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Jeremy Weisz 3:28

Or their age range products, Laurel like, I mean, I see like, okay, and we’re gonna walk through some examples. But are there any strange products that stick out? I mean, you had a Famous Amos, which cookies, great. That’s, that’s great. And I’m a sucker for a sample, I’ll take the sample and I, I will buy the stuff after I if I like it. Right, I’ll buy it. So but other than the strange ones that have approached you, like, Do you have a market for this type of product? Are they all kind of just different degrees of CPG products?

Laurel Rundle 3:58

Yeah, I mean, they’re, they’re, they’re all different. And I think that’s why I love what we do, because it can be talking about deodorant and teenagers or razors, and then incontinence, or kitty litter. So, you know, we work across brands across categories across target audiences. And I think that’s what what makes it interesting. But when you say weird I did this was so long ago, but we’ve done a lot with kitty litter over the years. And early in my career, we had a litter product that wanted to do a sniff test. So we were sending out vials and it was just a bad idea that I mean even think about the efficiencies of shipping and the waste and everything involved. So that was probably like the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.

Jeremy Weisz 4:46

What were you sending out you said via

Laurel Rundle 4:48

these little vials of kitty litter and one was with their litter and one was without? And it was a smell test. And I mean that’s important right to have a litter where your home does smell, but I just don’t think this is the right way to go about it. So we try to, you know, we really try to work with the brands and kind of coach them. You know, we’re not a branding agency, but we’ll get involved a little bit to the extent of what’s going to resonate with that person that’s going to be distributing it. So we really like to think about what are the needs of the business? So if we’re talking about a sampling program that might go through medical offices, well, their primary goal is to enhance their patient experience. So where can you come at it, where it’s not all about the brand, but it’s more about the category, the need state, the value, even the value to the office, maybe it’s, you know, streamlining visits, where you can kind of address key points that relate to that category. So we try to help in that sense, we also try to help with the different elements. So aside from a sample and that promotional experience, what else might be helpful? Do you want to do a little media display or is it isn’t important to do collateral or QR code, to drive to purchase. But the goal really is to get in our world is really to get that efficient trial. So getting as many samples as possible into the hands of consumers as efficiently as possible.

Jeremy Weisz 6:18

I want to talk about different venues that you place people placing products in but But you said something before you hit record about that kind of struck me, which is you said how many brand impressions does what it takes for someone to try something you know, I think about if I maybe saw four ads online, then maybe went to the website, and then maybe a friend told me about it? And I still haven’t tried it at that point? I don’t know. So what have you found? What is the actual brand impressions that takes I don’t know if it takes 10 or 15 times? And then compare that to what you’re doing?

Laurel Rundle 6:53

Yeah, I mean, it’s just even in our daily lives, if you’re looking for, you know, what restaurant you’re going to go to tonight, you might search online, but a friend says, you know, I went to this great place, well, you’re probably gonna go there. So the same, you know, with with a brand, it’s getting that recommendation. So we have that context, because we work with people that are natural influencers in these consumer lives. But also, it’s, it’s just if you have a brand that is a taste proposition, is you know, efficacy, if let’s say it’s a skincare product, you need to try it. And you know, especially in some of these more competitive categories, where that’s really critical. There’s nothing like getting it into the mouth, the hands of consumers. So I mean, obviously, you want everything in your marketing mix. But this, this piece of it for a lot of brands, you can’t live without it. And I think, you know, during the pandemic, some brands had to live without it, and they suffered. So we’re really busy right now, you know, brands are really, you know, they need they need to get their, their product into the hands of consumers. More than ever,

Jeremy Weisz 7:58

I want to talk about how you work with it. Because there’s two things here you’ve do, you’re working with the influencers, you’re also working with the brands, and obviously those the end consumer, but walk me through a little bit about the expecting moms program and how that works. Yeah,

