food. So we went on Instagram, grabbed a photo and you guess who took it.

What: Root Beer Float

rootbeerfloat

 

whodranktherootbeer

 

Who drank the root beer float?

What: Home cooked meat, potatoes, and salad

healthyeating

whoatemeatandpotatoes

 

What: Chocolate cake

chocolatecake

 

whoatethechocolatecake

So here are the answers:

Root Beer Float: A

Meat and Potatoes: C

Chocolate Cake: A

Now besides being a silly exercise, can this teach us anything?

1) Context helps. So the meat and potatoes on a glass coffee table? That may have pointed us to the fashion blogger looking person. 🙂 Understanding the context people are in (friendships, where they live, what kind of coffee table they have) helps us understand when our customers choose us. Important to understand context because it can help us pick out future customers… or maybe even working with another company on a cross promotional opportunity if we have the same customers.

2) Look at clues… but only if they are helpful. In one of the examples above, I kept the hashtags. (To be fair, not sure how easy it is to read them.) In two of them, I kept in the handles in. You had the most information in example one (root beer float) and the least in chocolate cake. Was the one with more information easier to guess? If you thrive on information and it helps you make better choices, use it. If it paralyzes you, don’t.

3) Don’t assume. I’m betting you got one of these wrong (I would have if I hadn’t created it). We can make assumptions: that overweight woman isn’t interested in clean eating, that older man wouldn’t attend our computer class, etc. But sometimes our assumptions can keep us from truly reaching our potential with our businesses… and helping people we could be helping.

Anyway, we thought this would be a fun exercise. Can you pick out your customers from a lineup? What helps you do so? What are you assuming wrong that you want to correct?

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Sad Cheeseburger: A Few Tips on Food Photography

impossibleburgerstandardsThis is one of my favorite spoof ads.

For those who market for restaurants or food chains, the clear choice for burger “modeling” is the burger to the left. Sure, it’s had some work done (the nature of this work is the meat of this post), but it’s more likely to appeal to people’s appetites and get them in the door. On the other hand, the right-side burger is a sad cheeseburger. People won’t clamor to your tables shoving fistfuls of cash at you for a chance at that burger. In fact, they’ll probably lose their appetite (sorry, sad cheeseburger).

Food photography can be tricky, but if you market food (for a restaurant, a baking blog, your own Instagram…) it’s a priceless tool to possess. Your sandwiches do not have to be supermodels, but you don’t want them to appear sub-par (hehe) on your website or social media. I’m also going to assume that you don’t have the disposable income required for hiring a food stylist (which sounds like a pretty cool job, right?).

As this article from Huffington Post says, “optimistic restaurant owners” are often well-intentioned when it comes to food photography, but they don’t always have the skill to reach the desired outcome. Here are a few basics on food photography that will get the camera loving your food.

Lighting. This means the elements of photography like exposure, saturation, and flash. Oftentimes, doing a photo-shoot inside a restaurant is hard. The lighting is usually dim or fluorescent, neither of which are conducive to good photos. What’s a photographer to do? In this case, you can do a few things. Set up a mini photo-shoot area and adjust the lighting there (it’s easier to fiddle with a small area than the lighting of the whole restaurant). Another option is working with the lighting you currently have and editing later (the only issue here is making sure you have photo editing software available).

These guys are sad.

These guys are sad.

These guys are happy!

These guys are happy!

Personally, I know very little about optimal lighting and camera settings, but this blog post goes into greater detail about lighting (including things like depth of field and ISO).

Temperature. Hot food should look hot, cold food should look cold. A pot roast is not going to look appetizing if the gravy has congealed (ew). No one looks at a picture of a melted ice cream cone and thinks “Yes, THAT is what I want!” An interesting fact I learned while writing this post: fake ice is a real thing that people pay money for. Restaurants that offer a lot of drink specials don’t use real ice in photos, since it often melts under lighting, so they simply whip out the fake ice cubes and all is well.

This is not an ice cream I want in my life.

This is not an ice cream I want in my life. And that’s a strong statement, folks.

Background. Food stylists recommend using white plates to showcase meals. Colors and definition are more apparent. That way, the food colors don’t blend in with the plate colors and leave you with an image of a meal that looks like an unappetizing amorphous blob. If you aren’t using a faux setup for your photo shoot, always keep your background in mind.

Arrangement. Another cool fact: most of the food you see in advertisements is actually inedible. That ideal beauty burger from the beginning of this post? It might look good, but it also might kill you. In order to shape and support food, stylists will insert cardboard between layers of pancakes or sandwiches, stuff paper towel to add volume, or use aluminum foil to prop things a certain way (like in all those pictures of wavy bacon). If you are attempting to artistically stack your food, you can avoid creating a leaning tower of pancakes by using toothpicks or skewers to keep things in place.

sadcake

 

The above image is from a really awesome blog post about working with what you’ve got in terms of food photography. Sometimes, there will be a frosting fail or a crumbly cake, but there’s always a workaround.

Freshness. This is probably a no-brainer, but examine the food you’re snapping pictures of beforehand, especially if it’s produce. Don’t use brown fruits and vegetables. If a dish you’re taking a picture of has an element that will turn brown quickly (say, apples), get those pictures first. Another cool trick is spritzing produce with water or oil to create a fresh look. Freshness also ties in with temperature- if a hot meal has gone cold and gets that gross crusty or congealed look…maybe try again.
To sum it up: don’t let your food photography be a sad cheeseburger (especially if said food photography is for promotional purposes).

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Chef: The Best Movie About Social Networking I’ve Seen

I’m one of those people who enjoys learning more about my topic when I am off the job. I read social media books and magazines… and have even tried to watch “Helvetica” (a movie about the font).

