The Tale of Two Coffee Shops

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There are two coffee shops in two small, rural Ontario towns that I love visiting. They’re about 15 minutes apart from each other and couldn’t be more different in how they sell their product. It’s a perfect tale of what constitutes good marketing.

The one coffee shop has arguably the best coffee I’ve tasted. Better than the other coffee shop and better than the big name brands like Tim Hortons and Starbucks…. hands down. But their marketing is soft. They don’t have a strong brand - the cups aren’t branded, the shop doesn’t have a consistent look/feel that exudes their brand in an inviting way that makes you want to stay.

Meanwhile, the other coffee shop has decent coffee, not the greatest coffee, but the differentiating factor is that their marketing is standout. They have their cups branded with their coffee shop name, they have the right ambiance in the coffee shop that it makes you want to sit down and stay awhile (and drink a few more cups of coffee!), they have the right magazine available to read and the visible art on the walls (that include historic paintings of a prominent cow and bull!) is what makes it an Instagram worthy place to visit. You want to stay and you don’t know why.

Simply put, the difference between the two coffee shops doesn’t come down to their product quality.. it comes down to marketing.

Its hard to believe that we put more weight on the one coffee shop simply because of how good their marketing is when the whole idea of why we go to a coffee shop is to drink the coffee in the first place. I keep thinking to myself that if the coffee shop with the best coffee were to invest even $1000 on a new logo, some new outward facing marketing materials (including branded cups), hang some local art and a create an ambiance with a certain look/feel within their space that matches their brand, they’d be Instagram worthy too.

All in a days work, right?!

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The Time is Now

Farmtario article

I keep reminding myself daily that the times we’re living in are pretty darn cool. Society is moving at a rate of change we’ve never seen before. Across all sectors. We’re rewriting how we’re storytelling, how we’re communicating and how close we’re getting to the consumer.

Which is where all the potential lies. Our relationship with the consumer (see quote below!)

We now have data to support out communications and marketing decisions, which is powerful. The data tells us what consumers like and dislike. This is powerful! But more importantly than the data, we now have ways to communicate directly with the consumer. That’s because of mediums like social media. We’ve never seen this before which is why we’re experiencing the disruption we are.

All the brands I work with, I can’t stress this enough. Especially in the agri-food sector. The consumer, who is our customer, is who keeps us in business. I use a bus analogy to explain that it is the consumer we need to have in the driver’s seat, while we sit in the passenger seat navigating them in a way that helps them go in a direction that is mutually-beneficial.

There is nothing more powerful than having direct access to the people we want to serve and should be serving.

I recently wrote a piece in Farmtario for the agri-food community, discussing this idea of the disruption we’re experiencing and how we can use it in a positive, transformational way to bring about change for our industry. But a lot must happen in order to bring about this change. If there was ever a time though to do something about it, the time is now. Which is exciting! The best part, is that it is not just millennials asking for this change. People of all ages within the agri-food sector are wanting to bring about change.

We all know why we need to change. It’s how we must change though now.

It will be how we can harness and channel all of this energy and the ideas we have, in a collective way that brings the masses together, to work on solutions that actually stick and work in the long-run. This is where we’ll see success for our industry and its future viability.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Bernadette Jiwa. Onward and upward from here!

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You Don't Have to be a Genius to do Something


I was driving home last weekend from the farm, doing my regular podcast catch up, when I listened to a Robin Sharma podcast that totally rocked my thinking.

The episode discussed four ways superstars or business gurus protect their energy. He began the podcast by saying:

“There are geniuses that never did anything.”

It made me stop and think about this.

So what is the difference than between the geniuses that do/did something versus the ones we’ve never heard of?

DOING. They did something about their genius.

For example in the personal growth field, the Robin Sharma’s, the Gary Vee’s, the Rachel Hollis’… the difference is that they actually DID something about their ideas in their head versus someone who may have had the exact same stories, thoughts and ideas to tell, but didn’t do anything with them.

This saying builds on what I blogged about last week about just beginning when you don’t know where to start. THAT my friends, as I’m learning quickly with my business, is the major first step in putting yourself out there to the world if you want to make a difference and be noticed for the right reasons.

DO something about what is in your head.

This has been a huge obstacle for me but I’m holding myself personally accountable in 2019 to actually do something about all of these things that I’m been thinking and wanting to do for so long.

I’ve been having a lot of discussions in various circles where the same point keeps being brought up about the social media age we live in, and how ‘everyone seems to have an opinion’ and think they’re the expert in {said} field.

The reality is, we’re living in a time where you don’t have to have a specific degree or education to back up that you’re an expert in what you’re doing. It would certainly help and you most likely would gain further trust if you had the proper education or training. But, in the times we’re living in where everyone has the two most important things to share their message: a waiting audience and the platforms/channels/devices to share ideas, the sky is the limit for sharing your personal genius, whatever that may be.

Its what we actually DO with our ideas or thoughts that will propel us to be talked about or listened too and it is these ideas that could shape our industries, organizations or society so why not do something about this and get sharing?!

