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Engaging your customers and communicating meaningfully is key to addressing their needs, says Thankyou Co-Founder and Managing Director Daniel Flynn
I was 19 years old and studying for a university assignment when I came across some pretty hard-hitting facts about global poverty – 900 million people around the world don’t have access to basic human needs like water, sanitation and food, while Australians alone spend $600 million a year on bottled water. In 2008 I joined forces with a group of friends and we decided to launch a new bottled water product that could actually be used to help fund water projects overseas.
OVERCOMING BUSINESS CHALLENGES
To get our social enterprise off the ground, we had to overcome a number of challenges – extensive start-up expenses, issues with suppliers and deals with major retailers falling through. However, we persevered and we are now stocked in more than 3000 retail outlets and 400 independent cafes and outlets.
After finding success with our water range, we knew helping communities to access safe water was only a small part of the bigger problems of poor health and hygiene practices, and the global hunger crisis.
So in 2013 we rebranded and launched two new ranges: Thankyou Food and Thankyou Body Care.
ENGAGING OUR CUSTOMERS
To truly build a social movement, we knew we had to engage and speak to our supporters and potential customers where they were, so the focus of our communications efforts moved online.
We ensured we were on all of the major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. This allowed us to talk directly to our customers and drive momentum for our messages.
We have run a number of successful social media campaigns to encourage retailers to stock Thankyou in their stores. Examples include both Coles and Woolworths, where we utilised social media by producing a six-minute video and launching it on our YouTube page. In two weeks, the video had received over 80,000 views. To elevate this campaign, we hired two helicopters to fly around the head offices of both retailers in Sydney and Melbourne, with a sign reading: “Dear Coles / Woolworths, Thankyou for changing the world (if you say yes)”. These campaigns led to both major retailers stocking all three of our product lines, resulting in access to huge numbers of new customers.
Earlier this year, we saw another communications opportunity when Virgin Australia announced it would be providing complimentary food on board its flights and asked customers what products they would like to see the airline carry.
After reaching out to our community, overnight we received over 800 posts of support and we knew we needed to drive our communications further. I personally tweeted Richard Branson asking him for support; while the team organised a mobile billboard to sit outside the Virgin Australia headquarters in Brisbane – with Virgin posting a photo of our efforts on its Facebook page.
To ensure success, it’s important to make the most of opportunities that present themselves and leverage any momentum that you can get. To do this in a crowded industry, you need to stand out and create value for your suppliers and customers.
The importance of communications can’t be overstated. Your customers are your biggest advocate and engaging them early and meaningfully can help you meet their needs.
To date, Thankyou. has funded:
• Safe water access for 170,177 people
• Hygiene and sanitation programs for 231,582 people
• 19.1 million days’ worth of food aid to people in need, plus funding for long-term sustainable food projects
- Bespoke Health Services
- Setting Expectations
- Value-Added Health Services
- Holistic Health Awareness and Adherence
- Your Local Community Healthcare Needs
- Health Services and Value in Pharmacy
- Communicating With Your Customers
- Understanding Yourself and Your Customers
- Embedding Change
- Actioning Change
- Preparation for Change
- The Need To Change