Pam Dierks of Dierks Farms has moved past putting their grassfed beef in the grocery store - instead it’s shipped direct to customers. This idea was a major innovation for Dierks Farms, and this year they won our Small Business ICON award.
Pam chats with Clate and Scott about moving to a subscription model, marketing directly to a consumer instead of through the commodities market, and how automation has enabled her to help pass down the farm to her sons.
Clate Mask: All right, welcome everybody, to this episode of the Small Business Success podcast. I’m Clate Mask.
Scott Martineau: And I’m Scott Martineau, and we’re co-founders of Infusionsoft. And today we have the icon finalist for 2017, Pam Dierks. Pam, how are you doing?
Pam Dierks: Just fine, how are you? Thank you for having me.
Scott Martineau: Oh, we’re doing great, and thank you for being here. Our listeners are I’m sure very excited to hear from you. So maybe to start, for those who don’t know who you are, why don’t you give them a little bit of a background on Dierks Farms?
Pam Dierks: Okay, we are a grass-fed beef farm out of Southern Illinois. Our farm has been in our family – this is the fifth generation.
It’s been farmed on the same land since 1881. Our boys actually are fifth generation and we actually just this last year redid our whole business plan and started selling grass-fed beef direct to the consumer.
And we ship it nationwide in the Continental United States, sell at farmers’ markets, things like that. We use Infusion Soft for our marketing automation, we use it for our online cart, our e-commerce, just the whole backend of our business.
And using the Infusion Soft really helped us to where we could reach out all throughout the country and we decided to actually start this marketing direct to the consumer so that we could bring both of our sons into the farm with us.
And otherwise, there just wasn’t – in the traditional sense – a way to do that. So by doing this and then automating and going online and shipping, that was a way that we could add value to our farm.
Scott Martineau: So what was that like? I mean I imagine your forefathers are sitting there and they’ve done things a very specific way, and this new thing, the Internet thing, is [laughs] probably not like what they talk about around the dinner table. What was that like, to think about going online the very first time? Who had the idea? How did it come about?
Pam Dierks: I did, I had the idea.
Scott Martineau: You care enough about your boys.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, [laughs] right, I take care of my boys. My boys just wanted a farm so I wanted to make a way that they could farm and they could – when you have something that has this kind of history, you want to see it go on.
And so I came up with the idea and they agreed with the marketing direct, and then actually we were talking to our licensing, our state licensing, agent and he made a joke of, “Oh, well, you can be like Omaha Steaks?” And I said, “Can we really do that?”
Scott Martineau: You bet.
Pam Dierks: And he’s like, “Well, you can sell anywhere.” Okay, well, that just opened it up. I’m like all right –
Scott Martineau: That’s fantastic.
Pam Dierks: – you’re in go, let’s figure this out.
Clate Mask: That is awesome. Well, one of the things I love about your story – first off, thank you so much for everything you shared. It was just so awesome to get to know you better at Icon and hear the drive and passion you had as a mom to create the business – to expand the business in a way that made it possible for your sons to stay in the business.
So I love that aspect of it, I love the fact that you looked at farming and said how can we sell online?
How can we expand this? How can we serve a customer that we haven’t been able to serve before with your Omaha Steaks concept? But I also love, I love the fact that you’ve created subscriptions for meat. [Laughs]Scott Martineau: Yes.
Clate Mask: I just think –
Pam Dierks: Who would have thought?
Clate Mask: Exactly.
Pam Dierks: We sell quite a few of them, yeah.
Clate Mask: Exactly.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, because it just shows up on their doorstep, exactly what they’d ordered. Sometimes we even customize ‘em just so it’s exactly what they want, and yeah, and thanks to Infusion Soft and the car, we just use that subscription. And how wonderful is it to just wake up in the morning and you have all these orders in your cart?
Scott Martineau: Right, it’s probably about as good as waking up having all these steaks.
Clate Mask: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s right.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, that’s right, it’s good on both ends, that’s right.
Clate Mask: Well, what I love about it is that it just teaches people out there that you can create subscriptions out of anything that you’re doing.
Whatever product you have, whatever service you have, you can create a recurring subscription in your business and that is a total game-changer for business-owners.
