Simon Dell: So, I’m lucky enough to welcome Ashton Rigg to the podcast this morning. Welcome, Ashton. How are you?

Ashton Rigg: Thanks, Simon. Good morning. I’m super well. How are you going?

Simon Dell: Very good indeed. Now, just for everyone’s benefit out there, let’s give them just a little two-minute overview of who you are and exactly what you do.

Ashton Rigg: Yeah, for sure. So, I’m currently the social media and content manager at Youfoodz. For those of you who don’t own a TV or the internet, Youfoodz is Australia’s largest fresh meal delivery company. I’ve been here for about 9 months now, but we have a running joke that that’s about 3 years in normal time because of the pace here.

But before Youfoodz, I was at Flight Centre for about 5 years. So, I started there as an SEO copywriter fresh out of uni. Gradually, I moved on to become the team leader of the content team, so I had the benefit of working across the Flight Centre website and also our print publications. I rounded out my time at Flight Centre in a bit of a niche area of the business, where I started to do social, email marketing, lead generation, and I guess a bit of everything. In between all of that, I’ve also done a fair bit of freelance writing for the likes of the Urban List, [INAUDIBLE 00:30:38] Traveler, Good Food, and whatever other commissions have come my way.

Simon Dell: So, you seem to be focused on travel and food, is that sort of fair to say that’s your passions?

Ashton Rigg: Yes, two very dark and depressing topics. Yeah, travel and food are definitely where my passions and strengths lie, so I’ve had the benefit of being at Flight Centre where I literally did get to go overseas on behalf of the company, and do some amazing trips, and be able to write about it, and take photos and videos of myself eating. Feeling very #blessed.

Simon Dell: Wow, living the dream there.

Ashton Rigg: Exactly.

Simon Dell: We’ll come back to Flight Centre in a minute, but you also mentioned to me in an email the other day that you once shadowed Patrick Condren. I don’t know how to feel about that. I don’t know if that’s fortunate or unfortunate.

Ashton Rigg: I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that I’m not actually in broadcast journalism. That may or may not have something to do with it. I’m not saying it, but yes.

Simon Dell: Are you saying he screwed your career?

Ashton Rigg: Basically, that’s what I’m saying. Thank you, Patrick. Thanks a lot. So, yeah, at uni, I actually studied journalism. I got to do a little bit of everything. I got to do the print, the radio, the TV, and everything like that. I ended up majoring in integrated marketing. As soon as I started doing that, I sort of felt like, “Oh, wow. This is kind of really interesting.” And I felt like I could take a lot of the things that I was passionate about and interested in from a journalism discipline and actually bring them across to more of a business marketing sense. So, it was kind of a perfect storm.

Simon Dell: When you were doing journalism, so how long ago would that be?

Ashton Rigg: We’re in 2018 now. I graduated in 2012, so 6 years ago.

Simon Dell: That was an interesting time to be studying journalism, wasn’t it? Obviously, there were a lot of changes happening at the time.

Ashton Rigg: Yeah, there really was. I feel like things have only probably gone downhill since then, unfortunately. I talk a lot to a number of young people are either at uni or just starting uni. They want to go into a similar area to journalism. I’ve always encouraged them to study something like media communications or mass comms, just because I think the breadth of the skills is ultimately going to serve you better. I actually feel like universities in this day and age shouldn’t be offering a straight journalism course because it’s not really preparing you for the real world.

Simon Dell: Absolutely. I had the former editor of Marketing Magazine in one of my early podcasts. He was the editor through that massive change from print magazines and watched the decline. It was like a very slow moving car crash, as we described it. I can imagine that people getting into journalism now are probably wondering that in 3 or 4 years’ time, when they walk out into the job market, what exactly that job market is going to look like because it could look completely different to what it looks like today.

Ashton Rigg: Yeah, absolutely. I sometimes think, “What if I had pursued print journalism?” I really did have a passion for news writing as well. So, if I had gone into the ABC or into Fairfax, who knows how many rounds of redundancies I would’ve been able to stay through? Probably not many, being a graduate journalist. I’d really doubt it. So, I kind of look back and really thank my foresight, I guess, that I sort of looked at this thing called integrated marketing communications, and I was like, “Yeah, that sounds hot. I’m going to do that.” It’s big words.

Simon Dell: For those that can hear me coughing in the background, I’ve got this horrific cold that I haven’t been able to shake for a week.

Ashton Rigg: You’ve got the back to work cold.

Simon Dell: Oh, this is what happens when you have small children and they go back to day-care. They bring all the infections to you. So, let’s talk about your time at Flight Centre, because Flight Centre’s obviously a huge company. I’ve known people that have worked there. I know people that still work there. They seem to have built a lot…

And they’ve built, and are still building, a lot of their marketing on that content. And completely understandable because that’s what their business does. It’s got a lot of content that it can talk about. Explain quickly just a couple of things that they used to do that perhaps were… Obviously, you travelled a lot and you wrote a lot, but how did they approach that production of content?

