Cutting Through the Noise

Kemp Edwards has been dedicated to supporting, growing and consulting businesses on a path to sustainability. He has taken several businesses from launch to become multi-million dollar enterprises and, in so doing, have negotiated partnerships and/or developed programs for globally recognized Companies such as COCA-COLA, TELUS, The UNEP, The IOC, FIFA, and DISNEY.

More recently, Kemp has become the Chief Development Officer of Food Security Structures Canada. This is an organization that aims to help end food insecurity and world hunger by providing controlled environment growing systems, equipment, and support, and to empower people to grow fresh, nutritious, affordable food locally, 365 days a year, regardless of location or climate.

Fourteen years ago, he was able to set his mission apart from others by virtue of having a strong ethical and environmental dimension to his offering. These days, there are SO MANY hot topics and an incredible amount of competition for attention in the marketplace, Kemp will share his recent experience with attempting to Cut Through the Noise.

Share:

Show Notes

 

Transcript

Jalen 

So in 2009, you started Ethical Profiling and you've been, you know that that's like, what 15, 14 years later, and you've gotten into a real groove with that, but you're now moving on to this project... Vertigo, which is about food security, right? 

Kemp 

Yeah, food security. Structures Canada. I've actually taken a position. As their their. Chief development officer for the parent company and Vertigo is more of a West Coast distribution side. It's it's something, it's a name. We're sort of playing around with from a from a franchise perspective, but yeah, the parent companies called food Security Structures Canada building, you know, very specific designed architectural builds like capsules or if they're covered with Earth tunnels for growing, doing vertical farming in and they're it's very different from the vertex. Farming that is out there right now because most of that is giant factory farming and humongous warehouses with enormous CapEx and robotics and AI and all sorts of stuff. And it's just hard to make a go of that and actually be profitable when you've got robots picking lettuce, you know you you need robotics engineers to be running those robots and. You know the the intent is to make food more accessible and more affordable. Having you know multi $1,000,000 robots picking heads of letters doesn't necessarily bring the price down. So you know we've seen a lot of a. Lot of failures. All those failures are advancements, their innovation. They lead us to where we eventually will get to, but our view on it is to be much more Community focused. So have smaller. Much smaller versions than you can handpick everything and and you don't need to be an agronomist to be able to run. And they're affordable. And profitable. And then we, you know, are different from the containers that are really the only other guys that that they're doing that right now is that our building and everything in it is designed specifically for that purpose. We're not trying to retrofit an existing container to turn it into something which has, you know, all sorts of inherent problems. It's not. Not quite the right dimensions. It's not insulated properly. All of those sorts of things. 

Jalen 

So right, so you have this new project, so you you're kind of like starting from Ground Zero again and you're discovering or rediscovering. New challenges? 

Kemp 

Right. Yeah, 100% I I mean, I'm not I thankfully, I'm not totally ground here. I've joined a team that has been at it for a couple of years and they've spent a couple, you know, three years now really putting together the best suite of products and systems for maximizing yields and minimizing energy. Inputs and and really making sure that this is accessible and you know they're. Very authentic in their desire to, you know, eradicate world hunger, you know, I know, of course, that's a giant mission statement. But you know, it's something to strive towards and you know, start locally by looking at food scarce regions. You know the, the, the northern communities that we have in Canada. Remote and island communities. You know those places that have a lot of food, miles and transportation to get food to them or don't have access to the right growing conditions year round. So we're just you know creating opportunities to overcome some of the. 

Jalen 

And so as I understand it, like part of your challenge is that you've put a lot of energy, you and your team have put a lot of energy into developing the product. But you're like the the world's best kept secret in this in this area, right? 

