Month: November 2015

Larimer SBDC Success Story – We’re a Little Bit Cheesy

Story: Kat Rico
Photography: LifeStorm Photography

What do cheese and art have in common? Both excite the pallet and have rich stories, according to The Fox and the Crow owner Tina Mooney, a cheesemonger and art history major.

The Fox and the Crow brings artisan cheeses and meats to mid-town Fort Collins. They understand that the world of artisan cheese can be intimidating and have crafted their shop to welcome people who may stumble in serendipitously. Little signs like: “We cut the cheese,” and “Please refrain from tapping on the glass. It scares the meats,” let customers know that while they take cheese seriously, it’s fun too. They regularly host wine and beer pairing classes, to bring knowledge, fun and taste together.
When asked about her passion, Tina said, “Cheeses really speak to me because they all have stories, especially artisan products.” If you point to any of the products in their cases (without tapping on the glass, of course), staff will give you a breakdown of where it came from, how it was made and how it will taste, before offering you a sample. “I give all of my new employees a cheese textbook. They do everything from cooking to serving to retailing, so I want them to be personable, knowledgeable and sincerely love cheese.”
As a first time entrepreneur, Tina began developing her business idea at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “I looked online for business classes, and the local chamber referred me to the SBDC. I kept getting the last open spot in all the trainings I sought, so the timing lined up perfectly. It must have been fate!” Through the SBDC, she worked with several consultants, took business courses, and learned how to listen to customers. SBDC consultants helped her with projecting financials, marketing, connections for financing, and setting up a commercial kitchen. She went to San Francisco for cheese school, to learn how cheeses are made, as well as how to properly cut and package cheese. Tina made it from idea to open in eleven months, officially opening in November 2014.
“The biggest surprise has been catering. At first, we didn’t really know how to do it. Now we do events and platters, that I like to bring an artistic touch to,” says Tina. The shop also has a devoted fan base of customers ranging from age 18 to 95, another surprise that has allowed the business to establish lasting relationships. “Last year for Easter, I made these seven pound monster meat pies. They pre-sold, so I didn’t even save one for my family. One of our customers heard, and they made us one and brought it to the shop. That’s the kind customers we have. It’s really like that!”
Looking to the future, they are excited to be, “Drowning in cheese money.” This will allow Tina to provide her employees long term benefits. As much as Tina loves cheese, she looks forward to the day when she can step back and let the cheese wheels turn on their own.

For more information about the Fox and the Crow, 
check out their website!

Funnel Vision Wrap Up

On Tuesday, November 10th, we held our final “Small Business After Hours” event for 2015! First off, we want to say thank you to all of you who chose to attend. Your feedback helped us build these events into a regular part of our programming for 2015 and based on your responses, we will be carrying them forward into 2016!

Secondly, we want to thank all of the people who participated as panelists and instructors. Without your willingness to help share your experiences and knowledge these events would have fizzled out quickly.
Now to the meat and potatoes of what the presentation was all about: How do we make sure that our clients need us, find us and call us? Reu Smith gave us some great examples of what this process looks like, both inside and outside of the Health & Wellness industry.
How should you be communicating with customers and potential customers? What elements should be included in your marketing campaign? Exactly who is this person you want to walk through your door and buy from you?

  1. 1. Establish your campaign goals – Before you create a single Tweet, marketing piece or purchase ads online or offline, set your goals! Do you want to turn more strangers into clients? Cross sell a new product to existing customers? Shorten your sales cycle? Make sure you’re using measurable goals so you know when you’ve accomplished them.
  2. 2. Develop your campaign persona – Who are you trying to reach? Develop a list of character traits, based either on the top 10 clients you currently have or the client you want to reach. Shoot for 150 traits. The first few will be obvious, such as gender, age, maybe what type of car they drive. Once you hit 100 they will start to get ‘silly but true.’ Now distill down these traits into a persona or two. Most businesses have 3 customer personas they target, your job is to select which one this campaign is trying to target.
  3. 3. The Sales Funnel – Just like a physical funnel, as you begin your methods will reach a wide variety of potential clients. As you move further down the funnel, you’ll probably lose some people, but that’s ok! The goal is to get the best client for your business, not just anyone who comes in off the street. Some examples for you: Healthy Hallie, Muscles Max, Elderly Ed.
    1. Strangers – Your goal with strangers is to attract them. This can mean using blogs to share your industry knowledge, basic social media posting, making sure your website is easy to navigate and using keywords so search engines drive traffic to your site. Strangers are possibly looking to purchase something, but unaware where they want to purchase from.
    2. Visitors – So you’ve done a good job attracting people, now its time to win them over and convert them. Create specific calls to action to capture their information by offering a free e-book, creating specific landing pages, using web forms and providing specific contacts on your website to help them get to the right person in your business easily. Visitors are aware of you and possibly looking to buy, but haven’t made a decision yet.
    3. Leads – It’s time to start to close the loop with your leads. The most important thing now is to begin the process of qualifying your leads. Are they the customers you really want? Make another list of characteristics you want your ideal client to have and use that to score your leads. Your leads are now ready to buy, but may be unaware of who they will purchase from.
    4. Customers – Now it’s up to you to delight your customers. Interact with the on social media; if they took the time to shout out our business, say thanks! Use e-mail segmentation to further narrow down information just for them. You’ll create loyal customers this way who will return to you and you just might get lucky and create a brand champion! Customers have decided to buy, and if you’ve done it right, they’re going to buy from you!
    5. Brand champions – Not every customer will become a brand champion, but those who do are your biggest cheerleaders! They love your product so much, they’ll help convert strangers into visitors through testimonials, reviews and social media interactions.

The Sales Funnel is a lather – rinse – repeat type of process; you’ll use it over and over again. As you use it more, you’ll get better at defining the persona you’re targeting, and more effective at getting the customers you want to need you, find you and call you!