Ashton Rigg: I think when I started out, it was in that time period where it was all about SEO. It was like SEO was the hot topic of the day, so there were a team of us, and we were basically just filling up the website with really rich, informative content, travel guides, guides to airlines, destinations, packaging holidays, everything like that. It kind of progressed from there.

You gradually get that buy in from the higher ups when you can start to prove the value of content. So, you can start to show the amount of people who are being driven to the website and who are actually converting from content and who are coming back again and again.

So, once you kind of fight that battle, I guess it’s a little bit easier to sell the full picture of what content actually is and what it looks like beyond just SEO and just clean copy. It eventually got to the stage where content was taken out of the digital team and put into the creative team, which is a really indicative sense of how content shifted. Because it was seen as a digital function.

You’re building your website. You’re building your organic rankings and everything like that. But then when it was taken across into the creative sphere, that’s when they started to be able to do things like… We could go overseas and we could actually record this video and this amazing inspirational, aspirational content.

Flight Centre’s purpose is, “We’re the experts.” So, how can you be experts if you’re not actually going, and doing, and seeing? And so, gradually, it’s gotten to the stage now where they have their own travel show which is The 48 Hour Destination. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to work on that one, but I do know the team behind that, and it’s just taken off.

I remember hearing about this concept many years ago, and to see it now come to fruition and for them to have a whole television series on that, I think it’s just extraordinary. It’s really this battle that we were fighting the whole time around this kind of intangible subject called content, and now it’s being fully realized. That’s really exciting.

Simon Dell: Do you think there’s a direct parallel to the success of the organization? Obviously, there’s a lot of component parts with the success of somebody like Flight Centre. I mean, I can actually remember back in the days when they were writing content for SEO, and packing them full of keywords, and all of that kind of stuff. It seems to me that there’s a direct parallel between the production of that content and the way that they’ve expanded that content to the success of the company. Do you think that’s a fair statement?

Ashton Rigg: I think what you said, there are obviously a lot of moving parts. I mean, probably, the thing that you underestimate about Flight Centre is its brand. It’s been around for the better part of 30-odd years now. It’s just really ingrained, I think, in everybody’s mind. But absolutely, the content has a lot to do with it, especially when it comes to targeting a newer market.

The baby boomers who have grown up and they have always seen the bricks and mortar Flight Centre stores, they know it’s there. They associate it with travel. In all reality, they’re probably going to book with Flight Centre. But it’s about, how do you target these younger, savvier people who think, “I can just book this online myself. Why do I need to go through a travel agency?”

I think it’s about positioning the brand as something more than just selling travel. It’s really selling that experience, which is what I feel like the Gen Y and the Millennial really buy into. It’s their Instagram presents where they’ve got their ambassadors going to these far-flung places. And what a coincidence, we can offer you that same experience.

Simon Dell: I was going to say, I think there’s a movement that the Gen Y are… They all know they can put these things online, but I think that they feel like they can’t book the experience online. It’s all well and good hiring a car, booking a plane, or booking a hotel, but it’s that experience that I think Flight Centre were tapping into so well that’s driving the traffic to their website or to the stores. Do you find that the Gen Y still actually wanted to come in and sit down and talk to somebody?

Ashton Rigg: It was a little bit hard for me, I guess, because I was in a support role. I wasn’t really on the frontline with the benefit of being able to see what kind of customers were actually coming into the store. But we did find with a lot of niche brands that Flight Centre is obviously the brand of a thousand brands. So, we find with niche brands such as Student Flights that they would absolutely want to come and sort of put it in the hands of an expert.

There’s kind of a few elements to that. One is being time poor. Like you said, it’s like, “Yup, I can easily book myself a flight from A to B and I can probably hire a car, but you know what? I’m going to go on this big holiday and I would really just like somebody to sort it out for me.” And also in the case of Student Flights. For a lot of people, this might be their first overseas trip. And so, you want the security as well. You want to know that if something happens to you overseas, that you can email, or call, or even SMS your agent and say, “Fix this for me.”

Simon Dell: Yeah. As you’ve said that, that reminded me. I was trying to think of a parallel, because how you apply that ethos of Flight Centre saying, “We’re here to save you time. We can complete the whole thing for you,” how you apply that to smaller business. I always remember going into Supercheap Auto, and I’m the world’s worst person when it comes to looking after a car. I just have no inclination to open up a bonnet or anything like that. I don’t understand how they work or whatever.

I remember going into a Supercheap Auto, and trying to get some new windscreen wipers, and the guy actually turned behind the counter and said, “Do you want me to fit those for you?” And I was just like, “Absolutely.” I don’t want to be involved in any of this. But it’s that full service, it’s that, “I’ll help you pick it. I’ll take it to the counter for you. I’ll take you outside and fit them onto your car.” You walk away with what was only a 10-minute transaction, but you walk away with such a good feeling about the brand that you couldn’t get from, say, going onto Webjet and booking a flight.

