Peaceful River Farm photos and review at bottom of Experience as Branding.[/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”30″][vc_column_text]

Experience As Branding

Experience as branding is a new marketing idea gaining traction and making some proponents and adherents wealthy. “No,” was the simple answer Will Dean shared when asked if his $100M+ company Tough Mudder could exist without social media.

Social media is changing everything and races where racers must “brave” barbed wire, mud, blood and other challenges Dean and his team think up prove experience is the new branding, and social media is the new “advertising” channel.

I put “advertising” in quotes since communication with an overt attempt to sell is not the best idea. We are DONE with overt advertising. Our “blocking” mechanisms are too strong now. DVRs, the web, and streaming mean we program what we watch, when and why.

If programming or content on a website is not entertaining, something your friends loved and told you about, educational, and or fun and exciting then your marketing team has some ‘splaining to do.
Will Dean, CEO Tough Mudder Races[/caption]

We still sell things. Will Dean’s company sells over $100M a year in crazy races and shared experiences. Tonight, thanks to friends Steve Smith and Karen Cochran I’m invited to Peaceful River Farm in Chapel Hill for dinner this evening. Here are parts of the note from Larry and Lee Newlin owners of the farm and restaurant (highlights are mine):

Email Letter from Peaceful River Farm
Larry and I are looking forward to having you on Sunday, May 15th for our farm dinner. We hope Mother Nature will cooperate with a beautiful evening. We gather in the Education Barn at 5:30 pm for appetizers before touring the farm with Larry.

For the farm tour you may want a light jacket and to wear comfortable clothing as well as a pair of shoes that are outdoor worthy. We won’t be trooping through the mud but will be on grass where some spots are uneven. Feel free to bring your camera.

Dinner and dessert will follow the farm tour on our deck overlooking the demonstration gardens. The Cochrans supply wine, so you don’t need to do anything other than come and enjoy.

During your dining experience, we (Lee and our Guest Chef Sara Smith of Chef and the Farmer Restaurant in Kinston — the restaurant featured on the PBS series, “A Chef’s Life”) will highlight ingredients grown on our farm or nearby farms.

Larry and Lee Newlin
Peaceful River Farm

[/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”20″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Tough Mudder CEO Will Dean image

Will Dean, Tough Mudder CEO
(who must be all of 15 or 16 in this photo lol)

blank-150Larry and Lee Newlin Peaceful River Farms Owners image

Larry and Lee Newlin Peaceful River Farms Owners image

Banksy Marketing Lessons cover on Curagami


Farm Dinner Peaceful River Farm image

Farm Dinner at Peaceful River Farm

*** Pictures and Review below. ***[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Phrases such as “our dinner”, “Education Barn”, “farm tour”, and “dining experience” set the stage for a unique experience. Note how specifics draw you in and create a sense of trust. They share WHO will be cooking and even provide her email in case you have food allergies.

The Newlin’s use their farm and restaurant to create the experience of food, farming, and connection. We would rate Peaceful River Farm as high on the exploration, education and connection scale (see Stengel’s Brand Ideals below).

They are also making many digital marketing mistakes including:

  • Their URL isn’t Peaceful River Farm
  • SEO is fair
  • Web design is stuck in early 2001 or so
  • Not responsive
  • Overlapping menus on my monitor due to weak CSS
  • Facebook image bottom right is broken on my screen
  • They have the WP theme ad still in the bottom
  • Don’t rank for “cooking classes” but are #9 for “cooking classes Chapel Hill NC” and #8 for “cooking classes Chapel Hill.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. The things WE as digital marketers obsess over so much are all but meaningless to the team at Peaceful River Farms. The Newlin’s focus on making a great product and creating a great experience KNOWING those having the experience will help with social shares, blog posts (like this one) and so on.

Experience is the new branding and social media is the new “advertising” especially when OTHERS do it for YOU.

Marketing Best Practices Dead?

