In this edition of the Ignite University Podcast, John Lincoln interviews Lori Taylor, Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms.
Learn how Lori has built a passion-based business that helps people around the world through fresh produce.
What You Will Learn
- Why passion is needed in business
- How to align your life goals with your work
- Why you need to eat fresh produce
- How Lori leaving her job was a blessing in disguise
- How Lori does her marketing for The Produce Mom
- How to outsource your weaknesses
- And more
[00:02:40] John: Alright, welcome to Ignite Visibility listeners. Today I have Lori Taylor. Lori has nearly 10 years of experience in the fresh produce industry and is founder and CEO of the Produce Mom, and the Produce Mom is passionate about advocating for the fresh produce industry, inspiring families to eat more fruits and vegetables, introducing consumers to the produce brands in rallying the produce industry to converse with the customer. So very excited to have Lori on today on Ignite Visibility University and Lori, how are you today? What’s your day looking like and how are things going?
[00:03:18] Lori Taylor: Thank you, John. Things are good. It’s a beautiful day here in Indianapolis, Indiana and my team and I have been busy at work working on all sorts of different upcoming campaigns and strategies getting ready, you know, for the season change coming into that spring and summertime fresh produce a lot of a lot of incredible marketing opportunities await for us and a lot of points of inspiration for all the folks that we connect with at the Produce Moms.
[00:03:48] John: Awesome, I definitely want to get into that a little bit seasonality how that impacts marketing, but before we kind of jump into it. Tell us a little bit about you in your role, kind of your story. You know, how did you start the Produce Mom? And what makes you passionate about produce?
[00:04:05] Lori Taylor: Yeah, well, really my passion stems from my days at the sales desk for 10 years, I sold fresh produce over 300 grocery stores in the United States, all different types of sizes and format. So I was taking care of, you know, everything from college juice bars and organic grocery stores, to Mexican bodegas to your large format stories like Kroger and so I just developed this real comprehensive and unique understanding of the fresh food supply chain. I really fell in love with how food is culture and how fresh produce is at the cornerstone of, of that, you know, it’s kind of that common thread that unites all of these different cultures and how we celebrate life with food and I just started to see my, see the work that I was doing is very purpose driven and mission driven when you evaluate what’s happening in the world right now where goodness like 90% of children are eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and to be honest with you adults are that much better.
You know, there’s, there’s a lot of work to be done and there’s an it’s, I don’t think it’s a lack of awareness that we should be eating more fresh produce, I don’t even think it’s a disinterested and fresh produce. I think most people agree that Yeah, fruits and vegetables, we might not like all of them, but everyone pretty much has a favorite among, you know, a favorite fruit or a favorite vegetable. It’s really the education behind it and as I was, you know, evaluating what was out there, and these are during my days in the supply chain, as someone who’s, you know, serving as an account manager and selling produce to retailers.
I was looking online. This was a you know, approximately 2010 I just become a mom and I’m like, man, there is nothing online that is a comprehensive destination, that’s all about fruits and vegetables that’s all about the produce department and I worked at the wholesale distribution stage of the supply chain. So in my day to day life I was immersed in that we sold every single item to stock a produce department and it just to me felt it felt like a vacancy within our very powerful and mobile industry that there wasn’t this comprehensive destination and felt you know, the growers were doing a good job with their marketing efforts.
Marketing was really starting to come alive, at that time, you know, people were really pushing to de-commoditize our industry and when I say people I mean the brand So, for instance, Sun kissed, all right, well, sun kissed is all they can talk about a citrus fruit. That’s what they grow. That’s what they represent but you’re hard pressed to be honest to find someone. You know, your average consumer just really isn’t interested nor do they have the time to opt into the marketing and follow along in the marketing for each and every one of the commodities that they buy and love in the produce department, to arduous, too overwhelming.
They don’t know the brands and yet I realized as I’m sitting at the sales desk and at this point I had transitioned into a marketing role at the top at the at my former employer and at that point I realized man everyone’s at the grower level they’re doing pretty good job you know they’re starting to bring forward blogs and invest in marketing strategies but it’s just not reaching that B-C audience despite doing marketing for the B-C crowd or for the consumer crowd. I should say they are not it’s not reaching the consumer and so that was when my wheels really started spinning and I thought we are so position really we are the only stage of the supply chain as the full as the full service produce department supplier were the only state of the supply chain that can talk about everything in the produce department and that was really what I felt I was missing in my personal and my professional Life and so that’s when I conceptualize the Produce Mom, which started as a blog and it started as work for hire and as it grew, the reason it was a we were able to grow it at Indianapolis Fruit Company, which is where I worked for over 10 years.
