DECEMBER 22, 2012
For every entrepreneur, there comes a time where big decisions need to be made. For me, that came quite early into my second season when I had to decide if I could juggle a career role while trying to grow a very new concept in GetintheLoop.
The decision on whether to hire someone to help me was easy; the company did not generate enough money to hire anyone. Secondly, I was not ready to give up any control on the day-to-day of GetintheLoop and how our message was communicated with our partners and members. I decided I would spend a couple hours working on GetintheLoop every morning while enjoying Starbucks and then do whatever else needed to be done in the evening and on weekends. When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, getting up extra early is easy!
The first thing I had to learn was to efficiently spend my advertising dollars. I met with many different local advertising consultants to gauge what I wanted to do and what I thought was best. Being pretty green in business, I made decisions on a whim and went with my gut. I decided to do a mix, hoping one avenue would have standout success and then I could focus. I advertised briefly in the local paper, posted a two-week ad on Castanet and ran a few different radio campaigns. For the ads I ran, I saw the most success with radio. As far as returns on ad spend, none of the avenues provided me a great deal of value. This re-assured me of the marketing avenue we provide our partners and the value that is behind the GetintheLoop concept.
I found radio to be effective; it created great brand awareness and resulted in positive ROI membership sales. I was again featured in the business section of the paper, as well as ran an ad in the paper. Having someone else tell your story for you is key! The success and awareness created through articles on GetintheLoop relative to any other advertising were superior. Free press beats pushed ads any day of the week. After doing some member surveys, I soon figured out that the bulk of my awareness was created through word of mouth and the local community buying into the concept. If it wasn’t for our members spreading the word, I don’t think Year 2 would have seen half the growth that it did. In Year 2, the system became slightly more automated, but still, I was a long ways from the vision of the finished product I wanted to offer my partner and members.
The membership was growing, as were the opportunities for bringing on internal partners and growing our offering. Four weeks into our second year, the membership was already larger than the year before and that trend continued. GetintheLoop saw great growth to finish up a very successful second season. Like I said in my first blog post, it was official: I had a concept that was working and it was up to me to keep it growing.
I planned to do the second annual Loop tournament towards the end of the summer. I decided this time that I would take the chance and we would reserve the course and host a shotgun tournament. The rules were simple: you had to be a member to book a tee time and you had to be ready to have some fun. The same instant promotional messaging tool that we offered our partners was used to promote the tournament. Much to the surprise of our host course, the tournament was sold out in 48 hours. This was a great example of how our program works and the desire our Loop members had to participate in our event. The tournament saw a lot of smiles, suntans and some great local sponsors like Andre’s, Big Surf Beer, The Golf Centre, Mazda, Dodge, Peacock Insurance and many more. The rule for sponsorship is easy: you have to be local and members can sponsor a hole or event for free if they provide a great prize for the other members to enjoy. The focus of our company is simple: help local members enjoy local businesses while helping all local businesses communicate and offer specials to our local members.
After the growth of Year 2, it was now up to me to take the company to the next level. The focus again was on growth, improving our online member and partner experience and continuing to grow our value to both our partners and our members. Stay tuned to find out how this plan is going into action.
Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy your holidays!