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How Little Spoon Co-founder Lisa Barnett Organically Builds Marketing Buzz

November 17, 2022

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Marketing your products or services is critical for generating demand and closing sales. But with today’s ever-changing digital landscape, it’s not easy to continually innovate and stay ahead of trends. But it is possible to generate buzz without getting completely overwhelmed.

To find out how it’s done, we invited Lisa Barnett, co-founder and president of Little Spoon, to Playbook 2022. And during this incredible session, Lisa shares exactly how they generated buzz around their products, created a community for their customers, and built a $200M brand.

1. Be obsessed with solving a problem, not selling a solution.

Little Spoon is a direct-to-consumer brand that manufactures and delivers fresh, healthy baby food straight to parents’ doors. But for Lisa, their success didn’t come from narrowly focusing on what they sell. It came from focusing on the problem they were solving instead.

“Your solution will change 500 times [while] building a company,” Lisa explained. “[And] when you only focus on what you envisioned, [you’re] resistant to listening to feedback and pivoting [based on what you find].” But it’s this kind of flexibility that makes good brands, great brands.

“If you're focused on solving the problem, you’re more in tune with your market and can find product-market fit faster,” Lisa told us. That’s because you can shift quickly to find the best solution, which might be an offering you didn’t even think of before. 

For instance, Lisa and her co-founders focused on solving a specific problem with their brand Little Spoon. They noticed back in 2017 that the Millennial generation had disrupted almost every category (except baby food) with their inclination toward better ingredients and convenience.

“There [was] this gap between what we knew we wanted for our children and what [was] actually available to us,” Lisa explained. As a result, they focused solely on filling that gap by taking feedback, meeting customers’ needs, and pivoting until they found the right solutions.

“I've launched over 100 different products [over the last four years],” Lisa told us. And thanks to a dogged persistence for find the right offerings, Little Spoon has become one of the nation's fastest-growing baby and kids food brands.

“If you're focused on solving the problem, you're more in tune with your market and can find that product-market fit faster.”
<blockquoteauthor>Lisa Barnett, co-founder and president of Little Spoon<blockquoteauthor>

2. Narrow your focus for better execution.

Pivoting is critical for finding a product-market fit, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t focus clearly on what you’re trying to execute. It just means you need to be open to changing and adapting the offering you’re focused on providing.

“Most founders fail early on because of [their] lack of focus,” Lisa shared. And in her own words, businesses will likely die because of indigestion versus starvation. “You must prioritize and be methodical about what [ideas you’re going after] because you simply cannot get it all done.”

A woman making a juggling motion and saying, "Priorities."

This is especially true when you consider all of the marketing channels at your disposal — from paid digital ads to social media marketing to content marketing. It’s an endless slew of options. But when brands try too many initiatives at once, they likely get mediocre results at best.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen, but it’s execution and iteration that makes a team successful versus not successful,” Lisa explained. For example, when you only use a few marketing channels, you can run A/B tests to understand the best way to market your offerings.

This way, you only run the initiatives that achieve the best results. And once you find the winning combination, you can scale up your demand generation without spiking your customer acquisition costs (CACs) since you’re getting a great ROI on your marketing investment.

3. Know your values and what you stand for.

In the early days of building Little Spoon, Lisa relied heavily on being a word-of-mouth business. “We had roughly $50K to spend on marketing per year, [so] we needed to get people to rally behind us,” she explained. But converting people into raving fans is easier said than done.

For Lisa, the best tactic is to build your brand like a social movement. “[The best] social movements unify and cultivate a base that rallies against [an enemy],” she explained. “They demonstrate clear values and get people to [spread your message by word of mouth].”

In other words, these are the same ingredients that make up a great marketing campaign. And it’s why Lisa infused this concept into a marketing launch.

Video screenshot with a crying baby and words: "Most baby food is older than babies."
Source: No More Old Baby Food

The campaign was called “No more old baby food,” and it featured a baby-filled video comparing jarred and pouched food to Little Spoon’s fresh foods. It also included a microsite stating all of the consumer facts with a 24/7 text-response hotline to answer any questions.

“[The] whole video created visual cues around shelf-stable food versus fresh food,” Lisa explained. This helped new customers quickly understand the Little Spoon differentiator. And it got people to research their options, which gave the brand a chance to connect with customers.