Laurel Rundle 8:15

we reached expecting a new moms a couple of ways, we can go through more traditional OB GYN practices, and network that we really love our childbirth educators, so doulas and midwives, and we have a network across the United States in Canada, and we will present brands to them that they would then share with their clients essentially. So this is an important network, because if it’s something that they’re not going to recommend, we’re not even going to going to go there, they’re obviously more in the natural space. So we have a process of working with them. We have, you know, a team of miracle workers that sometimes I don’t know how they do it, but they are out there working with, you know, the businesses in a b2b level, talking about the specific opportunities for samples, what we’re asking them to do, which is usually to present as a free gift during natural, you know, intersections in their business, and they would agree to accept it and then we ship the products to them. So that is essentially the the process and it sounds a lot easier than it is. You know, we work with a lot of agencies, we work with brands directly and sometimes agencies try this on their own and they’re like how old logistics there’s a lot of logistics but also it’s just I think it’s how to position the brand and how to reach busy people that run businesses and get them to accept these types of programs you kind of have to come at it in the right way.

Jeremy Weisz 9:46

So from an expected mom let’s let’s talk about the infant’s or for a second so and that it may be a doula maybe a OB GYN. I mean, these people are obviously going to these appointments already the best purchase I’ve made in my life. One of them Is my is the doula our daughter was born in my in my minivan and the doula actually delivered the baby in the minivan in front of the hospital. So thank God she was actually in the car with us as we were going to the hospital because if I had to deliver that, I mean, I obviously don’t know what I’m doing in that respect. So you know, so we have the influencer side and I want to break this down a little bit. So you will approach them and like if there’s an influencer right now, they’re listening. Okay, because I have several introductions for you based on in the natural health in this. There’s ultrasound clinics, there’s doulas, there’s OB Joanne’s what, well, how does that conversation work? What are they asking you?

Laurel Rundle 10:42

They are asking us. I mean, really what we’re asked about the brand. And we usually are proactive, obviously, in providing details. So a brand that we’ve worked with in this particular space is Lolita, Lolita baby care products are an amazing natural brand. So this, this is a brand that is typically known, but if not, they’ll do some research. So they might have some questions around that and the products that they might be sharing with their, with their patients or clients. And then just other key things around the logistics and timing. In this particular network, they have obviously they’re they’re meeting with the moms, it’s a more intimate relationship. So the way I’m looking at it, this versus like a no B nine, you can get a lot more scaled, probably a bit more efficient from a cost standpoint. But the engagement and that interaction was so strong, as you know, I mean, you trusted this person to deliver your child and minivan. So whatever this person is going to recommend is probably a brand that they are going to at least put in their top consideration set.

Jeremy Weisz 11:54

I mean, you have some requirements to I imagine, do you have to say, you know, you have to present in this bag, or what do you want them doing on their end? Let’s say they go great. Laurel, this sounds great. The product was good. What do you want me to do?

Laurel Rundle 12:09

Yeah, I mean, we expect them to deliver it. We ask them to provide feedback. We often ask for photos from different activations. And we usually get a pretty strong response, because they’ve already agreed and they know us. So we really just we asked them to deliver it and tell us about it. Is there a minimum to get that feedback?

Jeremy Weisz 12:30

Is there a minimum of samples that you like, we need you to do 100 or 1000 amount or no? How does that work?

Laurel Rundle 12:38

Yeah, I mean, it really varies. And the way I answer that, I mean, we’re always happy to help out, you know, smaller emerging brands, and they may not have a large budget, like the Procter and Gamble’s Gamble’s of the world. So we’ll do whatever we can, I think, to get any sort of read on how something went 100 locations, and then depends on really what we’re sampling and how many we might deliver through each location. And we’ve done things smaller than that. It just, it just depends. And then we’ve done obviously, things in the 1000s and 1000s of locations that result in millions of samples.

Jeremy Weisz 13:13

Talk about the feedback loop in a second. So you approach you have these great brands, and I know you mentioned the baby care brand. And I’d love for you to mention there were a few others that you were talking about in this space, but they come in they get it and then the feedback loop. How does it work for the brand to get feedback? Is there tracking? Or it you said there’s pictures? What does the feedback look like?

