In a great interview piece, I had the pleasure of learning what “Spice-Drunk” is and a lot more with Arthur LeVesque, the owner and creator of Arty’s Party Rub. A season-all spice that is still in its infancy as a product but after talking to Arthur, I don’t think for much longer. At the Wolf’s Den in Reno, NV, we talked about a wide range of concepts relating to project management so let’s get right into the interview.
Elton: “From what I can see, you really have a fantastic product. What you and your wife have gone through to get to this point is an extreme amount of work and a resulting in a tremendous project from what I’m hearing, is something you are very passionate about.”
Elton: “So, real quick why don’t you tell me how it all started?”
Arthur: “Well, it started off in that I wanted to enter the local chicken wing cook-off downtown; I was really excited about that. I wanted to enter a competition where I could cook. The problem was that it’s very expensive to enter and the ingredients are also very expensive. So, I started looking at how I might reduce that cost of the endeavor. So, the best place I could figure that out was in the dry rub that I use. I was using a store bought dry-rub and those can run anywhere from $5-$10 a bottle. Then, we spent seven months, my wife and I, developing this rub, getting what we called “spice-drunk.” Which is where we got so overly saturated with the flavors we’d be just ‘ok, no more, just give me water.’”
Elton: “Ha! Got it. Kind of an iterative process?”
Arthur: Right! Three to four times a week for seven months. Perhaps half, or three-quarters of the way through we started giving it to family members and close friends to see how they liked it. We knew we liked it, but we need to make sure other people liked it especially if we were going to enter a competition. So they started trying it and a few people liked it and a few people didn’t. So, we went back and forth for another six months very slowly expanding to other people. We’ve probably handed out over one hundred and fifty bottles that we’ve made in our house just as gifts for people to try.”
Arthur: “We actually gave it out as wedding presents. So, actually two hundred and fifty …”
Elton: “… was that out at each table?”
Elton: “Oh that’s fantastic”
Arthur: “We did that and since we’ve received amazing results. Not only have they told us whether they liked it or not, but they’ve also given us their recipes. You see, on my website www.rubitonyourmeat.com you can find a lot of the recipes we’ve made and I’d say 30% of those I’d never made before. Like the salmon for example, I’d never cooked salmon before but people were telling me to try it. So, I took one night to cook it and try it and it was phenomenal. It was one of the best meals I’ve made to date.”
Expert’s Input: I want to pause the conversation here briefly. In his book Youtility, Jay Baer references a quote from Joe Chernov, the VP of Kinvey and I’d like to re-quote it here: “If I create something that somebody would pay for, but give it away, not only am I building trust and a debt of gratitude but I shock them into sharing it” I think Arthur exemplifies this statement. It’s a difficult, but as we’re seeing, a business model that is very effective.
Note: I’m going to reference this book again later in the post but this is not intended to promote the book. I just finished reading it and I felt it was relevant. This post is about Arthur and his great product. Now, back to the interview:
Elton: ”So, you’re not only getting feedback, you’re getting ides for your rub, for you to try at home. It also sounds like people are becoming ambassadors of your product? They’re going out and spreading the word about Arty’s Party Rub”
Arthur: “Yeah, I’ve gotten a really good response, I get a good amount of people coming to the site looking at the recipes and things like that. But what’s really cool, is that on my site, if you go to the Rub It link you can ask me for some if you’re in the Reno/Tahoe area and I’d be glad to give you some. We can’t sell it yet because we’re still working with a manufacturer to get everything situated but I’m more than willing to get it out there because I think it’s great and I love hearing how people use it. That’s my favorite part about it. It’s just great to hear, what we spent so much time on, is enjoyable to people.”
Elton: “It’s providing quality of life it sounds like really, when you think about it.”
Arthur: “Yeah! And that was one of the things we noticed too when we started first using it on recipes that we could do quickly because we didn’t have a lot of time. So there’s this recipe called Quick Chicken which, on my blog was the first recipe I posted. It’s super easy, you put the dry rub on the chicken and bake it, super easy but very tasty. With all the things we have going on we needed a meal that was good, healthy and quick to cook on those days when you come home and you’re a little sluggish and you’re ‘well do I want to eat out or …’ We’re trying not to eat out as much so that helps quite a bit. Tons of people have also said that as well.”
Elton: “So, providing not only the ingredient but ideas on how to use ingredients.”
Elton: “Before this even goes to market you’re going to have a tremendous following.”
Arthur: “Hopefully! We’ve gotten … probably 20% of the people that I’ve given out the dry rub too have re-requested the rub.”
Elton: “Oh, wow!”
Arthur: “Yes, which is awesome!”
