Kari Warberg Block is the CEO/Founder of EarthKind. Kari is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Kari provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of EarthKind. Kari Warberg Block joins other leading Bestselling Authors, International Speakers & Entrepreneur, and CEO/Founder's taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Kari join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Let's start by telling us about your business.
EarthKind is an award-winning, plant-based pest prevention brand that functions to effectively keep pests away without killing or poisoning them. Before starting EarthKind, I discovered that 98% of pest control solutions sold at the time were poison & kill methods. Understanding the damage and hazardous effects pesticides have on not only the pest, but also on the health and safety of ourselves, our pets, and our environment, I set out to invent a naturally effective solution that would work with nature – not against it – to keep pests out of enclosed, hard to reach or access areas where costly damage could be done, like in our tractor cab, for months at a time. It was a solution all farmers needed.
Today, we’ve helped lower that statistic by almost 10% as we have expanded our offering from farms to households, becoming the first company to make effective botanical pest prevention solutions as an alternative to poisonous pest control. Today, it’s become part of our larger effort to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in the home, as well as protect the ecosystems farmers depend on for their livelihoods. As the number #1 rated pest prevention brand since 2007, EarthKind® is the first plant-based pest brand to have its repellent products meet Federal EPA’s FIFRA gold standard for effectiveness, with no known risks, is 100% carbon neutral, and can be found in major retailers nationwide such as Lowes, ACE Hardware, Tractor Supply and Target.
Q: Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
In my experience, the most promising way to make sure customers will become ‘raving fans’ of our company is through naturally smarter approaches to everything we do. First and foremost, the product has to be both highly effective and work with nature, not against it. That means zero waste left behind. Secondly it must solve the problem better than what’s out there- and it must positively contribute to the customers life, so much so that they become part of our brand story. But that’s only the beginning of it, you have to finds innovative ways to build brand awareness to get a large-scale presence both in retail and online, which include third-party, independent product reviews to back up the products and running strong, consistent communications and public relations campaigns. These have all made a dramatic difference in our brand awareness levels, helping to get our message and story out there, while building a positive reputation across multimedia channels.
We also make it a priority to build great relationships with our retail customers, ensuring our products are visible on store-shelves nationwide, while running impactful cross-promotional campaigns with them. Social media is another powerful tool to gain loyal customers, so we put early effort into social media marketing, content and influencer partnerships to extend our reach far outside of my ND farmhouse, our origin.
Our omni-channel clicks to bricks marketing strategy also proved effective in helping to grow our business by converting more EarthKind ‘fans.’ In the beginning we connected the dots between our customers problem, our solution, and their local retailer to convert them through local newspapers across the country. We were very early adopters, understanding the power of digital to collect online product reviews, seeing that they were key to a brand’s trust, loyalty and reputation with consumers, so we ran three national campaigns that focused on hyper-targeting our key consumer demographic, partnering with a company that sends product samples in exchange for their honest reviews, together with in-store coupon activations in 2015 and 2016. The results were tremendously positive, and helped secure 1,700 additional national stores, and from this strategy, we achieved over 5,000 new product reviews, and we haven’t stopped. You have to make it easy for the customer in every possible way.
Q: Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition?
The EarthKind approach is entirely different from most pest control brands on the market. We work with nature, not against it, to create health and harmony in treated environments. EarthKind delivers naturally smarter pest control solutions for families and farmers across the nation, without the use of hazardous chemicals or poisons. Made with plant fibers and essential oils grown on local American family farms, with repellent options for rodents, spiders, ants and moths, each EarthKind Stay Away® pouch and Fresh Cab® Botanical Rodent Repellent pouch emit a scent that is pleasant for humans, but offensive to these critters’ highly-sensitive scent receptors – ensuring that they “stay away” from unwanted pest-prone areas. All EarthKind products are eco-conscious, no-kill and are safe for use around children and pets when used as directed.
Q: And to finish this section, Please tell us what is the one major key to your company’s success?
We infiltrate caring into everything we do. We are caring bio-innovators, caring leaders, caring change-makers, and caring environmentalists. This keeps us very intentional with how we fulfill our purpose, and who we partner with. Every stakeholder matters to us, even the pests. When your whole team cares about the same things, anything is possible.
Q: For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Become an expert in your field, know it inside and out, and utilize its weaknesses to create a business model that improves it. Make networking a priority, every connection you make will steer you in new directions, and help you narrow down what you want and what you don’t. Thirdly, don’t be afraid to be bold, conventionality breeds sameness, to stand out and become truly successful, be your own trendsetter and do it better than anyone else.
Q: For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
The best piece of advice is to identify your purpose, and to always use it to guide you. Having a purpose-driven mission is what will keep your drive, motivation and fearlessness moving forward when you hit those inevitable roadblocks that will make you question if you should keep going. In the business world, staying true to this is a key to success.
Q: In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
We always stay on-top of industry trends and consumer sentiment to give us an idea of where to turn next, and we’ve created a business model that’s readily adaptable and can effectively pivot when the time comes. I think this is best exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a time of total chaos and uncertainly, we were able to successfully pivot our focus by, for example, boosting our clicks to bricks business model, integrating local ambassadors who love both our USA farm grown products and retail partners; creating a show-stopping “trade show in a box” that were delivered to retail customers, and creating interactive virtual events to keep our employees and fans hyper-engaged with our brand. When you genuinely care about how people feel and think, people care back, making it easier to see around the corners.
Q: What is your “Why”? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
EarthKind: To preserve nature’s delicate ecosystem by creating a world of protection from toxic chemicals, pesticides, and pests for families, farmers, homes and our environment.
Me as a leader: To help people discern direction and envision a path forward.
Q: In one sentence, what is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
To be a great leader you must know who you are, accept others for who they are, and then use every breath, thought and action to inspire one another to reach our highest potentials.
Q: In one sentence, describe how important your customers are to your business?
Our customers are the life force of EarthKind, we see customers as all stakeholders: employees, suppliers, retail partners, farmers who grow the ingredients, end users, even the pests – we all have a stake in our ability to thrive and prosper as a community.
Q: In one sentence, describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?
Technology connects us all, and when we use it to better serve humanity, and help us reach a higher potential, it can make the world a better place
Q: In one sentence, tell us how something positive to motivate our readers?
If you can see it, you can be it!
Q: In one sentence, tell us how you start your day to get ready?
I start each day, before I even open my eyes, by mentally noting up to 50 things I’m grateful for, and I don’t stop until I feel my body, heart and mind connect with one energetic expression of gratitude.
Q: In one sentence, describe how you handle rejection and setback?
I’m a firm believer that every set back is a set-up for a comeback in disguise.
Q: In one sentence, describe what your hiring philosophy is?
Hire people you are willing to go to the end of the earth for.
Q: In one sentence, describe how you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?
I look to nature, which says that survival depends upon the role an organism plays within its environment, its niche, so making sure that you’re a powerful contributor within your niche will ensure everyone benefits by helping you survive.
Kari Warberg Block, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We appreciate you participating in this important roundtable interview series, and helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course EarthKind, nothing but the best.
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