Andi spoke about how to he used video to launch Wifi Refugees and the questions you should ask before deciding on what form of video to use.
From a name to an idea.
An idea to a workshop.
A workshop to movement.
Wifi Refugees feels like it’s come a long way in a few short months. From the initial launch in June to trial the concept, to a roll out in Bangor and Belfast, with Liverpool coming soon. It’s been an exciting few months.
The feedback on the concept has been unbelievable. I’ve had contact from people I haven’t spoken to in years saying well done and interest from around the world (honestly) in starting up Wifi Refugees in other countries.
But, despite this promising start, Wifi Refugees is still small. In September, there will be two workshops, one in Bangor and Belfast. Content ideas sit unused, growth opportunities are unfollowed up, businesses remain unhelped and coffee remains undrunk!
In some ways, Wifi Refugees is a concept that takes very little to make happen. With a marketer prepared to give up a few hours per month, all you need is a coffee shop and businesses in need of advice. Of course you need a charity working with refugees to receive the money too.
All of these things are in abundance. In every city I’ve ever visited.
I believe there is an opportunity to expand Wifi Refugees into more cities. To help more people, to raise more money, to drink more coffee. But I can’t do it alone.
But it takes more than just two hours a month to make Wifi Refugees happen. There’s a lot of spade work done and conversations taking place that are required to make sure that the two hours is useful for everyone.
Doing Alone Won’t Work Anymore
I’ve recently stepped away from paid employment with The Tomorrow Lab and started my own business, Eximo Marketing. Trying to scale two things at once looks and feels like a recipe for disaster.
Eximo Marketing is for profit, and unashamedly so. I need something in my life to pay the bills. But Wifi Refugees is proudly about fundraising. All money raised goes direct to a charity and no costs are deducted.
So I’d like to see if anyone out there would like to get involved in Wifi Refugees to see if we can grow this into a movement and raise some serious money for refugee charities. Wifi Refugees needs volunteers in two categories: front of house and back office, to borrow terms from the theatre industry.
Front of house
Front of house is easy. If you’ve got some good marketing experience and a few spare hours each month, please drop me a line.
I don’t want to be too prescriptive about the experience you’ll need but a wide knowledge of all areas of marketing would be important. You won’t know what questions is coming your way until the person sits down in front of you, so being able to adapt is key. I don’t expect anyone to know all the answers to all the questions, but if you don’t it’s good to have someone in your network who might know the answer.
I expect Wifi Refugees would take about 4-5 hours per month of your time, with two hours of that is sat running the workshop. I can’t promise anyone will turn up, but if they don’t, you get a few hours of work done. If they do, you use your marketing skill and contact network to help people.
The other few hours are travel, prep, some promo work (hopefully not much if I get a back office team!) and a follow up email to measure the NPS after every event.
I’d like to get people on board for a minimum of 6 months. As an expert marketer, you’ll know that it takes a few months to get traction. I’ve found that starting at 5 or 6 pm is the best time to get people in, but that could change in every area. You know your town better than I do.
There will be a guide and some brief training provided for this. The whole point of running a trial is that we learn and feed that back to improve and that will be shared with you.
Fancy it? My contact details are at the end of this post.
Back office staff
Now, right out of the blocks, I should say there is no office. You’ll be working from home or, you guessed it, a coffee shop. But that’s fine, yeah? Yeah.
So for the back of the office, I’m looking for people who can take Wifi Refugees forward. Initially, I think the requirement is for content creators.
Wifi Refugees is awash with amazing stories. Clients who have great ideas, local celebs and bloggers who want to get involved, new location launches and, hopefully, some talented and interesting volunteers to shout about.
But these stories need to come to life. How? That depends on what skills you have. Social media, PR, blog, video, journalist, photography, podcasting, graphic design, all of the above… I’m easy. I’d like Wifi Refugees to tell more stories and need your help to do that.
Ideally you’d be based in or near Belfast as that’s where the bulk of content will come from initially. But is not essential. For social media and written blogs, for example, if you can use a phone and wifi, you should be fine.
And please don’t let geography be an issue. I’d like to see Wifi Refugees taking off in other places. If we can’t work together right now, something could come up in the next few months. The same applies about your skills. If you do something that’s not listed above, or just want to get involved but you’re not sure how, please do drop me a line.
I want to make this a broad church of people who want to make the world a better place. I know that sounds a bit tree-huggerish, but it’s nice to be nice. So if you want to get involved, we will find a way. It might not be immediately, but we can find something.
If you’d like to get involved in content creation for Wifi Refugees, I think it will take around 4 hours per month. That’s an estimate, but it’s not going to overtake your work or study. For consistency, I’d like people to commit for 6 months at a time, so we can start to really build something.
Any and all experience levels will be welcomed. Self-taught to PhD, industry experts to just starting out, if you’d like to help, I’d like to hear from you.
What’s in it for you?
Let’s start by saying what’s not in it for you – money. And I’m sorry about that. If I could pay, I would pay, but the focus is on generating funds for charities. I understand this might rule some people out but I hope not too many.
While Wifi Refugees is a voluntary fundraising project, it is run along professional lines. So there is the chance to build your skills in an environment that will look great on a CV.
There isn’t a formal training programme with Wifi Refugees, but I hope to be able to offer support to any volunteers if needed. This could be through attending events, introductions to experts in tour particular field or pairing up with another volunteer. In short, if I can help, I will.
For some people the chance to work with Wifi Refugees could help build your experience. Perhaps you’re a social expert but much of that work isn’t in a professional capacity – Wifi Refugees can help you make the jump from personal to professional and boost your CV.
Probably the biggest benefit I can offer is the feel good factor. It’s ACE being part of Wifi Refugees. You’ll be helping SMEs, local coffee shops and refugees. All from the comfort of your own home. What more could you want?!
How do I get involved
Application is really easy. I don’t need a CV, exam results or inside leg measurements. Just send me an email briefly explaining why you’d like to be part of Wifi Refugees and what skills you could bring. If you could provide some links to work you’ve done, that would be great, but don’t worry if you can’t.
Use any of the channels below. I’m a person too and old enough to remember phone calls, so feel free to call if you’d like to chat.
And remember, please, please, please remember, the emails will be read by real people. You don’t have to write them like you’re applying for a job at a bank. This is a voluntary position with a lovely fundraising project. Be normal ?. Swear if you like. Just give me an idea of who you are.
August has seen the return of Wifi Refugees after a brief July hiatus. It’s also seen some great coverage in the local press.
Local tech and business publication, Sync NI, was first to pick up on Wifi Refugees, covering the first event and introducing the concept to a wider audience. You can read the story on Sync NI.
Belfast Live picked up the story in August and made a big dint on our Google Analytics and social stats. The news site has one of the biggest readerships in Northern Ireland and a huge social following too, which was brilliant to raise awareness for the second events. Belfast Live’s story is still on their site.
Influential local blogger, Alan Meban, did a video interview with Andi Jarvis before the second events and shared the content in a few locations. As well as on his own blog, Alan in Belfast, Alan also manages the PR for Focus on Refugees, the organisation that will distribute the money from Wifi Refugees events to Embrace NI, and it’s on their Facebook page.
The plans for the next few months are to try and launch a few other locations for Wifi Refugees, and we’re happy to field any media enquiries that will help us achieve that goal. Please email [email protected] or get in touch on social with any queries.
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.