Tag Archives: humane sourcing

Developing a customer persona: How “Pam” has improved the ButcherBox experience

Have we told you about Pam?

She is top of mind here at ButcherBox. To be honest, sometimes, she is the focus of most conversations.

In fact, at a recent meeting to discuss the content we are creating — recipe books, videos, and the like — Pam was discussed by almost every person who spoke about the projects they are developing.

That’s a pretty impressive feat for Pam seeing that she is a figment of our collective imagination.

You see “Pam” is what industry people refer to as a “customer persona.”

Businesses develop customer personas for a number of reasons. Among the reasons that companies create a non-existent person to plan around are the need to grow, in which case the persona is an ideal target customer, or the need to cultivate, to continue to support and enchant your most important customers.

Most often, customer personas are built by consumer-facing businesses, but that isn’t always the case. (For a good breakdown of how to develop a buyer persona, check out this HubSpot blog post.)

For ButcherBox, we developed a handful of different customer personas, each typifying a different customer profile; however, our primary focus at this moment is “Pam.”

To me, it’s become obvious that we are working with a niche audience, selling a niche product. The vast amount of people out there have no idea what grass-fed beef is. This topic so surrounds us in our everyday work, that we sometimes forget that there is a significant swath of the population who don’t have the same understanding of our products — not only grass-fed beef but heritage-breed pork and free-range chicken— as we do.

So we picked a user profile, “Pam,” to focus on as a way to make sure we give an easy-to-access, yet robust ButcherBox experience to both new and devoted customers. Pam is someone who has recently been awakened to the importance of eating healthy meat. She is thinking more about things like antibiotics and hormones in the food she eats and cooks for her family, as well as whether what she is eating is raised on a feedlot or has been on a pasture. She is drawn to ButcherBox because we make healthy, high-quality meat more accessible.

Pam isn’t the only customer we are building more products, offerings, and support for, but she is the one who we think most closely aligns with our own mission. It makes sense for her to be top of mind because of our shared passions. I believe this is a pretty great way to build a business.

Developing this persona has guided a lot of the marketing decisions we’ve made recently. One example of how it benefits us is that we have a better idea of who we are targeting on Facebook and other social media platforms. It isn’t so much that we are trying to onboard as many customers as possible; instead, we are trying to make those who are already part of our tribe aware that we exist.

This also impacts the influencers we want to work with and the companies we want to partner with. If it isn’t a person or a company that Pam would approve of, they are not a good match. This ensures that business decisions are very closely aligned with the beliefs of our existing customer base and those who will join.

Everyone on the team is aware of Pam and why she is a primary focus.

I’ve never gone through a persona exercise, so the whole process has been new. But from the experience thus far, it is evident how beneficial it is to have a clear understanding, across the company, of “who” we should focus on as we continue to grow.

It is also quite clear that what is good for Pam will likely be good for all of our customers.

*While this is all a bit of “How the sausage is made,” we think it is important to be transparent as we build this company for many reasons. The most important, we believe, is to help other entrepreneurs as they build their companies by sharing the lessons we are learning along the way.


Inspirational farming in America: Polyface Farms

Working with ButcherBox has enabled our farm, Singing Prairie Farm, to provide sausage from pigs we raise to more people than we could have imagined.

As ButcherBox has exploded with popularity, the demand for our products has created an opportunity for us to source meat from other family farms that share our strict standards. We are excited to announce that the East Coast sausage, which will be part of December’s ButcherBox, will be sourced from Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

For me, the opportunity to collaborate with Polyface Farms has been like meeting your favorite rock star from childhood.

When I started farming on my own, someone gave me a book called Pastured Poultry Profits, by Joel Salatin. At the time, I was working on an organic vegetable farm but wanted to diversify our offerings by adding pasture-raised meats. I read the book many times until I understood the principles and then began a slow and steady push away from raising veggies and towards livestock production. As the years passed, my family’s farm moved away from pasture-raised poultry to pasture-raised pork, which is our specialty today.

Joel — and his son Daniel — remain some of the most inspirational and creative farmers I know. Polyface Farms first gained acclaim in Michael Pollan’s bestseller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Joel’s enthusiasm for radically transparent poultry processing — as well as innovative farming philosophies — helped to create a renaissance for the sustainable family farm.

Here’s an excerpt from the Polyface Farms’ story to give some insight into how Joel and his family healed the land they remain stewards of to this day:

In 1961, William and Lucille Salatin moved their young family to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, purchasing the most worn-out, eroded, abused farm in the area near Staunton. Using nature as a pattern, they and their children began the healing and innovation that now supports three generations.

Disregarding conventional wisdom, the Salatins planted trees, built huge compost piles, dug ponds, moved cows daily with portable electric fencing, and invented portable sheltering systems to produce all their animals on perennial prairie polycultures.

Today the farm arguably represents America’s premier non-industrial food production oasis.

Now, years after reading Joel’s book, the story comes full circle for me. We get to work directly with Joel and Daniel to provide ButcherBox customers with some of the most radically sustainable pork in America. We hope you find the pasture-raised revolution as delicious as we do.

