As an entrepreneur and introverted-creative-type too shy to be a natural salesman, I approach every cocktail party with a plan to casually practice my pitch on anyone unsuspecting enough to ask, “How’s it going?” What derails this plan every is that the question usually comes out as, “Hey bread man, how’s the bread business?” I immediately go on the defensive to explain that business is good, but my focus is now these craft beer grain crackers and we work with breweries and we ship all over the country, and I keep going trying to turn the confused look into some kind of sign of recognition. I get there eventually, usually with sincere enthusiasm and interest. But it all goes away when the conversation ends with, “That’s cool but I sure do miss your bread.”
The thing is, I have to take full responsibility for receiving compliments and feeling disrespected and misunderstood. Bread is where it all began, but Naturally Fermented Craft Beer Grain Crackers are the future and I want everyone else to get on board with me. I simply have to get better at telling my story and being clear about what the purpose of my business really is. To get some help, I looked to ketchup.
Sir Kensington is a condiment brand. He is also a fictional mascot created by founders Mark Ramadan and Scott Norton to help convey the mission of their company: to bring integrity and charm to ordinary and overlooked food. They take what could be a confusing and unconvincing pitch about making fancy ketchup, something you didn’t even know you needed, and make their point with just a glance at the label. Of course, it takes a bit more to get you past the premium price, but this is just the beginning of a conversation. The next step is to convince you that the purpose of the business is worthy of your time and money.
Ramadan and Norton are very aware of this challenge and spend a lot of time and effort making sure they know their purpose and how to convey it. In a recent article they explain part of the process. They explain how they use three simple questions to discover their mission.
Question 1: What makes your offering different–product or service–than your competitors? For my products, it usually takes just a taste of my crackers to get what’s different. But how do I convey this in words and in packaging that sits quietly on the shelf?
Our crackers are not just a plain vehicle for cheese or whatever spice is peppered on the surface. Our crackers celebrate the flavors of whole grains. In the same way that craft beer is full of flavor, we take those same grains and ferment them in sourdough to bring out those great flavors in every bite. How about that?
Question 2: What about yourself or your business would you never change? Our products must enrich the heart, mind, and nourish the body. We strive to be zero waste, environmentally, socially, and financially responsible.
We will never use lower quality ingredients or processes just because they are cheaper or easier. We will never jump on a bandwagon, although bands and wagons on their own are great. We believe that educated consumers are happier and more engaged. We will never act on unsubstantiated beliefs or trends; we will act on evidence or find a way to test and act on the results. We will always remain critical thinkers.
Question 3: Write the 2026 Wall Street Journal article about your company’s success. What does it look like? The headline reads, “DeRego’s helps to improve the quality of life around the world by challenging industries to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?”
A bit lofty, perhaps, but we have a few years to get there. I do think this is the special thing that we have to offer, our reason for being. Taking things for granted is the biggest enemy of making something great. I pushed my oven through the back door of my bakery with the help of some friends. If you saw my oven you would thing this to be an impossible task. I look at it every day and think, “If we could do that, then maybe anything is possible.” I hope to keep creating opportunities to try more impossible things.
OK. That felt good. Forward-thinking and purpose-driven. At the next cocktail party I will be looking out for you, seeing if I can get you from curious to excited in fewer words and leave you with a clear understanding of the purpose of my company!