Ashton Rigg: Absolutely. I think that’s the thing that we don’t see enough of as well, is service. I think our service industry, especially if you go overseas to basically anywhere in Europe or Japan, when you come back, you sort of realize our service industry is quite lacking. It’s very refreshing when you can go somewhere and they actually complete the full transaction for you instead of leaving you halfway.

Simon Dell: Talk to me about the internal brand of Flight Centre. We all see the slip and slides through the offices and things like that. They’re often, to me, feels like that there’s a bit of a cult-like element working for Flight Centre. Do you feel that’s the case?

Ashton Rigg: Absolutely. You’ve got to drink the Kool-Aid if you want to work at Flight Centre. No, it’s definitely a work hard, play hard mentality. I think that’s just always been the way that it is. I think it’s probably been like that since the guys first established it. And really, kudos for keeping that so strong and so consistent for decades. I think that’s really admirable.

I think that’s what attracts a lot of people to work at Flight Centre, because they see that. They see the slip and slide. They see that there’s a rooftop restaurant and a cafe. They see these global gatherings where thousands of flighties, as we say in biz…

Simon Dell: Is that what you’re called internally?

Ashton Rigg: That’s your pop quiz answer of the day. You see these global gatherings where everybody is in Vegas, or Macau, or Singapore, and they’re partying. We’ve got on the DJs. It is pretty phenomenal. It’s definitely part of the appeal, and I think that there’s, like many places, there is probably a cultural fit. If that doesn’t sound like your ideal, then that’s possibly not the place for you.

Simon Dell: Does that attract a certain type of employee? I can imagine, and having said this from experience, when I’ve worked in brands that are very social brands, I used to work for Lion Nathan, or what’s now Lion, but it was Lion Nathan back then. I worked with brands like Forex, and EE, and all those kind of things. They’re very social brands and you’re expected to be social. You’re expected to be at footie games every week or sometimes twice a week. It attracts a certain type of employee, doesn’t it? Because after a while, once you get to a certain age and have a family, the idea of staying out until 1:00 in the morning on a Wednesday night starts to tire a little bit.

Ashton Rigg: I guess it does. I saw a lot of people honestly have their entire career at Flight Centre. They had families, and kids, and I think that there’s a lot of consideration. It’s obviously a really diverse business as well. You’ve got the support element. We’re all based out at Southbank, but there’s all the retail brands as well. I think there’s a lot of consideration for a very diverse staff.

Simon Dell: Let’s jump to Youfoodz. Just for those people that don’t know who Youfoodz are, and I suspect that there’s not many of them out there, but we do actually get listened to in multiple countries around the world, so maybe there are people who don’t know who Youfoodz are. Do you want to give us a quick idea of what Youfoodz does?

Ashton Rigg: For sure. Youfoodz is a fresh food company. We make ready-to-eat meals, and snacks, and juices now as well. We deliver them to people’s doors all around Australia. We’re also available in over 3,000 stockers around Australia. I guess our key point of difference, if you’re thinking, “Oh, it’s like Lite n Easy or Weight Watchers.” or any of those is we’re not a diet brand.

We’ve always considered ourselves more of a lifestyle brand, and all of our meals are fresh. They’re not frozen, and the way that we do that is through modified atmosphere packaging. So, basically, vacuum sealed, sucks all the oxygen out, so it means that your fresh meals can stay fresh for 7 to 9 days.

Simon Dell: Very nice. That was a great elevator pitch there. And you’ve been there for 9 months now?

Ashton Rigg: Yeah, about 9 months which is mind-blowing.

Simon Dell: What’s your favourite Youfoodz meal, then?

Ashton Rigg: I love the mushroom cannelloni. That’s an oldie but a goodie. It’s been on the menu for ages, and it’s surprisingly low in calories. I think it’s under 300, so that’s a classic. I’ve actually got an order waiting for me in the fridge here at the moment, so I’m pretty keen to dig into it.

Simon Dell: It’s that sort of thing you’re eating three times a week or something terrible like that where you just keep eating the same thing?

Ashton Rigg: Yeah. I think I overdid it a little while ago. I was eating it multiple times a week. I was off for a few months, but I’m back on board now. I’m all about that cannelloni.

Simon Dell: You guys made quite a few headlines last year. We actually did two or three episodes ago about the most complained about ads of 2017. Youfoodz managed three entries in it. I think you did quite well. Pat on the back all around there. Obviously, I think the one that was most complained about was you guys using a young boy, on a TV, imitating fiery TV chef Gordon Ramsay. Instead of using the f-u-c-k word, he was using an f-o-r-k word, so forking. Un-forking-believable, as he says.

To me, very funny, very creative. Obviously speaks to the Youfoodz brand and the target market really well. What was the background behind that idea? Where did that come from? Was that an agency idea? Was that an internal idea?

Ashton Rigg: No. I think it would surprise a lot of people to learn that Youfoodz doesn’t actually have a creative agency. We do everything in-house, especially creative. Yeah.

