In this episode, we speak with Allison Ball, Founder and CEO of Food Biz Wiz, a company that helps packaged food, beverage, and grocery brands get on to supermarket shelves, manage their wholesale strategy, and increase their sales.
Allison talks about her experience as a buyer for a fast-growing grocery chain and how that taught her lessons about why brands succeed or fail in retail. She also shares some great tips on how to get in front of buyers, and the mistakes brands make when engaging with a buyer.
Today’s interview is all about getting your food or beverage brand into retail stores.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
Ken: Today’s interview is all about getting your food or beverage brand into retail stores. In this interview, I speak with Alli Ball, Founder and CEO of Food Biz Wiz a company that helps package food, beverage and grocery brands with their wholesale strategy. They help Brands get onto shelves and have high sales once they do. Alli talked about her experience as a buyer for a fast-growing grocery chain and how that taught her many valuable lessons about the brands that succeed in retail and those who don’t. We also talk about commonly held limiting beliefs. She sees the brands she works with and how to overcome them. Alli shares some awesome tips on how to best get in front of buyers. And the typical mistakes brands make when they try to engage with the buyer. Alli is engaging and passionate and definitely knows her stuff. This interview is packed with actionable tips for CPG brands. Enjoy.
Ken: All right, Alli. Hi, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for jumping on how you are doing?
Allison: Thanks for having me, Ken. I’m doing well and excited.
Ken: Yeah. Um, I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while. I think that this will be, you know, content rich and, you know, with a lot of really good stuff to share with the audience. Um, where are you calling in from?
Allison: I’m calling in from San Francisco, from my living room in San Francisco right now.
Ken: I think everybody calls in from their living room, or
Allison: I know, I know. Oh, the closet is great for podcasting.
Ken: Um, and so are you from the San Francisco area or no,
Allison: I moved here in 2007, so it feels like home now, you know, 15 years, 15 years later, I grew up in Connecticut.
Ken: Oh, cool. I love the Connecticut family that lived out there. So we’d go out there about once every two years or so.
Allison: Oh, it’s lovely. And I just had my first, I took my first flight in 18 months and I flew back to Connecticut. And when I went to my younger brother’s wedding, so I just got a little, a little taste of Connecticut in the fall and it was, it was just like,
Ken: That’s the best time of year, I think, for the Northeast. So, um, so why don’t we kick this off with a quote? Um, do you have anything that comes to mind that’s impactful to you or motivational in some way?
Allison: I actually have a quote that, so you asked me this question in advance of the podcast and I just, I knew immediately which it was going to be because I have a quote that is behind my desk.
Allison: So I look at this quote every morning and it is tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. Have you heard that quote before Ken?
Allison: So tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. And I turn to this in the morning because it helps me prioritize. What’s important and it really reminds me that there is, there’s never going to be a perfect time to do something. And it’s really easy to push things off and push things off and push things off.
Allison: And when we say, you know, I’ll do it tomorrow or I’ll do it next week, or maybe next year I’ll start that thing. We don’t prioritize our goals or prioritize what we really want to be doing. So it’s a great reminder for me to be present and to prioritize what’s important.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And especially the people, you know, closest people in your lives really easy to do,
Allison: especially when you’re an entrepreneur or a, you know, a CPG founder.
Allison: It is a busy pissy industry and easy to get overwhelmed in the day-to-day.
Ken: Yeah, well, Ellie, um, I guess why don’t you tell us just a little bit about your background? I’m curious, you know, what took you to San Francisco?
Allison: Yeah, sure. So I actually moved to San Francisco from Copenhagen and I had been living in Copenhagen for a few years, working for the university of Copenhagen and my visa was expiring and I had to figure out where to go next.
Allison: And this is when. Gosh, I was in my early twenties and my then boyfriend at the time now husband and I looked at each other and we said, where do we want to go? What would be fun? And sure enough, we decided on San Francisco and we really landed on it because we knew we wanted to be in a city, but we wanted close proximity to the outdoors and to nature.
Allison: And that idea that we could drive 20 minutes and be. You know, hiking or mountain biking or on a beach or, you know, just in the middle of nowhere. So it really ended up being a great place for us. And I didn’t, you know, I was 22, 23. I did not think that I would be in San Francisco for the rest of my life.
Allison: But, um, here we are now there’s no looking back.
