Wednesday, 2 November 2016


I have to acknowledge a friend of mine Denis O Driscoll for this subject but it totally resonated with me as I have been moving house and yes not achieved my aims of getting a blog a week nor the 1000 words a day, I needed to write to get my book written by Christmas.

Imagine that £86,400 is deposited into your bank account. It's 100% legal and you're free to do whatever you want with the money. The only catch is that at the end of the day, whatever's left of the £86,400 gets taken away from you and you lose it forever.

So what do you do? Well, anyone with an ounce of sanity would make the most of every last pound!  Think about what you would do if you had £86,400 to spend every day.

But that's the point...

Everyday you're given exactly 86,400 seconds. You can do whatever you want with the time, but at the end of the day, whatever time you've not made the most of gets taken away from you and you never get it back.

As humans, we tend to put things off or busy ourselves with other stuff.  I have been busy relocating to France - packing/unpacking etc etc.  But I have also had time to watch TV, read paper and hang out with friends - to be honest all part of my new lifeplan in the Cote d'azur but also I have spent time on Facebook and other time munchers.

So apologies for not writing my next chapter of category management - watch this space - we have room for two more before my workshop on the 13th November at Bread and Butter fest - - where maybe you will be inspired to do whatever it is you have not got round to that will launch your business to the next stratosphere!  And if you don't procrastinate you can get the early bird price til 6th November!

see you soon

Sunday, 2 October 2016

How to Win Retailers Over With Your Category Strategy

One of my food mentor goals is to have the opportunity to speak at more more events and I have been lucky enough to be invited to host a workshop at the Bread and Butter festival on the 12/13th November in London.  Have a look at for more details.

The workshop is entitled “How to Win Retailers Over With Your Category Strategy”. 

 I have met many start up food companies over the last few weeks and they are great at selling the benefits of their products - the key attributes, who the customer is and what the marketing is going to be.  But what they miss out on is thinking, where does it fit in the category - i.e. how is it going to grow the retailers overall category?  And so, this is the basis of a category strategy - how to showcase your brand to demonstrate how it will grow the overall category and make better use of the retailers space and therefore be irresistible to them to list, give more space to and promote.

In preparation for this workshop, I will be using the 6 weeks run up to the event to create a 6 part guide -  how to build a successful category strategy and how can it help grow your sales

Week 1 - is to look at the basic foundation.  Because the foundation equation is simple:

Retailer sales £ =  No of customers x Average spend per customer

So lots of customers spending lots of money on lots of products, lots of times is the holy grail.  Different categories have different drivers within them that will then help to find the sweet spot - the gap in the market where there is as still an opportunity for growth to drive the category overall.  So for example in the juice market, sales are suffering due to bad publicity about sugar etc.  But then paradoxically, Plenish come along and present a brand based on detox and weight loss creating a high end niche bringing new customers to the category driving up average weight of purchase. 

Take a look at a market I know well - sushi - to use as a case study to explain the key 5 category growth drivers:

Category driver Market status Market opportunity Tactics
Penetration - ie what % of the population buys into the category Low at 19% Bring more customers to the fixture by understanding barriers to entry Develop a brand that is accessible
Encourage trial through sampling
Frequency of purchase Customers like variety at lunchtime so may only buy once a week Encourage more purchase occasions by suggesting alternative uses e.g. time of day, other people in family, offer new varieties to keep range fresh Launch alternative of product formats that already sell well
Encourage other usage occasions such as dinner
Average price per visit

Sushi is perceived as one of the few healthy indulgence products Offer high value products that encourage customers to trade up  Launch high quality, high value items

Number bought per visit Sushi has short life so multi buy is less likely Identify drivers to encourage buying more  Create range to be bought together such as main meal/side
Introduce sushi as dinner option and encourage family buy
Share a sushi lunch promo
Number of stores listed Sushi is listed in many supermarkets but suffers from high waste due to short shelf life Review distribution strategy  Launch a range of long life sushi perfect for convenience stores
Offer smaller outer case sizes to enable stores to reduce waste

At the workshop, we will go into more detail on how to approach this model and work on your own category strategy. But before then… week is part 2 - how to build the customer insights (that enable you to find the sweet spot without spending £000s on market insights but still having a credible pitch for your retailer).

