Helping emerging food businesses grow through strategic marketing decisions and authentic relationship-building
Kelly Pace Stegman is the founder of Pace & Love Marketing, a marketing firm focused in the food and beverage industry. Kelly calls on her passion for food, knowledge of social media, and years of expertise in marketing and retail to help clients grow their businesses and deepen their relationships with customers and stakeholders. The company’s services include social media strategy, merchandising consulting, product positioning, and press outreach.
Q. Tell us about the name and how it relates to your family.
KELLY PACE STEGMAN: Pace & Love Marketing is a name I’m so happy I get to say almost every day, when I give my email or shake someone’s hand. Pace is my middle name, and it’s actually my great grandmother’s maiden name. It means “peace” in Italian. So “Pace and Love” is partially a play on words of “peace and love” and also because I feel that I put love into everything I do, especially with my clients’ work. Also, with “pace” being Italian, the love of food that I experience from growing up with Italian Christmases or even studying abroad in Florence, it was just a clear choice that I would want that to guide me and direct me as my business would grow.
Q. How would you describe your unique marketing approach?
A. I was fortunate to have two years under my belt at Whole Foods Market in the marketing department. I’ve made great friendships, contacts there and I’ve been really able to see from the experience that I had there—to know what I’ve learned from these local vendors—what both sides are looking for. So I can suggest that a client of mine would be great in this part of the store because that’s what is really missing from this space, whether it’s the cold case or it’s the freezer space or even just a dump bin, which is what we call the area near the checkout counters. Really, understanding not only the target market for the customers but also for the retailers is important to me.
Q. Describe your ideal client.
A. An ideal client would be more than a startup—more like an emerging business. They’re about two years in and have done all the mistakes, still know that they’ll make more mistakes, but have really been able to survive that hump of time that most startups don’t really get through. That ideal client is also able to be earning enough revenue or turning over some sort of a profit where they want to invest into marketing but they’re not too big that they already have a marketer. In those some cases, I could do project-based work but, I’m really looking for those emerging businesses and helping them grow and growing with them as well.
My first client, Gundalow Juice, has been an amazing partner. Dana Sicko has been such a wonderful new light in my life and my career path and my business. She started Gundalow just over two years ago, in 2014, and now I’m very proud to say that Gundalow is in Whole Foods Market, so that’s been a really big win for everyone. We’re working on growing that side of it as well.
Another client is White Stone Oysters. They’re down in White Stone, Virginia, around the Northern Neck area. It’s really where the Chesapeake Bay meets the mouth of the Rappahannock River. It is so wonderful seeing these guys who are farmers and creating a new way to grow oysters and being able to capture that, because they can grow these oysters and Dana can make this juice. These makers are so good at producing this product but what they need help is with the marketing side of that, so that’s where I jump in with social media marketing. It’s really where I’m able to decide: “Okay, should we put a Facebook ad behind this effort and be able to geotarget this area of Maryland so that we can increase sales here? Or is it for the merchandising side, so you’re killing it with the demos? You’re doing a great job—what if you can go even further by showing how this merchandising piece could be co-merchandised with another small local product?”
Lastly, the food brokering side is the most exciting because it’s about working with the high-volume retailers and getting these clients in and bringing it to market and being able to decide what are we going to do to actually grow demo marketing through the digital side, and just picking the best option to make the magic happen.
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