Using the media as a marketing tool is nothing new, particularly among cash-strapped start-ups looking to get their name out there.
But when you put the life of your business into the hands of a journalist, you surrender some of your control with regard to how your company is portrayed and the information that is circulated.
So what do you do when a news article publishes an inaccurate claim about your company’s plans? As Kelly Baker found out, you often have no choice but to go along with it.
Baker is the founder of Edible Blooms, a business that designs bouquets filled with gourmet chocolates, home-baked cookies, fresh fruit, French champagne and even specialty beers.
Founded in 2005, Edible Blooms now employs 25 staff and operates four stores in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
In its first full financial year of trading, sales soared to $1 million. Since then, the company has maintained a growth rate of at least 30%.
However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Baker’s business, which was dealt a blow when an inaccurate news article unintentionally changed the entire course of the company.
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“The Brisbane store opened in September 2005 and Adelaide in 2006… The plan was to go to Melbourne as our third location,” Baker says.
“An article in the Adelaide Advertiser said we planned to launch in Melbourne next. However, The Daily Telegraph picked up the article and changed it to Sydney, perhaps to make it more relevant to their audience.”
“All of a sudden, someone had decided our business path ahead of us. It was almost like a crystal ball that said, ‘This is what you’ll be doing’.”
Baker says the response she received from Sydney consumers was overwhelming, so much so that she decided to bypass Melbourne and open the company’s third store in Sydney.
“We had a plan for the business but it also allowed organic opportunities… Sometimes things just fall into place but sometimes you’ve just got to allow it to happen,” she says.
“The news article changed the course of our business – we opened a store in Sydney three months later.”
Baker says while it was daunting to radically alter the route mapped out for her business, swapping Melbourne for Sydney proved to be the right decision.
“When we said we were opening in Melbourne, it was said to an Adelaide audience. It wasn’t broadly broadcast in Melbourne, whereas the Sydney article was broadly broadcast,” she says.
“The Sydney market has been very good to us… We thought it would be our toughest market but the Sydney market really liked the concept of Edible Blooms.”
The company went on to launch a Melbourne store six months later. But according to Baker, Melbourne’s preference for local players is more pronounced.
“To be honest, we found the Sydney market a lot easier to tap into than the Melbourne market. Especially with food, Melbourne is very local,” she says.
“Anyone coming to Melbourne from another state needs to be mindful that Melbournians love their own. But then Melbournians loves the convenience of online as well.”
“It was a great way of doing market research. As a start-up, wherever you can save money, you’re all ears.”