Simon Dell: Wow, actually.

Ashton Rigg: I know. I get that all the time. It’s like I’m really proud to work alongside these guys. So, yeah. I’m honestly blown away with what the team here are creating. The bar just keeps getting raised every time. So, for something like TVCs, we storyboard, script, shoot, and edit everything ourselves. The creative team here are honestly amazing, the amount of work and the quality of work that they pump out on a weekly basis is just phenomenal.

Simon Dell: When you guys come up with those ideas, are you deliberately trying to find something that you think is going to be a little bit close to the edge, or you’re just going, “Alright, here’s a great idea. Let’s implement this and let’s see what happens.” I guess I’m trying to understand whether there’s an innocence in the creativity there or there’s a little bit, like you’re pushing the envelope.

Ashton Rigg: It’s no coincidence that the ad had as much impact as we intended it to. We took a lot of inspiration from real people with big personalities who are quite unfiltered, straight shooters. In this case, for our forking ads, the brief was to clearly communicate the product and benefits with really strong dialogue in a piece to camera sort of fashion.

Throughout all that, it had to have our trademark ballsy Youfoodz brand tone. When we’re coming up with some creative concepts or we’re maybe looking at other ads for inspiration, we might take it back and say, “This is great, but is it ballsy enough? Is it really going to have the impact that we want it to?”

Simon Dell: Did it have the impact that you wanted it to? Aside from the complaints, which have…

Ashton Rigg: Absolutely. The complaints are really interesting to me. Speaking personally, I’d hate for us to get to the stage of over-censorship. I think there’s a sense of humour that’s really innately Australian. We take the piss. We poke fun at ourselves, and I find it interesting that other ads like BCF’s BCFing Fun, which I love, by the way, I’m definitely not the type of market, but I love those ads.

That ad in particular received complaints but they weren’t upheld. It’s a really interesting parallel. I think there’s a vocal minority who speak out against these ads, and I really hope that they won’t have a majority influence going forward. They certainly don’t speak for me and I don’t think they speak for the Youfoodz customers either.

Simon Dell: There’s obviously a growth in the last two or three years of people just complaining for the sake of complaining and they don’t actually have anything better to do with their time. Obviously, you guys are up there with the tire brand now. I forgot their name.

Ashton Rigg: Autotune?

Simon Dell: Yes, with all the ladies in PVC.

Ashton Rigg: Yeah, but I mean, their ads are bad just for the sake of being bad. Their latest one with Mike Tyson is just the most beautiful trainwreck I’ve ever seen.

Simon Dell: Absolutely. And obviously, when you hear him talk about it, he’s very much, “I’ve got a target market. That target market is male. It’s testosterone-driven. And so, I’m going to produce ads that appeal to that target market.” Obviously, whilst he does that, he manages to sort of upset lots of other people in the process.

I mean, it’s good that there are still brands out there that are willing to push the envelope, or create something challenging, or be prepared to put themselves out there that somebody might censor them. I think that’s, when the average Australian looks at it, the Youfoodz advert, I think everyone smiles and smirks. You’re still doing a lot of billboards as well at the moment, aren’t you?

Ashton Rigg: Absolutely. I think our billboards are kind of… That’s the OG for Youfoodz. I think that’s how a lot of people, especially in Brisbane, we’re Brisbane-based, have come to know us. I think the first one that had huge impact before I even started was the WTF: “Wait, they’re fresh?” And they’re very impactful.

I feel like when you start out that way, there’s no way we could’ve taken a backwards step that would be very inauthentic for one. It’s just not us. I mean, we’re not doing it for shock. We’re not doing it to offend. That’s just the brand. That’s who we are. That’s how we talk to each other.

Simon Dell: That ‘wait, they’re fresh’ is fantastic. Again, it’s great that you’re doing that sort of thing internally as well, because I can only imagine the amount of money that an agency would’ve charged for you to come up with that, and then probably would’ve tried to claim 20 awards or something around the world on the basis of it. When you guys are producing content for the business, how do you go about that?

Unlike Flight Centre, you don’t have this vast array of places around the world to go to. I wonder how the challenge is that you’re producing content for food. How does that work? What is it that seems to get good reactions from your customers?

Ashton Rigg: I guess up until this point, my role has been really focused on social. It’s been bringing in a lot of process and strategy to that and driving community management as a priority. This year in particular, I’m really hoping to take a side step and look at content more broadly. I mentioned before, but I’ve been working in content for the better part of 7 years, and it’s still such a misunderstood area. It’s kind of this all-encompassing, overwhelming thing.

It’s what you fill your website with, what you post to your social channels, and goes into your EDMs. It has so many touchpoints with the customer. What works for us is real stories, and being authentic really works. If you look up the Youfoodz hashtag on Instagram, we’ve got well over 15,000 mentions and that’s not us. That is just people. They’re real people, and they want to share the brand, and they want to share their story and their interactions with the brand. I think that is amazing.