Ken: Well, nice. Well, I love San Francisco and you’re right. There’s lots of outdoorsy things to do and it’s, you know, the food scene out there is awesome.
Allison: It’s just incredible. So I got involved in the food scene in San Francisco in about 2008, right when we were hitting a recession and I started working in grocery and, you know, in, in some ways I call it.
Allison: The glory days of grocery, because specialty food was just how it was. So it was trending, it was booming and people were cooking at home. You know, we were, it actually is not unlike what happened over the past 18 months where people weren’t going out to restaurants as much, they weren’t indulging.
Allison: Experiences out and about. And people were looking to recreate those special moments in their home kitchens. And so specialty food was just skyrocketing and it was a really fun time to start getting involved with grocery.
Ken: And so, was that with Bi-Rite market?
Allison: Yeah, that was with Bi-Rite and when I was hired, I was employee number 68 when I was hired.
Allison: And by the time I left, we had over 350 employees. So I just saw this massive growth at Bi-Rite when I was there. And I, I feel so grateful that I, you know, I joined that team when it really was tiny, but mighty and that. You know, it was all hands on deck and we were all working the sales floor. We were all like working the cash register as we were all getting behind the butcher counter.
Allison: Um, it was really special time at Bi-Rite..
Ken: Cool. Cool. So what did you do at Bi-Right? What was your job?
Allison: Yeah, so I was a grocery buyer, so my job was to find products first. And make sure that we had high sales once I put them on our shelves. And so I worked with a team, we had a team of grocery buyers.
Allison: They still have a team of grocery buyers. And this was back before Instagram, before lots of food blogs before, you know, all of these wonderful ways that we can do product discovery now. And so I would go to farmer’s markets and I would read it. Trade publications. And I would go underground like pop-up events and things like that to find the best of the best that wasn’t represented on our shelves yet.
Allison: And can I just, I loved that role. It was so. I didn’t know it was, so it was so special to work with these early stage food entrepreneurs and help them understand how to succeed on the shelf. Because it’s way more than having a delicious product or having unique flavors. There are so many things that go into succeeding on the shelf and it was such a.
Allison: It’s such a privilege to be able to have that impact on small business owners and know that I was able to, you know, in a small way, play a role in their business success. So I did that for many years, and then we decided to open a second location by right to visit Aero, which was about three miles across town, still in San Francisco.
Allison: And my role shifted. And I became head of grocery and retail store manager of that second location. And in that my responsibilities obviously shifted as well. And I became, I was gonna say solely focused, but that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but very focused on the P and L. So looking at.
Allison: Profit and loss of our grocery department weekend and week out and figuring out how I could, you know, change up our operations or change up our staffing or, you know, change up something to become a more sustainable and profitable grocery department. And this was the big we were doing about $7 million of sales in year one, you know, just in the grocery department alone until like really high volume in a 3000 square foot store.
Allison: And. Well, it was very educational while it was, you know, I, again, very grateful that I learned how to read, you know, financial statements. I really missed working with producers. I really missed having that impact on a small business. And so I realized, you know, after time that it was time for me to leave Bi-Rite.
Allison: It was time for me to start my own thing. And I left Bi-Rite in 2014. So about seven and a half years ago I started my consulting business to help food beverage and taxable grocery brands understand the behind the scenes of wholesale.
Ken: Okay. I understand. And so, yeah, that leads directly into the food biz, which is your current business.
Ken: Can you just tell us a little bit about it and what type of food brands do you focus on?
Allison: Yeah. Oh, that’s a great question because there are so many, um, and I work with brands. All different categories across all different supply chains. If you put it on a pack in a package and you want to sell it on retail shelves, whether those are physical shelves, brick and mortar shelves, or e-commerce shelves, we work with you.
Allison: So we work with brands inside of retail. Ready. It’s an online course that I’ve been teaching for about five years. We’ve had over a thousand brands go through our program and it helps. Brands who are already established. So you already have to be in production and it helps you understand how to speak the language of wholesale buyers, how to craft pitches that get buyers to say yes, and then how to actually sell through, sell off the shelf.
Allison: Once you get those retail accounts.
Ken: Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Um, let’s double click on that just for a little bit, like, could you give us something specific that you teach on? Um, in that course, you know, that, you know, the listener could take home and maybe apply.
