Mayonnaise Wrestling, Flavor Fanaticism, and Social Media on Steroids: The Bacon Salt Story
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in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it’s going up. This year, they also attracted an undisclosed amount of funding from an “all-star investor base,” says Nikesh Parekh, an entrepreneur and investor who has spent time at the Seattle-area firms Second Avenue Partners, Madrona Venture Group, and HouseValues. Parekh is on the board of advisors at Bacon Salt.
So, what are the broader business lessons here? “Let’s say you make brown shoes with red buckles,” says Esch. “Odds are, there’s a group of people, that’s what they love. You have to identify who those people are, and communicate what you want to them, engage them. Figure out who runs BrownShoesWithRedBuckles.com, offer to send them a pair, and build a discussion. In the social media space, having advocates of your brand, evangelists, is the most powerful thing you can do. Do you trust someone marketing to you, or do you trust a friend’s referral?”
“Be genuine,” Esch continues. “It’s OK to put your message out there, but be honest about who you are and what your intention is. Offer to give it to them, but don’t falsely review yourself or your product. Don’t try to control it too much.” (More Bacon Salt lessons here, on Parekh’s blog.)
As for the mechanics of using social media, Esch and Lefkow advise making sure there’s lots of fresh content on the websites, and encouraging the most rabid fans to add their own content like photos, videos, and stories to help promote the brand. “We respond to everyone who e-mails us,” says Esch. “All the e-mails we get are hilarious. How it changed someone’s life, or how they gave it to all the groomsmen at their wedding. Those are the people who talk the most about your brand, and when we go to places now, we meet them.” The Bacon Salt guys have been known to show up at football stadiums dressed in giant foam bacon suits. (They were at the Seahawks-Packers game in Seattle a few weeks ago.)
Which brings us to their newest product: Baconnaise, launched last month. You know what it is already, just from the name. It’s a spread that tastes like bacon. But the best part of the story is how they promoted it.
On the evening of October 30, Bacon Salt rented out Heaven Nightclub in Pioneer Square, set up a wrestling ring, and dumped in hundreds of gallons of mayonnaise (well, a mayo-like substance without the vinegar). They printed up fight-bill flyers and promoted the event as “mayonnaise wrestling” on Yelp and Twitter. The main event involved two combatants dressed up as a slab of bacon and a mayonnaise jar. The undercard featured a Bacon Salt intern clad in a Zorro mask, a jockstrap, and a cape, taking on three women from the Emerald City Mudhens rugby team. It was the intern’s punishment for having crashed Lefkow’s car. “It was the greatest product launch of all time,” says Parekh.
Unfortunately, Esch and Lefkow did not get in the ring themselves. But they’re busy enough planning the next phase of Bacon Salt. “We’re still waiting to see about the economic climate,” says Esch. “But it’s going well, we’re still on the rise.”