“We spoke directly to every single one of those customers [with the 24/7 text service],” Lisa told us. And in doing so, they learned a lot about the community and helped consumers remember their brand via their company values.

“Understanding who you are as a brand is [knowing] who you want to be, what you want to stand for, and the reality you want to change.”

4. Leverage community as a marketing channel.

Thanks to the 24/7 chat option, Little Spoon quickly built a community of people who trusted their advice. Lisa even made her first marketing hire to strictly support the community. “[The person I hired] became best friends with our customers and partners,” she told us.

Man 1: "Did we just become best friends?" Man 2: "Yup!"

This close relationship with their community helped Lisa better understand whether or not they were meeting customers’ needs. It also helped them understand how to unify their community, so they could leverage it as another marketing channel.

“Your customer is your best source of acquisition, and your community is a performance marketing channel,” Lisa explained. But to leverage it, you have to first bring people together and provide meaningful value.

For instance, Little Spoon launched a sister site where parents could submit their questions, read up on what other parents had asked, and sign up for a weekly newsletter. They launched the site at the end of 2019 and have amassed over 700,000 newsletter subscribers since.

“Our target audience is naturally looking for information and community on [parenting] topics,” Lisa explained. “We then can capture [their email] and have an owned audience.” Meaning, they can use the data they’ve collected to market directly to customers. This is especially helpful given Apple’s iOS privacy updates and rising digital ad costs.

For a small business, building an entirely new website dedicated to providing information might not be the right direction. But you can still leverage this advice by collecting emails on your website, starting a newsletter with industry insights, or by setting up a Facebook group for your folks.

“We have best-in-class open rates, highly engaged leads, and a mid-funnel that helps reduce CACs because we spend as little money as possible on retargeting.”

Invest in these initiatives for the long-term play.

It’s important to clarify that Little Spoon’s brand visibility and online community were not an overnight success story. It took long hours to respond to customers, collect feedback, and iterate products to fix the bigger problem. But with Lisa’s insight and expertise, you can take the proper steps today to support your long-term marketing play.

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Article

How Little Spoon Co-founder Lisa Barnett Organically Builds Marketing Buzz

November 17, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
Sign up for our newsletter
You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Marketing your products or services is critical for generating demand and closing sales. But with today’s ever-changing digital landscape, it’s not easy to continually innovate and stay ahead of trends. But it is possible to generate buzz without getting completely overwhelmed.

To find out how it’s done, we invited Lisa Barnett, co-founder and president of Little Spoon, to Playbook 2022. And during this incredible session, Lisa shares exactly how they generated buzz around their products, created a community for their customers, and built a $200M brand.

1. Be obsessed with solving a problem, not selling a solution.

Little Spoon is a direct-to-consumer brand that manufactures and delivers fresh, healthy baby food straight to parents’ doors. But for Lisa, their success didn’t come from narrowly focusing on what they sell. It came from focusing on the problem they were solving instead.

“Your solution will change 500 times [while] building a company,” Lisa explained. “[And] when you only focus on what you envisioned, [you’re] resistant to listening to feedback and pivoting [based on what you find].” But it’s this kind of flexibility that makes good brands, great brands.

“If you're focused on solving the problem, you’re more in tune with your market and can find product-market fit faster,” Lisa told us. That’s because you can shift quickly to find the best solution, which might be an offering you didn’t even think of before. 

For instance, Lisa and her co-founders focused on solving a specific problem with their brand Little Spoon. They noticed back in 2017 that the Millennial generation had disrupted almost every category (except baby food) with their inclination toward better ingredients and convenience.

“There [was] this gap between what we knew we wanted for our children and what [was] actually available to us,” Lisa explained. As a result, they focused solely on filling that gap by taking feedback, meeting customers’ needs, and pivoting until they found the right solutions.

“I've launched over 100 different products [over the last four years],” Lisa told us. And thanks to a dogged persistence for find the right offerings, Little Spoon has become one of the nation's fastest-growing baby and kids food brands.

“If you're focused on solving the problem, you're more in tune with your market and can find that product-market fit faster.”
<blockquoteauthor>Lisa Barnett, co-founder and president of Little Spoon<blockquoteauthor>

2. Narrow your focus for better execution.

Pivoting is critical for finding a product-market fit, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t focus clearly on what you’re trying to execute. It just means you need to be open to changing and adapting the offering you’re focused on providing.