Our product actually really works for us. I’ll give you an example. We ran a competition over Christmas where we did 12 days of giveaways with different prizes, so everything from your ugly Christmas sweaters, to Netflix vouchers, and holiday vouchers. It really surprised me, but the prizes that people went nuts for were things like a week of Youfoodz or a Youfoodz meal plan. To me, that says people who were following us actually really give a damn about our product, which is kind of the dream.

I think as well as that, food porn has always worked really well for us, especially on platforms like social. It’s food. Everybody likes to see food and they like to see it plated up in these beautiful ways. But they also like to see it in these really raw and authentic ways.

Simon Dell: It’s almost when you look at the hashtag Youfoodz, it’s almost actually like looking at your own… I mean, some of the photos in there are yours, but it’s like looking at your own feed. A lot of people are almost producing Instagram content that matches your brand content.

Ashton Rigg: Yeah. There’s so much user-generated content. We really encourage it and we really reward it as well. That’s part of our priority, is really acknowledging every person that shares anything to do with the Youfoodz brand. We’re liking it. We’re commenting on it. And in occasions, we’re surprising customers. There was a customer who, using Youfoodz, she lost a stack of weight for her wedding. She reached her goal and we sent her a bunch of flowers because that’s bloody amazing.

Simon Dell: There’s a lot of before and after shots here that you can see of people who’ve lost weight. It’s a fantastic story. What doesn’t work for you guys? What content have you tried and just didn’t seem to get any sort of traction with?

Ashton Rigg: I guess from my perspective, especially across social, what doesn’t work is anything too salesy. I think that’s probably the case with a lot of brands. There’s obviously a time and a place for sales messaging. We had a big one off sale before Christmas which went gang busters, but I think that was kind of the perfect time when people were hunting for deals. They’re being short of time and they’re actually seeing sales messages everywhere anyway.

But we do a lot of work with just fine tuning even our captions. If we’re finding that our engagement is dropping a little bit, we go back, and we strip it back, and we just say, “It doesn’t need a cool caption this time. Let’s just try something a little bit more conversational. Let’s ask questions.” Because we have found, in the past, that when you’re trying to push sales messaging in an organic fashion, that it doesn’t really resonate.

Simon Dell: How do you actually build a content plan? Is there like a spreadsheet with everything you’re going to post? Are you sitting there on a Tuesday morning after we finish this and going, “Right, crux, what am I going to do today?” I’m interested for other people out there how much planning goes in and how far ahead you’re actually planned.

Ashton Rigg: I can give you a bit of an insight into what we’re working on at the moment. We’re in our summer campaign right now. We operate on a daily posting schedule. We do have a spreadsheet which is kind of a calendar. We have our little Facebook box and our Instagram box and we’ll put in there what content we want to forecast for that day.

When it comes to Instagram, we actually forecast what the feed is going to look like. It’s one of those interesting curator platforms where you can’t just throw out content every day. It’s like, “Oh, look. I’ve got two people holding bowls right next to each other, or I’ve got three blue images next to each other and it just looks weird. So, there’s a little bit of art and science as far as Instagram goes. Using InDesign, we forecast what the feed’s actually going to look like. We usually do that about a week in advance, and then we use a scheduling tool to load all of that in.

Simon Dell: Sorry to interrupt. What scheduling tool do you guys use?

Ashton Rigg: We use Schedugram for Instagram and we use HootSuite for Facebook, which I think is fairly standard across the board. At the moment, we’ve had the benefit of coming in really fresh in the New Year, and we’ve been able to plan a lot of our competitions and creative executions all the way up until Easter at this point, which is really exciting. I would say it’s about 70% planned and the remainder is there to be able to be reactive.

If something topical happens, say like Game of Thrones miraculously brings forward their release date, we want to tap into that. We want to be able to do some content around that. We can plan it to a certain point, but you don’t want to be so planned and so rigid that you can’t actually be reactive and respond to topical things that are happening.

Simon Dell: You guys are geared up that something happens in the news, you can react quickly enough? You’re confident in doing that?

Ashton Rigg: A hundred percent. For those who don’t know, I guess nobody would really know unless you’re really looking at us with marketing goggles. Youfoodz actually runs on a weekly promotion basis. Every week, we have a new promotion. It might be a free meal, a discount, a giveaway with a purchase. It could be anything in that realm. And so, where a lot of brands might do a campaign or an execution like this once a month, once a quarter, we do it every week.

We are very used to a very fast paced, dynamic environment, really strict deadlines, but also being able to change them as well. You see the creative that goes out. That’s why a lot of people think we have an agency. You see the creative that goes out every week. We look at it with such a magnifying glass, that if things need to be changed an hour before they need to drop, then we’re going to change them. We’re not just going to let something go live and say, “Oh, it’s good enough.” Good enough is never good enough.

Simon Dell: What promotions work well for you guys? What do you find that gets the consumers excited?