Laurel Rundle 13:35

Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of different things that we do as far as feedback is data points. I mean, the first thing is really, how many samples? Are we giving out? How many potential impressions of that product in their message? Are we giving out? How many consumers are we reaching? How many influencers are we reaching? So for example, we recently worked with core power, which is a fair life or coke brand. And it was a product to reach consumers, active consumers in fitness studios, but the key for them is to really go through the trainers. So this was kind of a tiered promotion, where we go through our contacts, we expect them to work with their trainers, and it was kind of shared out in more of like a kit format. And then the feedback comes back from the actual context that we work with, which would be more on the influence or professional side. And then we get consumer feedback that really has to be attached to that sample or experience. So you know, these days now that QR codes are back and we have more familiarity and ease of use. We recommend that if a brand can include that on the sample somehow around the packaging of the sample that will help you know actually drive responses. Otherwise, we rely on our locations, our venues to share those that those links out to get surveys. And then we compile everything we often do like fun photo contests. Which sounds silly, but the real and we’ll give out a couple $100, maybe first, second, third prizes. And we get, I mean, this is actually what we it’s very fun to see the photos that come back. I’m thinking of a dove campaign we did recently. And I mean, there are people that had like, bubble machines, and were in bubble baths, you know, holding the soap. And it was just, we had some, some fun things back, they kind of get into it. So that really helps drive feedback. I mean, we want to make them happy and build some excitement around it. But we’re really trying to get as much of a response back as possible. And there are other things like, if there’s an offer tied to this, we can look at the metrics behind that. So redemption rates, I don’t think this is that’s definitely like a key way to analyze the success because people use coupons and offers at a different rate. College students probably aren’t going to go that that route. But if they try a product, and they like it, they’re probably going to buy it. So and then all of these surveys have kind of the basic metrics that you would imagine things about, were you aware of this product do you intend to purchase? On the influencer? Side? Would you recommend this? For things of that nature? Sometimes getting into the attributes of the brand wants to know, like, what did you like best about this product?

Jeremy Weisz 16:23

Or I mean, you’re a true expert here. So let’s say someone comes a blank slate, like, we want you to help add value, you know, we’re designing the packaging of the trial, we want you to help us map out what this will look like. Because I’m sure people come up here it is, like, it’s already done. But you mentioned a few really key things here is one, you can have an offer. And is that offer on the packaging? And what have you found to be a good offer, you said there could be a QR code, which also could relate to an offer. And then you have incentivizing them to do take an action with, you know, whether it’s a photo or something like that. And you have a contest, which works. So from the offer perspective, what is worked as far as offer goes? Or what should people be thinking about for an offer?

Laurel Rundle 17:12

Yeah, I mean, that really goes back to the brand, looking at the other tactics that they’ve done, and where they’ve seen success. We think that, that this does require a rich offer. So maybe something that they just couldn’t go online to get. So but it really, if I give examples, it doesn’t really matter, because it would really vary. It’s not like a certain percentage or dollar off. It’s all related to, you know, what’s the price point of that? Where’s, where is it available? The nature of, of, you know, the audience, the target audience. So that really varies. But where I thought you’re going with that question, which is also really important. If we can work with a brand, on the ground level, I think just the efficiencies around how a sample is designed is really important. And how a sample which we don’t really get into the manufacturing of samples, it’s just more about the efficiency and packing the forms of the sample, you know, is it in a tube or a packet? It’s obviously going to cost the brand more for to, you might get a little bit more out of it. But is it really worth the cost? Probably not, the efficiencies around a skincare product and the packet is is, you know, 10 times, so of what a tooth might be even packing. So we really, and kind of the behind the scenes of our business we look at, you know, how efficiently can we pack and design this? Can we reuse some existing materials? You know, what are we purchasing? When it gets into fulfillment? You know, that’s obviously labor. So anytime that the brain can do some of that work for us, and we can save the money for about, you know, everyone’s better off.

Jeremy Weisz 18:51

And so from that, are they shipping the products to you? Or do they typically work and shipped directly to all these people?

