Do you dream of leaving your day job and making a career of a hobby? Rick Field made it happen. As a VH-1 producer, he had created a very successful career at the center of breaking pop culture. But, on the weekends he used his grandmother’s recipes and methods to pickle anything that came to mind – from cucumbers to cauliflower. Now Rick’s Picks produces tasty pickles with cool names like Phat Beets that can be found on grocery store shelves all over the country.
When it was just hobby, Rick found a way to put his product in front of potential customers and get immediate feedback. The Greenmarket, New York City’s network of farmer’s markets, allowed him to set up shop at a card table, share his products as samples, and get the market feedback that helped him tweak recipes and decide which products had big potential.
As a VH-1 producer, he was accustomed to making a plan and doing whatever it took to get the media’s attention and securing the placement he desired. This time, he planned to allow things to happen more naturally. He had a friend on the Oprah staff who came to his aid and got him placement in the O magazine. But, the real tipping point came when the New York Times found him and wrote an article about the endeavor in 2005.
A buyer at Whole Foods read the article and placed a call. The meeting was set and he prepared to give his pitch on Rick’s Picks to the large distribution channel. They met at a store, without the luxury of a boardroom to host the traditional PowerPoint pitch. They met on the loading dock and he was asked one basic question: “Why should Whole Foods carry your product?”
Field’s advice to “keep your pitch simple” perfectly fits this situation. He focused on two things: branding and differentiation. He had a trendy, fun brand that fit Whole Food’s customers, and he was pickling interesting vegetables such as green beans with unique recipes. But are they crisp? Rick will say that if your pickles are not crisp, you are not in the pickle business. That is a differentiator.
Rick has been very successful in securing a wide distribution of this fun brand and now has a big team working with him. But he still is quick to remind the future entrepreneur that his Blackberry still rings at 3 am and requires him to take action. He is passionate about his product, so it never gets old. Ensure you are passionate enough to continue answering the phone at all hours before you walk away from the day job.
The all-important advice to “never stop listening to your customers” also plays into Rick’s strategy. He uses social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to get customer feedback. This is where he heard the complaint: You’re a New Yorker, why don’t you have a dill pickle? That is where the People’s Choice Garlic Dill Pickle recipe came from.
Visit the website, order your favorite and enjoy the taste of a unique pickle while dreaming about your next endeavor.
After completing the Communicate to Win workshop, you will have the most compelling argument and the best ideas. With this complete package, you will gain the tools necessary to guarantee that you have the best ideas and that you can present them confidently so you will WIN. Read what participants say.
photo by Katrina Snaps. Used by permission.