A bit of a different blog post for you this week. Do you ever have those days or weeks where a recurring theme or idea just keeps popping up and it’s hard to get it out of your head? For me these past two weeks it’s been the subject of what I do and why I do it – why competitions? Why bother building a business around competitions and giveaways? How do you even end up in that industry?! I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the same question of why you do what you do and you’ve certainly been asked by others… But do your customers truly know what you do?
To give you a bit of context, I broke my finger the weekend before last (yes, typing this post is as awkward as you imagine) and in a series of hospital appointments to determine whether I’d need surgery or not and being fitted for all kinds of weird and wonderful splints to keep my finger and the broken bits at various angles; I had to engage in the awful ‘art’ of small talk.
One such conversation went something like this:
Emergency nurse: “So what do you do for a living?”
Me: “I run my own business.”
Emergency nurse: “Oh! Exciting! What do you do?”
Me: “You know when you go into Coles or Woolies and see competitions like ‘Win a trip to…’ or ‘Win a luxury…’ on a packet of chips or shampoo bottle?”
Emergency nurse: [uncertain] “… Yeah…”
Me: “Well that’s what I do but for small businesses and startups.”
What do you do?
Conversation ensued covering the various topics of how I got into it in the first place, how she can enter the competitions and whether I can make it so she can win (no, the answer is always no) and whilst she isn’t my customer, it was interesting to notice how I explained what I do and why I do it. A few days later I was back at the hospital seeing a very tired looking doctor who asked me a series of questions about my break without really looking at me – until she asked what I do for a job. When I said I help small businesses and startups to run competitions to engage their audiences, she chuckled and looked at me for the first time and said “how on earth did you get into that?!”.
Fast forward to a couple of days ago, where I’m sitting in a room full of business owners at a training event and the woman running the event asks ‘who do you already know… who doesn’t know what you do?’. Since my business has evolved so much from the initial idea I quit my 9 to 5 to pursue, it dawned on me that it’s not only important to remind myself of why I run my business and how my experience uniquely qualifies me to do just what I do, but it’s also important to make sure that my customers know what I do and why I do it, so that they know exactly when to come to me and with what problems. It’s the same in your business – do your customers really know what you do and why you do it? When was the last time you told them?
A little bit about me, then it’s over to you.
It was whilst working at a corporate travel company I got my first taste of competitions. The company had a number of well-known aussie and global brands as corporate travel clients and over time the clients realised they could use the same company to book the travel prizes they gave away as part of their marketing strategy. I fell in love with competitions and having a naturally strategic mind and a curious passion for all things marketing, I eventually ended up heading up this department.
In the years working with this company I learnt all there was to learn about the exciting world of competitions and giveaways from my wonderful clients – terms and conditions, licences, paid ads, social media strategy, promotion plans, you name it. But it felt slightly hollow to me in a way. We were being paid up to $80,000 for a single competition prize (and that’s just the prize alone no marketing or promotion!) by these huge multi-national clients and they were gaining hundreds of thousands of followers/subscribers and double that in revenue but that was just a tiny fraction of their total followers/subscribers and that $80k was a drop in the ocean of their multi-million dollar marketing budgets.
I suddenly thought: ‘What about the small businesses? Who helps them?’
I’d found my why.
It was a lightbulb moment. This is my why. If there’s one thing I know better than anyone, it’s competitions and giveaways. I’m not being egotistical, it’s just my passion and I’ve just made it my business to know them inside out. Some people are great at running (I’m so not one of those people) and some can dance (again, so not me) but me? Competitions are my thing. These multi-nationals I worked with had scores of people dedicated to marketing and strategy, but small businesses are often small teams who specialise in what they do, not showing/telling the world how amazing they are at what they do. So I said goodbye to the corporate world, left the multinationals behind and set up OrigamiGlobe with the mission of bringing all that juicy knowledge, tried and tested strategy and insider experience to the startup and small business world.
My passion and experience, brought to a whole new audience, is my why. I truly want to see your small business succeed (I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog) and I also truly believe that you can learn a whole lot about your business, your products/services, your customers and marketing strategy through running competitions and giveaways. Think of them like fast-track courses or little marketing microcosms.
So that’s my why, what’s yours?
What I’m trying to get at with this long, rambling post, is that you need to know what you do, but also to remember your why. It’s the reason you started doing what you do, it’s the reason you help who you help, it’s what you and only you are uniquely qualified to do… and you’re bloody good at it! But it’s no good being amazing at something if no one knows it, so you need to make sure your customers know it too! If you have an ‘about us’ page on your website, tell your story. Explain how you ended up where you are and why that therefore makes you the best of the best in your field. If you have a blog, do what I’m doing and tell the world your story. As humans we’re natural born storytellers – before the written word there were cave paintings telling the story of our ancestors, history and culture was often passed down the generations through stories told around a fire and in modern day society think back to the last party or networking event you went to, I’ll bet you the most engaging person in the room was the one who knew what their story was and how to tell it.
So don’t save your story for small talk when you break your finger (I hope you never do, it’s mighty inconvenient for blogging…) make sure you tell it to the people who are going to make the biggest difference to your business: your customers.
… Or at the very least, you can always practice telling the world your why in the comments below!