Allison: Yes, absolutely. Okay. I’ve got a couple golden rules that we teach inside of retail. Ready that I’m happy to share here. So we think that one of the biggest light bulb moments that our retail ready students have is that. They think that wholesale buyers are going to say yes to carrying your product line because it’s delicious or it’s sustainably made or it’s local or female founded or whatever it is.
Allison: But none of this is true. Right. And until you realize the real reason why buyers say yes to product lines, you’ll be wasting your time. Frankly wasting the buyer’s time as well, you know, because can I see, I used to see all the time pitches that would start with a sentence, like, hi Allie, like my names, my name is Ken and I make the most delicious, ready to drink cold brew that you’ve ever had.
Allison: And Ken, if you started your pitch, like. I got to say, I would roll my eyes on the phone. I’d be rolling my eyes in the background. And I would be like, okay. Yeah. Can you and everybody else who pitched to me this week? Right? And so we need to shift our thinking away from my product being delicious. I’m more sustainable.
Allison: I’m more values oriented, whatever it is. But all those product attributes, those brand attributes, we need to shift away from that. And we need to recognize that buyers bring a new product in order to hit their category goals.So category goals can be anything from increasing margin, increasing revenue to decreasing spoilage or shrinkage or something like that.
Allison: Pretty much. They’re always tied to financial goals. Um, so your product has to help that buyer hit their category goals. And so if you craft a pitch that articulates how your product line is going to align with that buyer and help them hit their goals, that buyer is much more likely to say yes to carrying your product.
Ken: That’s interesting. Um, it should be intuitive, but I can see how, you know, as product people, we get obsessed with our product and our, you know, our position and all of that. Um, such a quick question. How do you know what the buyer’s goals are as a way to, to find that out in advance of the pitch?
Allison: It’s a great question.
Allison: And I would say yes and no, you know, I think if we recognize that. Buyers goals are always based on financial performance, you know, 99% of the time. Yes, of course there are initiatives of, um, you know, different initiatives that a buyer might be focused on. But at the end of the day, the buyer’s performance is based on financials.
Allison: We can craft a pitch that is financially focused. Right. And so we don’t have to know exactly what that buyer goal is. As long as we understand that it’s under the umbrella of financials. And so I think about this a lot. Ken, I’ll give an example here. So if I. You know, when I was a buyer, if I sat down to my annual review and my boss said to me like, Allie, frozen sales are flat.
Allison: This quarter, like for you, you didn’t hit your goals. They’re frozen sales are just flat. And I said to my boss, like, I know they’re flat, but you know, that frozen Paragi brand that I brought in just. Best, you know, best recipe it’s sourced from the founders. Great grandma. And you know, they really like it, they have this wonderful story behind their brand.
Allison: My boss would think that I was, you know, delusional. It’s not my job to bring in that wonderful brand that has that fantastic story in less, it increases sales on our shelf.
Ken: Yeah, that’s a really good example. And, um, I’m curious if that actually happened. Did you actually have this conversation with your boss about portuguese?
Allison: No, I didn’t. That was a made up example of the five, but you know it is, I’ve had many tough conversations with bosses and supervisors and different people in grocery departments and it is just so. Eye opening to, to think about or to recognize what the buyer thinks about day in and day out in their job and realize that buyers are real people who have busy jobs.
Allison: And the more we can, I don’t know, it’s almost like having empathy for the buyer. The more we can have empathy for the buyer and recognize that. Aren’t just the gatekeepers to our success. The more we can develop a personalized relationship with them and have faster, you know, faster success on the shelf.
Ken: Yeah. So you mentioned, um, so I think this is a really good tip and, um, really actionable. Um, you, you mentioned that you had a couple others, you know, of, of these commonly held beliefs. Is there another one that you could share with us?
Allison: Yeah, absolutely. So another thing that people do and it’s shifted a little bit, obviously with COVID, but one of my other golden rules is don’t drop.
Allison: And this is, you know, I’ve been saying this for years, this is not a COVID thing. This is a respect for the buyer and the buyer’s time. And so typically what happens, especially as brands are small and maybe they’re starting regionally, you know, they’re not trying to get into corporate accounts yet.