Kemp 

Yeah, that seems to be my lot here is that I'm always feel a bit like the world's best kept secret. You know, I I work a lot and have for the last 15 years. I'm trying to make the best product that tells the best story, you know, about social and environmental compliance. But we spent so long actually building out the product and trying to make it exactly what we want and trying to make sure that it, you know it's doing the least amount of harm possible. And helping as many. People as possible that. We don't spend a lot of time on. The marketing and. Yeah, it's a trade off. It shouldn't be, but it is for some reason. I guess we you know. I've done a lot over the years and brought partners in who, you know, we're just all about sweat equity. You know, we want to work really hard. We don't want to get really deep into debt and owe people and then have some board of directors that's telling us what. To do that. Doesn't follow our mandate as a company. So we've always, you know been. Been very careful about. How the the dilution of equity happens and as such we probably haven't had the funding to be able to really focus full bore on on marketing and that's been a challenge and it's one I, you know I still struggle with the you know. I'm not and I don't love social media. I don't love, I don't love. Marketing side of it. So I just want to do what I want to do and and I. Want to help? The people that I can, but of course you're limiting. The number of. People you can help if you have no way to reach them. 

Jalen 

And so you're now facing this issue of like how you cut through the noise, right? 

Kemp 

Yes, again. 

Jalen 

Now it's more than ever there. There's so much out there, so much noise out there. And how do you get your message through? 

Speaker 

Yeah, I mean. 

Kemp 

With with ethical. Profiling when it when it's when we started then and iconic, which is our you know, our domestic sustainable apparel brand as well. You know when we started there. Weren't there was? No B Corp. There was no for profit social enterprises. There was no really force for good. Business was just starting. So to cut through the noise was. Just to have a. Really unique and compelling story that people connected to and. That we had. And still have. But now there's a lot of companies that have that story or similar stories, which is fantastic. I mean, I'm. I'm I'm thrilled that that we are at the the forefront of a movement that I. Think is is, is. Really good is is that business for good is is the way that the direction that we. Need to go, but of course you know. Cutting through the noise becomes more difficult. Because there's more companies that are telling similar stories, so you know to say like, hey, we support this or, you know, part of the, you know, proceeds of your purchase go back to support that or you know, we're working with organic or recycled material. Bills or or it's domestic and sustainable or fair trade. There's it's much easier to do that now. 

Jalen 

So yeah, as a story, that's kind of a commodity these days, you. 

Speaker 

The question is. 

Jalen 

Know, yes, everyone's trying to do that either in earnest or as a. Gimmick. Well, which is, that's. 

Kemp 

Problematic in its own right, of course. You know, the greenwashing has always sort of. Been around, but I I would say that it's now it's at A at a higher level because some big companies that I won't mention are you know are greenwashing to a much larger. Larger level I guess and and they they have the marketing dollars to be able to spend to say look we've gone green. And it's like. Yeah, it's 2% of 100% of your program is now. That's a big, big cry out to say we've gone green and change all your marketing to that when it's only 2% of a garment or 2% of your company, you know. But and, but trying to trying to fight. Through that noise against someone like that is is really, really difficult. You know, they've got the opportunity to do standard advertising, you know, billboards in store. I mean, if they've if they've got brick and mortar, then they've got in store opportunities to to to tell. That story and brochures that are going out and social media icons that are tick talking about them or whatever it happens to be you. Know there's so much. 

Jalen 

Wise and so tell me. Tell me what? Tell me what you you've been trying and and how that's been. How that's gone. 

