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No one knows how to build a business better than the entrepreneurs behind some of Canada's most successful companies. These are their most powerful lessons.
Peter van Stolk
President & CEO
Jones Soda Co.
Embrace the unconventional
When Peter van Stolk, founder, president and CEO of the little soda company with attitude, introduced a Thanksgiving dinner pack of soda featuring flavours such as turkey and gravy, Brussels sprouts with prosciutto, and pumpkin pie, people thought he was nuts. "They'd say, 'Oh, ho ho. How funny is this turkey?'" laughs van Stolk. "What they don't know is that I'm generating millions in free publicity with it."
Indeed, the quirky flavours are meant to get people talking and build awareness for Jones Soda, which relocated from Vancouver to Seattle in 2000. While rivals such as Coke and Pepsi spend millions promoting their soft drinks during the peak summer months, van Stolk opts to spend in the off-season. "When you spend money during a competitor's peak spending time," says van Stolk, "you're pitting yourself against them, dollar for dollar."
Van Stolk has taken the road less travelled ever since he launched Jones Soda in 1994. Instead of selling soft drinks in grocery stores, van Stolk markets Jones Soda through small surf and skateboard shops. And instead of creating a standard label, he uses photos sent in by loyal consumers. "In business, you have an opportunity to lead and you have an opportunity to follow," says van Stolk. "Companies and entrepreneurs that are successful tend to lead." —CC
Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com