Allison: They’re really trying to hit their independence and local stores. What they’ll do is. Put all their products in like a cute little bag with some tissue paper in a business card stapled to it. And they’ll swing by those stores and attempt to meet with the buyer and handoff samples. And this doesn’t work for a couple of reasons.
Allison: Can. You know, gosh, I always say this. Imagine if you were in the middle of your Workday and someone knocked on your door and asked if they could have 10 minutes of your time. I mean, imagine if we were re you know, we’re here recording this podcast and somebody knocks on the door and is like, Hey Ken, can I have a quick meeting with you?
Allison: You wouldn’t like that either. And so swinging by unannounced. Is a great way to drive a teeny tiny wedge in between you and the buyer, right. That buyer remembers the people who just swing by unannounced. Furthermore, what typically happens here is that the buyer says no, right? Like the cashiers or the grocery soccer’s or whoever it is.
Allison: No, that the buyers don’t want to be interrupted during the Workday. And they act as little, like little bouncers and they say, no, sorry, buyer’s not here. You can’t meet with them. And they take your samples, right? Naturally. Cause you’re, you’ve got your samples prepped. And I think there’s this secret that happens in every retail store that I have worked in and every retail store that I’ve consulted with.
Allison: We all have something called the sample box, but nobody talks about it again. So the sample box is this box that typically, I mean, it’s literally like a cardboard box. That typically sets, you know, above the groceries, grocery buyers, desks, you know, underneath the grocery buyer’s desk and something like a dusty corner of backstock.
Allison: And it’s literally where the team cashiers or grocery footballers, whatever can toss samples in for the buyer to taste at a later date. And this is really important to know because when you drop off your samples with that eager cashier, one of two things is going to. Either, you know, and this is kind of like a best and worst case scenario here again.
Allison: But either that cashier looks at your product line, they’re like, oh, this looks delicious, right? Like you want, you want them to have that reaction? And they’re like, this looks delicious. It’s going to come home with me instead of ending up in that sample box or they’re like, oh, this is, I don’t know, it’s a CBD tincture.
Allison: Like we don’t sell CBD in our store. I guess I’m going to put it in the staff break room or I’m going to take it home and give it to my roommate or whatever it is, you know, making that decision for the buyer that we don’t need CBD products, not knowing that buyer might have intentions to expand that category six weeks from now.
Allison: Right. So they’re making a decision on your behalf. And then in the, you know, again, that best case scenario, they’re tossing your product in the sample box, which gets reviewed once every few months. So can you kind of, I imagine you can see where I’m going with this, that by the time that buyer sits down and goes through the sample box, the products are.
Allison: Expired crumbled separated from their cell sheets and they’re priceless, you know, whatever it is, they’re certainly not the best way that you want to present your product line. And again, it gives that less than stellar, first impression on the.
Ken: Right. So all of that I think is understandable. So what is, what’s a good, what’s a better path, right? So, you know, I want to get in front of you, you know, what’s the best
Allison: Way to do it. It’s really simple. You pick up the phone and call that’s it. I know that sounds crazy. You’re like a real alley. That’s what I do. And I’ll tell you. I like laughing here because it’s so simple. You pick up the phone, you call the store and you ask to speak to the buyer and that’s it.
Allison: You know, we have brands who come into retail ready and they’re like, Allie, I’ve been pitching for four months. I have to no avail. Like I can’t get a buyer to, to respond. And my first question is always, have you picked up the phone and. Because typically what we see as people are hesitant to pick up the phone and they email instead.
Allison: And Ken, you know, it’s so easy to ignore an email, you know, especially if you’re busy, I just, you know, delete the archive. I just don’t open it. You know, when I was a buyer, I would get hundreds of emails every week and I just didn’t have time to process or like to go through all those emails. And it’s so much harder to ignore a phone call.
Allison: So pick up the phone and call, and then you’ve got to have a perfectly crafted pitch that is, you know, it’s typically like under a minute long and it articulates what your product is going to do for that buyer. So again, how your product line is going to help that buyer hit their category goals. And then you simply ask like, you know, you simply state what you want to have.
Allison: So that could be, you know, Ken, I’d love to swing by next Wednesday at 10:00 AM and put samples in your hands. Are you available or can, I’d love to ship you samples. What’s your shipping address or Ken? I’d like to ship you a first order. Can I send you onboarding paperwork? You know, whatever, whatever feels appropriate at that step.