Laurel Rundle 18:59

They ship the products to us. So we make it really easy. It goes to one central warehouse, we work with several, but depending on where the activation is happening, and we do everything from there, they provide us with the samples, we do all the kidding, or fulfillment of the samples, we print all the extra materials that might be required. We fulfill them into the packages and we ship them. That’s insane. Laurel, I know,

Jeremy Weisz 19:26

I know, you say 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s millions of these

Laurel Rundle 19:34

samples. Yes. And we work with really great partners. So you know, we’re not the ones that are actually looking at it. But we work with several partners that are excellent at this and some are better in one area than others. So it depends on you know, again, what we’re packing. We actually like lately have gotten into some situations where brands just need to move out pallets. This is kind of new for us, but that’s something where You may go direct or you may store the pallets for them. And we might work with some of our our larger locations like schools and hospitals or even YMCAs that can that can take this in. So we can usually provide a solution for a brand,

Jeremy Weisz 20:14

like a three PL company to then realize, yeah. So from the influencer part, I got that from the expecting mom program. So let’s talk about from the brand perspective, you mentioned the baby care, and talk about a few other brands that would be applicable to that and how you know what they were looking to do.

Laurel Rundle 20:35

In the baby area, yeah, yeah. So some of the brands that we work with in this space is Traditional Medicinals for their mother’s milk tea. Environment is a really great natural haircare product, there really hasn’t been anything in the marketplace like this, or mainstream. So that’s a really great product, and they’ve worked with us or we’ve worked with them for several years. A client that we worked with last year was the national cattlemen Beef Association. This is the Beef Checkoff and no samples. And our goal was to educate pediatricians and moms on the importance of beef as a first food. So this was new for them. You know, it was a very non traditional approach to really engage with, you know, the key people that really influenced young families and what they’re going to feed their children. And so this was all education. White Papers were the physicians, information for the practices, displays that would go in waiting area, information for moms that they could take home. So it was it was a really, it was a great campaign, and we worked nationally with them. And then we also worked more or less on the individual state level. So states could opt into this program and choose the number of offices they wanted to partner with, to distribute their materials. And we handled all the design, the copy in that we wrote everything, printed, everything fulfilled, everything provided research.

Jeremy Weisz 22:06

Wow. So it was focused more on medical professionals. Yes, yes. And then, um, there’s a Bob’s Red Mill.

Laurel Rundle 22:18

What did you do with them? Yeah. So Bob’s retinal has been a client for several years. And the last campaign that we did for them was more specific to a need state. And this was their granola targeted towards celiac patients. So we actually worked with gastro practices, which we’ve worked with in the past, but with activity, yogurt and several other brands. And it was really to introduce their product as a gluten free snack breakfast. No. Solution. Yeah. Yeah. And they’re just such a wonderful company to work with. They’ve just got, you know, fantastic brands. So this was definitely this was also a really nice sample, you’re getting a nice, you know, one serving size of granola and four different flavors. So we worked with our network of Castro’s we provided them with samples, and we also did some education in the waiting area. And these little booklets for moms that had an offer. Did the

Jeremy Weisz 23:24

practitioners love this? Because they get to give free samples to their

Laurel Rundle 23:27

patients? Yeah, they do, but they don’t act like it. So physicians offices are a little trickier. And, you know, some of them do have no sample policies. And I think, you know, I’ve been doing this for a long time, but over the years, they’ve, it’s more and more difficult to actually get to them and work with them. We do it, it’s not easy. But we make it happen.

Jeremy Weisz 23:50

I’m surprised, I would think, you know, it’s like a value add for a patient. If you know, the person checks out the company, and they believe in it, then they give them like a bunch of samples that they can leave with that they can consume. So I would think it’d be a win win situation. So I’m a little bit surprised to think it’s just hard to get to them because there’s so many gatekeepers.

Laurel Rundle 24:10

Um, it’s, it’s there. So in a lot of our locations, we can email with them very easily. They opt into our networks, they know us doctors offices, we don’t have that ease of communication. So it ends up being a lot of phone calls, sometimes we’ll do direct mail to reach them. So it’s just a bit of a different process going into it. But in the end, we don’t get a lot of nose, you know, once we do actually get to that key contact, and they do embrace these programs. And we, you know, they tell other peers, you know, we get signups all the time we can tell them we’re doing a campaign because we start to get a lot of silence from offices that you know, heard about it and they want to be included in future programs. Um,

Jeremy Weisz 24:55

I’d love to hear I don’t know if this is applicable to Bob’s Red Mill. Kind of on those things of offers QR incentives, they do anything like that, for for this program,

Laurel Rundle 25:06

they actually did a coupon. So this was a printed piece that was in the physician’s office.