John Arbuckle is a guest contributor to Roam. He is the co-founder of Singing Prairie Farms.

Image via  White Oak Pastures' blog.

White Oak Pastures, getting sustainable farming right

White Oak Pastures is a farm outside Bluffton, Georgia where some of the pork sausage that ButcherBox distributes is sourced.

When it comes to farming multiple species, White Oak Pastures has it figured out.

Recently, I caught up with the farm’s marketing director Jenni Harris, the 5th generation of the Harris family to farm at White Oak Pastures, and she explained a bit of what makes her farm tick.

“My family has been farming here since 1866,” Harris said. “Back then, we farmed only beef cattle which we sold in Bluffton, a town about a mile north of here.”

“Over the years, we evolved to be the farm that we are today. We raise ten animal species —five red meat animals and five poultry,” she explained.

How does that even work? I’ll let Jenni explain. “It’s our belief that having all those animals following each other around the farm creates the same sort of synergies that you find in nature. In other words, they help each other grow and be comfortable.”

The pigs at White Oak Pastures are also a special breed that lives in the forest. “Here in Georgia,” Jenni said, “pigs don’t want to be out in the sun…They get too hot! So our pigs live out in the woods. They dig around and eat brush and roots as well as our unsalable eggs (raised by pastured chickens), local peanuts, and 100% non-GMO grain.”

But for Jenni Harris, the White Oaks Pastures’ mission is bigger than creating great, naturally- and humanely-sourced meat.

“When people ask me what my favorite thing about our family’s farm is, I like to tell them that we want to fill the countryside with farmers!” she said. “Imagine a whole world of middle-class farmers? We are trying to make it happen right here.”

“We started out as a farm full of cowboys,” Jenni said explaining the evolution of her family’s farm. “As we grew, we turned into a farm full of both cowboys and farmers. Then we grew some more and turned into a farm full of cowboys, farmers, accountants, graphic designers, chefs, and educators.”

That’s a pretty great family business right there.

“That’s our vision for the American countryside,” Jenni added, “with agriculture leading the way.”

John Arbuckle is a guest contributor for Roam. He and his wife run Singing Prairie Farm in Missouri, which supplies ButcherBox with the farm’s signature Roam Sticks as well as pasture-raised pork. John was featured earlier this year in Roam.


Dave Sinick – Paleo as the driving force for a quality business and life

This week, we interview Dave Sinick, the CEO of PaleoHacks, a multimedia platform for experts and those interested in eating better to share their advice, recipes, and other best practices for living your best life.

Dave is a driving force in making PaleoHacks the go-to source for those fully entrenched in the Paleo lifestyle as well as those who are looking to try eating a Paleo diet for the first time. Formerly the CEO of an Internet marketing agency, his passion for finding ways to eat healthily led him to the world of Paleo.

We caught up with Dave to talk Paleo, grass-fed beef, and more.

ButcherBox: What is PaleoHacks and how did you leverage your understanding of online marketing with your interest in healthier eating?

Dave Sinick: PaleoHacks is the largest Paleo community on the web, featuring a blog with health, fitness, and recipe content. We also have a Q&A platform with an active social community, cookbooks, and health programs.

PaleoHacks kind of fell into my lap in that the previous owner was looking for help to turn it into an active business. I had a lot of direct response experience selling products from previous ventures, and selling something I was passionate about (health information) was a natural fit for me.

BB: When did you realize the importance of being selective about the foods you consume? What about getting involved in Paleo?

DS: In 2011, I was tired but couldn’t sleep; I was depressed, anxious, couldn’t remember anything, etc. I started having some serious bloat issues that wouldn’t go away, and I realized I needed to make a change.

I moved to San Diego where my roommate had just started Paleo for his own reasons. He mentioned that it involved eating a lot of quality meat, fruits, and vegetables — foods I already enjoyed — and I dove in.

BB: What has been most surprising, looking back, about the response to PaleoHacks?

DS: I always assumed that PaleoHacks would be a community for advanced Paleo people and cross-fitters, but our audience includes a lot of beginners and people discovering the Paleo diet for the first time.


BB: What is your take on grass-fed beef?

DS: It’s all I eat. If you can find it, it’s a million times better.

BB: What made you feel that way about grass-fed?

DS: I saw how factory farms work, the types of treatment the cows get, and I realized there’s no way that you can be healthy by eating an animal that is basically a meat slave.

BBWhat is your take on the meat industry in general?

DS: It’s grossly backward, too focused on profits as opposed to creating a high-quality food item, and I would like for it to change so that we can get easier access to grass-fed meat.

BB: What differences have you noticed about eating grass-fed meat versus grain-fed?

DS: I think grass-fed beef tastes better, to be honest.

BB: What do you value most when making decisions about the foods you eat?

DS: Food is fuel to me, so it’s about how healthy the food is and what’s in it.

BB:  What is your opinion about the dieting industry?

DS: If it helps people, it’s great. I just think there should be less religion about diets. It’s just food.

BBHow do you separate PaleoHacks from the other noise in the dieting space?