Because like you said, what you did is you reinvented your business model in two ways. The first way is you looked at customers that you could take your beef to outside of your geographic location and you created an online sales and marketing automation system to do that.
And that’s awesome, it’s amazing, but then to turn it into a recurring purchase for the customer, that takes your business to a whole different place. Because not only are you waking up and seeing orders that happen with you really doing anything, but you’re seeing recurring orders happen month after month after month.
And like Scott says, it’s a great service to the customer but it totally reinvents your business and I just love that you did that.
If a farm can do that with beef, then any business-owner out there can turn their product or service into a subscription. And all you gotta do, listeners, is think along enough and hard enough about what you offer to turn that into a subscription.
And I will tell you having gone through this transition ourselves many, many years ago, it is a complete game-changer to have a subscription business. So I just think hats off to you, Pam. It’s really awesome to see how you’ve done that. I imagine that subscription will become a bigger and bigger part of your business over time.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, I think so, I think so. How people try it and then they like it and that’s part of our e-mail series that goes out, and then it asks them to join a buyer’s club. And it started out with just our buyer’s club, and then as we went through I thought, “Well, why cannot all of our bundles be on subscription?”
So now I have all of the bundles on subscription and they can – so we are sending out grillers bundles, our eight-steak bundle, all of that.
Because different people have different wants and so it’s thinking outside of the box. Everything that we are doing, for a traditional farmer, is way, way, way outside of the box.
Scott Martineau: Love it. Well, and what I love too, I thought that the theme in your Icon presentation – and by the way, we’re gonna put a link to your icon presentation in the show notes. Is it ready to put up yet? It is, we’ve got the – all right, good. So we’re gonna put a link to it in there, everybody should watch it. But I loved the theme of just start with simple stuff.
Clate Mask: Yes.
Scott Martineau: And I just loved that, I loved that –
Pam Dierks: Right.
Scott Martineau: In fact, I think you grabbed people’s hearts. You’re like, “Look, this isn’t that hard. You just start – grab a template, get it started, and let’s get it going.” And I love that you just shared an example of how you started with one type of subscription, you learned from that and say, “Hey, why couldn’t we add another one?”
You added another one, right? And so you’re getting to quick action, learning as you go, adding to it – that’s the beauty of automation. And so good job, so, so inspiring.
Clate Mask: Seriously I love it, I love it.
Pam Dierks: Thank you.
Clate Mask: And isn’t that amazing by the way? When you look at recurring orders go into your bank account and you didn’t do anything? [Laughs] Isn’t that just incredible? Ah, love it, so happy for you.
Pam Dierks: Yes, it is, it is. So like you said, I think it’ll become a bigger and bigger part because people like that easy, and then they know they’re gonna have it and then they plan that and they don’t have to shop for their meat ‘cause they know that they’ll be having it. And we send recipes out, things like that, so we make it as easy for them as possible.
Scott Martineau: Nice.
Clate Mask: So great, I love that.
Pam Dierks: We just published our first e-cookbook, too, to go along with that ‘cause people really loved the recipes.
Clate Mask: That’s so great.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, they like the meat but they don’t know how to cook it.
Clate Mask: Exactly.Pam Dierks: So we aim to do that. So we’ll start coming out with a series of those too, which are very – and use those through promotions and that kind of thing.
Clate Mask: Well, yeah, there’s a reason why Blue Apron has taken off. Because the big problem that so many people have isn’t necessarily the time that it takes to make it, it’s having to think through it, get all the ingredients, know how to do it.
And you’re bringing a little bit of that Blue Apron solution to the customer but you’re providing the beef or providing the meat, whatever the case, and then giving them the how-to on preparing it, which is really cool.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, yeah.
Scott Martineau: I have two very non-important questions for you – do you ship these in containers or dry ice?
Pam Dierks: Yeah, yeah, they’re in insulated containers with dry ice and we – depends on how much dry ice we put in. We just ship one out to __ Phoenix there just the other day, and because you’re warmer then it’ll get more dry ice, and one that’s going to a cooler climate gets less dry ice.
But the goal is that it shows up at your doorstep frozen, and it’s shipped by FedEx so most orders are received within two days. And that’s why we can only do the Continental United States, because we tried Hawaii and that was a nightmare.
