Marketing a Startup - Three Ways to Generate a Big Idea

Words by Justine Flynn
20 October, 2014

It’s been a really huge month around Thankyou and if you’ve been following the Thankyou journey for a while you’ll understand its significance.

This month marks one year of being on Coles and Woolworths shelves and it’s the month we’ve been able to announce we’ve now given $1.8 million to projects, thanks to all of you who have been a part of the Thankyou movement.

While we are so thankful for how far we have come, we still have a long way to go. It’s safe to say that it hasn’t always been big celebrations and remarkable figures.

The truth is our first few years as a little start-up with a big vision were tough. Tough trying to get off the ground, tough having to constantly overcome hurdles and tough because five years in, launching two new product ranges we still hadn’t landed a major supermarket retailer.

Building momentum behind a startup can be really hard, but we have this saying at Thankyou, that “success can be defined as the ability to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones”. And for us, when we felt like we had limited resources and like we kept hitting walls the turning point was the launch of our Coles and Woolworths Campaign – a campaign that was so ‘out of the box’ that many industry experts told us that it would fail.

If you missed what this was all about you can watch our campaign video here. But in a quick snap shot we asked Australia to help us get into Coles and Woolworths; two helicopters, two 10,000 square foot banners and 375 videos, 100 media mentions and 15 million media impressions later they both said “yes”, and in record time.

So for those of you who have watched the Thankyou journey and are curious about how we come up with creative campaign ideas, here are a few little rules we follow to help us in the brainstorming process:

1. Keep it simple. Just don’t overthink it. Sometimes the pressure of “think outside the box” can paralyse us and cause us to miss the brilliance in the small ideas. For us, ‘outside the box’ meant that we didn’t have to do things the way they’d always been done.

2. Don’t fear failure. Sure, we knew that asking our social community to plead on our behalf could have backfired. Despite all this we pushed the boundaries and gave it a shot… and we all know how this one ended; 375 videos were posted online and the result was Coles and Woolworths said “yes” to stocking our new ranges. Fear is creativity’s archenemy. Don’t be afraid to let your ideas take you into uncharted waters, to explore new ways of doing things. Be brave enough to give new ideas a go.

3. Budget isn’t boss. No, this doesn’t mean you can blow the budget and throw spending caution to the wind. It means don’t let your innovation be dictated by financial limitations. As a social enterprise, we are constantly in a position where we have to think creatively to produce something great from limited resources. Because for us, impact is why we exist. And this spurs us on to make sure we don’t let anything become an excuse when it comes to creating campaigns.

In a nutshell, keep things simple, don’t let fear stifle creativity and make sure you brainstorm beyond the budget.

For more information on the incredible growth that resulted from the Coles and Woolworths Campaign head to Our Biggest Year Yet.

— Words by Justine Flynn