Kemp 

Oh, it's been absolutely disastrous for the most. Part to be quite honest. I well, just because I I'm not, I'm. Not good at it, and it's not something that I'm passionate about. And you know, I've always chased what I'm passionate about and then, you know, the success comes from, from, from that from, you know, being people are like, yeah. Well, I can. See that you're really honest and and eager and. And and thoughtful. And authentic and but when you do something that you're not. Passionate about it? Then it it comes off potentially as inauthentic, or you're not hitting the right market so. You know I'm. We've hired companies to do SEO for us. We've hired companies to do social media, look after our social media and for the most part, it sort of falls. A bit flat like. It just doesn't. Reach and you know part of that. And I, you know, now, you know, in terms of what? I've learned. About that, yeah. You know. Finding out really drilling down on who your end client is is super, super important, especially when you're trying to cut through the noise with marketing. There's always been a bit of that in marketing and being like, hey, know who your client is. So you know how to market to them, but now it's not just like how to market to them, it's like. What channels to use to market to them? Because if you're not a B to CAA business to consumer brand like a direct to consumer, then a lot of the social media channels are probably not gonna be that effective for you because corporate buyers are not watching TikTok videos to make the purchasing decisions. For the most part. I mean, there may be some exceptions, but for the most part you know you're not. Going to win. Coca Cola's Olympic program because of a TikTok video that you put out or something or you're not going to, you know, end up working with the David Suzuki Foundation on their. You know, new new supportive fundraising program because of some Facebook thing that went viral. Probably not. Anyways, now there are of course you can use those channels just to to show people some of the stuff that you're involved in so that it helps build your authenticity because people like, oh, I could see we follow them and I can see that they're always involved in stuff. They're doing a shoreline cleanup here and they're like, involved in this, you know. Uh, a tech conference there or whatever this sustainability, they're a speaker at this. You know this event or whatever those sorts of things. Sure, but if you're trying to directly advertise to them. It doesn't really work and or at least I can't make. It work. Yeah, I. You know, I haven't gone the route of of finding, you know, the the. What are they called? You know the the. Oh gosh. 

Jalen 

That, that, that. 

Kemp 

People in in marketing that are, you know, influencers I'm looking for, I haven't gone the influencer route in part because hiring an influencer almost seems inauthentic. 

Jalen 

Ohh yeah yeah yeah. 

Kemp 

You know you want them to find the brand on their own or somehow reach them and then just have them virally say, like, I love this brand and and it's not because you hired them and it's in my face. 

Jalen 

But it's a sort. Of a chicken and egg situation, because in order for them to see it. That you'd have to be you have to. Get your message out right. 

Kemp 

Yeah, it's, it's it's and then select the chicken and. An egg? No, it's and. So I mean, yes, I I think that. We could definitely do better. And Jean, if you have ideas, I'm all here. You know what I mean? I'm always willing to try new stuff in. That space I've. I've found LinkedIn to be quite good for me from a connection point. Because a lot of corporate buyers, you know, treat that as a business hub for being able to speak with other people in the space that are, you know, are. And are there right supplier base or buying purchasing base or? At least people who. Are connected to their their topic in a very professional way. But some of the other social media channels, wow. I am, I don't use them personally, so maybe I just don't know them well enough. And be they either seem very contrived, which is something that a lot of people are familiar with. It's a topic that we've been discussing. Or they they're really hard to just get to the right people. You know, my wife, the company, my wife, my wife works for. They had some girl posts, something about one of their products. It was just they. They don't do any social. Media it was just. Completely random that this girl said. I absolutely love this product. It makes my hair. Smell amazing and and this. And you know, I've been looking for something like this forever and their. Sales went to the 1,000,000. Like through the roof on one. Product just because of this. So the power of it potentially is huge and I don't deny that, but how to access it properly? Wow, I don't know. And there's a lot of people who claim that they do know and they don't. 

Jalen 

Right. So tell me a bit more. I know this is these wounds are kind of fresh, so I I. 

Kemp 

It's alright, I'm I'm inflicting them every day and so they're. 

Jalen 

If you're not really wanting to. 

Kemp 

Yes, they will remain. 

Jalen 

But tell me more about your pain, friend. 