Scott Martineau: Yeah, I think my boys would like the dry-ice leftovers to make dry-ice bombs probably more than the beef.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, we have to watch our boys with that. They’re 17 and 22 but they like to do that.
Scott Martineau: You’ve got a lot of dry ice to blow things up, yeah, well…
Clate Mask: Nice, well, I love what you’re doing. It’s so awesome. Just yesterday my wife was showing me Amazon Prime Now and how she has ensured we will never run out of paper towels and toilet paper. [Laughs]
And I was like, “Oh, that’s awesome.” She’s like, “Yeah, they get –”
Pam Dierks: Hey, I [Break in audio] ___ the best idea too so [laughs].
Clate Mask: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s just I love that you’re tapping into that same capability which is really cool, and I love you’re using Infusion Soft to make it happen and we couldn’t be more excited for you.
So let me ask you this, do you have any questions for us? Is there something that we could help you with, something either you’re working on in your business or maybe just something you’ve wondered that we could address?
Pam Dierks: I guess our biggest thing right now is I think we’re of course going on with the beef and all of that. If you had a way to grow the cow a little bit quicker, that would help.
Right now, it’s the cattle.
Clate Mask: How do we automate that?
Pam Dierks: Yeah, right, let’s automate that, yeah. The other thing is that we are gonna be helping other food businesses and other businesses by helping share our campaigns with them.
So I’m in the midst of becoming a certified partner so I can do that.
Scott Martineau: Oh, that’s great.
Clate Mask: Cool.
Pam Dierks: So, yeah, I think that so many farms need automation, they need marketing. They think of the farming but they don’t think of the marketing, and that’s why a lot of ‘em don’t make the business actually selling directly to the consumer, doing the local foods. So it’s because they just don’t – their minds don’t think that way so we’re going to try to go in and help them with that.
So any helpful hints you have as far as that, that’s a whole other way to go, but it’s what you guys do, you give back to small business.
So we feel like we saw success so we’d like to give that back to some of the farms, the – now really we’re going more natural food, even the grocers and things like that, trying to get the word out to people where they can get the natural food.
Scott Martineau: So I have a suggestion for you and that is basically I think you’re probably moving forward in your marketing automation and doing some __ more advanced techniques right now. I would say stick to the basics; just the way you taught in your presentation, stick to the basics and as you’re helping, as you’re teaching people, be as concrete as you can.
So for example, people have a really hard time thinking about stuff in abstract and then making concrete examples but they do a really good job if you can share with them concrete examples and then they can say, “oh, how does that apply to my business?”
So for example, maybe – in fact, this would be helpful for the listeners – what were the top three campaigns that you launched, or maybe even the top two that were really simple that started to get the results that made this whole model work?
Pam Dierks: Right, well, our very first one we launched was the indoctrination. That’s the one we launched out of Accelerator and that –
Scott Martineau: The day I thought I would hear a farm-owner say the word “indoctrination campaign” – well, I’d never thought I would.
So for those who don’t know what an indoctrination campaign –
[Crosstalk]Pam Dierks: [Inaudible comment]
Scott Martineau: Yeah, yeah, so –
Pam Dierks: Yeah, that’s something we will have to explain I’m sure.
Scott Martineau: So what do you do in your indoctrination campaign?
Pam Dierks: Yeah, that’s a big part because whenever people are looking for natural food, their first questions are how are you natural? Do you give antibiotics? Do you – all of these questions, and the indoctrination goes through in about five different e-mails that tells them exactly what your mission is, exactly what your beliefs are.
This is our family; it shows the video, shows your land, and things like that. And you want people to feel a part of it and that’s the whole thing of indoctrination, and then at the end it gives an offer.
Scott Martineau: And every small business owner, that’s the huge leverage point you have, is to be able to create this connection with your customers that Omaha Steaks won’t be able to create. And so love it, great. So, yeah, anyway my advice is –
Pam Dierks: Right, ‘cause we want people – or go ahead.
Scott Martineau: No, no, you go ahead.
