No surprises here on what took Sharyn Smith’s Soup to the awards rostrum!
For the past six years, Soup has counted on word of mouth to deliver value to clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Huggies and Sony. Last weekend, it could count on much the same – its army of ‘soupers’ – as it won the Blackberry People’s Choice Award at the regional Telstra Business Awards for New South Wales.
“We have had a wonderful year of growth and part of our success has been by attracting great people,” said Soup CEO Sharyn Smith, who started the Surry Hills firm in 2006.
“Our community of influencers, or Soupers as we call them, showed just how much they love being a part of what we do by supporting us in the People’s Choice awards. It shows how influential they really are and we’re humbled by their support of our business. It is the ultimate demonstration of the power of our community,” she said.
Soup was also a finalist in the MYOB Small Business Award, part of Telstra’s annual business awards. The pioneering word-of-mouth marketing company’s truer test, if we may call it that, may have been at the national-level awards, to be decided at a gala dinner in Melbourne on 26 August. But unfortunately, Telstra doesn’t present a Public Choice award at the national level.
Earlier in the year, Soup was named one of BRW magazine’s Fast Starters and last year won an award from Anthill magazine.
By all accounts, Soup has forged a reputation as a pioneering company in Australia, placing its faith in word-of-mouth marketing.
Soupers whip up a magic recipe
Soup was conceived at a research company called Pollinate, where Smith was a director. Its fundamental philosophy is this: Real conversations between real people have a far more profound effect on consumers than advertising. Using this, Smith won her first client, Coca-Cola, for the launch of the zero-calorie drink Coke Zero.
Today, it uses a large troop of over 100,000 so-called Soupers – voluntary, unpaid recruits who sample products and provide feedback, besides spreading the word on a variety of products. These Soupers are carefully picked for each campaign, based on demographics and lifestyles. The company even has a special section for mothers called Soup Mamas for specific products.
Smith says she owes her success to “outstanding business practices” and to the hard work by the staff in a “really enjoyable and fulfilling place to work.” Over the past three years, Soup has tripled revenue and staff, and opened a New Zealand office.