The Jimmy’s Iced Coffee guide to building a brand

Jimmy's Iced Coffee

Five years after launching Jimmy’s Iced Coffee from a Dorset studio, Jim and Suzie Cregan are now selling almost 400 single serving cartons of iced coffees an hour at supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

The brand has a loyal following on social media, with almost 16,000 Twitter followers, and 33,000 fans on Facebook. There, Jim’s team share a barrage of upbeat content — and the occasional rap video — united by the brand’s motto, #KYCU (keep your chin up).

We caught up with Jim Cregan to find out how the “dude from Dorset turned liquid Lordship” does it.

Get personal
Cregan’s story is a family affair: The £100,000 ($131,000) loan that got the business rolling came from his parents. They also feature prominently on Jimmy’s social media posts, alongside pictures of Jim and Suzie as kids. “It’s the real life things that people enjoy seeing,” said Cregan.

One of the company’s best-performing posts on Facebook was Cregan’s heartfelt shoutout to his sister last November. That saw triple the amount of likes of other posts from the brand.

Cregan is planning a similar post for her upcoming wedding day too. “It’s about documenting us doing our thing for people. Forcing in messaging or putting up shots of products for social’s sake, that’s just stupid,” he said.

Be skeptical of data
With social media demanding a greater slice of marketing budgets, many third-party vendors have sprung up to measure the impact and ROI of brand activity. Cregan says Jimmy’s has turned down a number of firms looking to work with the brand. Instead, the team is guided by gut instinct.

“There are 1,001 things we can’t put our finger on,” he said. “If data companies say they can do targeted marketing, they’re lying. There is no rule.” One gut decision was the viral rap track the team released last August with agency Fearlessly Frank and production company Deadbeat Films.

So far it has had over 1 million views on YouTube. Meanwhile, its follow up, “Who Got The Beans,” passed 86,000 views since its debut on August 9.

“If you go search hard enough, you’ll find a pisstake of Snoop Dogg I did at 19,” he said. “As a challenger brand you’ve got a license to be a bit more daring and old school hip-hop fits what we do.”

Be nimble
But viral marketing, for all its glory, has no guarantees. A company can’t plan for catching lightning in a bottle. And Cregan knows it will be a tough ask replicating the video’s success.

This is part of the reason why the Jimmy’s team like to make content on-the-fly from the company’s HQ in Bournemouth, Dorset. “If it doesn’t work at least we tried. Everyone’s still alive and cracking on,” he said.

These short videos and snaps are quick and cheap to make. By producing so many, Jimmy’s has been able to get a better idea of what its audience likes, too. Mostly, it’s the oddball stuff.

“People might think they like consistency, but they don’t. If all you’re going to see is the same thing day in day out it’s boring.”

Use platforms that make sense
Jimmy’s has found success on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Cregan also started a Snapchat account for the brand, but stopped posting due to poor engagement.

He said it’s easy to feel obligated to be everywhere on social media, but it’s a mistake that can lead to spreading yourself too thin. “It’s a case of everyone’s on Snapchat for Snapchat’s sake. If it doesn’t feel right there’s no point doing it.”

Instagram now offers the ability to post live stories, which Cregan is looking to take advantage of. And while Facebook’s organic reach is getting harder, Cregan says it’s worth the slog. There, the company posts its short-form videos and regular updates about the team.

And so are the traditional techniques the brand is now moving into this year: sampling, above the line advertising and even a big branded bus.

“In the first year we had no money, so our marketing was cheap, guerrilla and illegal. Now we’ve got a real budget. Viral is going to be one of the ways we use it, but I hope it’s no longer the only way for us.”

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