Pam Dierks: We want people to say, “Hey, we get our beef from this little farm in Illinois. They’re in California, they’re in Arizona, they’re in New York.” That they have ownership to our farm. In fact, in all of our e-mails, it says, “Welcome to the Dierks Farms family.”
That’s what we use all the time, and we feel like that, we feel like they are part of the family.
And everything we do, we talk to them like that, and that’s how the customer can talk to us too.
Clate Mask: Yeah, I just think –
Scott Martineau: Quick insert – Ducey sent me a note saying he can put a link to your campaign for the indoctrination campaign in the show-notes as well, so –
Clate Mask: Awesome.
Scott Martineau: Are you okay with that, Pam?
Pam Dierks: Yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine with that.
Scott Martineau: Great.
Clate Mask: I just think Scott and I are just getting a kick out of this because the indoctrination campaign is the fundamentals of message to market, and how you get that message and teach so that you draw the right fit to the prospects and customers that are interested in what you do.
And when you do it, it is so powerful – you literally flip people from looking at you as a pesky salesperson to looking at you as somebody that they trust and respect and want to do business with.
And when the prospect has that mindset shift, which is done when you effectively teach the world who you are and what you do and why you do it through your indoctrination campaign, your sales conversations are totally different. Your sales process is totally different. Your sales grow so much because of doing that.
So I just love hearing you describe it, I love that you’re doing it, I love that our listeners get to benefit from it. Thank you for sharing the specific campaign, and I think it’s really cool that you’re out to help food providers do more of that.
Because having the CRM capability so that they have a system that holds all of the information about their clients, and then having the e-commerce and the marketing automation capabilities to automate the sales and marketing, is really really powerful. It’s been cool for you and your business, and for you to take that and help others do that in their food businesses is really really inspiring.
Pam Dierks: Yeah, it’s exciting for us, it really is.
So it’s a way to give back and that’s part of, a little bit of, what we – every day everything that we do is about that. So taking care of the earth, taking care of the land, helping people. And because the money, of course everyone needs that to survive on, but my biggest payback is when someone says that our meat has actually helped them as far as their health or something like that.
I had someone the other day, her husband had ALS and they could only eat certain – our beef, and so many people have celiac and our meat helps them because they get sick from anything else.
So that’s the biggest thing, to be able to actually get that out and let people know, and that’s why I really wanna get that out for other businesses.
Because on a daily basis almost, we get calls, people, or e-mails saying do you know where I can get chicken just like yours? Or you know, things like that. So people are craving it, they want it.
Scott Martineau: Love it. Well, Pam, you are really hard to not love. We love you.
Pam Dierks: Oh, thank you.
Clate Mask: You’re awesome.
Scott Martineau: Yeah, and thanks for everything that you do and represent.
Clate Mask: Thank you.
Pam Dierks: We appreciate everything that you do.
Clate Mask: Thank you.
Scott Martineau: You need to figure out how to do subscription, “I own the cow,” and maybe that’s how you accelerate your production, is you get people to actually start paying on the cow as a calf.
Pam Dierks: What an idea, that’s a way to automate.
Scott Martineau: What a bad idea.
All right, well, thanks again, Pam. So for you listeners, check the show-notes for the links we talked about and go buy some more beef, and then implement the campaigns so you can buy more beef and then get on the – what did you call it? Buyers’ club?
Is that the name of your first program?
Pam Dierks: Yeah, no, the first program is a buyers’ club for two people and/or a deluxe buyers’ club for a family.
Scott Martineau: Love it.
Pam Dierks: We have two.
Scott Martineau: All right, well, thanks again for your time today, Pam, and thanks, listeners, hope you got a lot out of this. Go out and do great things in your business. And I just wanna make one more point, which is maybe think about what’s the mental block you have in your business that’s keeping you from selling meat direct figuratively?
What’s your insulated box you’re gonna fill up with the right amount of dry ice? Because I know there’s probably something that you’re stuck on right now. Let’s find that thing, let’s blow through it – start small, make great progress, and do good things. Change the world.
All right, thanks everybody, thanks, Pam.
Clate Mask: Thanks, Pam.
Pam Dierks: Okay, thank you.
Scott Martineau: And we’ll call that a wrap for this episode of the Small Business Success podcast.