Jaime Butler-Brown is no stranger to creative business practices. The Escalon, CA-based gourmet housewares retailer, who started her business in a truck and eventually opened a brick and mortar location, has added one more thing to her list of branding strategies – a blogger outreach program. What started as an evolution of her of social media has also evolved into another unique strategy aimed at growing a sense of community and building business.
Butler-Brown explained that she reaches out to local bloggers via Instagram who have the same clean eating and kitchen habits as her own and suggests products for them to try.
“The bloggers have made videos actually using the products I suggest, and it makes a huge difference for a customer when they can actually see the product in use versus just a picture. The bloggers post those videos on their own Instagram pages and tag me in them,” she said. She added, “Instead of me paying for advertising in the newspaper, I pay for gadgets for them to use. They have local followers that then come in, and it’s bringing a lot more business into the store.”
While the strategy is very new, she noted that the reaction from bloggers has been positive. “They love it. It’s adding something for them. For a blogger, being able to hook up with a kitchen store that carries the gadgets is another outlet they have. And people are really focusing in on local. Not only are they going to their local gym but they are purchasing from a local store and it builds a great community that way.”
Butler-Brown said she plans to expand her relationship with local bloggers, and is currently in the process of expanding her brick-and-mortar location to facilitate that. “I’m finding so many people are foreign to the kitchen. They have beautiful kitchens but they’re not using them. They are overwhelmed and, even with me showing them these gadgets and doing the demos, they need more. So I’m putting in a demo kitchen,” she said.
The demo kitchen will include a classroom setting where local bloggers can host cooking classes. The classes will focus on meal prep and cover everything from how to create a grocery list to how to prepare six to eight meals for the week in one day. Butler-Brown said she will even open up the demo kitchen to the local gyms for their nutritionists to use, with more partnerships underway.
“It’s a classroom setting so if they want to come in and have a class, why not? It’s bringing people in,” she said. “I’m really excited about the classes and even getting chefs in, but I’m also excited for the basics. I feel like people are really wanting the basics of cooking,” she said.
For other independent retailers who want to think outside the box, or even try strategies like her own, Butler-Brown said, “I think it’s definitely worth a try. You’re not going to lose anything, and it’s a good way to advertise your business and your expertise.”