Kemp 

Well I you. Know I guess. I guess it's it's, you know it takes. A while, yeah. I I had. An old boss you know many years ago who said higher, slow and fire fast. And I understand, I mean, he wasn't speaking specifically about what I'm about to talk about. He was talking obviously just about HR practices and stuff. But when you bring on agencies. And and and when you look at exploring to have people help you with marketing and that kind. Of stuff as well, I think. You should probably follow the same principles you know to really do your due diligence to find out who it is that you're working with, because a if they're going to be speaking with your voice by doing any copy or anything like that, you need to make sure that that is consistent with what your voice is, or you're going to end up spending a lot of time rewriting. Not be and you're you might as well do it yourself at some point. You know, and then the other part is like, do they? Sure maybe they understand the algorithms in some kind of social media, but are they reaching your client group? Do they understand your your end users? Or are they? Just the marketing company in general in which. Case that would be great. For some products and not so great for. So finding out you know who their book of clients are and what kind of successes they've had in the past is really important because it's really easy to be sold on like, hey, you know what we've, you know, raised all previous sales of our of our, of our former clients and existing clients by you know 5000% it's like. OK, well. If they only had 6 units of sales before they were hired in the 1st place, then it's not too hard to raise it by 5000%. You know what does that number really mean, you know, or, you know, our viewers per page or whatever has gone up by such and such percent unless you know exactly what those numbers are to begin with. Those are great. You can put them in bold and they look amazing. But it doesn't really mean that much, and at the end of the day you know, depending on your business, again mine being predominantly B2B. Is is it is just. Sheer numbers of who you're trying to reach important. To you or is it? More about who you're reaching as opposed to quantity of. People that you're. 

Jalen 

Have you had have have any of the things? That you've tried. Given you any success. 

Kemp 

Yes, some freezer. 

Jalen 

What are those things? 

Kemp 

OK, so definitely getting involved to, you know, be part of speaking engagements, even unpaid speaking engagements. I don't really get paid for much of the speaking engagements that I do every once in a while, sure, but being a member of different industries. Is helpful, especially if they as they relate to yours. You know, like we've got the BC apparel and Gear Association. That's a network of fantastic people who are really driven to improve the apparel industry in Colombia. 

Jalen 

That's your old business, right? 

Kemp 

Finally, I'm sorry. 

Jalen 

That that's that's your existing business but for but for the the food business? 

Kemp 

Yeah, food business. Well, so food business similar in that in that you know I'm connecting with other people in the space joining in industry association so that you can share you know where we've been, you know speaking with a a group called Tech Alliance and and they're in the agritech space and you know they love what we're doing and they they are happy to make an introduction to other people and then those people like Oh my gosh. That sounds great. We should introduce them to this person so. Word of mouth. Is huge. It's always been the biggest thing for me. It's our success has come from word of mouth more than anything else, a hundredfold. Most of the clients I have I have because other clients have have suggested that. They work with us. And it's the same thing in in food and and. Food security is the. You know we have it. We experienced success with one client. They speak to another community and say, hey. You guys should have. A look at this come and have a visit and then they visit and they're like, wow, this is fantastic. Where did you get this? And then that again travels forward into word? Of mouth, but it's a slow process. Word of mouth. You know you're 1 unit and another unit and another unit. Which for food security is OK because they're big projects and and and big products, but it wouldn't work as well in my apparel business because you want to sell one T-shirt at a time is a is a bit of a slow slow go. But definitely creating an atmosphere where people are talking about you and about your brand. 

Speaker 

Is is. 

Kemp 

Super important, I think. 

Jalen 

And what have you done? What have you done to do to? To support that you did, you can think of any key key actions. 

