Why work for Two Degrees?
Two simple reasons attracted us to Two Degrees: to gain business experience within an energetic and fast growing company, and to represent and contribute to the mission of curbing global malnutrition (of course snacking on a free supply of delicious bars didn’t hurt either). Seventeen months, 23 days and a few hours later, this job has given us WAY more than anticipated. Improved public speaking skills, confidence in speaking to strangers, leadership experience, responsibility, time management, professionalism. The list goes on…and these only encompass the “business” part of the job. Being part of a team that is driven by energy, hard work and a socially-oriented mission has showed us first hand how many lives can be touched by a company’s success. In these tough economic times where business is associated with profits and greed, not many employees can say this. In fact, we don’t even consider our involvement within the company as a job, but instead, an identity and a passion. Over the next few pages, we are going to share some of the successes and failures we have experienced.
Receiving the Two Degrees Kit
The first thing we did when we received the “Two Degrees Kit” was read the Campus Director Guidebook. Doing this, we became familiar with the origin and details of the company. Our roles and responsibilities were clear. Headquarters in SF wanted us to achieve two things: to sell the four flavors of bars (Chocolate-Peanut, Cherry Almond, Apple Pecan and Chocolate Banana) to the Wesleyan University dining facilities and nearby Middletown cafes, and to spread the “Buy One, Give One” mission through various marketing techniques.
Thus was the first division of work between us: Chris compiled the marketing plan while Ben tackled the sales plan. The marketing plan consisted of the following: a Two Degrees at Wesleyan Facebook page, putting flyers and posters around campus, getting an article in the campus paper, voicing a commercial on the school radio station, sending informative dorm-wide emails, posting a blog on “Wesleying”, and of course live demo events. The sales plan marked the contact information of every coffee shop, café, and restaurant on and off campus within a 10-mile radius. Sounds a little too ambitious right? Well, we knew that we might not pitch to all 75 stores or execute every marketing tactic, but having two documents that we could refer to whenever we ran out of ideas proved to be very helpful. We strongly recommend that devising these two plans is one of the first things a new Campus Director should do. Along with these plans, we brainstormed different connections – both sales and marketing – that we could use to get started. Whether it be a family friend who is the owner of a café, or a relative who works for a non-profit organization, any personal connections you feel comfortable utilizing can lead to a sale or marketing opportunity. This will boost your confidence for pitching to store managers who may not be as open-minded or as friendly.
Collaborating with On-Campus Organizations
The best way to get brand exposure on campus is by linking arms with other groups with global interests. It’s that simple. This will make your job as Campus Director much easier. From our experience, students and faculty in various groups gobble up the Two Degrees mission and rally behind you. With a bigger support network, both sales and marketing opportunities sprout up from all directions. In addition, more consumers are familiar with the product and mission, which consequently drives sales.
Because of the Wesleyan roots within Two Degrees (Director of Operations and Supply Chain Matt Gregory and Logistics Manager Hilary Burke are both Wes grads), we were already aware of an organization called Shining Hope for Communities. Based in Kibera, Kenya, one of the world’s largest slums, SHFCO created and supports a school for girls and a community center. With the help of Two Degrees CEO Lauren Walters, we reached out to Wes student and SHFCO CEO Kennedy Odede and fashioned an official partnership between the two organizations. Off campus, Two Degrees has donated thousands of bars to Kibera. On campus, Two Degrees and SHFCO co-hosted two fundraisers at Brew Baker’s Café.
As we began to make multiple sales and garner a reputation around campus (helped by the exposure via the SHFCO partnership), further collaborative opportunities emerged. We began to work with the leader of the Wesleyan University Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. In just a few months, this connection led to 2 more partnerships, sales to three separate retailers, sampling demos at three on-campus events, and the opportunity to give a speech at a seminar. Reaching out and connecting with other groups is critical. The more people you get on your side, the more success you will have.
Sales: Pitching to Retailers
The best way to practice your sales pitch is on family members and friends. When we first started out as Campus Directors, each University had a unique Two Degrees URL, which tracked online sales. We sent out a mass email to family friends describing our work for the company and inviting them to try a caddy of bars through the website. In addition, we told our friends at school and home about Two Degrees. Although this tactic resulted in the sale of around 40 caddies of bars (360 bars), more importantly, it enabled us to become completely confident in our sales pitch. With all of the practice, pitching the company and the product became second nature.