Allison: But, um, typically it is. Getting confirmation that you can swing by or ship, um, and get samples directly in the hands of the buyer.
Ken: Awesome. Awesome. That’s great. Um, so on your website, you say that product lines don’t sell, but brands, do you know, what do you mean by that? And you know, what can brands take from that?
Ken: You know, what’s, what’s the lesson there.
Allison: Hmm. That’s a great question. So when I say that, what I really think about is the bigger reason why consumers purchase products and consumers. And again, so we’re going to shift here from the wholesale buyers perspective, to the consumer’s perspective that end user.
Allison: And I really think about it. How products need to create an emotional response from that end consumer, there has to be a reason why the consumer will choose your brand over the dozens of other copies. Products out there. And typically it’s because your brand evokes some sort of emotional response from them and the ones that do the ones that succeed in evoking that emotional connection are the ones that have loyal fans, who have people to talk about.
Allison: Their products who shout, you know, about your products or around social media, or, you know, with their friends and family who really become mini brand ambassadors. And those are the products that increase velocity and sell faster off the shelf because there is a strong consumer base who chooses your brand over and over. Does that make sense?
Ken: Do you have an example of a brand that you think that did this really well or somebody that you’ve worked with?
Allison: Yeah. Sure. So let me give this example of Bread Seriously. So Bread Seriously was founded by a woman named Sadie Schaeffer and she started, gosh, she started.
Allison: 10 years ago, 11 years ago, and she’s here in the bay area and she makes gluten free sourdough. And I will tell you, I am, I’m not gluten free. I’m not celiac, but this is the best gluten-free bread that I have ever had. And here’s, you know, beyond taste beyond, you know, all like the cute packaging beyond the perfect loaf shape, all of those things.
Allison: Wonderful. She creates the emotional connection of giving sourdough, that sourdough experience, that sourdough taste back to people who haven’t been able to experience that because of, you know, being celiac or gluten free. And that. That emotional response that like I can, if you could see me now, I’m like closing my eyes thinking about, and thinking about like warm sourdough, particularly San Francisco sourdough, you know, we’re known for our sourdough, giving that experience back to someone who thinks that they, you know, will never be able to enjoy sourdough again because of their diagnosis.
Allison: Gosh that experience is so real. It’s so big for them. Um, and I think Sadie just did such a great job of tapping into that experience and that, that emotion, that the memory that comes with classic sourdough for her.
Ken: Yeah. And that’s actually an interesting framing, you know, for that product.
Ken: Right. And talking and focusing in on the emotion behind it, instead of just saying it’s gluten-free bread, it’s safe
Allison:Yeah, exactly. It’s safe for you to eat. Like it’s tasty, like whatever it is, it’s really like, Hey, your celiac now, like what’s missing in your life. Like. What are you feeling?
Allison: You can’t have, or that you’re limited by, or like, you know what where’s that emotional boy in your life? It sounds so dramatic when I say it, but you know, it is, you know, when people receive a diagnosis like that, it can be hard. I can feel like you’re really missing out and that your lifestyle is changing and that you really have to make some drastic shifts in your day to day.
Allison: And so to have that. A trusted brand to have a brand say to you, like actually, no, like I’m going to give you that, that gift back is really powerful.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And even just that framing, you know, taps into sort of the human tendency to you want. And what you can’t have, you can’t have bread. It’s like,
Allison: Right. The cravings come in. Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, there are plenty of wonderful gluten-free bread brands out there. Right. And I think what’s really important here is that some people choose bread seriously for that. Specific reasons for the like nostalgia for the sourdough, um, you know, aspect in particular.
Allison: And some people don’t care about that. Right? Some people are like, I don’t care. I don’t like sourdough. I don’t care about sourdough. Like I never grew up eating sourdough. Like that’s not the bread brand for me. I don’t love that. And that’s totally fine here. I think it’s really important to realize that you will never be the perfect solution for everyone.
Allison: Right. Everyone is not your target consumer here. What we want to do is really drill into who is your target consumer, who is the, like the, who is the, like a super fan and we market and speak to them, knowing that we’ve, we will attract a larger following outside of that super fan base.
Ken: So this, you know, being able to communicate this passion and, you know, kind of bake it into our brands, you know, no pun intended.
Ken: You know, so what did this do for her business? You know, like, is this something that you worked with her on or, you know, like how does that translate into business?