Ashton Rigg: It’s really a mix. I think you have to mix it up. I find the same with social in our competition. You can’t rely on, “Yup, tag and wins are great. I’m going to do a tag and win every week.” Those people are just going to get used to it and become complacent. We really do try to mix it up with app promotion, and seasonality, and also looking at what’s happening.

Is it school holidays? Is there a public holiday? Is that going to affect anything as well? For the most part, I think people love our free meals. A lot of the time before something actually goes onto the menu, we’ll give it away as a freebie and gauge the feedback from the customers. If it’s great, it goes onto the menu. And if it’s not great, then we take it back and we do some R&D on it, and we see if we can get it back to the high standards.

Simon Dell: This is being recorded on the 23rd of January, and I noticed you’ve got an Australia Day pie that’s going out at the moment. What’s there, dare I ask? Obviously, I wasn’t born in Australia. But dare I ask, what is in the Australia Day pie?

Ashton Rigg: The Straya pie, I love the name on that one. I had so many good names, but the Straya Pie just had to win out. It’s just a classic beef pie. It’s got beef mushies. It’s got a nice house-made gravy. It doesn’t have a pie shell but it doesn’t have a pie lid, so we just had a bit of a cheesy lid and there’ll be a fair shake of the sauce bottle. There’ll be some tomato sauce in there as well.

Simon Dell: Making me hungry already.

Ashton Rigg: I know.

Simon Dell: Just one last question on the content schedule. Do you find that certain times of the day work better for you, or you get better reactions?

Ashton Rigg: Honestly, no. I don’t think that’s as relevant anymore. I think we can see certain spikes in traffic on certain days of the week, but I think that’s probably more to do with our people’s ordering habits more than anything. But especially with the way that the Facebook algorithm is changing, I think that time of day isn’t a relevant factor anymore. I’ve seen posts from brands days later. So, I don’t think it has as much impact as it used to.

I think if you’re running a promotion that’s very time-sensitive and you need it to be seen by people at this particular time, you’re going to need to take it off organic, and you’re going to need to put it through a paid campaign and make sure that it’s targeting at the right time of day or day of week.

Simon Dell: How do you guys deal with negativity? One of the things I found with client social channels is that a lot of people now like to use those channels to have a whinge, or complain, or something about something. How do you tackle them? Is it on an ad hoc basis or is there a structure that you follow when somebody makes a negative comment or sends you a direct message that’s negative?

Ashton Rigg: I guess it’s very easy these days to just jump online to a brand’s page and just drop a comment. It’s a lot easier than speaking to the person and realizing that there are people behind the brand. I think that’s just where we’re at, and all brands are going to have to realize that. Our policy is, unless there’s any kind of abuse or defamatory language, we don’t hide those negative comments.

We aim for a 100% response rate across our channels. And when it comes to negative comments, I really think it’s important for people to see us on the front foot really acknowledging and addressing those issues so that they can have trust. Because it’s not just us talking to that person who has the complaint, it’s everybody else who’s seen that conversation as well. We really need to be seen to be proactive and let them know that we recognize things can go wrong, but we want to fix them.

We actually have an amazing customer service team who really stand by, turning negatives into positives. You’ll see it through our internal communication channels. You’ll hear it when you walk into the customer service team. It’s this really old school notion of the customer is always right, and we really stand by that.

I guess the processes when there’s a legitimate concern with somebody’s order, it’s a product they paid for, or the delivery, we acknowledge it publicly but we try to take that into a private forum. So, either a direct message, an email, or a phone call. It’s not a sense of hiding anything, but more about make it a one-to-one conversation with that person so they know that we’re not doing it to be seen.

We’re generally interested in turning their situation around. So, more and more, I guess that customer experience is at the heart of everything we do. We’ve got a crazy feedback loop where even a single negative comment can get passed up the chain to our heads of business. We gather as a large group at least once a week, all arms of the business, and we discuss what our customers have been saying. So, it means something as small as the sauce is too sweet this week can get sorted out straight away. We can really minimize that negative impact.

Simon Dell: Do you get the occasion where you actually get your own customers defending you on social media? That’s a great place to be in.

Ashton Rigg: Yup, 100%. You’ll see it even with regard to our ads. Coming back to the controversial ads, you’ll see a lot of people who have that criticism, but then you’ll see a lot of people either defending the brand or just standing up for what I guess is common sense. But absolutely, especially if it’s quite a small concern. Our customers, colloquially, we call them the fam. They really treat the brand like family, and it’s because we are having that conversation with them.

But they will jump on there, especially on Facebook, and they will say, “I’ve been ordering from Youfoodz for X years. I’ve never had a problem. They’ll fix it.” A lot of the time, they’ll actually offer solutions as well, which I love. I think it’s amazing. They’ll say, “Have you tried calling them? I’ve always been able to speak with them and they’ve always been really helpful.” I think that’s really refreshing. Every time they do that, I’m just silently clapping at my desk, “Yeah, thanks, guys!”

