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Marketing for Start-Up Success

Amanda Sains

Amanda Sains is the head of marketing at Joolies Organic Medjool Dates in Venice, CA. She was part of the brand launch at the trade show Natural Products Expo West in 2019 with only packaging prototypes and a stand-out booth design. Now, about a year and a half later this July, the brand is distributed nationally in over 1,500 doors with many different products including Dates and Date Syrups and flavors. Join Amanda as she discusses brand management and her experiences in launching a brand.


Karen Freberg: Tell us a little bit about your role and how did you get to become the head of marketing for Joolies?

Amanda Sains: When I joined, it was the two founders, the CEO, and then myself. We had 500 acres in the Coachella Valley, and we had a lot of dates, but we didn't have a logo or a package yet. Together as a team, we created the brand that you see today. The name Joolies came from our founder, David Kohl, and his family being date farmers. They just wanted a really fun and cute way, to refer to as medjool dates, it's a little bit of a mouthful, but Joolies is kind of a cute thing.

Karen Freberg: With a startup, you're able to wear so many hats, which is both exciting, but it could be challenging because there's only so many hours or in my case, so much coffee you can consume in a day. What are some other challenges that people don't maybe realize about working in marketing for a startup that you would want to share with our community?

Amanda Sains: That's an interesting question, and this could be a challenge or something that would be fun for someone because the thing with marketing is that it's not a nine to five job, especially in the world of social media and the constant conversation that's going on. With marketing, you have to always be on, always be listening, monitoring, keeping up with trends and also making sure that nothing bad is going on. You always have to have a pulse on your consumer, and the macro industry that's going on around you. A challenge with that is long hours, but you love it, you love every second of it. Another thing is just staying relevant. How can you be relevant? How can you stay desirable for the consumer and also friendly beating your competitors?

Karen Freberg: With everything changing so fast, as a brand manager, as a head of marketing, being there to kind of have your hand in all of these different areas for Joolies, how do you stay up to trends?

Amanda Sains: Instagram is where you will find all the trends because people can post what they're working on or what they're up to in real time. I also think, in the world that I live in, you can go to Whole Foods or any grocery store and see what the companies or brands are up to when it comes to what type of messaging are they putting on the front of the pack, what type of design, what material are they using. Walking through the aisles, staying on top of food trends, staying on top of packaging, design trends, but I think what will definitely be the ground zero for trends is going to be monitoring Instagram and whatever design channels, LinkedIn, keeping up with the conversations there just to see what people are actually paying attention to and discussing. I also listen to some podcasts, one is Brand Builder and another one is called Food Marketing Nerds.

Karen Freberg: Who is your target audience?

Amanda Sains: When we were creating the brand, we did extensive research with our agency and we found that there's four types of people that are consuming dates or that are in this bucket of people that we're talking to. There's people from overseas that grew up with dates and then people that are a little bit more seasoned that have been eating dates their whole lives. Then, what Joolies is trying to introduce is to that well-traveled foodie and the health-conscious consumer, both of those pillars are probably a female and a mother, or soon to be mother. I'm not sure if you know this, but medjool dates are really good for mothers to be. So, if you eat five dates a day, they say it does wonders for the developing mother. That would definitely be our target consumer. There are millennials of course, it's that very sought after age group. As millennials, and I like to say my cohort, we are starting to have more of the buying power and making household decisions. As people are looking to make healthier swaps, dates kind of fall into that category of being that replacement.

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