070 Dave Johnson – Grill Beast

Grill Beast

070 - Grill Beast

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This is Episode Four of Season Six, my U.S. Road Trip Part II. In this episode I jump back in my Chevy and head across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway again to head up to Covington, about an hour north-ish of New Orleans. If you’ve been watching my videos for a while, you will have seen me using a bunch of Grill Beast gear. Well, in this episode I meet with Dave Johnson, Founder and Owner of Grill Beast. Grill Beast is what happens when a career marketing guy is ALSO a BBQ fanatic. Dave’s social media marketing techniques are so refined that he’s built a following on Facebook of over 200k Followers, a Facebook Group of almost 40k and another 30k Followers over on Instagram. In this episode I get the history of Grill Beast and then take a deep dive into how to master social media to skyrocket your sales. This was a great interview and it went so well that Dave even invited my family to come back to his home the following Sunday to be part of his Feast with the Beast online TV show where we had a huge cook up of traditional Louisianan Crawfish and Bloody Mary’s.

DAVE JOHNSON - GRILL BEAST

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DAVE JOHNSON - GRILL BEAST

SHOW NOTES

  • They’re now up to 13 items
    • They’re aiming for 2 items per year and some small order stuff
  • The last thing he BBQ’d was gator tail
    • He started an exotic foods business so his videos are now all foods that he sells
    • Smokes in a Pitboss Pellet Grill
    • Soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours, wrapped in bacon and a little seasoning
    • Need the bacon coz the gator tail is so lean and the fat is subcutaneous and removed when it is skinned
  • In his yard he’s got:
    • A Weber Performer
    • Barrelhouse vertical cooker
    • Black stone 36 inch
    • Camp chef has burners
    • PitBoss Pellet Grill 820
  • Got the PitBoss in December last year
    • Loves it coz it’s so convenient
    • It had a sliding plate for searing meat 
  • His history
    • Grew up with BBQ on holidays
    • He would visit people and see dusty, unused grills
    • This led to a business interest
  • The business
    • He wanted to educate people to get them using their grills
  • The most exotic things he’s BBQ’d
    • Octopus
      • Boil it for an hour fast to tenderise, then slice thinly and grill
    • Deer heart
    • Buffalo heart
  • What keeps him in BBQ?
    • The people and the comments about the show, the tools
    • The energy and feedback from his customers
  • The Show
    • Up to Ep 64 at time of recording
    • He makes videos of things that are not currently on YouTube
    • Small type foods, entrees etc
    • Sometimes the recipe works, sometimes it all goes wrong
    • The Weber has caught fire three times and the RECTEC Bullseye 
  • Biggest challenge
    • Building a brand is expensive. Keeping the cash in is hard. 
    • Just keep moving forward and put it back in
    • His other businesses were service related
    • Factories will take a foot of wiggle room if they think you have a mm of wiggle room on quality
    • The first round of his Beast Impalers got trashed coz the metal was not strong enough and could bent in half
    • He sent out brand new ones to everyone who’d already bought
    • You must be VERY specific on your specs 
  • He uses factories outside the US
    • He uses factories in China
    • He learned how to tell if it’s a good factory – if the government isn’t involved, stay away from it
    • Factories will try and cut corners all the time
    • Time zones are difficult – he’s gotta be up late
    • Skype is the go-to tool
    • And WhatsApp
    • File transfer can be difficult. DropBox was a problem, but now they can get in there
  • Biggest success
    • Pulling a community together that’s like a family
  • They’re trying to get into retail
  • How to decide which products to add to the lineup
    • Asked himself what tools does he have, what does he want, and what needs to be improved
    • But what he thinks doesn’t matter
    • He runs polls in the group
  • In the future
    • Grill Light
    • Roaster changes
  • Dave’s background
    • In 2002 he started a business called Captain Satellite
    • He started a website and started selling online
    • SEO was what he got into
    • Big business drove him out of AdWords
    • Then he discovered affiliate marketing and used SEO to get his business up there
    • Then direct TV
    • Companies started bidding for his business, up to $200 per lead
    • Sold the business in 2008 and got into supplements
    • That didn’t go well and so he got into BBQ
  • Social media marketing is all about getting attention and keeping it
  • He just used his iPhone and an iPad
  • He uses the built in mics as they provide good enough sounds as it is
  • BBQ & Social Media
    • BBQ has gotten popular because of pellet grills
    • With a pellet grill, just turn it on and put the food in
    • People like to show their daily lives – everybody basically has their own reality tv shows
    • It brings people together and makes people feel brave enough to try recipes etc
  • Biggest tip: 
    • Be yourself
    • Let your personality come through
    • Be consistent
    • Dave always goes live and if things go wrong, they go wrong
  • Switching from prerecorded to live:
    • When he started, everybody had to leave the house
    • Then he let people stay home but not in the background
    • Now he’s so comfortable it doesn’t bother him
    • Don’t worry about getting embarrassed
  • Moving to Live
    • When he was comfortable having someone else around, he brought someone else in to have a conversation with and then he was good to go
    • Then he hired someone to edit all his videos
    • Now he does it all live, saving money on the post-production
  • How important is it for brands to have a group
    • He thinks groups are great and thinks it will be really important in the future but just doesn’t know
    • He is on Snapchat, but doesn’t know how to use it – he’s going to have to hire someone
    • There is different content for different platforms – what you put on Twitter won’t work on Facebook or Instagram
    • Eventually he’ll hire someone who is an expert in particular social media platforms
  • Fans in groups are ‘Hot’ fans
    • He uses them for polls E.g. a Beast Brush – he polled people in the group about the type of brush and the traditional old brush won out
  • Tips for starting your own branded group
    • Keep a lot of excitement, but it’s hard to keep that excitement up
    • Engagement is important too
    • He runs challenges throughout the month – E.g. skewers or burgers
    • Link videos and content in the group to the monthly challenges
    • Synchronicity between the products, the page, the group, the overall content
    • Submit the pictures on the last weekend of the month
  • Instagram
    • Facebook is now known as the older person’s platform
    • Instagram is a mix, so there’s more people on it
    • Instagram is simpler to use – it’s just one feed with no groups etc
    • Dave’s engagement on Instagram is getting hot at the moment
    • To get good, practice your photography – how to take pictures of food
    • Get into Instagram stories
    • IGTV – he has tonnes of content and can then edit and post that in there
    • IGTV is getting a lot more traction than regular posts
    • Stories need to be done on Facebook AND Instagram – the algorithms identify you as a better user and your posts get boosted more
  • What’s the key to converting sales with social media
    • Your content has to be more about helping people than making sales
    • If you help people enough, they’ll visit your website and when you have a sale you can make it known, and they’ll respond well
    • Solve problems for people
  • Brisket – fat side down
  • Chicken – thighs
  • Pork ribs – Spare ribs
  • Sauce – on the meat
  • Nemesis cut – there is nothing that hard to cook
  • One tip or trick he wishes he’d known sooner – Patience
  • The next trend in BBQ – exotic Louisianan foods
  • Pellet Grills in Competitions – Yay
  • Fantasy BBQ League – Bobby Flay, Gavin Jobe, Jason Willegin, Nate Cantoo, 

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DAVE JOHNSON - GRILL BEAST

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