In Advertising, Experiential Learning

PR Student: Matthew Maddix
This article was produced in cooperation with the COMMS 425 lab.

Cameron White (left) and Jared Smith (right) at a food demo in West Valley City, Utah. Holding food demos and giving out samples play a big role in the marketing plan for Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup. Photo courtesy of Jared Smith.

BYU senior advertising student Jared Smith did not wait until graduation to find a job using the skills he had learned in the advertising program. Smith used his advertising skills to start a family business — Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup.

The vision of Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup began with many family breakfasts where delicious buttermilk syrup was made from a recipe scribbled on a Post-It note. “Growing up, whenever we made the syrup we knew it was going to be a big family event, a time to enjoy each other’s company and reminisce on old times,” said Smith.

“Our main objective as a business isn’t to sell syrup, the real motivation is to bring families together,” said Smith.

Jared Smith takes a selfie with his family as they sit down to enjoy a pancake breakfast. Settings like this are what inspired the Smith family to start the Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup. Photo courtesy of Jared Smith.

Smith performed much of the preliminary work to establish the business. “Because I had the most time out of all the business partners, my role in the company from the beginning was to do a lot of the ground work. Making phone calls, getting quotes, putting together spread sheets, making the syrup, giving out syrup samples at grocery stores, etc.” Smith said.

Smith currently runs the marketing and operations efforts in the company. He finds fulfillment in the ability to apply the things he learns in school immediately to his business –from his Accounting 200 class to his upper-level advertising classes.

Smith said in his advertising classes he has learned that one of the biggest things that advertising agencies do is gather data and utilize it. “Data is gold. That is the real key. Garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t have good research and good data that comes in, then you won’t produce anything effective or noteworthy.” Smith collects data for Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup through demos, focus groups and surveys. He evaluates the data and takes it back to the team to tell them what customers want.

Syrup production at the manufacturing plant. The Smith family has had to learn how to mass produce their homemade product. Photo courtesy of Jared Smith.

The company marketing strategy revolves mostly around social media, website content and syrup demos in grocery stores. “We’ve done a lot of grassroots marketing with our demos. I’ve seen the importance of gathering feedback at demos so when we do a social media campaign we are able to use all of that information to better promote our syrup,” Smith said.

Getting the syrup on the shelf has proven to be a lot harder than Smith envisioned in the beginning. After hundreds of hours of research and development Smith had to take on the challenging task of finding businesses to work with to produce and distribute the syrup. “Since we are a small company, businesses don’t know if we can meet the volume demands that they want, so we have to convince them that our syrup will sell at the volume they require,” said Smith.

Derek Arrington hands out samples of Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup at Harmon’s Grocery store in Orem, Utah. Photo courtesy of Jared Smith.

Although getting the product in the hands of consumers has been difficult, Smith is proud to have stocked Uncle Bob’s Butter Country Syrup in more than 20 stores so far. Ultimately, Smith hopes to expand nation-wide, but for now, he is happy that every time one bottle sells, he knows there is a family sitting down together at a table to create fun memories.

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