We commercialize that effort internally, you know, we were saying, we said, okay, we’re going to come forward with this blog and I pitched the concept to my bosses, they approved it and we commercialize the effort by working with our vendors. You know, whether it’s an exchange of advice or actual marketing, you know, a new vertical of income where they would invest in marketing at Indie fruit, and then we would push forward content through the Produce Mom. com, to educate the consumer audience and it was in August of 2015, that my former employer said, hey, you’re doing good work, but actually This point, you know, we’re, we’re essentially done with this didn’t the fruit it’s not serving our core purpose, it’s pretty much just paying for your salary. We’re not really getting the capital gain out of this…
[00:09:12] John: And was that a blessing in disguise for you in some ways?
[00:09:15] Lori Taylor: 100%, of course, when it happened, I felt like, you know, I was in a relationship that was breaking up, and I didn’t and I was getting dumped, you know, and I was upset about it and it was hard to not take that personally. But now as I look back on the journey, so it’s been about three and a half years, I’ve owned this business now and they, I realized, man, they really empowered this whole thing and they provided me with a great opportunity to sell the Produce Moms to me, as opposed to you know, offering it out to another buyer, or just shut down the operation all together and so it was absolutely the biggest blessing. It was the tipping point of this Brand it was when we were able to take off that, you know, employee hat and just put on that authenticity hat and that’s really what has. That’s what’s been our springboard in terms of our ability to really be a change agent for the produce industry, as well as authentically connect with the consumer audience.
[00:10:22] John: Well, for you know, every type of it every entrepreneur, there’s kind of that that time when you know the entrepreneur has, has something that happens that makes them go out on their own, looks like you have that and it’s led to, you know, a great deal of success and I was really impressed with a lot of the marketing stuff that I saw that you were doing, and we’re going to get into that but in addition to that, I just absolutely love how you’re a purpose driven organization. I feel like every organization needs to have a purpose needs to have a heart.
I have that. You know, I help others through digital marketing. You’re doing the same thing. In a specific vertical. You got something that drives you every day and that’s just awesome to see. So I have another question for you and before we get into kind of some of the marketing stuff that I want to get into, what don’t people know about the food that they’re eating right now? I know that you went through that a little bit but you know, this is a big part of your message and you know, eating fresh is important and you know, not eating fresh is terrible for, I mean, what are some important takeaways? I have two kids. Yeah, I would just love to get a snippet on that…
[00:11:28] Lori Taylor: Well, fresh produce is the absolute best thing you can put in your body, no ifs, ands, or buts and I want everyone listening today to understand that all produce is good for you and you know, we simply live in an amazing place here in the United States, the most secure nation in the world. So when we walk into a grocery store here in the States, we have the option to choose if we want something that is conventionally grown or organically grown, we have the option to choose if we want greenhouse grown or field grown, we have the option to choose, am I going to shop at a traditional grocery? Or am I going to go to the farmers market? Those are options that don’t that array of options does not exist in any other country around the world and what I want everyone to know is that all of those choices are correct. All of those choices are good. All produce is good for you.
I think that if it’s a, it’s a, it’s a tagline or a motto that I say often, the produce department is a guilt free zone. I really want people to understand that. There’s a lot of … Yeah, there’s a lot of misinformation out there as it relates to food and, and really it’s, it’s the misinformation is stemming from people who are extraordinarily passionate and you should be passionate about what you’re putting in your body. You should be like that should be your Pinnacle passionate, right? However, you cannot misrepresent passion for facts, you cannot misrepresent passion for truth there are there are situations where people are discouraging the consumption of specific types of fresh produce purely based on their personal passions and what that does is it creates a cycle of guilt among parents and other adults.
It creates a, it really affects the lower income consumer demographic, when really we’re talking about fruits and vegetables here, this should be a very positive thing. There is there should not be negativity taking our industry the way it is and that is, that’s what I want people to know. I want people to know that in the produce department. There is no such thing as you might see on and we’re getting better as an industry where you know, you see things on packages like, Oh, I’m looking at a package of cotton candy grapes and it says non GMO. Well guess what, there’s no such thing as a GMO grape. It doesn’t exist.