“Most founders fail early on because of [their] lack of focus,” Lisa shared. And in her own words, businesses will likely die because of indigestion versus starvation. “You must prioritize and be methodical about what [ideas you’re going after] because you simply cannot get it all done.”

A woman making a juggling motion and saying, "Priorities."

This is especially true when you consider all of the marketing channels at your disposal — from paid digital ads to social media marketing to content marketing. It’s an endless slew of options. But when brands try too many initiatives at once, they likely get mediocre results at best.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen, but it’s execution and iteration that makes a team successful versus not successful,” Lisa explained. For example, when you only use a few marketing channels, you can run A/B tests to understand the best way to market your offerings.

This way, you only run the initiatives that achieve the best results. And once you find the winning combination, you can scale up your demand generation without spiking your customer acquisition costs (CACs) since you’re getting a great ROI on your marketing investment.

3. Know your values and what you stand for.

In the early days of building Little Spoon, Lisa relied heavily on being a word-of-mouth business. “We had roughly $50K to spend on marketing per year, [so] we needed to get people to rally behind us,” she explained. But converting people into raving fans is easier said than done.

For Lisa, the best tactic is to build your brand like a social movement. “[The best] social movements unify and cultivate a base that rallies against [an enemy],” she explained. “They demonstrate clear values and get people to [spread your message by word of mouth].”

In other words, these are the same ingredients that make up a great marketing campaign. And it’s why Lisa infused this concept into a marketing launch.

Video screenshot with a crying baby and words: "Most baby food is older than babies."
Source: No More Old Baby Food

The campaign was called “No more old baby food,” and it featured a baby-filled video comparing jarred and pouched food to Little Spoon’s fresh foods. It also included a microsite stating all of the consumer facts with a 24/7 text-response hotline to answer any questions.

“[The] whole video created visual cues around shelf-stable food versus fresh food,” Lisa explained. This helped new customers quickly understand the Little Spoon differentiator. And it got people to research their options, which gave the brand a chance to connect with customers.

“We spoke directly to every single one of those customers [with the 24/7 text service],” Lisa told us. And in doing so, they learned a lot about the community and helped consumers remember their brand via their company values.

“Understanding who you are as a brand is [knowing] who you want to be, what you want to stand for, and the reality you want to change.”

4. Leverage community as a marketing channel.

Thanks to the 24/7 chat option, Little Spoon quickly built a community of people who trusted their advice. Lisa even made her first marketing hire to strictly support the community. “[The person I hired] became best friends with our customers and partners,” she told us.

Man 1: "Did we just become best friends?" Man 2: "Yup!"

This close relationship with their community helped Lisa better understand whether or not they were meeting customers’ needs. It also helped them understand how to unify their community, so they could leverage it as another marketing channel.

“Your customer is your best source of acquisition, and your community is a performance marketing channel,” Lisa explained. But to leverage it, you have to first bring people together and provide meaningful value.

For instance, Little Spoon launched a sister site where parents could submit their questions, read up on what other parents had asked, and sign up for a weekly newsletter. They launched the site at the end of 2019 and have amassed over 700,000 newsletter subscribers since.

“Our target audience is naturally looking for information and community on [parenting] topics,” Lisa explained. “We then can capture [their email] and have an owned audience.” Meaning, they can use the data they’ve collected to market directly to customers. This is especially helpful given Apple’s iOS privacy updates and rising digital ad costs.

For a small business, building an entirely new website dedicated to providing information might not be the right direction. But you can still leverage this advice by collecting emails on your website, starting a newsletter with industry insights, or by setting up a Facebook group for your folks.

“We have best-in-class open rates, highly engaged leads, and a mid-funnel that helps reduce CACs because we spend as little money as possible on retargeting.”

Invest in these initiatives for the long-term play.

It’s important to clarify that Little Spoon’s brand visibility and online community were not an overnight success story. It took long hours to respond to customers, collect feedback, and iterate products to fix the bigger problem. But with Lisa’s insight and expertise, you can take the proper steps today to support your long-term marketing play.

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How Little Spoon Co-founder Lisa Barnett Organically Builds Marketing Buzz

November 17, 2022

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