It was soon time to delve into our sales plan and to make pitches on a bigger stage. This process starts by calling the retailer and asking to speak with the manager (never call between 10 – 2, as they are most likely going to be busy). The dialogue normally went something like this: “Hi my name is Benjamin Firn and I am one of two Wesleyan University Campus Directors for an emerging food company called Two Degrees. Would it be possible to stop by sometime next week, at a time convenient for you, and briefly discuss how our four flavors of food bars would fit in your store?” A few things in this interaction are important: One is to make your point clearly and quickly. No one wants to hear someone ramble on over the phone for several minutes. Your agenda here should simply be to schedule a date and time for the sales pitch. The second is to emphasis the fact that you only plan on taking up around 5 minutes of his/her time during the pitch. Though it normally lasts for about 20 minutes, it is important that the manager thinks he/she is in control of the situation and that the meeting won’t eat up his/her day.
The actual sales pitch is outlined in detail in the Campus Director Guidebook. The way we see it, the pitch contains 4 separate parts: a brief overview of the origins of Two Degrees, the ingredients, pricing and details regarding the four flavors of bars, the Two Degrees mission (this includes our Partners and how the meals are distributed), and our overall sales history (who carries our bars, and how many meals we have distributed). I know the last point seems irrelevant and could be seen as bragging, but you will find that cafes and coffee shops will take you MUCH more seriously when they hear that Two Degrees bars are available in Whole Foods stores nationwide.
Although the content of the pitch is important, the attitude and enthusiasm you project is the key to a successful sale. If you come across as professional, warm and show that you really believe in the Two Degrees product and mission, managers will have a hard time saying ‘no’. Even if they express skepticism about the bars selling well, with the right attitude you can often convince the manager to at least try selling a caddy of bars (free of wholesale charge). There is a certain reactionary skill involved with the job. It is important to get a sense of the manager’s receptivity when you meet him/her. This way, you can gage whether it is more appropriate to give the manager the shortened version of the sales pitch rather than the long version. Another thing to understand is that some managers will outright reject the product. For example, after calling and speaking with the assistant manager of a store, we stopped by the next day to pitch to the manager. After introducing ourselves and asking if he had a minute to speak with us, the manager looked at his watch and told us that he didn’t have a minute but had “a moment”. Seven seconds into the pitch, he interrupted and told us he wasn’t interested. It is important to realize that failure happens frequently in sales’ jobs. Don’t let the rejections discourage you in future sales pitches. Again, attitude is crucial!
The purpose of marketing is to increase brand exposure and consequently drive sales. This is really where the creative part of the job lies. Unlike the sales aspect, you don’t technically need to follow set protocol. As long as you increase awareness of the bars and the mission in a positive way, Two Degrees headquarters will be happy. You could even dress as a Two Degrees bar and run around campus informing people of the company. Having said this, we elected to market in a more pragmatic way. After selling 16 cases (864 bars) to Bon Appetite – Wesleyan’s food service provider – we immediately contacted the editor of the school newspaper. The editor agreed to interview us for 20 minutes regarding our work for the company and how we planned to continue to fight world hunger at Wesleyan. A week later we were featured in an awesome article on the front page of the Wesleyan Argus (http://wesleyanargus.com/2012/02/16/students-fight-global-hunger-170-calories-at-a-time/). This was huge. With many globally conscious students on campus, people trekked to one of the seven venues on campus to eagerly try the bars. Sales increased and a few months later, Bon Appetite re-ordered.
In addition to some of the more straightforward marketing tactics listed on our initial plan (Facebook page, flyering etc.), we interviewed an Associate Dean who is experienced with public health programs, and wrote a blog post for the Two Degrees website. These tactics were geared more towards potential consumers surfing the Two Degrees website than ones within the Wesleyan community. Marketing opportunities via collaboration with other campus organizations frequently emerged. We held sampling tables at international forums, food fairs, and entrepreneurship seminars. The key is to have your nose out and sniff around for as many opportunities as possible. Almost every university has events going on where Two Degrees could have a presence. It is a simple function of being ambitious and finding these opportunities.
The easiest way to be a successful Two Degrees Campus Director is to believe in the Two Degrees mission. This way, you become emotionally invested in the company and are genuinely motivated to help end world hunger. There isn’t a strict set of rules you have to follow, so feel free to get creative on the job. Two Degrees is still a young company, and is extremely open minded to any cool idea that could help the company.
Just like most things in life, being organized and diligent really pays off as a Campus Director. If you refer to your initial Sales and Marketing plans and allocate 3-7 hours each week to work on emails, pitches and marketing projects, selling bars and spreading the mission should be a piece of cake! If you have a positive and extroverted attitude and devote focused time and energy, being a Campus Director is a fun and rewarding experience.