Bringing the lessons of social media to the real world, part 2: long-tail selling

My answer to the problem of oversaturation? Focus on one event or message and stay on target. Dave Lefkow of J&D Foods had laser focus on an idea: make everything taste like bacon. Now presiding over a budding empire that includes Bacon Salt and Baconnaise, Dave’s now worried about making enough Bacon Salt for everyone to have some. This is a good problem to have, and one that wouldn’t have happened nearly as fast without the help of social media. Dave and his business partner Justin have a great idea, they talk about it in a way that sounds human and not solely brand-driven, and they have found a market with few substitutes. Let’s take a look.

Why has Bacon Salt succeeded so far? It’s trendy to think that the Chris Anderson-termed “long-tail” selling of specialty items is bound to succeed without a whole lot of effort once you find the critical mass of people who like thing you’re selling. But as Andy Sernovitz of Gas Pedal points out, Bacon Salt has succeeded by finding its audience, being active in the right places (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogging), and by being easy to remember. They make everything taste like bacon.

Dave also sounds approachable and consistently so in a variety of media formats. Dave’s blog posts (baconsaltblog) and his tweets (find them at @baconsalt) have the right mix between a secret window into product testing and a friendly conversation between an entrepreneur and his fellow bacon-crazed fans. I enjoy hearing about the escapades of the team — either in the discovery of a new recipe or the ecstatic excitement of national news coverage — because it always sounds like Dave’s talking instead of just blandly twittering the latest marketing promo.

Finally, it helps to have few good substitutes for your product. Dave and team are also successful because they opened the bacon-flavoring market to two groups with heavy pent-up demand for bacon: vegetarians and people who keep kosher. There are few good substitutes for real bacon for these two groups of people, and the product’s obviously been successful there. It’s also strongly appealing to those who like bacon but can’t eat it for other health reasons. Bacon manufacturers can’t compete in a market with people who don’t eat their product, and in fact Bacon Salt is even complimentary to … bacon.

So what has the Bacon Salt team taught us about using the lessons of social media? Step 1: find a laser focus for your idea. Step 2: communicate in a way that reminds people that you’re a real person. Step 3: find an underserved market. Don’t count on the Long Tail to sell your idea by itself. Find a great idea and use the tools of social media to share that idea with the other people who can’t wait for the next recipe you can dream up.


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