Something to chew on for this Friday morning!

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Where to Start...

…. just begin.


I know this seems so simple, yet it isn’t easy (as Rachel Hollis would say).

I’ve been having some awesome conversations as of late. So many people I’m meeting with have such great ideas and also, want to do big things with their ideas. They want to start a new businesses, but they don’t know where to start. They want to create something but don’t know where to begin. They want to collaborate on an idea but they don’t know who to turn too. They want to join social media but they don’t know what their first step should be.

Its also reminded me of a few people who have asked me recently why I’m not blogging as much. Its a great question and one I would say I don’t have the answer for, but I know deep down I do.

It’s not because I don’t have ideas or don’t know what to blog about.

One, I have TOO many things I want to say about too many things and don’t know where to even begin to start sharing these ideas.

Secondly, the process I have created in the last few years to ‘casually blog’ has become a long-drawn out process that I’ve made way harder than it needs to be. Which has made me not enjoy said process.

When I think back to my 'Stories From a Country Girl’ blogging days, I really did love blogging and it was such a fun and natural process. If I had a thought or wanted to share something, I just blogged on the spot. I attached a photo, uploaded it and pressed published. No editing, no second thoughts, no editing photos.

For some reason, because blogging in the last few years has become more professional or ‘corporate,’ I felt like there was a need to have everything ‘right.’ The right photo to match my content; my logo and branding on the photo; a catchy headline to match the message… it really became an inundating process that I didn’t enjoy.

I probably made it more complicated than it needed to be, but even some of the bloggers I’ve been following for years started saying the same thing. Because blogging/influencer marketing has more of a corporate feel, it didn’t feel fun in the same way it did a decade ago when I began blogging.

What has inspired my return on a random Wednesday?

This week, my attention has been all Rachel Hollis and Brene Brown. Their new books, the new Netflix special. I needed their messages as powerful reminders of why I started blogged all those years ago. Why I felt compelled to share my world years ago and why I should do it again now. Why I decided to start my business last fall. Because I have ideas. Because there is community. Because there is collaboration that needs to happen to make positive change. Because there is work to be done. And I want to be a part of the team of collaborators and idea creators that finds the solutions to help guide this change in the right direction.

So for me personally to start again, I have to make blogging a natural habit/routine for me to enjoy once again. No pretty branding or specially shot photos or reading over 5 times or spellchecking. Or worse, writing something and then not hitting publish and letting it sit in the draft folder. I’ve got a lot of those posts :S

Its this same message I’ve been passing along to the awesome people who’ve reached out via email or I’ve met with recently. Just begin. Just start somewhere. Yes project planning and brainstorming sessions are amazing (trust me, I have books and books of ideas and thoughts written down and love me a good ol’ brainstorming session).

Its what we actually begin to DO with these thoughts and ideas that will move the dial.

Just like we naturally think of making coffee in the morning, or grabbing one on the way to work, we just do it without a second thought. Why can’t the things we’re working on or want to work on be that natural or easy each morning?

It’s because its hard work. And because it takes time to build the habits necessary to make it a simple process.

Here’s to starting somewhere. Anywhere.

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HOW not the WHY

How not Why

After a whirlwind few weeks of travel and meetings, I’ve finally found some desk time to collect myself and digest all the notes I’ve taken lately. After reviewing the themes and topics events focused on and discussed, it highlights for me just how common the themes were at the various events I attended. The same topics, same themes and some of the same ideas were discussed.

A lot of these topics, themes, idea and content focused on the WHY.

Why are more consumers choosing plant-based diets/veganism?

Why are consumers eating less meat?

Why are consumers responding to agriculture in Canada the way they are?

Why are consumers flocking to social media now more than ever?

Why are millennials now the target demographics that most brands should be focusing on from a purchasing power/marketing standpoint?

Why do companies not know how to do social media properly nor invest in it in the same way we do say research?

Why are consumers thinking the way they are and why are they influenced in the way they are?

Why is society moving at the pace to which it is at the speed of innovation to which we are?

I appreciate the ideas I’ve learned about the why.

But I’m increasingly becoming impatient with what we’re actually DOING with the why.

HOW are we addressing the why?

How are we changing, say as a Canadian agriculture-food industry, to address the challenges we have with consumers and create opportunities for our industry?

How are we engaging in the food conversation?

How are we taking what we know and doing something different with it than we’ve did before?

In my line of work and with my business, I LOVE focusing on the HOW.

How can we talk more to consumers? How can our message better resonate? How can we be talking to them in more a more engaging way on the platforms they want to converse on? How can our industry be taken more seriously and be seen in a different light by consumers who are willing and want to listen? How do we train our millennials within agri-food to be influencers themselves? How can we train Boards of Directors in social media properly so they know what we’re talking about when we’re referring to the new way of marketing?


This is what I’m focusing my business energy on because THIS is what is going to decide how we change our future WHYS for our Canadian agri-food industry.