If you have any questions or would like any more info, please drop me a line on or 07811042054

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Five steps to a killer customer pitch

I was at the great Enterprise Nation Food exchange event last Friday and three new companies made their pitch to the Selfridges buyer. And whilst they all did a great job of presenting their new products, I felt all of them could do with a little help so i have devised the three stages of a successful first buyer meeting

1. Gather your knowledge
I was once told “fail to prepare, prepare to fail!” and nothing is more true than in this situation.  Before you start to write your presentation - go and visit the retailers shops - its amazing to me how often people don't do this - not just one shop but several especially if it is a multi format supermarket.  Look at what is on the shelves in your category, talk to the staff about what they think about the current products and take photos of existing category and if you get a chance - with your products in the display as well.  If this is not possible, you may have to photo shop them in afterwards.  

And know your numbers - what is costs to make the product, ship it and how much you hope to sell which will then enable you to know how much you are prepared to invest in promotional support

2. Write an awesome presentation that you never present
I am a great believer in writing a customer presentation that gathers my thoughts, organises my pitch but actually I may never present.  Ideally you just have a conversation to the buyer about your products showing him samples, photos and ideas - by all means have a power point to hand as an aide memoire but better to talk from the heart in an organised way. 

3. Make sure you have a great meeting

What to take with you - product samples, examples of PR coverage, social media support or other props such as shelf ready packaging
Begin presentation as a discussion - ask the buyer questions to check that you are on the right lines - nothing worse than talking for 20 minutes and you lost them at the first bullet point.  And listen to their questions and answer as honestly as you can - you are looking to build a relationship for the future.  Ask for feedback and agree next steps

But don't expect to have it launched and listed in your first meeting - it takes time!

4. Follow up with tenacity but don't be a stalker

Always follow up with a contact report summarising what was discussed in the meeting 
Make sure you do the actions that you have agreed and make sure you call to follow up next steps.  But remember the buyer is very busy and you are probably not top of priority list (harsh I know!) so don't ring him/her every day but be creative - maybe send a new flavour or a great piece of PR coverage - keep selling by letting him know how your tribe want your products to be in his store!

5. Dealing with rejection

Now I want to assume that you get the listing at your first pitch and the sales fly and everything lives happily ever after.  But lets be honest it doesn't always work like that.  Dyson made 5126 prototypes before he had the successful product, JR Rowling was turned down 20 times before being published.  So be prepared for rejection - ask for feedback, don't assume no is forever and ask if you can follow up in 3 months - you already have a connection with the buyer so it could be interesting.  Or a new buyer/policy etc etc may come along. And keep following point 4 - regular contact may well pay off in the long run

I love to help food companies big or small to write that all important presentation so email me for my checklist on key elements of the killer pitch presentation or ring me on 07811942054 if I can help you in anyway.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Day 10 - I made it!!!

Well guys, I made it to day 10 - kept going and really enjoyed it!!  For those who understand Belbin - I am no completer finisher - I love starting shiny new things and don't quite finish them before I get distracted.  So why was this one good for me - well the incentive of the prizes, the intrigue of getting the video every day and then, as I progressed, looking forward to the next challenge.

And then the philosophy above - I do currently do a lot of what I love but the work focus has eclipsed everything else and I want that balance back.

Which day was my favourite - well not day 1 cos it was really really hard for me to get this blogger site set up and to work out how to post photos etc etc.  I think day 2 working out my why is probably the favourite - getting clarity on what value I bring to peoples lives and also an hours self indulgence listening to all my favourite songs with free in the title!!

So what I have achieved in the last 10 days
  • Set up Rivierafoodmentor blog site
  • Set up @rivierafoodmentor facebook page
  • Spoke at Enterprise nation to over 100 food companies
  • Got one new client from this gig
  • Been asked to run a webinar on Enterprise nation site
  • Been asked to join Bread and butter food festival to be one of their advisors in November
  • Been contacted by @Groceryaccelerator to join them to meet some of their clients
  • And hooked up three more clients for food mentoring 

Now is this all from blogging??  No definitely not but what the challenges have enabled me to do is change my mindset.  I have learnt how to hook up with people in business perspective on Facebook, gained confidence to tweet all the way through the Enterprise nation conference which raised my profile and just increase my business focus.

So thank you Natalie so much for inspiring me to get on and do this and I am now ready to plan out my next 6 months - the move to France, growing my business, getting the fun side of my life back and finally getting to Australia after many years of promising to go!

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 10

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Day 8 Having fun!!

One of the biggest motivations for my new lifestyle is to make time for the things I love doing - over and above work.  So great to down tools and keyboards and get out and about.   Told to have fun - thank goodness after one of the longest working weeks of my life - working with my clients, lecturing at university and attending a great food event where met some great new members of my tribe.