Simon Dell: It’s a great place for a brand to be. It makes you realize that those people who are complaining are in a minority. It’s when you get the people complaining and nobody defends you, it starts being a bit lonely. Last question in terms from a Youfoodz perspective: How do you guys measure your social? Is there some metrics? Is there actually some specific numbers that you measure, or is it just an overall business growth measurement?

Ashton Rigg: A hundred percent. We’re really letting the data do a lot of the talking these days. So, we’re not doing things just because we think they’ll work or because they might’ve worked in the past. But looking at data on the daily, looking at trends, and gathering feedback from customers. For social, my main KPI is engagement. We obviously have paid social specialists as well who work to more conversion-based objectives. But for organic social and content, that’s not the purpose.

I think it’s really important to recognize that and also educate people in your business, wherever you might work, who aren’t social media specialists, about how and why different social activities tick different boxes. We aim for week-on-week growth in engagement and our community. I guess a big part of our content strategy I haven’t really touched on yet is our ambassador program. Influencer marketing is really big for us. We have dozens of people reach out every day but we’re super selective of who we work with.

So, not only does their brand how to complement our brand, but we also look at things now like engagement percentage, and even where their audience is from. I used to be so intimidated by data, but I’ve learned to lean on the tools a lot and also colleagues to find the right numbers and make sense of them.

Simon Dell: Talk to me about that influencer program. Give me an example of the type of an influencer that you guys would be working with.

Ashton Rigg: It’s kind of changed a little bit since last year. We started using an influencer marketing platform called Scrunch. Brisbane startups represent.

Simon Dell: I know Scrunch, yeah.

Ashton Rigg: Scrunch has really enabled us to put that layer of data behind what we’re doing. If someone were to come to me and say, “Contact this big name influencer with a million followers.” I can now prove to them why a micro-influencer with just 5,000 followers is going to give us the best ROI. You’ll probably see people across a number of categories now we are really trying to split out some of the personas.

You’ve got your fit chicks obviously. You’ve got your, I guess, corporate-type Gen Y workers. You’ve got the guys as well who are very style and health conscious. You’ve got the mums as well. We’re finding a lot of mums really responding to our brand, if they’ve either just had a baby or if they’ve got little kids and they don’t have time to look after them, their own diet quite properly. We’re quite diverse in terms of who we work with, but I guess it’s — The look and feel has to complement ours, but in saying that, it’s got to be authentic to that influencer as well. We’re not going to say, “Here, put this Youfoodz up.” It’s got to resonate with their community.

Simon Dell: So, there’s hope for a 43-year-old man with 600 people on his Instagram yet?

Ashton Rigg: There’s hope, yeah. If you’ve got staggering engagement percentage, let’s talk.

Simon Dell: I don’t have a staggering engagement percentage, sadly. Nevermind. I can but dream. Well, actually, the podcast isn’t too bad. That gets quite a good engagement percentage, but my Instagram is not my main channel of influence.

Ashton Rigg: You focus on where your community is.

Simon Dell: Too many baby photos. I’ve been sharing all the baby photos on Instagram. But that’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve got three more questions for you, non-Youfoodz related questions. What are some of the other brands that you personally like, or might admire, or try to copy, or things you buy all the time just because you love them?

Ashton Rigg: For me, personally, I’ve always loved Frank Body. That’s the coffee scrub. It was in a brown sort of paper bag, but now they’ve rebranded a little bit. I think it’s a Melbourne-based brand, but it really didn’t surprise me to learn that the ladies who started it up came from a marketing background.

They really own their brand. It’s the style, the tone of voice, the social, the email. They really know their customer and they speak to them so intimately. Frank Body is a big one. And another favourite is the Thankyou brand. They’ve got the waters. They’ve got the hand wash and all the body products, I think nappies now as well, and the muesli bars. Is there anything they can’t do?

Simon Dell: Thankyou has been mentioned a couple of times on this podcast, yes.

Ashton Rigg: Yeah. We mention them internally as well. They’re just a damn good brand. I think that the charitable aspect is a huge part of the appeal. But beyond that, they seem to have this really premium product that doesn’t seem like an indulgence, if that makes sense. It’s like the most non-supermarket supermarket brand.

Simon Dell: I’ll tell you what’s made it for me with the Thankyou brand. This might sound incredibly cynical and capitalist. It’s actually got nothing to do with their long-term goals, but I think what they did was that they positioned themselves from a pricing point in places like NightOwl or 7-Elevens and stuff like that, where if you went in to buy a bottle of water, they weren’t the most expensive bottle of water in there.

So, you got in there and find the Pure Ridge and those kind of brands, and they would be trying to fleece you for, let’s say, $3.50 for a 600-mL bottle of water, which is absolutely insane in this day and age. And then you’d have the NightOwls that will be selling their branded water in the plastic that feels like it would collapse in your hand any second, and they’d be selling it for $2. But you’d walk in there and there will be a Thankyou water for $2.50, and you’d go, looking at those three brands, you’d go, “Well, I’m going to pick the Thankyou water because it’s obviously cheaper than the major brand, it’s more expensive than the home brand one from NightOwl, and I feel like I’m doing some good by buying it.”