I just couldn’t do “Helvetica”… it was too cerebral for me. There are enough things in my life that make me feel dumb that I didn’t make myself watch this movie.

When I agreed to watch “Chef” on Saturday night with my friend Megan and her daughter, I thought I was watching a movie about a five star chef who ends up with a food truck. I wasn’t expecting so much of it to be about social networking. Here’s what I liked about it.

Chef Takeaway 1: It didn’t treat Twitter like Facebook’s ugly stepsister.

In this movie, Twitter plays a main role, some critics say it’s a ridiculously large role but I appreciated that this movie showed how Twitter works and why it’s powerful/cool. Bonus points for seeing the tweets being typed in and then having them turn into a bird an ‘tweet’ off into the world as they were sent.

tweetsinchef

Chef Takeaway 2: It touched on a bunch of social networks. 

Sometimes movies about blogging (I’m looking at you ‘Julie and Julia’) make the main character blogger sit at their computer for hours on end, tortured by the writing process.

Here’s the thing. Some of us are writers (I say us because I am literally typing this with a big smile on my face) and some are not. In this movie, we’re not only introduced to short form writing (tweets) but also other media like Youtube and Vine.

The range of what could be possible is enough to give the movie watcher a sense of what is possible but doesn’t go into the ‘how’ enough to overwhelm people.

Chef Takeaway 3: Your kid can do your social networking…kind of.

There’s always some extremely rude person who tells me after a presentation that their kid can do what I do. (Kind of insulting since I don’t walk up to THEM and tell them a kid could do their job but that’s besides the point.)

Here’s the thing about this movie: the kid is PASSIONATE about the business. That’s why he does a good job marketing it. It’s not that he’s young and up with technology (though that helps). I’m of the mindset that if you are open to learning and passionate about what you do, your business will do well on social media with you at the helm… though if you either a) don’t want to take care of it or b) need a little technical or other assistance, that’s what people like us are for.

So if you want to watch a movie that will make you want to tweet or eat a grilled cheese (I am still thinking about the grilled cheese in that movie), I recommend ‘Chef’. You won’t think hard necessarily or feel like you are in a social media marketing workshop but it’ll get you thinking… which, let’s face it, is pretty powerful.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Ten Vegetarian Recipes I’ve Tried And Loved

veggierecipesyouwonthateI’ve had a very informal New Year’s resolution this year of trying one new recipe a week. Like everyone else, I tend to get into ruts.

If I plan on eating healthy throughout my life, I am going to need to expand my repertoire. And being healthy includes working with more vegetables. And I quite accidentally liked these ten vegetarian ones.

They are all easy, requiring less than 30 minutes of prep time (in a general way though the spinach pie should be the exception). Meatless Mondays anyone?

Stuffed Onions from Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi (Another person with a hard to spell ‘O’ last name like myself!)

Stuffed_onionsAlso this happens to be vegetarian, great if you’re going to one of those kind of potluck suppers where you are unsure of the crowd.

How to Make Fresh Pasta Dough In The Food Processor by Kitchn

Have more tomatoes than you know what to do with? Want to impress people but have it not actually work hard to do so? Have some picky eaters? This will meet all your needs.

freshpastadough

Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprout Lasagna with Yummy Mummy Kitchen

While mommy blogs usually leave me feeling left out (and like I should have lots of spare time on my hands), this recipe was so good, Derrick bragged about it to his friends and made them try it. Also you can make two and freeze one. (This is good enough to be worth the effort – might take you 45 minutes to do unless you are super efficient.)

butternutsquashlasagna

Roasted Corn and Tomato Soup from Williams Sonoma

If you are like me and have a bag of corn in the freezer all the time (or got suckered into buying 5 ears of corn for $1 and live alone), this is a great flavorful soup you can throw together when you have no idea what to make. And you can eat it a couple days in a row without wanting to hate corn forever.

roastedcornsoup

Tuscan Sweet Spinach Pie from NPR

You are kind of expecting for a recipe you hear on an NPR podcast to be a slight pain in the butt but I almost cried while making this (baking in general makes me weepy). Brought it to the almost in-laws house for Easter and I think I scared everyone. “It’s spinach pie but it’s sweet?” Yup. And as one of the most memorable things I’ve ever made I had to include it in my list.

tuscanspinachpie(Mine so did not look like that. Do yourself a favor and know there will be ‘extra’ dough and just save it for some lemon squares or something versus trying to make it all fit in there. Or buy premade crusts and shove some lemon zest into them… I might do that next time.)

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Kale Quesdillas from Cookie Monster Cooking

Good for those who like spice (though make less sweet potatoes than you think necessary because you’ll have plenty of extras). And by plenty, I mean you’ll eat them for a week and still have some left over.

Sweet-potato-black-bean-and-kale-quesadillas-web-1

Chocolate Fudge Pie from Chocolate Covered Katie

When Derrick said he was kind of ‘Meh’ on the pie, I ate the rest of it the next day. He was sad which means he really did like it. It has tofu in it, so you can feel self righteous as you eat a ton more than one serving. (Let it thicken overnight for a more pleasing consistency.)

tofu-pie_thumb

Beet Hummus via Shape

I don’t normally like to cook via infographic but this beet hummus was so good, two people at my poker game asked me for the recipe (I haven’t tried the others on here but we ate the beet hummus with toasted bread and carrot sticks.)

Southwestern Chopped Salad by The Garden Grazer

Sorry, I love black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro so this is all that is good in the world in my opinion. (Well all that is healthy good anyway.)

southwesternsalad2

 

Healthy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge by Creating Naturally

ChocolatePeanutButterFudge_thumb

 

I already blogged this but yeah, need I say more?

Anyway, in case you’re wondering what I got out of a year of cooking (on the vegetarian side anyway) this is it!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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