Jeremy Weisz 25:14

And then you also you have food truck network.

Laurel Rundle 25:19

We do. Yeah, this has been a really great network for us. So we’ve worked with famous amis, delivering their little cookie samples through our operators through truck operators across the country. We recently did a campaign for brownie brittle, in similar locations. And then we are also now working with primal kitchen, and primal kitchen, as you know, just I mean, they have a lot of really great products, but they also have condiments. So this is a little bit of a different twist. It’s more about, you know, product placements. Having them actually, you know, share their products with that with their consumers and providing that as an option versus their traditional touchups Manet’s. Um,

Jeremy Weisz 26:03

you know, for the world of driving awareness through trial, what other things should we should companies think about?

Laurel Rundle 26:15

driving awareness through trial. I mean, I think it’s, you know, of course, the the actual trial of it, you know, whether it’s like, if it’s the taste proposition and getting it into their mouth. That is really the most critical thing. I think there’s also something there. As far as how a consumer is going to receive this and take action is just the relevancy of when they’re getting it. So what I like about what we do is just, there’s context. So you know, you’re in the right place, you’re getting it from somebody, the right person. It’s not somebody we complement experiential, but we’re not that it’s not, we’re not hiring people to go out. It’s people that that they already know, and trust within their world. And then the relevancy as far as just that environment that they’re receiving it. So I think all these things really aid in driving effective trial. Things just even with the packaging, so having that product recognition. And next time you go to the store, and you’re like, oh, gosh, you know, I tried that granola, it was awesome, you are going to go find that treadmill on the shelf and try it. How did you even get

Jeremy Weisz 27:24

into this? Oral you know, we don’t wake High School. And I’m like, I want to drive millions of samples into consumers hands.

Laurel Rundle 27:34

See, I didn’t know what it was. When I when somebody I had an opportunity to interview. It was really cool, a little company called sampling Corporation of America, that was started in Steve Kaplan’s basement a long time ago. And he had just been acquired. I had some retail experience, I was in the consumer product, world and I had worked across, you know, retail and trade marketing in a bunch of different areas. So I actually came into that company, and I ran the beauty care division of Procter and Gamble, because they were a big client. So it just kind of escalated. From there. We, this little company was bought and bought and bought over the years, and we ended up being part of a big agency. And a little over 10 years ago, I left to start off on marketing, and just really focused on this more life stage marketing, I really just love the idea of, you know, I think just the whole consumer behavior aspect of this and how effective it is. It’s just really compelling to me, I think it’s a fun business, I love I love the types of brands and products we get to work with, we’re usually working with a new launch, or a brand that has some sort of new news. So there’s some excitement around that. So that’s, that’s also fun, too. So just, I can’t believe I’m still doing it, to be honest, but I love it. It’s a lot of fun.

Jeremy Weisz 28:56

Well, it’s it changes, you know, you get to work with so many brands, so it keeps it fresh, even though it’s maybe similar concepts and things that you programs, but it, you know, changes with the product. You know, I love to hear for an agency owner listening, some of the things that some of the takeaways, some big decisions, key decisions that you’ve made throughout the the life of your agency, what sticks out as some really critical decisions or hires that you’ve made in your agency.

Laurel Rundle 29:33

You know, I mean, that’s, if for other business owners out there that can relate, you know, it’s a whole journey. When we I started actually with a original business partner, and it was a great experience. And I think in the beginning it was the shiny new toy. And we were so excited about this that we started a couple other companies. And it was a fun experience. But we knew that we had to really keep focused on our core service and what we were offering So we kind of had a few waves of that in the beginning. And then I really started to focus more on operations and really building value that way, and just building a more, you know, efficient, well run company with better processes. And that’s really helped us grow. And then last year, actually, while I was in the Goldman Sachs program, I had the opportunity to acquire another company in my space, which I did. And I think it was because of that program that I was more open to this because I knew what it could potentially lead to. And that was just a really great decision. You know, it sounds daunting, but when you dive into it, it’s really not. And it solved a lot of things. For me, it helped us grow a little bit quicker than I could have grown on my own, helped us get kind of back into some larger accounts, or other accounts, they just happen to complement the ones that we already worked with. So that was extension there. So just being open to those opportunities, but not jumping on everything so quickly. And having a really good team.

