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MMV #014: Spicy Marketing

Published 8 months ago • 8 min read

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In the crosshairs: Jaden & Erica Peck

You may never think about spices as being much more than just something you add to your food. But for Jaden and Erica Peck, spices are much more than that.

They are a way of expressing their creativity, a path to financial independence, and a means of helping other veterans in need.

Jaden and Erica are the founders of Mississippi River Flavor Company, a seasoning company that offers over 50 unique flavors, 8 rubs, dip mixes, cheesecake mixes, and more. They sell their products online and in farmers’ markets, and have aspirations to expand to retail and wholesale. They’ve even had other companies request they do their manufacturing for them.

But their success didn’t come easy. In fact, they had to overcome some of the toughest challenges imaginable.

From Chefs to Homeless

Jaden and Erica met in the Air Force, where they both served as chefs in the Nuclear Missile fields. They loved cooking and creating their own seasonings, and often gifted their creations to friends and family.

But when they got out of the military in 2010, they faced a harsh reality. They had three kids with Erica pregnant with their fourth.

They had no job, no house, and no money.

They were in a Catch-22 situation. They couldn’t get a job without a house, and they couldn’t get a house without a job. They were forced to stay with family to make ends meet, but they they knew this wasn’t sustainable.

They had some heartbreaking experiences along the way.

The first was like something out of a bad Hallmark movie. While living in Pittsburg they were walking up a hill in the rain to a church holding three kids trying to get diapers. The church just gave them an umbrella and sent them on their way.

At rock bottom, they had to sell their wedding bands for gas money to get to NY, and needed to borrow money from a military friend in Alaska to pay to repair their broken car.

It was at this point they knew they had to figure something else out. They couldn’t keep living like this.

They spent six dark months bouncing between people’s couches, until they were finally able to scrape together a living and get back on their feet.

For awhile.

A Spicy Idea

Jaden came up with the idea to create a seasoning company in April 2020, when they both lost their jobs due to COVID. They’re not the type to sit and wait for things to happen to them. They wanted to take control of their lives.

Jaden has always been the idea guy. He constantly comes up with new business concepts, and he designs all the flavors, labels, names, and t-shirts for Mississippi River Flavor Company. He even designed and built the website himself.

Erica, on the other hand, is the operationally-minded one. She handles the finances, inventory, orders, and customer service. She also supports Jaden’s ideas and helps him execute them.

They decided to turn their hobby into a business. They always made their own seasonings and gifted them to friends and family, who loved them.

Why not sell them to the public?

They sent out 200 samples of the four seasonings they originally created to get feedback and got some great reviews. By May 2020, they had 12 different blends ready for their local farmer’s market.

They couldn’t have been more surprised by how well their recipes did. People loved their products and kept coming back for more. Before long, they started getting orders from all over the country and even Canada.

It started to turn into a game for them.

They kept creating new flavors based on their own tastes and preferences. Jaden likes to create unique flavors using all-natural ingredients that you can actually and enjoys experimenting with weird, unique ideas like cherry cola BBQ, bourbon- and beer-based flavors, and wild game rubs.

The weirdest ideas they’ve had? Oatmeal and dessert seasoning.

While they scale and perfect their processes, they manufacture, mix, and bottle everything themselves in their home kitchen.

It keeps costs down, keeps them intimately familiar with the process, and ensures quality production for every item sold.

They also have a ton of fun naming for their flavors, like Cluck Norris (chicken seasoning), Spice Spice Baby (vanilla spice), and Getting Piggy With It (pork rub).

Erica loves play on words names, so Jaden does it to make her smile. Something they cherish as spousal business partners.

A Growing Success

Jaden and Erica’s business has been growing steadily since they started it. They have been voted Best New Veteran Owned Business in the Midwest in 2022, and have been featured in several media outlets.

These two also know how to roll with the punches.

The day before I spoke with them, GoDaddy randomly decided to delete their website after hosting it for more than two years. The very website their entire product line is sold.

