Is Quick and Easy The Right Play in Business Growth? by@bmoskwa

Is Quick and Easy The Right Play in Business Growth?

True Made Foods has earned a quarter of a million dedicated customers, as well as a place on Inc.'s Fastest Growing Companies regional list. By focusing on the quality of their products, innovation, and avoiding the pitfalls around advertising, the company has shown the benefits of persistence in the face of a challenging market. With their focus on healthy, natural ingredients, their condiments have become a great alternative to the national brands for diet-conscious consumers, especially parents who struggle to get their kids to eat fruits and vegetables.
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Too Stubborn to Fail?

When asked what his key to success was, True Made Foods CEO, Abe Kamarck, had this to say.


“The ultimate key is stupidity. This is not rational. This should not work. None of this should work, so you have to be dumb enough to keep doing it. And making less money than you could if you just had a regular job and continuing to keep grinding away when things look bleakest. That grit. Being an idiot and continuing to work on it.”


Now, this seems a bit cynical, but it does show the sheer amount of determination, dedication, and sacrifice required to create and run a thriving company. It is a long road to travel, and while the journey is never truly finished, it is easy to become discouraged and seek shortcuts.


However, under Kamarck’s leadership, True Made Foods has marched forward at a steady, reliable pace, earning a quarter of a million dedicated customers, as well as a place on Inc.'s Fastest Growing Companies regional list.


By focusing on the quality of their products, innovation, and avoiding the pitfalls around advertising, Karmack has shown the benefits of persistence in the face of a challenging market.

Do You Farm or Hunt for Sales?

You can buy a first impression, or you can depend on repeat sales, which are driven almost solely by product quality. Without an endless supply of advertising funds, holding on to customers as you gain them is the key to solvency and growth. It is clear that True Made Foods offers excellent products in the arena of condiments.


Utilizing foods, such as butternut squash, carrots, and apples, to naturally flavor their condiments, True Made has drastically reduced or eliminated the need for added sugars and artificial sweeteners. Their products are certified Paleo, Vegan, Keto, and gluten-free, while also being Whole 30 approved.


These are just some of the qualities that create lifelong clients out of the people who buy their products. True Made ketchup is in the top 10 SKUs for ketchup, while their barbecue sauce is in the top 50. 60% of customers actively seek out other products in their catalog, due to the great impressions from their initial purchase.


Although very impressive, Karmack is not satisfied with the status quo. His goals for True Made Foods, include, respectively earning spots in the top five SKUs for his three largest products, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and mustard.


He is also aiming to double his customer base from 250,000 to 500,000. With his dedication to excellent product quality, Karmack has ensured that True Made Foods has a solid foundation to continue growing over the years.

Can Any Idea be Improved?

Despite offering a wide array of superb condiments, this is a particularly challenging field, in the already difficult realm of the food business. Systems are built for volume, where tens of millions of initial sales don’t guarantee survival.


When compared to something like software or app development, investor interest is lower. Real-world shortages and disruptions have a significant impact, unlike software. Condiments face further difficulties since repeat purchases could take weeks or months before refills are needed.


These facts have created a market filled with lumbering monopolies that don’t innovate or do it very poorly, as seen with strange products like “Cranch.” Where the massive corporations fail, lies opportunities for start-ups. True Made Foods has been able to capitalize on some of these shortfalls.


One example is their ketchup was ranked the healthiest by EatThis.com, with market juggernaut, Heinz, in last place. With their focus on healthy, natural ingredients, their condiments have become a great alternative to the national brands for diet-conscious consumers, especially parents who struggle to get their kids to eat fruits and vegetables. As Karmack says,


“The less you differentiate, the more money you need to stand out.”


The industry giants need to invest heavily in advertising and exposure, to make up for their lack of ingenuity, which leads to the next topic.

Can You Buy Your Way to the Top?

Americans are overexposed to advertising due to the constant marketing barrage that everyday life includes. Finding a way to break through is tough. Focusing on the product’s unique offerings, with a tight message is key, but even this doesn’t guarantee conversions.


One example that Karmack gave was of an incredible Ketchup ad shown on the jumbotron of a baseball stadium. Even if that message endures in the mind of the viewer after the rest of the game and the drive home, the potential customer realizes there is still a half-full bottle waiting in the refrigerator.


True Made Foods has avoided this pitfall, by choosing slow and steady growth, rather than chasing elusive new customers with expensive advertising campaigns.


It is possible to toss a ton of money into advertising, get views, even gain interest, and still not make any money. There are numerous examples of businesses that stretched themselves too thin in this way, and some of the exceptions had underlying circumstances.


They may have started in an easier environment, as seen with companies that could gain traction with the initial explosion of social media, where stories were few and costs were low. Some may have massive coffers that can be used for marketing campaigns, such as Primal kitchen.


It is a common mistake to assume that branding is the answer to breaking through in difficult markets, but brands are built over time and with huge investments in design, storytelling, and advertising. However, branding and exposure are luxuries that only large corporations can afford.


If just starting out today, Heinz, French’s, or Del Monte would not survive the crucible of today’s market using the tools in their existing arsenal. The promise of fast growth through advertising and branding is a temptation that Karmack has fought to the benefit of True Made Foods, while many others have succumbed to the enticing and sometimes irresistible idea of massive growth.

Aesop was Wise to Bet Against the Hare

When Luke Skywalker asked Yoda if the dark side was stronger, his response was,


“No. Quicker. Easier. More seductive.”


Despite being in reference to a mythical, telekinetic force, this quote offers an apt analogy to Abe Kamarck’s approach to his business. He has shown that focusing on product quality and innovation can grow a powerful brand and company, rather than be persuaded to take the quick path of brute force advertising. In his own words, he says,


“It takes 10 years to be an overnight success, at a minimum.”


Stories about great entrepreneurs often leave out the details that affected their businesses’ trajectory, such as connections, family fortunes, or decades of hard work and failures before hitting their stride.


Without rushing or overextending his finances and resources, while focusing on high-quality goods with original ideas, Abe Karmack is charting a fantastic path for True Made Foods, through a difficult market, in a challenging industry, during an arduous time.

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by branden @bmoskwa.One of the worlds leading consumer product industry experts helping simplify complex problems to build lasting companies
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