I think if they got in and positioned themselves as a $4 bottle of water, I just wonder whether they perhaps would’ve had the traction that they had. It’s little things like that that I think they’ve got really right and have made them able to cut through to that market who walk in and go, “I don’t want to pay $3.95 for a bottle of water.” Okay, that’s some really good brands. Second to last question: What’s next for you? Obviously, you’ve been at Youfoodz for 9 months or 3 years depending on which way you look at it. What’s the ultimate goal for you from a career perspective?

Ashton Rigg: I’m actually lucky enough that everywhere I’ve worked has sort of presented me with these opportunities to upskill and grow into different roles whenever I was craving a change. It was the same with Flight Centre and now with Youfoodz as well. With Youfoodz, we’re super reactive to what’s going on in the market and things change constantly. At the moment, I’m definitely really interested in this concept of brand and people’s affinity for brand. I personally would like to move into a more holistic marketing role where I can not just maintain but also evolve the brand. That’s where I’d like to go next.

Simon Dell: What’s next for Youfoodz? What’s the expansion plans that you can actually share with us?

Ashton Rigg: There’s always exciting things coming, but I guess the most recent one was we opened up 7-day delivery for Brisbane City and Melbourne. That means it’s not restricted. You can get your stuff delivered on any day of the week. That’s what we’re focusing on at the moment, is really looking logistically at being able to offer customers more food when they want it.

And also, our wholesale presence is growing really rapidly. We’re up about 3,000 stockers around Australia now, so you know we’re in Caltech servos, and BPs, and NightOwls, and everything like that. I feel like as more people realize that you can just pop into your local retailer and grab a Youfoodz meal, or a snack, or a Youjuice, then that’s going to have a really big impact as well.

Simon Dell: I’ve got a bit of a challenge for you guys. I’ve been a fan of the Youfoodz brand. I’ve eaten your food, et cetera. I think one of the areas that you guys let yourself down, and this is going to be brave me criticizing a guest on the show, but here we go. I think one of the… And it’s not really you letting yourself down, but it’s the way that your brand is presented in third-party distributors. I’m going to use a specific example of when I bought one of your products at a IGA. You’re still in IGAs, are you?

Ashton Rigg: Yes, we are.

Simon Dell: The challenge I had was that you weren’t presented as well as you could’ve been in that IGA because the IGA wasn’t a well-presented IGA. Does that make sense?

Ashton Rigg: Yeah, absolutely. I totally know where you’re coming from, and it’s something that we recognized, especially towards the end of last year. It even depends on how people are presenting the product. Is it face up? Is it on its side? Is it in a fridge? We’re looking at our packaging and how our packaging will be displayed on the shelves as well. We’ve got some really cool new meal sleeves that have just started to transition through, which I think will have a really big impact on the shelf and also looking at — I guess that’s side branding as well to make sure we’re maximizing the real estate, but you’re totally onto it. We’re one step ahead of you.

Simon Dell: The packs were in one of those forward-facing fridges that you see, counter fridges. That’s the word I was looking for. They look like they were put in there as an afterthought. They weren’t stacked neatly. I’ve experienced this previously with a pet food brand that I worked with. And they found that when their brand was in pet stores, because they had to be in freezers, it was a frozen pet food, they found that the packs weren’t stacked properly, or just thrown in a freezer together with competitor brands and things like that

They actually ended up putting their own freezers in a lot of customers’ stores because that was the only way that they could preserve the way that the brand was presented. But look, it’s good to hear that you guys have recognized that. There’s nothing worse than spending weeks and weeks lovingly on a brand, and then going into a retail store and seeing it sort of thrown in a bargain bin and things like that.

Ashton Rigg: For sure. It’s always hard. I’ve worked in retail as well. It’s always hard to have that kind of influencing control over where your retailers are positioning and how they’re positioning it. But for us, it’s just — you have to incentivize them to do it. You have to have that relationship where it’s like they actually want to present your product in the best way possible.

Simon Dell: Last question. Where can people find you if they want to get a hold of you and talk to you?

Ashton Rigg: You can hit me up on LinkedIn if you ever want to talk social content or planning weddings, which I seem to be doing a lot of lately, or you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ashtonrigg.

Simon Dell: Brilliant. Ashton, thank you very much for your time today. It has been an absolute pleasure. Anybody out there, if you’re in Australia, please go and try some Youfoodz. I think you will all enjoy them. Fantastic selection. And if you get a chance, you may be hearing this after Australia Day, but check out that Straya Pie because I think you’ll like it. Thanks very much, Ashton.

Ashton Rigg: Awesome. Cheers, Simon.

For more transcriptions of the Simon Dell Show click here: Marketing Podcasts.

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