I want to introduce you to Natalie Kinmond: The Queen of Gourmet Marshmallows.
I came across Natalie's business, Marsh Loves Mallow a little while ago via the power of social media and really loved what she was doing with her marketing. I definitely recommend taking a look at Marsh Loves Mallow on Facebook, Instagram as well as the Marsh Loves Mallow website - www.marshlovesmallow.co.uk.
So I decided to ask whether she would answer a few questions to share her wisdom with others about how she got started and how she finds marketing and she very kindly agreed...
Stacey Tillott Marketing (STM): Firstly, what made you start a business making marshmallows?
Marsh Loves Mallow (MLM): I've always been happiest in the kitchen, either cooking dinner for friends & family or throwing a party or BBQ, or just simply baking to relax. I have thought about opening my own little cafe or shop as a dream career for a long time, using the skills I'm good at, love applying and creating something that could be successful.
I kind of knew that owning my own business was going to happen at some point in my life, due to a number of family members going down the entrepreneur route themselves. I just needed to get that confidence from somewhere and it took me until my mid thirties and the threat of redundancy to give me the push I needed to drop the corporate job and get the wheels in motion.
I'd always loved baking cupcakes and brownies (I still do), but felt like the market was saturated so kept trying to think of something different to do. Around Valentines day 4 years ago I saw a recipe in a a magazine for handmade marshmallows that you could make for a valentines gift and I decided to give them a go for my other half...he has a sweet tooth and loves all my makes and bakes (he's slightly biased obviously).
I'd never known how marshmallows were made and just got excited about it all, did some research on what other producers were out there and 2 days after Valentines Day 'Marsh Loves Mallow' was born and registered as a domain name.
I became obsessed with trying to perfect new flavours and the overall texture of my mallow, testing them on colleagues, family and friends whatever chance I could get. It then took the 3 years in between to finally have the push to make it into a business, I'm now only 10 months in and everything is a learning curve! Who knows if it will ever be the little cafe or shop I once imagined, more and more things are online these days.
For now it's all about getting the brand known via artisan food markets & events, online and social media platforms...and obviously word of mouth!
STM: Your branding is lovely! How did you come up with the logo and colours you use? Did you work with a designer?
MLM: Thank you! I suppose the brand is a reflection of what I love, like the product itself. Bright colours make me happy and I want my marshmallows to make people happy when they eat them...food always makes me happy!
The burst of colour behind the original looking marshmallow in my logo represents all the different flavours we create and put in our mallows. I wanted the brand to be fun like the marshmallows themselves, but also attract a customer that liked the little luxuries in life due to the cost and ingredients associated with our delicious mallows.
I always had this idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, I just needed to find the right designer and for the budget I had (which is hard when first starting out). I dealt with one lovely designer for a couple of months but she just couldn't get the marshmallow right or the feel of the brand.
I then did some more research and actually found a website called Fiverr that allowed me to view designers portfolios from around the world and who could work with my budget. Her work mirrored the type of text I wanted and the water colour splash alongside it - she asked for 3 designs off me that I would like her to work with, asked me what my brand was looking to achieve and the customer it wanted to attract and we went from there.
STM: 5 Top Tips for creating your visual brand?
Create something that is visually appealing - Remember the 3 second rule - People make their mind up in 3 seconds whether or not they want to keep looking and find out more.
Make sure your branding is actually aimed at your dream customer - A boring stuffy looking brand won't attract a young female audience if that's your dream customer
When creating the visuals/logo, go in with an idea of what you would like, it will help the designer get a grasp of what your looking for and what kind of branding you actually want - Do some research, create a mood board, get it all down on/in something.
Shop around - Don't go with the first designer or friend that can do a bit of graphic design. This is your business, so be very sure about what you want in the end and don't be scared to say 'No' you don't like it.
Set a budget and stick to it - You can upgrade your branding later on when you can afford a bigger budget, a number of big brands have and it hasn't harmed them, when done right. So come up with a good logo/brand to start with that fits your budget 'Now', and change if necessary as your business grows or changes direction.
STM: Your social media marketing has a lovely, chatty tone to it. How important is it to your business? And do you have any tips for other food businesses?
MLM: I think it's really important to my business, for people to see who they are buying from and what they are buying. I'm a bubbly, happy, chatty kind of personality and I like to interact with my followers and customers in that way. It means it's not forced and it's more natural. I am the brand because there's no one else at the minute, so it reflects me and what I make.
I personally feel that if you want people to buy into the brand, especially if a small business you have to become their friend almost, assure them about what they are buying, what goes into it, the love, the passion, why you do it, why you use the ingredients you do. People are buying from independents more and more these days because they like to know where it came from, who made it and with what.
STM: Tips for other food businesses?
MLM: Just be friendly, helpful, and honest about what you use in your ingredients, how things are made, where they can buy your products. Give them an insight into what you've been up to that day via an image, words or even a video, take great images (no blurry ones!) Don't even bother posting if it's blurry, just take another shot.
You don't need the best camera when starting out, just learn to use your mobile and it's settings properly. Try taking the shot from various angles and heights to see what works best, just make sure your product looks edible and makes the customer think 'I want to try that'.
Let the customer or follower into your world, take them on your journey, they'll enjoy watching you grow. Post as much as you can, but if that means you only have content for one post a day or every 2 days then that's fine - Pop a question on your stories in between to keep the brand in their minds eye, what would they like to see? Or just even a random question, like a friend would. And if you need a break from social media....then do it! It can be all consuming sometimes, and you just need sometime to catch up with family and friends. Your followers will understand.
STM: How do you finding selling at markets and do you have any top tips for others who may be venturing into markets for the first time in 2019?
MLM: Don't rate yourself against other producers. One market might be great for them, and may not be great for you, but also visa versa. They may have been doing it for months and years and have built up a strong following. Don't compete, just be yourself, be friendly with the customers, tell them about your brand, be passionate about what you do.
Try and get to the markets yourself and see what the footfall is like beforehand if possible, before you sign up. If not ask around and try and make your mind up, in the end you just have to take a chance and see what happens with some markets. Remember some markets get booked up months in advance so plan these well for when you are thinking of starting up.
Try venturing outside of your area to grow the brand online if you are able to sell online or to grow your brand so that people will visit you in the future from other regions just to come and eat/drink your produce because they remember how good it was.
When you're signed up and ready to go, remember to tag these markets in your social media posts, they'll probably repost and then that opens up you up to a bigger audience than your current followers. It's all about growing your audience by creating a visually appealing brand that stands out on social media, through online advertising, and local and regional markets.
Check out Marsh Loves Mallow:
Natalie Kinmond - the face of Marsh Loves Mallow