So we’re calling it out because of this influx of misinformation out there and it’s, you know, it’s kind of like this ultimate conundrum for the growers. Like, if I don’t put it on there as my products still going to sell, or if it does sell, or people going to be bombarding my office with inquiries about whether or not it’s GMO, so they just stamp it on the package as the, you know, solution. Um, but that is so that is really that’s probably the top thing I want people to know, as it relates to the facts about fruits and vegetables…
[00:14:32] John: I love that, I love that…
[00:14:34] Lori Taylor: Yeah, yeah and, yeah, so there’s, I mean, there’s there I just, it’s, it should be positive. It’s a wonderful, think of how amazing it is that pretty much everything we do in life. Food is part of that. You know, and we should continue to have passion about that part in our life because it doesn’t matter if you’re if you’re celebrating, if you’re grieving. If you’re going through the motions, you know, fruits and vegetables are part of all those moments in life and it’s really cool to be part of the part of that process of bringing you, you know, when I when I sat in the sales desk and brought the product to the grocery store working directly in this passion and now as someone who’s focusing on really the education and the media, helping people develop that confidence and that understanding on how to consume more fruits and vegetables and both volume and variety…
[00:15:34] John: So Ignite Visibility University this stuff is important it’ll help you become a better person a better marketer feel better recently, you know, and it’s kind of full circle stuff here. You know, I spoke at this Branstorm event, that’s how I was introduced to Lori and you know, even since then, and over the last couple months, been eating a lot more, you know, just fresh fruits and vegetables, feeling a lot healthier and I just think It’s such an important message. So I have 100% behind you, Lori and I’m happy that we’re able to get that message out today. You know another thing and another reason I wanted to talk to you today is being a digital marketing expert and working with a lot of other marketers. I was really impressed by the way that you’ve grown your blog. I see you’ve got some, some good search engine rankings, I see that you are firing pop ups on the website, you’ve got a podcast going, you’ve got eBooks going, you’ve got recipes, you’ve got challenges, you’ve got social media, and I just absolutely love seeing that. I love seeing people who get it and who are good at what they do. Talk to us a little bit about the marketing side, like how did you start with the blog? How have you been growing it and kind of managing it and maybe giving some tips for other people who want to start an educational style blog and, and just general presence online and help others?
[00:16:53] Lori Taylor: Right. Well, I think it really starts with I did the very first thing you need to do is identify why you’re doing it and you have to, you have to declare your mission, declare your Y, know it forward and backwards and every single action, every single investment, every single effort that you make should serve that mission and at the Produce Moms, our mission is to change the way America eats by increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables. That’s why when you come to the Produce Moms. com or when you follow us on a social media channel, or subscribe to our podcast, what you’re going to learn about is exactly that, fruits and vegetables are inspiring stories that are going to ignite your interest in eating more.
Don’t, don’t be afraid to put a very, a barrier or a fence around your passion and building a business right off of that and you know, I we see a lot of influencers, it’s obvious influencers blogs, there’s, there’s, I mean, there’s millions, right I mean, like there’s, it’s, it’s almost it’s almost to the point where If someone identifies my business as a, or an identifies me as a blogger, I’m like, No, actually, I’m not a blogger. You know, I’m a very strategic thinker and I’ve built a real business and I don’t, I mean that. I say that because I have developed. I have grown into that because when this thing started, it was it truly was a WordPress blog but it was a WordPress blog that where we were, we were simply creating content and cut you know, pushing out copy and imagery that’s all about fruits and vegetables.
A lot of our best performing posts are like on Pinterest, we have a crockpot artichoke blog, for instance and it’s doing so well. I took those photos with my Nokia flip phone in 2012 and I have not changed them because it’s like the shoe fits. It’s still going. Certainly we have you know, updated that photography and in our recipe database you have, you can the blog with, you know, the more updated photography, but I think that my first piece of advice is know why you’re doing it and then my second piece of advice is go. I mean, done is better than coming soon when it comes to your entrepreneurial and marketing journey, right?
But don’t go out blindly. You know, take that step after you really thought about what you’re going to do and why you’re doing it and you don’t have to have the elaborate suite that my business has today to make a big impact and you know, get your get your passion or efforts out there. It wasn’t you know, each and every year we add something. I didn’t have the money to do this. I mean, I had to pay more for my idea that my home when I bought my work for hire, so I didn’t I didn’t have I had to do this all with very limited resources.
I think that’s one of the best things about, you know, digital Marketing today, if you’re willing to put in that sweat equity, you can compensate for, you know, lack of capital because there are tools out there. There’s digital Master, right? Yeah, digital masterminds free content like this amazing podcast where you’re sharing you know, tapping into thought leaders and marketing experts and that is that is definitely if you’re willing to put in the work, you can you can you yourself can turn into a videographer, a copywriter, an SEO specialist etc. And then once you once you’ve built that foundation with that sweat equity, then you’ll have a you’ll have enough knowledge to know if this solution providers your bedding and considering to spend your hard earned capital with you’ll know if their BS in you or if their actual, you know, solution providers because that’s the other thing I’ve learned to as I network more with quote unquote marketing experts. There’s a lot of people out there that are not quite what they say they are.