Elton: “Repeat customers already?”
Arthur: “Right! One guy even went through it in a week. He said: ‘I’ve been putting it on everything I eat every single day this week and I need more, can I have some more?’ And so I was ‘Yeah, sure.’ So I brought him and extra-large bottle just because he gave me a couple good recipes and he’s a good guy. I don’t mind it, it’s something that I don’t mind putting my money into because I love the reaction. Because I love everyone just enjoying this.”
Elton: “The response?”
Arthur: “Yeah, it’s great. At a barbeque I cooked for forty people once using it and it was great! It’s easy. You see, it was once a chicken rub and now it’s become an all-seasoning. We’ve really branched out and modified the recipe so it can encompass anything. Anybody’s pallet, whichever meat, even vegetables. I know four or five people that are vegetarians that asked me about it when they heard about it: ‘Can I put it on vegetables?’ And I had tried it on a couple and was ‘Sure! Put it on whatever you want just tell me how it turns out.’ I’m only one person so I can only make so much food which usually encompasses recipes that I already know modified with the ingredient and I think every single one I’ve tried so far has turned out …”
Elton: “… so, far, with great success?”
Arthur: “Yes, they’ve turned out great!”
Expert’s Input: Again, in the book Youtility, Jay Baer talks about a concept called: “Friend-of-mine awareness which is predicated on the reality that companies are competing against real people for the attention of other real people. To succeed, your prospective customers must consider you a friend. You can break through the noise and the clutter and grab the attention of your customers by employing a different approach that is reliable, scalable, functional and effective. It’s simply this: stop trying to be amazing and start being useful.” I would say Arthur has done exactly that but in his case, he has an amazing product AND is being useful.
Elton: “A couple times you’ve referenced a ‘we’ so why don’t you tell me a little bit about the other half of the ‘we’ and how she plays a part in this?”
Arthur: “So, my wife has been a huge contributor, she’s my partner in crime. Without her I could not have done any of this. She was there from the very beginning when she and I were sitting trying to get the dry rub to taste good because it didn’t always taste so good. Sometimes it was too hot or too sweet, but she was always there supporting me. She edits all my blogs because I’m not only a terrible speller but also my grammar doesn’t do me any justice. Also, she’s really big into social media, much more than I ever was. She’s huge on Instagram and Pinterest and other things whereas I had never been on Instagram before and I started it a few weeks ago and it’s awesome.”
Arthur: “It’s great for my blog because I’m starting to get cool responses as I take pictures as I’m making the food and people are saying: ‘Oh man, that looks so good.’ And I can tell them: ‘Well, check it out later, I’ll have a blog up later on this afternoon all about it.’ So, that’s been really cool. But Instagram is really big on hashtags and I’ve never really used hashtags before we started this project and she’s great at it, does all my hashtags for me. She also loves to cook too, so we’re always in the kitchen together, cooking, so it’s not just me doing these recipes, it’s us.”
Elton: “Sounds like she’s adding a lot of balance to what already is a great for you, and what has become for her as well.”
Arthur: “Yeah, she’s really enjoying it. We were a little skeptical at first, coming up with something like this because we didn’t imagine we could do it. Finally, we said: ‘Well, we could try it and if it doesn’t turn out, well then it doesn’t turn out.” But, it really HAS turned out, it’s awesome.
Elton: “Well, I’ve had a taste of it so I can speak honestly when I say ‘it’s fantastic’ and I’m looking forward to using it more. But for right now I just want to say thank you for your time. I think we have a great idea about your product and your project and I think we can only expect great things to come.”
Final Expert’s Input: In the book I referenced earlier, Jay Baer says: “We always tried to build loyalty with people, and we can no longer rely on that technique. Now, we must build loyalty with information. You have to engage your customers, so that they can come to learn and believe in it and build that trust with you. The more questions you answer and the more useful you become breeds visibility and loyalty.” With the help of his wife (Karina) and their use of social media (blogs, hashtags, Instagram, etc.), Arthur is engaging his customers in a way that creates believability and trust. The results is, as his business grows, he has ambassadors entrenched in their loyalty to the product, ambassadors that will be more effective than any advertising campaign money could buy, ambassadors that will get to experience the excitement along with Arthur as Arty’s Party Rub gets rubbed all over our meat. So, if you’re in the Reno/Tahoe area, hit him up and get a little “Spice-Drunk.” If you’re not, something tells me you won’t have to wait long to try it for yourself.
Note: This post is in continuation of the interviews I’m conducting with other project managers from a wide variety of industries and fields. See my 1st guest speaker post for a more detailed description.
Image Credit: Photo by Author