Fundamental Principles of Business You Need to Know

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The CEO Who Needs No Introduction

On this week’s episode of the eComm Growth Show, Daniel and Robby chat with Dustin Finkel, CEO of Awakened Foods, which is responsible for Ka-Pop! and Bubba’s Fine Foods. Dustin has a resume you wouldn’t believe.

He started his food career at General Mills, making Chex the first national gluten-free product from a multinational CPG. He’s built and transitioned several brands and businesses through consumer insights, execution speed, and entrepreneurial thinking.

Dustin took Horizon Organic Milk from a commodity brand to the leading milk brand in the world, and he helped TCBY launch the first plant-based, vegan frozen yogurt by partnering with Silk Almond Milk.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Dustin is one of the great minds in the CGP space, and he could have nearly any job he wanted. Instead, he chose to lead a startup and grow a new CGP business, relying heavily on eCommerce.

On the eComm Growth Show, Dustin discussed the lessons he’s learned during his transition from jobs revolving around brick and mortar stores to one dependent on the eCommerce industry.

Amazon is King.

Dustin knew that Amazon would play a significant role in Ka-Pop!’s success as a growing online brand. He didn’t realize that it would call for a full-time position dedicated to maximizing Ka-Pop!’s efficiency on the platform.

Because of the ever-changing nature of Amazon and its complicated policies, Dustin recommends smaller brands contract an expert on the subject to ensure they are making the most of their sales through Amazon.

“Amazon is one of the most challenging areas to understand and execute upon. And what I mean by that is it’s constantly evolving, and there are all these rules of the trade, and it’s a full-time business.” (13:46)

Email Marketing is Back?… It Never Left!

How many emails do you get every day? How many of those emails do you actually engage with? Email marketing remains a proven, effective marketing tool for eComm brands despite your answers to these questions. Its impacts on LTV (Lifetime Value) are insane, and choosing to ignore the strategy will undoubtedly leave profits on the table.

“[Email marketing] is by far one of the best investments you can make from a digital marketing perspective. The reactions, the integration, and the relationships are tremendous.” (16:30)

While Dustin is quick to admit that he doesn’t always understand why it remains effective, he preaches its value. He says the priority of small brands’ Shopify stores should be to obtain consumers’ email addresses for their email marketing campaigns.

Fluid Budgets

Coming from working with massive brands, Dustin was accustomed to planning on 80% of the business’ budget going towards working spend while 20% was left for non-working spending.

With his smaller brands, Dustin needed to flip his expectations on their heads. In smaller businesses, 20% often has to be allotted for working spend, as 80% must go to non-working spend.

His budgets have become much more fluid because circumstances become much more unpredictable with smaller businesses. Similarly, his priorities for ad spend altered as he moved to a smaller brand. Rather than prioritizing ROAS, he understood the importance of selling products.

“What I find is [ROAS] is obviously important, but you know what’s more important? Actually selling units.” (19:52)

While he understands the importance of testing different methods and campaigns, he is much quicker when pulling the trigger on a campaign that shows promise. Smaller brands rely on moving products for a steady cash flow that keeps the business moving. If they lose sight of this and focus too much on ROAS, they risk halting their primary income source.

Are you trying to expand your multi-channel strategy? Do you want to transition from an online store to an actual brand?

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