Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes have rewritten advertising on Facebook. Merchants who are used to a high ROI must now accept modest, if not exceptional performance.
Lea Richards is not the only one. She is the founder of Pig of the month, an Ohio-based direct to-consumer barbeque seller. She explained to me that post-iOS 14 ads are not working and she is getting back to direct mail. We have had good results with up to 6 times return.
Richards founded Pig of the Month 2010 The company has grown. She has expanded the company’s product range and provides logistics services to other sellers.
Recently, she and I spoke about her journey. Below is the entire audio conversation. This transcript has been edited to improve clarity and length.
Bandholz Tell Us About Pig Of The Month.
Lea Richards – We deliver direct-to-consumer barbeque right to your door.
We started with ribs. We now offer pulled pork, brisket and corned beef. There are 50 varieties of bacon and bacon jam. We also source organic, free-range meats — strips, fillets and tenderloins.
My financial background was something I hated. I was searching for a new job. I was returning to Dayton, Ohio where I had lived for many years. It was 2010. It was 2010. I ordered ribs online from a Memphis restaurant for Father’s Day.
It arrived and everything was fine. It was not common for people to ship food online yet. It was mostly the big boys — Harry & David, Omaha Steaks and Harry & David. My father told me that he believed there was a chance here.
I had no better idea. So I agreed to give it a try.
When I started my business a decade ago, I didn’t know what I was doing. This business is not something I would consider starting. It is expensive and time-consuming.
There are many government regulations. They are constantly changing. It is a pain.
Bandholz Do your frozen containers ship?
Richards We use Styrofoam which has sustainability problems. We’re trying to avoid it. To keep the contents safe, we use dry ice.
Bandholz What is your supply chain?
Richards A giant smoker that can grill and smoke simultaneously was custom-built by Everything is done in the warehouse and shipped from the back dock.
Our meat is not kept for longer than 30 days. This is where the freezer space becomes a problem. It is expensive to operate freezers. Stock lasts about two weeks.
We are committed to sustainability, sourcing, quality, and fair trade. Everything I wanted to eat was organic, free-range, humanely raised. To see the practices of the farms from which we were purchasing, I visited them. I asked them: “Are they treating the animals well?” Are they provided with clean water, food, and enough space to move?
Quality food is more important to me than quantity.
Bandholz What’s the scale?
Richards: It’s hard. Because many farmers are not looking to expand, we have had to add farmers. We exhaust their supply. We don’t want to rely on large-scale suppliers. There are many farmers who are interested in sustainable meat production.
Bandholz How can you grow your audience?
Richards We were lucky in the beginning. I didn’t have much money. I hoped to get good press. We were able to appear on Good Morning America and RachaelRay. There was lots of press coverage right away.
I saved these email addresses. From the beginning, I believed in email marketing. This has been our primary driver. SMS is an important part of the business. We’re back to direct mail after post-iOS 14 ads stopped working
Direct mail has shown good results, with a return rate of up to 6 times. It’s used primarily for acquisition, joint venture partners, and cross-promoting to each others’ customer lists. Direct mail services are used to automate the process of sending material. These companies offer complementary products such as patio supplies, cigar and wine makers, grilling, and patio supplies. They share the same target market but are not competitors.
We have tested a postcard and a tri-fold as well as a small booklet. Segmentation is crucial. It takes trial and error, and continuous iterations. We conduct small tests, ranging from 500 to 1000 people. Once we have reached a certain rate of return on one of our tests, we don’t send large mailings.
Prices range from 35 to 65c each, depending on weight and postage.
Segmentation is primarily based on ZIP code. Sometimes we target prospects by region, as grilling season is dependent on the weather. Holidays are important to us. The four- to six weeks leading up to Christmas are important, along with Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day.
Bandholz What calls-to-action are there on these mailers?
Richards – Get free items when you buy. Free sauce bottles, bacon caramels and bacon jam have been offered with every purchase above $25. The percentage-off promotions were a total failure. These offers are constantly being offered to people. These offers often come in dollar amounts, like $20 off your first order or store credit.
BandholzHave your thoughts on helping other merchants to ship perishable goods.
Richards: Yes. We can do both, sell to our customers and assist other merchants. Shipping for other merchants happened naturally, it was quite remarkable. One customer started a bacon-of the-month club. He couldn’t make his products so he asked us if private labeling and shipping could be possible. It took off. We now ship many of their products. This has resulted in more businesses coming to our door via word-of-mouth.
Although it wasn’t something that I had in mind, there are enormous opportunities in logistics, warehouses, and shipping. People who are interested in starting a business should think about logistics.
Bandholz Where can you be found, supported, and even bought some meat?