Diary of a start-up week 9: entertainthekids.com

Kirsty's year begins with a flurry of action as she sees the results of her marketing campaign

Startups.co.uk is tracking the progress of Kirsty McGregor as she sets up entertainthekids.com, an online resource for parents or carers looking for inspiration on how to keep children occupied. You can read her diary entries each week on Startups.co.uk. Happy New Year, and I hope you all had a relaxing time over Christmas. Although I think if you run your own business it’s so hard to stop working for such a long time. For us, it was very busy indeed.

We had our two days promotional work outside the CBeebies concerts in Manchester (more about that later), and then we spent days on end collating address lists, stuffing envelopes, and sticking stamps to send out a 7,000 mailing which has finally gone this week.

This mailing invites those who work with children (nurseries, kids clubs, childminders, football clubs, primary teachers, tutors etc) to our preview evenings which begin in mid January – which will be another massive milestone for us.

We also found out that we’d not won the MEN Venture Awards, but we have been asked to reapply next year when we have some trading under our belt, and we wrote our first newsletter which we distributed to the team.

We’ve also been designing the media packs which we’ll be sending out to the press in the next couple of weeks too. So you see we’ve had quite a bit going on!

Some excellent news is that our proposed ‘mentor’ has agreed to work with us as a shareholder in our company. So here is his first introduction….Lee Turner, MD of Fluid Creativity (www.fluidcreativity.co.uk) who Ross and I have both known for some time, and is someone we have a great deal of respect for.

So we are delighted that we effectively now have our own in-house new media company, which is going to provide us with massive strategic benefits. Can’t wait to get working with him over the next couple of weeks, to take the functionality, the look of the site, and the e-marketing onto another level.

Now I’ve just got to sort out our incumbent web design company, hopefully without leaving any bitter taste.

I’m sure they will understand that this was just too good an opportunity for us to miss, and their experience and skills just seem to far outweigh our current supplier.

Now, back to the promotional work at CBeebies…..

I think if any other business is going to benefit from what we have experienced, then we have to be brutally honest about what happened, because we were so frustrated, when we were initially discussing this event back in Sept/Oct, because we couldn’t get any answers to our questions, and felt we were completely floundering around in the dark. So I promised I would tell you the costs and what we actually achieved, so here goes.

First of all, the costs: Crayons (10,000 packs (min order) – although we probably only used 7,000) £1,098 Business cards detailing competition (7,500) £510 Promotional staff (6 staff x 4 hours x 2 days) £675 10 Bags (to put the crayons and cards in for the staff) £50 Total (excl VAT) £2,333

OK, so nearly £2,500 is a lot of money to us, so what results did we get?

Well we reckon we handed things out to around 6,000 adults with children, so we hit our target market perfectly. We have raised our profile and begun to introduce the brand to our market. Now exactly how that translates into actual members, I can’t say. And this is where it is so difficult to establish how effective marketing is.

But in terms of how many email addresses we captured (we asked people to enter a competition to win a free membership, by going to our website and entering their email address so we can email them when we launch), well we just about had enough email addresses registered for the number of free memberships we were offering as prizes – 50!

So virtually everyone who registered actually gets to join for free. Therefore in terms of potential paying members, we more or less got none.

50 email addresses as a percentage of 6,000 is only 0.83%, not even 1%, when I was expecting around 5% and hoping for 10% or more.

We asked them to register over the Christmas period, so that could’ve had a bearing on it, as they may have forgotten or not had access to a PC, but I don’t know.

So would we have done this work if we’d known the numbers? No, probably not.

However, we are hoping that we are still going to benefit from this work because we are now offering those members the chance to attend a preview evening, and use the site immediately, as we want to use them for market research, almost as beta testers.

If they were keen enough to register then they must be interested, so let’s use that to our advantage, and see they can help us improve the site, along with the others we’ve invited to the preview evenings.

And of course there’s still that elusive question of how many will join when we launch because they’ve already heard of us once before from a pack of crayons they received at the CBeebies concert.

Just one other lesson we learnt from the promotional work, is make sure you have all the necessary permissions you need, from the various authorities. Our (ex) PR agency were frankly terrible with this advice or information, and the promotions agency just said it was our responsibility to sort out.

And whilst we thought we had spoken to all the necessary organisations, and didn’t need a licence because we weren’t trading, in fact there were many more than we realised and it caused us undue stress on the day to try and resolve these issues.

If you want to know more, read my blog of 24th December because it’s too long to try and explain all that happened here. www.entertainthekids.blogspot.com.

However, it’s all done and the money’s been spent now, and now we move onto another exciting phase of our launch with the Fluid partnership and the preview evenings.

Next week is where I concentrate on the media packs and content (again, still, I’ll get there eventually!) and also plan the final bits of the preview evenings. So no doubt they’ll be plenty to tell next week as well. This year has started off as hectic as the last one ended!



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