Turning my back on Facebook

I was trying to think of a catchy title for this post but i’m not sure this one really gets my thought across. Luckily, I have all the space below to clarify!

This week I have been thinking about the value of marketing and how much of BOKAC’s budget to keep putting towards it.

I don’t underestimate the benefits marketing can have in ‘spreading the word’ about a product or service and promoting these in a way that will entice the consumer. Almost as soon as someone sets up a business, they start thinking about various means of marketing in the form of blogs, Facebook/Twitter campaigns, Ad words, leafleting, events and print/online advertising.

A lot of these are relatively cheap – targeted Facebook or Twitter campaigns can run on as little as £20 per day for example and leaflets cost pennies to print with the man hours to hand them out not putting too much of a dent on cash flow either (obviously this varies depending on the size of the campaign). However, even when they are low cost, it’s difficult to know the true ROI when you’re running them on a small scale (aside from being able to track where your new customers are coming through on Google Analytics or by using promotional codes). So aside from the ‘what have you got to lose’ or ‘it won’t do you any harm’ arguments, i’m not sure whether the costs, no matter how low, can be justified.

Facebook BOKAC

Therefore, I thought I would come up with a different hypothesis. This hypothesis is that if you build a good enough product or service, the people will come. We have all heard about things going viral and this is usually because that thing has sparked  a person’s interest or imagination.

I have certainly seen with BOKAC that the more appointments we are able to fill per family, the more appointments that parent will book. The more they book, the more they tell their friends and family about us. Similarly, the more appointments parents request, the more babysitters are booked and therefore the more they are willing to be booked since it becomes habitual and they get to know these families.

To test this hypothesis, I am going to put the majority of the money I had allocated towards marketing to improve our booking process. Our aim is to make it shorter and to favour babysitters who are often available/the most active which means we are more likely to fill appointments faster. We will also highlight our referral programme to encourage the parents who book with us to tell their friends.

These are just two of ideas we have planned which we hope will make the booking process more effective, leading to higher numbers of bookings, higher repeat bookings and more parents recommending us to their friends and family.

We won’t disregard marketing completely and are trying to organise a lot more ‘offline’ campaigns in the form of leafleting (by our babysitters) and attending events.

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I will check in towards the end of the year to let you know how I get on. I know ‘improving the service’ seems an obvious thing to do but it is the deliberate play-down of marketing spend in order to focus almost purely on the service to see how it effects our business.

If you have any thoughts on this or if you are an avid defender of Twitter campaigns, please let me know! acameron@bokac.co.uk

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