Don’t misunderstand. We aren’t suggesting understanding and using “best practices” in web design, SEO and marketing aren’t important. The things we as digital marketers obsess over ARE important, but they are SO MUCH EASIER to deploy for brands like Peaceful River Farm or our clients and

When you start with GREAT, TRUE and MEANINGFUL adding in what we do helps OTHERS discover and know about that special experience. The rub is in KEEPING the experience special as you, Vestique or Peaceful River Farm grow. Brands need GROUNDING.

Brands need to be tethered to core values and one of Jim Stengel’s IDEALS.

Stengel’s Brand Ideals

We’ve noted our love former fellow P&Ger Jim Stengel’s Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies book before. Stengel shares 5 “brand ideals” major corporations align with including:

  • Eliciting Joy
    Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility
  • Enabling Connection
    Connecting people with each other and the world in meaningful ways
  • Inspiring Exploration
    Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
  • Evoking Pride
    Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality
  • Impacting Society
    Affecting society broadly by challenging the status quo and redefining categories

Every brand should have elements of each of Stengel’s Ideals, but most brands focus on one. Here are a few examples of brands and how they align with Stengel’s “ideals”:

  • Apple – Exploration
  • Car Brands – Pride
  • Tom’s Shows – Impacting Society
  • Any brand of smartphone – Connection
  • – Joyful via yoga mats and clothes

How would you align your favorite brands?[/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”50″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Peaceful River Farm dinner for Steve Smith, Karen Cochran and Gabby as good friends head to Florida and new adventures.

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Peaceful River Farm Review

Peaceful River Farm is the creation of Larry and Lee Newlin in response to a life changing event I’m too familiar with – Lee’s cancer. After hearing “cancer” and her name in the same sentence (as I have) Lee decided to change her eating habits. She wanted what wasn’t readily available – farm fresh vegetables and an understanding of how to cook somewhat vegetarian with taste.

“I felt changing what I eat would help me feel better and keep my cancer at bay,” Lee told me as she carried chairs from her deck back to the Education Barn where she teaches cooking classes. Lee’s life after cancer and radically changing her diet is healthy, active and filled with passion.

Lee and Larry Newlin are on a mission – help people SEE where food comes from and make better choices about what we eat. The farm is a beautiful 30 acres near Saxapahaw, North Carolina about a forty-five-minute drive from Durham. Peaceful River Farm reminds me of what I love about North Carolina – cities gives way to the wilderness, farms, and country in about a 10 minute drive.

Our Dinner at Peaceful River Farms and this one was a gift from departing friends Steve Smith, Karen Cochran, and their jump roping daughter Gabby, began with Larry Newlin taking our group of 30 (or so) friends of Karen and Steve’s on a farm tour.  Larry explains what crops they plant and why. He tells us what we know.

Farming is under pressure in North Carolina.

Pressure from developers to lose what I love about North Carolina as houses take over. There are reasons to be optimistic Larry explained. The “real food” and “farm-to-table” movements are placing value in family farms like Larry’s and Lee’s.

If Larry’s mission is saving the family farm, Lee’s is healthy cooking and creating good for you foods with taste. And chef Sara Smith’s shrimp and grits may have been the best I’ve ever tasted (and my people are from Kentucky where grits are a way of life lol). Everyone clapped, grinned and loved spending time with good friends, learning about farming and tasting the difference farm-to-table cooking, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, makes.

Peaceful River Farm is creating an experience others want to share. Karen heard about the farm doing volunteer work. When you create great things people (fans, followers and customers) create your advertising, define your brand and share the love. Share the love is what we do now and we are armed to the teeth (lol).

I took the pictures in the Peaceful River Farm gallery (above) with my Nikon after Lee and Larry suggested bringing a camera, but there were plenty of smartphones snapping away all night. The smart marketing move is to follow Lee’s and Larry’s lead:

1. Create an experience others want to share.

2. Encourage VISUAL recording of that experience.

3. Curate great shares say thank you, rinse and repeat.

Couldn’t find a better example of the “new marketing” or a better meal with friends than Peaceful River Farm.