DS: We just try to be real and reasonable. We publish a ton of desserts because we know that although a dessert isn’t a ‘diet’ food if that’s your entry point into Paleo and healthier eating and living, that’s great.

BB: How important is it for you to maintain authenticity in being an authority on food recommendations?

DS: Very important. I wouldn’t recommend anything that I wouldn’t eat myself.

BB: Thanks for the time Dave! Great to get some real insight into what’s vital to the those seeking healthier ways to eat and live. If you haven’t had a chance to yet, you should check out PaleoHacks for yourself.



How our search for the world’s best meat brought us to Australia

At ButcherBox, we are committed to delivering the healthiest, highest standard, direct-to-consumer ecosystem of meat procurement and delivery worldwide. We are also compelled by our passion to always innovate, and, if need be to rewrite the rules, to achieve the mission of being the most ethical, sustainable, and beloved purveyor of meat.

Part of that innovation involves searching the globe for the best meat for our customers, no matter where in the world it may originate.

Recently, we’ve observed one of America’s fast-food franchises making claims in their commercials that geographic proximity is a deciding factor in meat quality. Specifically, they imply that meat from Australia is inferior.

The problem is that this tactic ignores one major accepted difference between U.S. and Aussie meat: Beef from Australia is considered to be higher quality and better for you than the majority of meat from America.

In fact, Australian beef has a few very clear advantages over homegrown cattle.

For one, the vast majority of Australian cattle is grass-fed for its entire lifecycle. In the U.S., only about 2 to 4 percent of cattle is grass-fed and grass finished, as we’ve pointed out before. This difference is due to the advantage Australian farmers have in terms of having massive swaths of land for their cattle to graze and the number of cattle farms that can operate in the country due to climate.

Even when cattle are considered grass-fed in this country, very few are actually raised purely on pasture; most are raised on a diet of grass and forage —which is often defined in very broad terms. Language and labelling can also be problematic for U.S. raised beef as meat referred to as being “pasture raised” is oftentimes not what is implied.

At ButcherBox, we want to supply the best beef possible.

We’ve been to Australia and have been amazed by how vast some of the cattle ranches are. Whether you know it or not, the continent in the South Pacific is more than just surf breaks and Sydney. Most of the country is wide-open space that is more temperate for grass to grow. In the US, our outstanding farmers produce amazing grass-fed beef; however, the number of such purveyors is limited by geography and the availability of grazing lands.

Australian farmers don’t have the same limits. Literally, on one of our visits to an Australian farm, when we arrived, the rancher said, “Let’s go find the cows, I’m not sure where they are.” Where they were was roaming in open pastures.

We source some of our beef from Australia because their grassland and the quality of their beef is exceptional. Grass-fed beef in Australia undergoes a stringent grading process factoring in attributes contributing to tenderness and flavor that are not considered in the U.S.

Mike in Australia.
Mike Salguero (CEO) and Michael Billings (Head of Procurement) on a family run farm in Australia.

So we offer both US and Australian grass-fed beef because we think both are of the highest quality and meet our benchmark of being free from antibiotics and hormones, and raised with our environment and people’s health in mind.

Another difference between U.S. beef and its Australian meat is in the standards each is held to. Our American farmers take it upon themselves to raise their cattle by the standards we deem important. In Australia, there is a wide-reaching system in place to do that. It’s called MSA or Meat Standards Australia.

MSA is a grading system developed by the country’s own red meat industry to improve the quality of beef and other meat. The reason is explained on the MSA website: “The system is based on almost 700,000 consumer taste tests by over 100,000 consumers from nine countries and takes into account all factors that affect eating quality from the paddock to the plate.”

Basically, MSA makes it simpler to buy and cook Australian beef and lamb. Meat certified by the MSA is graded for tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, and is also labeled with recommended cooking methods. No such system exists in the U.S.; in fact, there are a number of grading and certifying agencies that actually make it much more confusing to buy the best quality meat here at home.

There’s more to producing quality meat than just making sure it tastes great. At ButcherBox, we strongly maintain that those who raise cattle (or other livestock) should do so in an ethical manner. And the Austrailian meat industry believes this as well.

The country has a system in place called the Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System or AAWCS.

AAWCS does independent certifications of meat processors across the country. These audits check to make sure that there is compliance with best practice animal welfare standards for the entire meat industry. As the certifying organization states on its website, “Good animal welfare practice is a requirement of customers of the Australian meat and livestock Industry both here in Australia and around the world.”

This is important to our customers as well. We’ve already heard from a few who find the Austrailian standards reassuring that they will be getting certified 100% grass-fed meat from livestock that was raised humanely.

If we didn’t believe this was the right thing for our customers, the cattle, and our farmers (here and abroad), we wouldn’t be comfortable delivering our ButcherBox to our customers’ doors.

So, while we won’t stop seeking out and bringing our customers the highest-quality meat from farmers across the United States, we also want to make sure our customers have access to the best beef in the world. Whether that comes from Montana or Northern Australia, we strive to deliver the healthiest, most humanely-sourced meat we can find.

Stay tuned for more tales of our global travels to find you the best possible meat!