Tate Glasgow might have the tastiest marketing career in the world, or at least in the Mountain West of the USA. He currently serves as the VP of Marketing at Killer Creamery, a health food brand that makes, wait for it, keto ice cream. Tate strives to live healthily at home and work and envisions, creating a collaborative work environment where creative minds and strategists can bring their ideas to life. From branding to consumer engagement, Tate bites into every opportunity that allows a project to grow and expand. In this article, we find out how he helped turn an ice cream stall in Boise Farmers Market into a rapidly growing business which sells both online and in major supermarket chains.
The Ingredients for a Good Career
Several years ago, Tate bid good riddance to the corporate world to take his career into his own hands. That’s when he started doing contract marketing for small companies within his area.
Things were going well enough.
Then one beautiful Summer day, Tate and his wife visited their local Farmers Market in downtown Boise. Just as the market was closing for the day, Tate happened upon a small booth selling low-sugar, protein-packed ice cream. That booth belonged to Killer Creamery. For Tate, there was no turning down this so-called healthy ice cream.
It was love at first bite.
While enjoying his late afternoon delight, Tate conversed with Killer Creamery’s founder, Louis Armstrong (no, not that one), and the two hit it off immediately. Tate learned that Louis had a background in food science and that he’d worked for a well-known salad dressing manufacturer in Northern Idaho for 12 years. “He just decided to go out on his own and do this protein ice cream idea that he’d had forever,” Tate told me.
Tate promised to reach out in the coming weeks to learn more about Louis's business, as well as to discover how he could acquire more of their tasty product consistently.
But at the time, Killer Creamery only distributed through their booths at the Farmers Market and through a few local gyms–none of which Tate frequented.
Killer Creamery desperately needed to expand. And coincidentally, Louis needed marketing help.
After a short email, a phone call, and a meeting at Starbucks, a partnership was born.
Who says serendipity doesn’t exist?
Churning Ideas for Success
The keto diet has actually been around for a while but has seen a massive surge in popularity recently. According to Tate, it started going mainstream about two years ago.
But the idea to make keto-friendly ice cream was still a gamble.
"With the keto ice cream, we really didn't know what to expect at that point," Tate said. "You know, keto was being talked about, but it wasn't forefront in everybody's mind. We got something up and running and online and then man, our keto ice cream just took over our sales. People were going crazy about it, and we shifted our focus in that direction entirely."
Using Shopify Data to Drive Wholesale
This is where Killer Creamery's story gets fascinating.
“It’s one thing to sell ice cream in little cups at a gym,” Tate told me. “It's another thing to present to buyers with pints and move to a standard grocery [or storefront].”
Tate knew that if they could get detailed sales data for their product, they'd have a big stick to swing at significant grocers and retailers.
Tate went to work on the brand, maximizing the online reach and improving the face of Killer Creamery as a health-conscious frozen dessert company. He knew it would be more expensive to sell online due to shipping costs (shipping frozen food isn’t cheap), but he also knew the power of brand-building online.
First things first, Tate and Louis launched an online store using Shopify. Through their work with influencers and advertising, the brand grew, and so did sales. Sales growth is actually quite surprising considering a pint of Killer Creamery’s ice cream currently sells for $35.96 on their website!
But people loved it. Let me repeat that. People loved it!
Those online sales equated to significant sales location data.
"The best part about Shopify for me is the ability to pull data based on location," Tate said. "So right now we're already in a bunch of stores on the west coast, but on the east coast, we don't have very many stores. But we're able to continue that data collection on the B2C side and see pockets of sales where people seem to be either talking about us more or more interested. Then when we're talking to stores in that area, we can say, 'Hey, we have 500 customers in a 50-mile radius that they have enough money to buy our products online, which are expensive."
It stands to reason that those 500 customers would much rather buy the product at a lower price point. Plus, those 500 customers are the diehard fans; people who went in search of keto ice cream. From this point, Tate could easily argue that those 500 people likely represent thousands in walk-in sales from more typically health-conscious people.
Killer Creamery's ultimate goal is and has always been, to fill stores across the country with their products. That's where the money is at for most F&B companies.
Which means that Shopify is more of a marketing tool for Killer Creamery, not a distribution channel.
The Right Way to Work with Influencers
You can’t have a marketing conversation these days without hearing about the supposed super-channel called influencer marketing. As the advice goes: find influencers (i.e., people with a lot of followers on Instagram in your niche), pay them money to mention your product, and watch the sales roll in.
Seems like a no-brainer. After all, word of mouth is the most potent form of marketing there is. And isn't influencer marketing just word-of-mouth marketing on steroids?
Tate doesn’t think so.
“We started off really hot on the influencer side of things,” Tate said. “We were sending products doing the ambassador code thing.”
From there, the influencer would share the discount code and product with their audience. “But it was obvious that the consumer was starting to catch on. They rightly didn’t feel as much trust with somebody who's offering them a discount code for their own benefit. You know, they may not even enjoy the product, but they share the product because they’re getting paid. So there's a little disconnect, disconnect and trust there from the consumer to the ambassador.”
Killer Creamery has since shifted its strategy with influencers to something that's way more authentic and drives sales.
"It's a bigger loss on the books, but if you look at it from a brand-building standpoint, it's important," Tate told me. "Basically, we've just been hunting down smaller influencers in our store areas that are keto-lifestylers. We just offer them the product and some info on the product and ask them to DM us what they think. More often than not, they end up posting or sharing about the product and how they love it. It's a more down to earth way to go about it, and it's far less sales-y."
One of our other entrepreneurs, Jan Sapper of PaperLike, employs a similar strategy with influencers to great effect.
If you’re interested in being at the forefront of influencer marketing, avoid the influencer marketplaces. Instead, make a great product and send it to people who want it and are active online.
What's more, they don't need to have hundreds of thousands of followers. One of the best places to make an impact these days is to work with influencers in the low-to-mid five figures.
Quick Tips for F&B Marketers
Invest in Great Photography
"Make sure that you've got a great photographer that has a good understanding of your brand and your brand feel. And make sure that they're showing the product in its best light because that's ultimately what the customers are making their decision from. They're trying that product with their eyes every time they look at it. There's plenty of places out there to learn how to do decent photography.
Respond to all correspondence on social media
Companies that don’t respond to like comments on Instagram or Facebook from a brand depth standpoint? That's the ultimate no-no for me. You have to create an environment where the consumer feels like they're talking to another person. And if they have a comment or send a DM, they sure as heck need to be getting a response from somebody on your team, whether it's the CEO or an outsourced customer service agent. No matter what they commented, it's super important that they feel responded to and that their concerns or praise are answered. I still see some brands that fall short in that, especially some startup companies.”
As always, there was far more in this conversation than we could possibly include in one article. But we’re working on releasing these conversations in audio format soon, pending edits and approval from our interview subjects. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about when we move forward on the podcast.
If you’re interested in picking up a pint of Killer Creamery ice cream yourself, or simply want to follow the brand, check them out at killercreamery.com and follow them on Instagram for the tastiest of updates.