Jeremy Weisz 31:03

I want to talk about operations SOPs. And I also want to talk about acquisition for a second. When you look back, what advice would you have for someone else? Have that acquisition process? How did that go for you? And you know, if someone’s thinking, You know what? Well, it does seem daunting. I’m not sure if I should, should do an acquisition, there’s a company I’m talking to how would you recommend navigating? How did it work for you as far as navigating that?

Laurel Rundle 31:35

Yeah, I mean, obviously, the numbers tell the story. So you know, we we really focused in on that. And frankly, from my perspective, it was a no brainer, it just felt like I couldn’t lose in the situation. And it was structured in that way. There was a bit of an earnout in this. So I kind of looked at it logically, I brought in several experts that are, you know, kind of people that I know and trust that do this kind of work to look at our business. And it was actually a pretty, it was it was actually it was looking back, it was fun. I learned so much, you know, even though it wasn’t there was a small acquisition, our closing documents, were still 100 pages, you know, you still go through every single aspect of it. So yeah, I think just being open and just really doing your homework on on the due diligence and bringing in, you know, people that can help you through that, if you you know, if you haven’t done it before.

Jeremy Weisz 32:38

All right, one last question before we end. And I want to ask you about some of the software and tools that you like to use, you mentioned operations and SOPs and everything like that. But before we go into that, I want to point people towards Ahamarketing.com. And check out more about your company and what you’re doing. Are there any other places online, we should point people towards besides Aha! marketing?

Laurel Rundle 33:07

No, I think that that’s it?

Jeremy Weisz 33:10

Well, what are your some of your favorite software tools, ways that you’re able to run the company run operations efficiently?

Laurel Rundle 33:20

You know, we have a lot of different subscriptions that help us run the business day to day, obviously, things like Slack and Survey Monkey and MailChimp and but the actual running of our business that was that was a challenge that we faced a couple years ago, we looked at a lot of different CRM tools. And I’m not talking about growing on, you know, from an agency brand perspective, I’m talking about like our, you know, the back end of our organization, or then you database. So we actually had a custom Salesforce application built, that is specifically for venues or networks that we work with. So we can look at, you know, medical offices and really get down into the types of practice or focus or specialty. So as we go into new programs, or looking at networks for brands, or even building new networks, we can put them into our database. We still start from fresh for every campaign that we that we do, because there’s always changes but this has really given us a bit more structure in our business. And if a brand is launching, and they want to really heavy up in the northeast, we can look, you know, how many locations do we have, you know, within the Northeast that we know that we can get to quickly that we have relationships with how many do we have to build? So it just it really offered some functionality in our business that we didn’t have before.

Jeremy Weisz 34:40

If someone Laurel, thank you if there’s a influencer out there. Should they just go to Ahamarketing.com and contact you?

Laurel Rundle 34:49

Yeah, that’s a great question. So there is a place on our websites that influencers can actually sign up. When we do these campaigns. We So have other brands. So for example, if we’re working with a doula midwife, lactation expert, we have a for your mom’s network. So they can go to foryourmoms.net and they’ll get to that page to sign up. We have for your pets for your members, you name it. So if they know us, they sometimes come in that way, but otherwise everything can be routed through our marketing or they can even just email [email protected] and we’ll put them in the right place.

Jeremy Weisz 35:25

So influencers thing go your website. Also for brands who are like I want to get distribute my products or trials or information, same place, just go to Ahamarketing.com Yes,

Laurel Rundle 35:38

yes. Click contact us.

Jeremy Weisz 35:42

Well, I want to be the first one to thank you. Thanks, everyone. And we’ll see you next time.

Laurel Rundle 35:46

Thank you.