Allison: Yeah. How does it translate into business? Yeah. Well, there’s a few things. One, I think the important thing is realizing that once she creates that connection with her audience, They become loyalists.
Allison: They are not going to another brand. Right? Like once you can so clearly articulate what you do for your consumer. And once they realize it, right, once they buy in there, they’re going to buy your brand forever and ever. It’s really hard to change consumer behavior. And so once. Once you hook them, this sounds so business oriented, but like once you get them, once they become that loyalists, it’s really hard to lose them unless you do something out of integrity.
Allison: So I think in the early days, one of the best things that it did for her was create a really loyal following. And once she had that, she was able to use that. Traction, um, to land on wholesale shelves to understand exactly what her consumers want and then develop products that respond to the needs of the consumer that are dictated by the consumers themselves.
Allison: You know, she’s got that. You know, really easy consumer insight, you know, that consumer likes data right there, because she’s got those loyal following followers. And then as she expands, you know, and as she expands wholesale, she can use that data to make sure that she’s going into the right account.
Allison: You know where her target audience is already shopping. And not that it’s a guarantee, but she’s much more likely to sell through once she, when she, gets in the right channels, the first time.
Allison: Does that make sense?
Ken: Yeah. Yeah, it does. And I think that’s an excellent example. Um, you know, Allie, I’m looking at the time, you know, I worried about this when we started talking.
Ken: I mean, you can talk forever and, you know, particularly about this subject, I think we’re both really passionate about, you know, these brands succeeding and, you know, getting off the ground and really finding their customers and all of that. Well, let’s, you know, start to, to rap a little bit. Um, but I wanted you to just get an opportunity to tell us just a little bit about, retail ready, who it’s for, um, and kind of, how do you know that you know, that they should reach out to you?
Ken: Like, you know, what point is that? Is that a good idea for them to reach out to you and start a conversation?
Allison: Yeah, thank you for asking. So I’m, I’m just so proud of Retail Ready and really excited by it. You know, like I said, we’ve been teaching it over five years and the community and content we have in there is just.
Allison: So strong. So the way Retail Already is structured is we’ve got our curriculum. We’ve got our coaching and our community. So the curriculum is all about getting on those wholesale shelves and having high sales once you’re there. So can you know, that’s your typical. Online course where we’ve got our private student platform and videos and workbooks and checklists and templates, and basically all of the resources that you could ever need on expanding your wholesale accounts live in that course platform, we then have coaching, which is twice a month.
Allison: Live group coaching calls. Once you enroll in retail ready, you have lifetime access. Everything. And so it’s so fun to see people have taken retail ready. Now, four years ago, five years ago, we continue to show up on our coaching calls. So once a month, my colleague and I are our VP of student success.
Allison: His name’s Charlie Birkinshaw and he is actually a founder himself. He runs elements, shrub, which is a ready to drink and concentrated beverage line. So he comes in and he provides. Sounder perspective, in addition to my buyer perspective. So once a month we’ve got calls with Charlie and me, and then once a month, we bring in an industry expert to supplement our knowledge.
Allison: So for example, This month, we have a food scientist coming in to talk about product development. We’ve got a PR person, food financials, all around the supply chain and like everything that we need to craft successful food businesses. And then we’ve got our community. And that is, you know, an online community with all of our students who have taken retail ready.
Allison: And that, gosh, when I was thinking about what I’m proud about in retail ready, the community is one of the aspects that I’m just so. Flabbergasted by. It’s amazing to see these founders come in at all different stages of their business and collaborate and empathize and support each other, and just in a really magical way I can.
Allison: And so, you know, those are the three main components of it. If you could see my neon video right now, I’m making a little triangle with my hands. our curriculum, our coaching, and our community all come together to form retail. Ready. Biggest thing. The biggest thing that we want our potential students to know is that you have to be in production already in order to really take advantage of retail ready.
Allison: You know, I’m not a product developer, I’m not a food scientist. I don’t want to be a food scientist. And frankly, I’m not qualified to answer questions around product development. Um, so once you figure out what you are making and how you’re going to produce it, retail ready is the next.
Ken: Okay. Awesome. And, um, if you want to find out more information about Retail Ready?