So then so that was that was a you know, coming from a the world of agriculture where it’s a pretty honest humble down to earth like multimillion dollar deals are done every day on a handshake type of industry. I was blown away I was blown away with that but anyhow I think…
[00:21:25] John: I love the passion I absolutely love that passion and that like the blog came from passion and you know, that’s, that’s been a big thing. Personally, you know, just blogging every day and scaling that and growing a following and then I love how you went into you know, all these different verticals and got all these different channels and I have a couple more questions in one would be, one How do you find time to manage all of these different assets because I even know personally for me, you know, we’re managing are pretty much very similar stuff to you but for my personal brand, but then also for, for our company, so how do you find time to manage all of it? And then also, for the listeners?
Where are you seeing the best results out of all these endeavors at a social media to podcasting out of out of blogging out of, you know, what’s the kind of the 8020 there? Walk us through those points, if you don’t mind.
[00:22:18] Lori Taylor: Yeah, sure. So how do I do it all I have, I have, you know, our business has grown to where I have great people that surround me. I’ve trustworthy hard working people who obviously are comfortable with the startup environment and that entrepreneur, working for an entrepreneur is not easy, but trust me, there are people out there, where it moves, it moves their soul the same way entrepreneurship moves your soul, okay? So find those kind of folks and those are the those are the types of employees that you won’t have to get in the trenches, micromanaging and even training, you know, find the find the people, identify what, what you’re you know which assets or which activity that your company is doing and what you can personally manage and what you’re going to need to bring in some additional help to manage.
So I’ll use the podcast as our example. I think podcasting is huge. We’re only you know, I’m about a year into podcasting myself and I didn’t really know I don’t know much about editing. I don’t know much about podcasting, other than I like to listen to podcasts. So I knew I needed to work with a real production specialist as it relates to podcasting and in that in that group in that relationship with my Podcast Producer, I was able to I was able to secure transcripts. So each podcast episode turns into a blog and then I was able to negotiate marketing assets. Whether that was video snippets or, you know, images that we’re optimized or Instagram promotion and so it’s almost like I’m checking the box then of the digital art that you need for each and every blog.
So I encourage you to think like that, especially when you’re at the beginning of your journey or when you’re thinking about adding to your current repertoire is what can we do, where it’s, we’re going to do one thing, but it’s going to serve all of these different purposes. So it’s amazing how my podcast, you know, it’s a, it’s a 30 minute investment of my time but through the agreement that we have with our production manager, we’re getting the great blog content out of it. We are getting great graphic content out of it. We’re getting good video content out of it and then of course, we’re pure, you know, we’re voting well on the audible platform. So it’s solid.
It’s very comprehensive and I think that comprehensive approach to everything you do is so important and if you don’t have the budget to work with, say a Podcast Producer, then that’s your you go back to that sweat equity that I mentioned previously there are plenty of websites out there where you drop the audio file and it’ll transcribe it make sure that you’re taking advantage of those kind of tools so you know I, yes, surround yourself with the right type of people know when as the executive know when you need to get out of the way that might be the biggest piece of advice that I can give someone is like, I know that yes I have a real knack for cooking and I love recipe development but at the end of the day I’m running a business, I’ve got two young kids so i brought in someone to support me with recipe development.
So a lot of the new recipes you’re seeing at the Produce Moms they’re not even recipes I created but it was someone that I someone that I have cooked with someone that I have trained someone who has been part of my business and I knew like this person understands my culture they understand the avatar of our followers that’s another great point who is your business avatar who are you trying to connect with and make sure you keep that avatar in mind with each and every action or piece of content that you produce.
[00:26:12] John: Lori I love this we got some really great information and I know that our listeners are absolutely not only are they going to probably be inspired to eat healthier and, and cut fresh produce what they got a couple marketing tips and then your passion is definitely going to wear off on some people in a very, very positive way. Last thing I want to ask you today where can people find out more about you? Anything new and exciting that’s upcoming that we can get in front of our listeners?
[00:26:36] Lori Taylor: Sure. Well, certainly the hub of everything we do is our website, which is the Produce Moms. com. We’re on every social media platform wherever you’re spending time in terms of the digital world chances are we’re there so reach out, connect. I personally am on LinkedIn very active on LinkedIn. Lori Tay… Lori Taylor, L-O-R-I, T-A-Y-L-O-R, please connect on LinkedIn, you know, in terms of some recent cool things that haven’t we just had an amazing feature by Martha Stewart on the work that we’re doing at the Produce Moms, so you can look for that at Martha Stewart. com and big shout out and a lot of love to everyone at the Martha Stewart offices for their support of what we’re doing. [00:27:22] John: Awesome. Thank you so much, Lori, for being on Ignite Visibility University today. We really appreciate having you here. Have a great day, and we’ll talk to you soon. Thanks you.
[00:27:30] Lori Taylor: Thank you. Thank you, John.