BBP 004: How to Market BBQ Sauces and Rubs with Brian Misko
In this session, we hear from Brian Misko of House of Q as we continue talking about how to market BBQ sauces and rubs. I think you’ll find Brian an extremely detailed and informative resource on the topic of how to start marketing rubs and sauces from the smallest of beginnings to a large-scale effort using external production facilities like the co-packer operation we addressed in Podcast Session 3 with Tim Forrest.
Before we get to the excellent information Brian provides in this session, I want to be sure and steer you towards his book Grilling with the House of Q.
Brian sent me this book last year, and I was immediately struck by the way he combines a wide variety of live fire cooking recipes (both grilling and low and slow smoking) with stunning photos and enjoyable storytelling sensibility. The recipes in Grilling with the House of Q well-planned and delicious and are in many cases accompanied by fun stories about their origins.
See Brian Misko of House of Q in Action at All Things BBQ
What You’ll Hear in This Session with Brian Misko
This session is really just a part of a couple longer discussions Brian and I have had regarding his business background in BBQ. In this recording, you’ll hear Brian provide some great information on:
- The start up phase of any rub and sauce business (using his own experiences as an example)
- Some deeper questions that need to be addressed regarding how to market BBQ sauces and rubs
- Several key things to consider when dealing with co-packers – including managing expectations on both sides
- Steps Brian took – and ones you can, too – as he answered his own how to market BBQ sauces and rubs questions
Time Stamped Show Notes
- [4:39] Brian shares his personal story, including is education and work history prior to BBQ. Bet you’ll never guess what his undergraduate major was in! (Hint: It’s all in your head.)
- [5:25 ] Brian shares an important lesson he learned in school that’s really helped motivate him and has shaped much of what he’s been able to do in his BBQ business.
- [7:41] We learn about that first moment when Brian thought he should start looking into how to market and sell his BBQ sauce… realizing a “rush” of good feeling and knowing there was a lot he didn’t know.
- [9:36] The first step in your journey to market and sell your BBQ sauce or rub recipe is to be sure you can replicate it … exactly… again and again. Brian assures us that it sounds easier than it is.
- [11:14] Whether you’re increasing volumes for self-production or moving towards using a third-party producer, be sure to list ingredient measurements so that it’s easy to scale up. Brian believes metric units are best vs. tablespoons, cups, etc.
- [12:56] Whether you start out using cottage industry regulations (refer to podcast session 3 with Tim Forrest) or move to a commercial kitchen, safety is always a primary concern. As such, Brian has some solid advice for you here.
- [14:43] The steps to safe rub and sauce production will vary depending on the ingredients you’re using. Different components will carry with them varying degrees of volatility. Make the Health Inspector your good buddy, as killing people with your food is considered “bad form.”
- [16:56] Once you realize you need more product volume, you can either build your own facility, or use the production capacity of an existing one. Brian explains the latter in detail here.
- [18:00] The beauty of co-packers is that they’re already set up to run products using other people’s recipes, and they’re often “sweating it” on days they aren’t running their own stuff, as those down days eat into their profits. This puts you in a position to get a decent deal… if you know how to work with them.
- [19:30] Brian talks about how to find co-packers and says don’t limit your co-packing search to facilities that are only or are already in the business of making BBQ related products. Broaden your search and consider companies that bottle other things… like salad dressing.
- [21:11] Never move forward with a co-packer without first signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This is expected and you should not be shy about requiring it before disclosing to them any part of your business, your recipes, etc.
- [22:54] This is some “don’t miss info!” Here, Brian has some great information to share about managing your expectations regarding the ingredients co-packers will use for your recipes. Sometimes they’ll be a bit different from what you initially used. In a few cases, the quality of what they use – because they buy in such high volumes – may actually be better than what you originally used.
- [23:53] Understand that you may have to go through more than one co-packer if the first one, or second, or third, can’t quite get your formulation down how you want it. Either party (you or the co-packer) may just say “hey – let’s call it quits” if the “bench testing” or “kitchen batch” phase goes on too long. At the very least, you may have to pay out of pocket for “bench test” batches that go beyond a set number.
- [28:25] Choose labeling that’s easy for the co-packer. Check with them regarding their preferred style (adhesive, shrink wrap, etc). Also be sure you choose a bottle style that they can work with, or that’s not going to jam you up in terms of availability (if it’s a custom size/type of bottle) down the line.
- [30:46] Do your homework regarding branding and packaging. There are a lot of factors that go into how the way your product looks can shape a customer’s mindset about you and your brand. You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
- [32:05] You’ve finished that first full product run, and you have that pallet or pallets of sauce or rub in your garage at home (while your car sits outside!). Now it’s time to “finish” and follow up on those initial sales calls you’ve been making as the product development phase was coming to a close. (You did start that part already, right?) Brian puts it straight on where you likely are at this point “cash out of pocket” wise and what your next steps should be.
I can’t thank Brian enough for his willingness to be as detailed as he has been here in answering the questions I’ve received from my readers on how to develop and market BBQ rubs and sauces.
Hopefully, this session has been valuable and informative for you. I especially hope that it’s cleared up a few things you might have been wondering ask you’ve researched the issue of how to market BBQ sauces and rubs. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast episode, please share it with others who might enjoy it as well!
Some resources from today’s talk are listed as follows:
Resources Mentioned In This Session:
- House of Q Website -place to go to learn more about Brian and purchase items from his store if “not” in the US
- All Things BBQ (atbbq.com) – where you can purchase House of Q sauces and rubs directly for shipment in the US
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