Kemp 

So the one that I mentioned. For sure, join industry associations join community oriented associations or find a representative you know who will speak about and and sort of champion your cause to be in different communities, even access to funding, like when you're looking for. Try and find funders that are connected to your business and not not just to your ethos. Although I think that's important as well, but once you know if you can find. A funder. That is it. Let's say in the AG tech space. Well then they're going to have other contacts that might help you and. And if you, you know. Reach a hurdle. They might be able to help you over that because of the contacts that. They have or, you know, we want to. Work with indigenous communities is is one of our big areas of focus of like who we want to help the most and and my partner or one of my 2. Partners is is, is. Has it comes from an indigenous background? So she said. You know, I really, really want to help these remote northern communities first and foremost. Can we make that part of our mandate and of course, to Greg and I said, yeah, absolutely. Well, then when we started looking for funding, you know, Raven Capital is one of the first that we look to because they're specifically in that space. So they say, yeah. You know, not only can we look at potentially funding you, but we want to make introductions. You know, we want to help you along the road and and then also finding funders that are that are consultants, you know, that can help you along and say stuff like, hey, I'm, I don't know if you guys need a CFO yet, why don't you get a fractional CFO and and so that you're not hiring someone. One for you know, a lot of money that you only need two days a week. So we've looked at, you know, working now or we're just about to start work with a company called the finance Stack that does Fractional CFO work. So there's. There's I, I guess, surrounding yourself with the right people who understand and appreciate your story. And or are already in that business segment. Is is huge. 

Jalen 

So it sounds like relationship relationship relationship. 

Kemp 

Yeah, definitely. And then, you know, I'm going. At the the the. Cutting through the noise a little bit differently now as well to come back to that in that you know we hired Connie Pictures, they are award-winning documentary film makers. We I wanna. I wanna have them tell our story for us and then we can cut that up and use it in different channels and that sort of thing. But we'll be able to have a compelling narrative that explains the path that we've taken to get here and where we plan to go in the future and and then, you know, hopefully people will watch that and and you know. Or snippets of it and that will cause them to then go and watch the full thing, and then they'll say, wow, I really. Like what this company is doing and I want to. Help them and that works for both businesses that I have right now. I think that if we can tell a very compelling narrative about food security and how important it is and and helping build communities and helping train people in, you know that potentially are coming out of Corrections or people who you know are are down on their luck. We just need, you know, some help, you know, getting out of of difficult scenarios of of impoverishment or or or such. You know there's there's opportunities. Where we can say hey. You know what we. Can train people into this space. We can create opportunities for them to have viable incomes and to give back to their communities and to feed people. So if you can get a really compelling story built and then films and explained. Then hopefully we can cut through the noise that way. 

Jalen 

Yeah, it sounds like it also be quite synergistic because as you're building relationship, you know then people, people can then you know you get on their radar and then when they check you out, they get to hear that that this larger story that they may have only gotten fragments of while they were in contact with you. Yeah, I. 

Kemp 

It's it's interesting because, you know, I'm a big Fan of of of B. Corpse and and and and. For profit social ventures as well as not-for-profit of course. But you know we're. In the for profit space. Though it's, it's not as. Profitable as as the one that doesn't have any social element to it. But I I think a lot of. Those companies aren't known as well for their stories and what they're giving back as they. Could or should be? And I think that that making sure that people understand why they make the choices that they do, you know, let's say up, you know, Salt spring coffee or something like that. Like, why do they choose fair trade, organic coffee grounds? You know how? Why is it that they care about knowing the community that they source from or, you know, there's tons of companies that are? Like that some there's very few that are actually sort of known and on the radar like, OK, we understand 10 tree story. We understand Patagonia story, we understand. You know, there's a few that have that have really cut through the noise again to use that because there are stories compelling and they've they've done a really good job of marketing and. Telling it but. For most of us. In the space. We haven't. I hate to say it and and I'd like to. I'd like to create a model that others potentially can use themselves to help more people, to more consumers, to better understand what it is that they're purchasing and. I mean, there's so much stuff. Out there right now and YouTube videos and and social media and all that. Kind of stuff that. And people are tired of watching doom and gloom. These are all great, uplifting stories that talk about positivity and and community building. And, you know, social venture and. And you know, just helping people and and. 

Jalen 

Positive options for the future, yeah. 

Kemp 

I think if. Yeah, for sure and and I. Think it's inspirational for other companies to say? I you know what? What we've been doing is not good enough. Let let's change what we're doing a little bit to be doing better to be giving back further. It's it's almost like like a challenge. You know when you see that, I certainly take it as a challenge when I see other companies that are doing something really compelling, I'm. Like well can. We do that. Why can't we add that to what? We're doing is there so and. Then it's just a matter of how do we communicate that. 

