If you’re asking why does it need a new name and why have you picked Eximo & Friends, then read on!
Wifi Refugees was something I launched in the summer of 2017 to provide free marketing advice to small businesses, in return for a donation to a local charity working with refugees. It went well. Really well!
From a small start in Red Berry, Bangor, the team at Wifi Refugees soon grew to around 15 volunteers, running clinics in locations across Belfast. I even had queries from London and New Zealand about launching Wifi Refugees there.
However, by the early summer last year, it was clear something wasn’t quite right. Numbers were falling at clinics and fatigue was growing with the concept. We discussed waving goodbye to the idea, but it felt like something that should keep going, if we could get it right.
Refocus and Relaunch
While all the volunteers have been immense, two stand out for special mentions. Laura Wilson and Emma Graham have been legends in keeping things moving and have been instrumental in the relaunch.
We mapped out what was important to the Wifi Refugees idea – defined our sacred cows – and understood what could be culled. In the sacred cow column were using our expertise as marketers to fundraise, a focus on smaller businesses and the donation model. Pretty much everything else could go out of the window, including the name.
We’ve said goodbye to coffee shops and hello to other people’s events. In a push to drive up attendance, we’ve stopped trying to get people to come to us and we’ve gone to them. We’ve also put a number of advisers in the clinics too, instead of just one person to cover everything. So in one venue there will be be ads, PR, brand, web development, strategy, social, video and inbound marketing expertise under one roof. Anyone who wants to book can get an expert in most elements of marketing to help improve their business.
We’ve changed the time slots – you now get twice as much face time with the adviser. Some feedback was that 15 minutes wasn’t long enough, so we’ve doubled it and gone for the 30 minutes. I did a trial at an event in Liverpool last year with hour long consultations and while that worked really well for the clients, it almost killed me! It would also require a hike in the suggested donation to make any money, which meant that half an hour felt like a happy medium.
Wifi Refugees, as much as I loved the name, had to go too. Feedback from many people suggested they didn’t have a clue what the concept was or why they might need help with their wifi. Personally, I loved it, but it wasn’t putting bums on seats, so it went. Eximo & Friends came about, partly by accident and partly from Laura. We had been looking for a Ronseal sort of name – “does what it says on the tin” but Free Marketing Clinic To Raise Money For Refugees In Northern Ireland (or FMCTRMFRINI for short) didn’t really work.
With the addition of a group of advisers, we’ve now got friends at the clinics. And there’s an old piece of Irish wisdom that goes something like, there are no strangers here, just friends you haven’t met yet, which chimed with the experience we would hope refugees would get from settling in Northern Ireland.
There’s a lot of new things happening now with Eximo & Friends. You can find out about the first clinic and who we’ve got as advisers on the And Friends. It’s still very much a pilot at this stage and we’re expecting to learn a lot in the next two weeks before the event.
The logo, for example, hasn’t changed. Once we get out of the pilot, it might change, evolve and update. But first we need to make sure this new version is worth sticking with.
Stay tuned to see how it goes and I’ll report back with any updates or changes to the model once as it develops.