Janine Allis, co-founder of Boost Juice, proves that lateral thinking goes a long way when it comes to marketing your business.
Having a great product ready made for a well-primed market is the starting point for entrepreneurial success but a massive stumbling block can be the calibre of the marketing. Janine Allis's success story, Boost Juice, is a benchmark for others when it comes to a communications and marketing strategy.
Janine says much of the genius in their strategy comes from her husband and co-founder, Jeff Allis.
The couple had the best of credentials to market their precious small business. Janine was ex-PR for Universal International Pictures and Jeff Allis was program director with the country's most dominating radio network at the time – Austereo.
These were impeccable credentials for researching, understanding and tapping into a market.
“We turn over close to $100m, we're in 12 countries,” Janine says. “The communications plan started from day one,'' Janine says emphatically. “It started on two levels.
“My level, which was how my brain worked, is: I'm approaching and I'm a customer. What do I care about as a customer?''
She suggests no retailer on earth can guarantee great customer experience because they are dealing with humans, so she made sure from the outset that they were set up with an email address.
“Anyone, at any time, could email me with an experience, good, bad or ugly, so that was my communication,'' she says. “Most people see communication as TV, radio, press, but really we started our communication as one customer at a time.''
But that was not the only use they had for email when they started. “This was eight years ago when email wasn't as full on as it is now. We were getting people to join our Vibe Club,'' she says. “We started a great database of fans and we made sure we didn't bombard them with sales stuff. We bombarded them with health information, giveaways, fun stuff.
“It was really engaging. They would come in and do a code word or sing an Elvis song and they would get a free smoothie – it was tongue in cheek, the communication was all about making our customers smile.''
Janine believes Boost was made better from the emails that flowed from their communication strategy. “I was very much into replying to emails and even now we reply to emails within 24 hours if there is a complaint and we actively work out why that complaint happened,'' she says. “And that's fantastic because it is continually self-improving.”
A campaign to remember
At a higher level, Jeff employed lateral thinking to leverage some extraordinary marketing and communications payoffs.
“My husband has an amazing marketing mind and instead of competitions being like every other competition, our competitions have been unique,'' she says. “We did a great communication, and this is the ultimate in communication, which was the ‘what's your name?’ game.''
It was such a simple concept, but it worked like a million-dollar campaign. “Basically, every day we had two names and listed them on the radio or in the stores and if you were, [say,] Peter or Janine you got a free smoothie,'' she says. “What that did was every single Peter [or Janine] got a text or an email to get into Boost and so suddenly we were getting talk on the street where people would be saying, ‘Hey, Peter, did you get a free smoothie from Boost?' and there was all these new customers that had never tried us before it.''
That was radical thinking to get people communicating and talking about the Boost brand but this next one was out of the proverbial box.
Making the most of marketing
“A fantastic concept from Jeff was we gave away a Boost franchise worth about $200,000,'' Janine says. “We did a deal with the radio station and we maximised it so we made sure that we were their major promotion.
“It was very much like the television show <I>The Apprentice<I> – it was that type of promotion and people had to come in. There was something like 10,000 applications for it and we then did a Boost camp where we worked with them to teach them about business.'' The final came down to the best three people with a key and it created enormous promotion for Boost.
“We had over $1 million worth of advertising on the radio and all the sales went up 20 per cent,'' she says. “The sums on that showed it was a really cheap promotion for us. We didn't pay any of the advertising for Boost because we gave away a store.''
The Boost founders have many strengths that explain their meteoric rise, but their ability to tap into a market and get mass interest through innovative communications strategies is a powerful lesson for anyone in business.
The marketing academics call this sort of tapping into the populace as tribal marketing. Coincidentally, Tim Pethick, the founder of juice business, nudie, used a similar strategy to great effect.
Edward de Bono in his book Marketing Without Money, underlines the importance of lateral thinking to explain great business builders. Janine and Jeff Allis not only think outside the box, as a communications team they are literally a pair out of the box.