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Guerilla Marketing on a Small Budget

by 5m Editor
19 June 2009, at 12:00am

James Averdieck, owner and founder of dessert company, GÜ, described how to create a successful national brand from scratch at the International Egg Commission's 2009 London Conference. As a key customer of the egg industry, he offered tips to the audience on brand development that can be applied to almost any business.

Mention the name, GÜ Chocolate Puddings, in the United Kingdom, and every chocolate-loving person will know exactly what you are talking about. Despite the fact that GÜ products have only been available since 2003, it is a brand that has already achieved overwhelming product awareness. Its owner and founder, Mr Averdieck, is such a successful businessman that he has even secured a relationship with Virgin, so every passenger travelling with the airline, anywhere in the world, can now choose a GÜ pudding!

GÜ is currently a huge success in the UK, France and Belgium, and Mr Averdieck attended the IEC London Conference to share some of the secrets of his success with IEC members.

For those who were not at the London Conference and do not know about GÜ, it is a range of desserts – specifically chocolate desserts – a range that includes chocolate soufflés, chocolate brownies and chocolate trifles.

Mr Averdieck was keen to point out that he was a key customer of eggs, and that the principles that have helped make his business a success are equally valid for the egg industry.

He shared with the IEC five key lessons he has learnt:

  1. Find a new parking space
    It is not good enough to simply expand on an existing market, it is important that you look at the wider category. For example, when creating his first GÜ product, the chocolate soufflé, he considered the type of puddings that the best London restaurants would serve; he then created a product of this high quality, but produced it for the supermarket customer.
  2. Have a great product
    According to Mr Averdieck: "No business can last without a great product". When he made his first GÜ chocolate soufflé, Mr Averdieck truly believed, that he had developed a great product. He had produced a dessert which he felt fitted perfectly into the French way of eating; something quite small in quantity, but something really good in taste. Having created the right product which he firmly believed in, Mr Averdieck next step was to create the brand.
  3. Stand out in the crowd
    Mr Averdieck conducted a very simple experiment to find out if his new brand would successfully stand out in the crowd. Rather than spending large amounts of money on market research, he took some empty GÜ boxes to his local supermarket and put them on the shelves. He then waited round the corner to see if anyone would buy his product. After just five minutes, a lady walked up, looked at the various products available and put two GÜ boxes in her basket. This was sufficient proof to Mr Averdieck that his branding and his product would be a success. "Branding is about making the promise, the product is about keeping the promise," Mr Averdieck explained. "You make a promise, you keep a promise; that creates customer loyalty."
  4. Get people to talk about you
    Mr Averdieck does not believe in spending large amounts of money on advertising but he is firm believer in the benefits of Public Relations (PR). He said: "Once you have spent the money on the agencies, it is basically free." In its first year, GÜ generated press coverage and headlines using PR that would have cost him in the region of £1 million.
  5. Create a baddie
    Mr Averdieck's fifth piece of advice, from the lessons he learnt with his business, is that creating a baddie is good for sales. Supermarkets like competition and if a major brand – one that is close to having a market monopoly can have some competition – supermarkets like to encourage it. GÜ created a baddie of Cadbury's chocolate. Examples from other industries include airlines Virgin and British Airways: Virgin portrayed British Airways as its baddie.

Mr Averdieck's five lessons provided IEC conference delegates with very sound business advice. Started in 2003, GÜ now has a turnover of £25 million. Believing in his product and following his instincts, he made sure that he "was in the right place, at the right time, with a good product," and that he stood out from the crowd and people talked about him.

Key to Continued Growth

GÜ was created by Mr Averdieck: he developed its first chocolate soufflé, created the brand and successfully got the supermarkets to buy into it. However, for the business to grow into the success it is today, he needed a great team around him. To attract and keep the best people, Mr Averdieck believes a company needs a strong culture. He said: "You can't have a good business without a good culture."

With the excellent product, strong brand and good culture in place, the next stage to building a successful business, according to Mr Averdieck is looking after your customer. He urges people, as their business grows, not to forget what it was all about at the very beginning. Mr Averdieck invests time "standing in his own queue"; he pretends to be a customer and if he is happy with the service he receives, and if he is happy to stand in his own queue, he believes he still has a good business.

Surviving in a Recession

Although, like the egg industry, the chocolate industry is proving to be resilient in the current recession, Mr Averdieck concluded his presentation in London to IEC delegates with some excellent advice on how to survive the recession:

  • Stay close to your customer
  • Bring out products that allow your customer to economise.
  • Adopt changes that are happening in advertising and make use of networking opportunities and on-line promotions such as blogs.
  • Be prepared for the worst, and
  • Keep taking opportunities; keep looking at new markets.

Mr Averdieck believes that the businesses that survive the recession will grow their market share and will find new opportunities when the economy strengthens.

He shared some valuable advice, and interesting insights on how to create a success brand. One of his rules for achieving a successful brand is that you have to truly believe in your product. It is apparent from listening to Mr Averdieck speak that he believes passionately in his GÜ products and is very proud of his brand.

As GÜ is only widely available in three major countries at the moment, it is fair to say that the majority of the audience at the IEC Conference had not previously heard of the product but after listening to him describe his business and his product for 40 minutes, the first question that was asked by a member of the audience, was: "When can we try it for ourselves?"

Mr Averdieck had done such an excellent job of describing his product, he had to arrange for samples to be sent to the conference to meet the demands of 200 eager delegates.

The ability to create such interest and demand in just 40 minutes, from an audience that had not previously even heard of his product, is a clear testament to Mr Averdieck's ability to create a successful national brand from scratch.

Further Reading

- You can view other papers presented at the IEC London Meeting 2009 by clicking here.


June 2009