Instead of losing sleep over it, Jaden is simply learning how to build their new website on Shopify. He’s the epitome of a lifelong learner.

Mississippi River Flavor does most of their marketing through Facebook and LinkedIn, but they rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals. They’re lifelong learners and are constantly in school, which gives them the opportunity to pitch their company to their classmates.

They also got a free 30-second commercial from winning the Best Veteran Company competition, which you can check out here.

They have big plans for the future and are looking to use their success to give back.

Given their own experience with homelessness, they want to help other veterans who are struggling in similar situations. They work with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) and other organizations to donate their products and money in support of their cause.

They are eternally grateful for the opportunity they have been given, and want to pay it forward.

A Lesson for All

Jaden and Erica’s story is inspiring and uplifting. They demonstrate to us that no matter how hard life gets, there is always a way out. They prove that passion, creativity, and perseverance can lead to amazing results.

More importantly, they remind us that generosity, kindness, and gratitude can make a positive impact in the world.

They are not just spice makers. They are spice changers.

If you want to learn more about them and their products, check out their website [here]. You can also follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

And if you want to spice up your life, try some of their flavors. You won’t regret it.

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs):

You have a great product. You know it can solve a problem for your target customers. You are passionate about your business and want to share it with the world.

But how do you get people to notice you? How do you attract and retain a loyal audience that will buy from and spread the word about you?

Marketing is not easy. It takes time, effort, and creativity. It also requires a strategy that aligns with your goals, your brand, and your audience.

In this article, I will share some tips and insights from successful entrepreneurs and creators who have mastered the art of marketing their products and growing their audiences. These are people like Justin Welsh, Ben Meer, and Dan Koe, who have built thriving online businesses and communities by providing value, education, and entertainment to their followers.

Whether you are a veteran who wants to start a business or who already has one and wants to grow it, you can learn from these experts and apply their tactics to your own marketing efforts.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Start with what you know. Find your niche, your unique value proposition, and your ideal customer profile. Use data and research to validate your assumptions and test your ideas.
  • Use social media to engage your audience. Create content that showcases your expertise, solves problems, and sparks conversations. Use different platforms and formats to reach different segments of your audience.
  • Focus on audience preferences. Learn what your audience wants, needs, and expects from you. Use feedback, surveys, analytics, and experiments to understand their behavior, preferences, and pain points. Tailor your content and offers to match their interests and desires.
  • Use postcards to stand out. In a digital world, physical mail can be a powerful way to grab attention and build relationships. Send postcards to your prospects and customers with personalized messages, offers, or invitations. Make them feel special and appreciated.
  • Create an affiliate program. Leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing by rewarding your existing customers for referring new ones. Create an incentive system that motivates them to share your product with their friends, family, and network.
  • Invest in retargeting ads. Don’t let your website visitors slip away without taking action. Use retargeting ads to remind them of your product and persuade them to come back and buy from you. Use different messages and offers based on their behavior and stage in the buyer journey.
  • Create a customer loyalty program. Retaining customers is cheaper and more profitable than acquiring new ones. Create a loyalty program that rewards your customers for repeat purchases, referrals, reviews, or other actions that benefit your business. Make them feel valued and loyal to your brand.
  • Partner with influencers. Influencers are people who have a large and engaged following in your niche or industry. They can help you reach new audiences, boost your credibility, and drive traffic and sales to your product. Find influencers who share your values, vision, and voice, and collaborate with them on campaigns that benefit both parties.

These are just some of the ways you can market your product and grow your audience online. There are many more strategies and tactics you can try, depending on your goals, budget, and resources.

The key is to be consistent, creative, and customer-centric. Marketing is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires constant learning, testing, and improving.

Ultimately, the goal of marketing is to tell your story in a way that resonates with your audience and makes them believe in you and your company.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you did, please share it with someone who might benefit from it too.

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