Allison: Yeah. Great question. So we’ve got a wait list for Retail Ready. We opened enrollment throughout the year when my team and I had the capacity to take on new brands. So on my website email@example.com. You will see a tab for retail. Ready. It’ll take you to the waitlist. And if you drop your name in there, you’ll be the first to know when we opened enrollment again.
Ken: Cool. Then you also have a cheat sheet that people can
Allison: download. Yes. Thank you for mentioning that. So I love this cheat sheet. It is called 100 buyer knows. And so, you know, as we were talking today, can, I’m sure some of your listeners were like what the buyer is still going to say no to my product line.
Allison: Like you get, you gave all these tips on crafting my pitch. At the end of the day, I still get a lot of nos. And this is a cheat sheet of literally 100 reasons why a buyer might say no to your product line and all of the rebuttals that you can possibly have to start shifting those nos into yeses. So that’s right on my website as well.
Allison: Ken it’s called the 100 buyer notes. And again, just a free download there.
Ken: Okay. Awesome. Well, let’s, let’s just shift over to the quickfire round. I’ve just got four quick questions for you and then we’ll wrap this up. Great. Are you ready? Yeah. All right. What’s one tool or resource that you feel has been really helpful for you in your career?
Allison: Oh gosh. Um, video. It is. I mean, I know it’s a generic one, but going live and showing up, showing my face on social media has been a game changer for my business.
Ken: Did you have any apprehensions about that before? Oh,
Allison: no. Now, um, I go back and I look at the videos from seven years ago and I’m like, oh gosh, those were bad. And, you know I just kept showing up. I didn’t, I don’t know how I have the confidence to do it, but I just kept showing up. And, um, I’m so grateful that I did because those powerful connections that I was able to make by showing up as a real person behind the food business have been so valuable.
Ken: What is one book you can recommend to the audience?
Allison: Gosh, one bug. I would say anything by Bernay brown. I bet you get this a lot, like dare to lead is a great, great book. Um, yeah, Bernay gets my vote every time.
Ken: What is one piece of advice that you’d give to your 21 year old self?
Allison: Hmm, I would say move to San Francisco.
Allison: I, gosh, I did it. I did it right. That was such a key move for me. But if I had to, if I had to give myself advice that I didn’t take that I needed to hear back then it would probably be to eat more vegetables.
Ken: That’s a good one.
Ken: Um, it was 1% your field of work, that you would love to sit down and take to lunch.
Allison: Hm. Oh gosh, these are good questions. Ken I wasn’t prepared for these, you know, I will have lunch with Elliot Vegan any day of the week. Um, has he been on your podcast? Oh, my gosh, felon Elliott is just so smart. He is another consultant who works with brands more on the financial side of things, and he helps brands create a growth plan and has this just like such a realistic philosophy about growing food businesses and has this wonderful way of presenting.
Allison: Tough love and real talk. Um, all while making people feel empowered at the same time.
Ken: Okay. Yeah, we’ll definitely,
Allison: You should, um, you know, it’s so funny. I feel like here we are at the end of my work week and I have to admit that I’m 100% blanking on the actual name of his business. Um, because I just know him from Elliott, but I’ll pull that up for you.
Ken: Yeah. And, um, we can include it in the show notes and I’m sure we’ll be able to get him as a guest. And so.
Allison: Oh, I know what it is. It’s TIG T I G um, yeah, his consultancy is, goes by the name of. Take naturals or something like that.
Ken: Okay. Awesome. Well, you have been a great guest, for us, any parting words for CPG brands that are, you know, up and coming, trying to get into retail, you know, any parting words.
Allison: I’m going to go back to my quote from the beginning. Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week to my advice to you would be if you are listening to this and you’re thinking about the next steps and you just keep pushing it off and pushing it off, you know, I’d really ask you, like, if not now, when are you going to do it?
Allison: If not now, Go out there and do it.
Ken: Okay. Well, and you’ve already told us how to get in touch with you. Allie Ball. Is that right? Allie? Yup.
Allison: Yup. Allie ball.com. Find me on Instagram. I’m at it’s alley ball and my DMS are always open and I love following new CPG brands. So hit me up on Instagram or on my.
Ken: Okay, well, Allie, we appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time today. This has been incredibly valuable, so you didn’t disappoint.
Allison: Thanks so much, Ken.
Ken: Appreciate it. Bye-bye
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