Jalen 

Well, I'm. I'm excited to to check back in and six months to a year from now to see how the progress that you've made in trying to actually follow through on this, on this vision of of being able to like have have your story come through clearly and compellingly and and compelling way. And because you know this, as you said, this is a problem that's that's that many people many businesses do. With and particularly in the in the impact space, because you know there's so much so much passion put into the actual integrity of the product or service that that it's, you know, the whole marketing and communication outreach piece is yet another dimension that doesn't always get the attention that it deserves. 

Kemp 

Yeah, I think I. Think a lot of founders have, you know, they're they're just in it. You know, they're working in the business. They're not working on the business as much. A certain from a marketing perspective. 

Jalen 

Right. 

Kemp 

You know there's so many people that I talk to like me that are just like 15 years later. You're like, yeah, I'm. I'm still. I got my elbows dirty. Right, right in it and. It doesn't. It doesn't give you the space to take a step back. I mean, you and I have spoken about this in, in other topics you. Know and it. 

Jalen 

Yeah, yeah. 

Kemp 

Doesn't it gave you the? Space to step back and be like, OK. Like how my job at this point or pretty soon should be explaining to people what it is that we do and then hiring people to get in, in, in the dirt with me, you know, so that we can, we can create more positive change. 

Jalen 

Well, and as you know, like this is like this is kind of like what my my passion is to help owners and keep keep players in business, get out of the the get out of being a bottleneck. So that and being able to work strategically. Business and and and you know like. 

Kemp 

Well, we all need your help, man. 

Jalen 

You yourself? No, it's not always that easy. Right. 

Kemp 

It's not that easy, it's. It's not that easy. It's and that you. Know I think. A lot, especially maybe in my experience anyways, especially owners who are super passionate and have a, you know, some kind of social or environmental cause. Then we have a really hard time letting the reins. Loose at all. You just. 

Jalen 

There go. Yeah. 

Kemp 

You know, you're like, I don't want it to veer. Off a different. It's like it's going. 

Jalen 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Kemp 

I need to make sure it keeps it stays true and true to my own ideology and and and true to its mission statement. 

Jalen 

Yeah, absolutely. Well, Kemp, I, I'm so appreciate you taking this time and you know the to share your this story that's fairly fresh and fairly fairly tender right now. And as I said, I would love to hear about how this, how this evolves in six months 6 to 12 months and see what. Additional nuggets that we can  find and share. 

Kemp 

Well, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. Jalen and I'll be following your your journey as well. So I can learn from others that you speak with and hopefully help me to overcome the current and future challenges. 

Jalen 

Absolutely. Thanks so much.  

Kemp 

My pleasure. 

Episodes also found on:

Apple Podcasts Logo.jpg spotify_podcasts_icon.jpg Audible Logo.jpg Amazon Music Logo Google Podcasts Logo

Related Posts

Getting Traction

Getting Traction

Rolling with the Punches

Rolling with the Punches

On the Bleeding Edge of Culture

On the Bleeding Edge of Culture

Giving from a full cup

Giving from a full cup

Building from the Inside Out

Building from the Inside Out

Cutting Through the Noise

Cutting Through the Noise

Getting back in the Game

Getting back in the Game

Like a boss

Like a boss

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

Crushed by my Vision

Crushed by my Vision

Dancing with Timing

Dancing with Timing

Root to Grow

Root to Grow

In for the Long Game

In for the Long Game

Join me on this inspiring journey

Join me on this inspiring journey

People Want to Help

People Want to Help

Finding Fertile Ground

Finding Fertile Ground

Painful Blessings

Painful Blessings

Pushing Back on Shame

Pushing Back on Shame

Busting 6-Figure Myths

Busting 6-Figure Myths

Upleveling Whiplash

Upleveling Whiplash

Learning in Relationship

Learning in Relationship

The Critical Value of Equanimity

The Critical Value of Equanimity