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10 Marketing Lessons from my 'Adventures in Jam'

Posted by Fraser Doherty on


  • 1) Ask yourself; ‘why?’

 Everything begins with why – why are you in this business in the first place, why should other people care about your brand and why should they buy it.  Your concept should be so simple that you can explain it to your grandmother.  ‘The moment of why’ is where the consumer goes home to their wife or husband.  They ask them – why did you spend money on this product?  And what they say to their partner is the reason for your brand to exist – what do they say?  It should be a simple reason, only a sentence.  For SuperJam, the reason is that it is 100% fruit. 

It is also important to be clear about why you are in business in the first place – is it just to make money or do you care about other things too.  Being clear about what your purpose is from the very beginning of creating your brand.

  • 2) Change one thing.

 It is important to be different, but only different in one direction.  Copy the already established brands in the market for everything other than your one key point of difference – use the same packaging size, the same flavours and everything else – they have already spent millions on testing the market for you!  There’s a reason things are the way they are – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

  • 3) Have one message.

 The best advice that I received was that it is important to have one simple message.  Too many companies try to say “here are 10 reasons why you should buy my product”.  But, it is much better to focus on one simple message, even if your product has many selling points.

Only make one health claim for example, even if you could make many.  Focus on the biggest one, the one that will resonate best with the consumer.  Focus on positive marketing messages if you can – for example, if your product is natural, say all natural instead of “no chemicals”.  If you say “no chemicals”, people’s minds still think of chemicals.

  • 4) Look after your ‘holy cows’.

I talk about 100% fruit being our ‘holy cow’.  Every brand and company will have some ‘holy cows’ – these are things that you will never change, no matter what happens.  It is important to be clear about what your holy cows are because this helps you to stay true to your concept, no matter what the fashion of the time is.  It also lets you understand what things you are allowed to change without damaging your brand.

  • 5) Be Mass or Luxury.

In the 20th century, the companies that grew large and rich won the race for the middle – McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Heinz – they created products that almost everyone buys, even if they are rich or poor.  They are not expensive and they are not cheap.

But now, in the 21st century, the middle has already been taken by these established companies – the middle market is so competitive that to succeed, new brands must focus on the edges – by either creating discount brands that undercut the big brands, or luxury products that create a stronger emotional connection with the consumer.

 Because the gap between rich and poor is growing, retailers are making more space for luxury brands and discount brands, and less space for middle market brands.  The middle is a dangerous place to be. 

  • 6) Don’t underestimate the consumer.

It is important to understand the modern consumer well.  It is over simplistic to believe that consumers who buy luxury goods are rich and consumers who buy discount brands are poor – all consumers buy a mix of discount and luxury brands.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep – always think about the long term and create products that you honestly would buy yourself, knowing everything you do about how they are really produced. 

Don’t patronise the consumer – they are savvier than you think – they understand nutrition and will know if you are making exaggerated claims.

  • 7) Be bold.

 We decided to create a luxury brand – creating the most expensive product in the category.  Some people said that consumers wouldn’t pay so much for jam.  However, I believe that if you can create great packaging and marketing that people believe in, you can sell any product for a luxury price.  Have confidence in the quality of your product and never discount – it is important to maintain a high price and the same pricing in all channels. 

  • 8) Be simple or be extreme.

The world is so noisy that you cannot expect people to care about your brand.  They are distracted by thousands of different brands every day. If you want to stand out, you have two choices – either be more simple than the competition or be extreme. 

Every brand has to be ‘different’ to survive, but different isn’t enough any more. 

Simple brands give people easy solutions to problems in their lives, they communicate very clearly why people should buy them and they help to make their complicated lives a little more easy.  Extreme brands shock, titillate and provoke – generating publicity by standing up for what they believe in or by putting on stunts.

  • 9) Tell a story.

Human beings communicate with stories – we trust stories and want to know the stories behind the products that we buy, especially food products.  Storytelling is an opportunity for small brands and new brands to compete against big, established brands.

When I started SuperJam, I didn’t have any money to pay for marketing – but I did have a story – and that was something that none of my competitors had. 

Good stories are naturally viral – consumers will tell others about your brand if you have a clear story. 

Every brand has a story to tell – why your business started, why you care about what you do ,what is special about where your products come from or how they are made.  The trick is just figuring out what your story is and how to tell it. 

  • 10) Be design-led.

Whether you like it or not, human beings are superficial – we judge everything by how it looks.  No matter how good your product tastes or how cheap your prices are, if the product doesn’t look great, nobody will never take it off the shelf to discover it.  You have seconds to make consumers fall in love with your brand, and that takes great design.