Today, Katie, my daughter and I have been out for shopping, lunch and cinema.  Had the most awesome fish pie for lunch in Bills restaurant - lovely well trained staff and great food. And very artfully positioned mirror to allow artistic phot of us both.  

I have been brought me upto date with high waisted trousers and new shoes!  And then to complete the day, we went to see Bridget Jones baby which really was very funny and a definite feel good movie! I love spending time with my kids, eating good food and getting time to watch a film and see the world through different eyes.  It has lifted me up no end.

I plan for the new life to enable me to have more time to do the things I love and spend time travelling and seeing the world.  Tomorrow I am going to plan out my trip to Australia next March (flights are already booked).  Have been promising my aussie mates for about three weeks that I will confirm times when I will be over so they can book holiday time and I have been procrastinating (back to yesterdays post!!).  And maybe if I get a place on Natalie’s mastermind in Bali, then I could make a detour on the way back.

So tired from my busy day but great to remind myself why I am doing all this.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 8

Friday, 16 September 2016

Day 7 Procrastination

What have I been guilty of procrastinating about?  Well I have got down to write my blog everyday, pretty much done all the work needed by my private clients and do my exercise most days although have slipped today  So where am I falling short……..


I have had several flirtations with meditation over the years.  A couple of years ago I signed up for a transcendental meditation course and everyone started worrying about me because I became quite traumatised and stopped eating!!  Then I downloaded Headspace which I can heartily recommend ( and did the odd 10 minutes - mostly when I needed to sleep at 3am in the morning - it helped to quieten my mind.  And I still practise a form of yoga nidra again when struggling to sleep

But no habit has been formed and I have learnt that this is the answer! 

Meditation is really beneficial and recent studies show meditation can have positive effects on stress, anxiety, focus, creativity and even relationships.  I came across an amazing chakra cleansing meditation that I downloaded a week ago and not done it - have a look - it is designed to balance and cleanse the chakras and teaches how to channel white light,

So I am dedicating my stop procrastinating blog to meditation - I will listen to the chakra cleanse meditation tomorrow and then start again with Headspace on Sunday and endeavour to meditate for the next 30 days and see if I can get that pesky, elusive habit formed.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Day 6 Let the mentor find her mentor!

It is interesting that when I mentor people for Princes trust or my own business or deliver a piece of training, I often come away feeling inspired but also a bit guilty.  The advice I am giving is great but it gives me a bit of a kick up the a*** and sometimes makes me realise I am still working on my business and not in it.

I have worked with some great coaches and read some great books. Without being horribly sycophantic, I have loved working with Natalie Sisson.  I have read the book, been on a mastermind class with her and now doing the blog challenge.  The one thing that I admire is that she is “real” – not packaged, just open and honest and in an email that she wrote the other day – she referred to me as VIP and I felt so valued as a client.  I feel her network support me and have had some great emails about the blogs.

But if I am to step out of my comfort zone and find my tribe then I am missing two types of mentor.

Firstly, I need a social media expert who can help me build my email database, and how to engage with them in the same genuine way as Natalie has done with me.  Ryan Deiss is someone who I admire but he does inundate with emails. I need someone to build my marketing plan in a bite size way on a daily/weekly basis - just like this blog.  But I will reach out to him and see what he can offer!

Secondly, a kindred spirit in the food industry who has written a book or two and gets great speaking gigs and good coverage in food magazines - Tessa Stuart. She and I do know each other and she has passed me a client recently but I would like to spend a bit of time with her and maybe continue to help each other out

So I will endeavour to work with both these people to build my skill base and also my own tribe of people will setting up my own Facebook group….watch this space

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Day 5 The Book

I WILL write my book!

So half way through the blog challenge and how do I turn this into a productive habit?
One of the key parts of my marketing strategy is writing my book – “how to be successful woman in the food industry”.  OK maybe needs a more sassy title but that’s the principle.

And I have been procrastinating about having time to do get it done – but guess what…I have found between 2 hours (first day, steep learning curve having never written a blog before) to 45 minutes (still learning and also getting side tracked with finding nice photos and quotes etc) per day EVERYDAY.  I have always thought that my most creative time is in the morning and for work stuff it is but guess what….. I like writing in the evening!!!

So my daily success plan is ridiculously simple –write 500 words per day (cos I won’t need to post the blog and find the image, so can find the extra few words) and my 50,000 word book is written in 100 days which is by Christmas.  I will have my book by Christmas.

Wow!!!!   Total lightbulb moment!!

So the plan is 50 minutes every day split into two Pomodoro 25 minute slots – in the evening. Am totally inspired and will use these blogs to build up the first few days words as I am so enjoying this process as well.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5