On Tuesday 27 June, Wifi Refugees launched and held the first event in Red Berry, Bangor.
Those two big smiling faces you can see belong to David from Soarscape, the very first punter, and me. Don’t we look lovely?
If this is the first time you’ve heard about Wifi Refugees, it’s a fundraising project I started because it sounded like a nice idea! I took residence in a local, independent coffee shop for two hours and local businesses could come along and get some free marketing advice in a 15 minute slot. In return, they could leave a donation, if they wanted, which will be handed to a charity working with refugees in the local area.
At the first event, four people turned up, from three businesses. It was a solid start and gave me chance to have a look at the concept, iron out any wrinkles and see if it was worth taking forward. Here’s what I picked up from day one.
15 minutes isn’t right
The two hour clinic was broken down into 15 minute slots, so, in theory, eight companies could get advice.
In reality, 15 minutes wasn’t enough. Every consultation felt rushed, even though they all ran over the 15 minute time slot. If eight companies had turned up for a consultation, there’s a good chance they may have felt short changed.
What next: There’s a balance to be made between longer consultations and seeing a volume of people. While 30 minutes may be a better length, that caps the number of businesses to four per event. And I would hope that with some more promotion and better awareness, that more people will attend each event.
With that in mind, I’m going to push the consultations to 20 minutes for the next event and see how that works.
Does the name work?
Wifi Refugees is, in my humble opinion, a clever name that really works for the concept. And I’m attached to it as I came up with it. But that doesn’t mean it’s right.
Everyone who attended was in their 20s and had taken time to watch the videos, read the blurb and bought into the concept, which was fantastic. But there was no sign – either digitally or in person – of the local cupcake maker, knitting shop or garage. Perhaps that was due to the promotion (see below), but it might also be the name.
Would a Ronseal-style name work better: Free Marketing Clinic or Coffee Shop Marketing Drop In both convey, in a really obvious way, what people can expect.
Yes, they hurt my eyes to look at, but I’m a proponent of putting the customer at the heart of your marketing, so this is something I need to consider.
What next: No change just yet, but it’s being kept under consideration.
The promotion of the first session was deliberately low key. I shared the details on my social feeds (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram) as well as setting up dedicated channels on Insta, Facebook and Twitter for Wifi Refugees. Additionally, there was a website too.
The feedback from people I know personally and professionally has been incredible and heart-warming. I’ve had a few people who do similar jobs to me get in touch and ask about kicking off a Wifi Refugees where they live – amazing!
What the promotion didn’t do, was bring a hoard of people to the event. That’s fine, honestly! Three companies was more than enough to test the concept and make me run it again in August (July is a dead month in Northern Ireland).
But it did remind me that not every business is socially savvy or spends all their days browsing Instagram feeds looking for business help.
What’s next: As I tell all my clients, start with the customer and work backwards. So, for the August events, I’ll be spending more time trying to get the press interested in covering the events, perhaps invest a few quid in some social ads and even some old school flyers to leave around a few places.
Will Wifi Refugees Be Back?
Hell yes! July is a very quiet month in Northern Ireland and I’m on holiday like the rest of the country. I’ll be confirming two dates for August fairly soon, one in Bangor and one in Belfast. As usual, keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for locations, dates and times.