Our Follow the Recipe event is coming up next week and we’re delighted to bring you an interview with Emma Walls, marketing manager of Glenisk. We’ve worked with Glenisk for over three years now since they first sponsored the Blog Awards back in 2012 and we’re delighted they are sponsoring this event and also providing yummy refreshments too.
- Emma, tell me about your background and your role in Glenisk.
I’ve worked in marketing over 15 years now, and done a little bit of everything. I’veworked in agencies, worked for myself and worked in industry; across different disciplines and different sectors, but Glenisk has been home now, career-wise, for seven years. I’m extraordinarily lucky to be tasked with telling the story of one of Ireland’s best food companies – a crusading family business that has devoted more than a quarter of a century to changing the way food is produced on this island for the better. My role covers marketing, CSR, new product development and customer care. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work here.
2. What tools have you found (online and offline) to be most effective in promoting Glenisk products and why?
One of the challenges that retail brands have is that there is a supermarket shelf between us and our customers. We deliver our yogurts to a depot, but it’s the supermarket floor where the customer makes his or her decisions. If you’re a small artisan producer, you meet your customers at Farmer’s Markets; if you’re a big brand, you may have the budgets for high impact marketing activities like TV advertising and sponsorship. Glenisk is in neither of these spaces. So I’m a big believer in using the tools that allow us to connect directly with our customers – field marketing is critical – we take every opportunity we can to get upfront and personal, whether that’s taking part at festivals and events and distributing full size products free of charge, or running a pop up shop. Online is a wonderful resource, enabling us to engage directly and hopefully build awareness and loyalty. We invest a lot of our time in social media for this reason.
3. I notice that you are posting very creative as well as striking images on Instagram – what social media platforms would you recommend to other food businesses?
Horses for courses; I think you need to focus on who you are trying to reach and what you want to say, before deciding on the medium or platform. Twitter is brilliant for talking to foodies, bloggers and media, and more recently, end users of the product. Facebook has been an invaluable tool from the outset at reaching our customers and it’s a flexible platform that allows us to share news about our brand, and – critically – to find out more about what interests our customers.
Instagram is a must for food businesses, given that it’s such a visual medium, but it’s trickier to achieve scale given the way the sharing structure works. We have found Instagram particularly helpful in reaching influencers; for example, it has been a central pillar for our launch of our new Greek Protein Yogurts as we focused on talking to a young, health-conscious audience with a strong interest in fitness and nutrition, who in turn influence their peers’ buying decisions. I think it’s important for brands to maintain focus. It’s far better to do one social platform well, than to have a weak presence on all platforms.
4. Tell us about the collaboration with Fiona Dillon and the Freddy Buttons books.
Freddy is entirely Fiona’s creation, and when she came to us a year ago with the idea, it felt like an immediate fit, so we jumped at the opportunity to support some of the costs associated with the project. Publishing and particularly kids publishing is a challenging business in terms of viability, so we were delighted to give Freddy a little jump start to ensure the project came to fruition. Arming children with the knowledge of where our food comes from and the tools to make healthy nutrition choices has never been as important. The challenge is always how to do this in a compelling and engaging way. Adventure storybooks that delight and enchant is an excellent medium and the Freddy stories are educational but never told in a preachy or patronising way. Derry Dillon’s beautiful illustrations really bring Fiona’s words to life and there is a level of detail in both word and illustration that is remarkable.
Ahead of the book’s publication, we launched a nationwide schools competition to design bookmarks based on the series’ six food themes and the response was fantastic. We had over 4,000 entries. We also sponsored the Freddy Buttons Show Garden at this year’s Bloom Festival and while it was a big surprise to Fiona that the garden she designed with Outside Options, won a medal, it was no surprise to us! Fiona combines creativity with determination and her focus is laser-sharp.
The books are now available in store and online, but they are also free when you collect tokens from special Glenisk Kids Yogurt packs. Aside from the health message, the initiative is also about promoting literacy and feeding kids’ imaginations, so it feels like a perfect project for us to be involved in. And so far, the kids seem to agree; I have a six year old who sleeps with the full set of books under her pillow!
5. What is your nugget of advice to any other food businesses, perhaps particularly to a food business starting out?
Get your product right first is obvious. And don’t be blinkered by the big idea – think about who had it first and what challenges they faced. Your own experience is invaluable, but again think about the needs of the broader market, rather than just your own personal circumstances. (I hear a lot of new mums deciding that they are going to take on the world with a new range of baby food!) If you’re a food business starting out and you’re sourcing your raw ingredients in Ireland, talk to Bord Bia.They have a number of hugely helpful programmes and initiatives for start-ups.
Be tenacious and get on social media – some people are intimidated by the time it takes to get established on social platforms, but it is a low cost medium that can deliver surprising results. You don’t need hot shot agencies, you don’t need content calendars, you just need a little time and a point of view. Marketing is about story-telling, not necessarily the hard sell.
A couple of recent Instagram Shots (see above and below) and why they worked:
No. 1. #Cooks – the appeal is obvious in that it’s a pretty delicious shot. It also reflects something that social media is really good for – sharing behind the scenes stories and imagery – and this was taken during a video shoot with our partners, Cooks Academy.
No. 2. #Fittie#Foodie – We built an Instagram frame to take to our events during Summer 2015 where we were sampling our new Protein Greek yogurts. The nature of the products is that they are suitable for fitness enthusiasts without compromising on taste, hence the creation of both the #fittie and #foodie tags. We invited people to post their pictures at our frame, helping to extend the reach and the bang for buck of taking part at these events. So far this summer, more than 500 of these framed shots have been shared or uploaded across our SM platforms.
No. 3. #DiningAlDesko – this one works, not because of any photographic proficiency, but because of context. Many of us can relate to the need to grab lunch at the desk, and if we can bring our followers a healthy and interesting alternative to the ‘hang sangwich’ so much the better. It works from our point of view because it showcases the versatility of our range as an ingredient, rather than just a snack. Introducing another brand into the mix can also help to extend the reach of your post if they share it with their followers.
No. 4. #Wyldsson – again a shot with one of our partners Wyldsson. We hooked up to showcase some interesting (and not obvious) uses of yogurt and nuts/seeds – in this case, a recipe for Hake. It’s a video – Instagram allows 15 second videos and these are a great (and very underutilised) way to increase engagement and may ultimately drive traffic elsewhere – i.e. to youtube for the full version. Notice the use of hashtags, appropriate for both the medium and the target audience. We talk in terms of #macros, #irishfitfam and #highprotein, the terms this audience uses daily when researching, posting and sharing food imagery.
And don’t forget to book your ticket! You’ll hear more of Emma’s tips, the story of the collaboration with Freddy Buttons and you’ll be able to ask questions at our ‘Follow The Recipe’ event on 23rd.