I read a lot; I learn as much as I can; I’m always looking for trends and entrepreneurial opportunities. With so many commercial messages bombarding consumers every day, the key element to online success and attracting customers is in building trust. What you stand for, what you offer, and your wider role in the community all contribute to this sense of trust.
People, more than ever, want to align themselves with brands that are driven by purpose – that have a true social conscience and that are actively giving back to the community. Australians are considered to be charitable people, and the way we value ‘things to do’ over ‘things to own’ is unlike any other time in history. The Marie Kondo craze around decluttering has inspired people of every generation.
There is such an upswing towards social consciousness too. Consumers, stakeholders and employees look at what a business stands for and how it contributes to the community – not just what it sells. The whole notion of the triple bottom line is well entrenched. The number of certified B Corporations is on the rise – and the list of those businesses that are part of the 1% pledge (including BRG) is growing steadily.
David Anderson, my co-founder of BRG and I have announced the launch of IfOnly. IfOnly.com is an entrepreneurial story in its own right. It has curated a range of ‘luminary-led’ experiences that are truly unique. You won’t find them anywhere else, and they are often one-off, never to be repeated, events. At BRG it is our purpose to ‘shift the way people experience life’ – and this is such a wonderful addition to our consumer brand portfolio.
We see continued growth of the experience economy, a subject on which we have published a white paper – ‘The Experience Economy: Riding a rising tide. I spoke about this recently and how ‘Generation Next’ is driving this desire for experiences. That the way we communicate, the way we engage people in the experience of what we’re serving, is really, really important.
IfOnly is all about tapping into both well-known and local experts – or ‘luminaries’ as they are known on the platform – and answering a consumer desire for richer experiences that not only create wonderful memories but also give back to the community and those in need. For every experience sold, a portion of the sale (up to 80 per cent) goes directly to a nominated charity. So customers can enjoy the greatest experiences while we support the greater good.
An important point to note is that a luminary doesn’t have to be a ‘superstar’ – they might be a specialist in their field, a local expert, a noteworthy personality, a brand or a charity. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of luminaries over the years, and I too am considered a luminary in the business world. In fact, I am thrilled to be hosting a range of premium experiences, with the proceeds going to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance a cause that our family has been closely associated with for many years. My experiences will fund a valuable preventative public health campaign to educate about the link between Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and children born with cerebral palsy.
Like many entrepreneurial endeavours, the original idea for IfOnly was born from a dual sense of purpose: provide consumers with amazing experiences while raising money for worthy causes—the greatest experiences for the greater good. IfOnly was started by a successful US entrepreneur, Trevor Traina, who formed the idea of IfOnly in 2012 with the mission to tap into his network of the world’s biggest superstars in order to generate a ripple effect of impact for those in need. The idea was to motivate luminaries to offer money-can’t-buy experiences to customers, with the philanthropic spin of giving back to aligned charities. Since then, the company has been at the forefront of the Experience Economy—expanding their experience offerings to range from unique local experiences to “once-in-a-lifetime” dream experiences, with over 4,000 experiences globally. (And we know from our own research into the experience economy that the Australian appetite for experiences actually outranks that in the US, coming in at 83 searches per person in 2017/2018, versus 61 in the states).
Most people know the story of the RedBalloon launch and that it took me two months and four days to make the first sale. I am pleased to say that on our first day going live with IfOnly we had made our first sale – and quite poetically it was a Doughnut Decorating Class with Morgan Hipworth, who I met on the set of Shark Tank a little while ago when he pitched his little doughnut business that now has a cult following in Melbourne. I look forward to sharing more of these stories, as well as the impact we’re having on charities across the country, through the incredible experiences on IfOnly.
Naomi Simson, entrepreneur, co-founded The Big Red Group in 2017 which includes brands such as RedBalloon, Adrenaline, IfOnly and Redii.com. She has been blogging for a decade at NaomiSimson.com, is a professional speaker, author of Live What You Love & Ready To Soar, and a “Shark” on business reality show Shark Tank Australia. Naomi works on a number of philanthropic and educational boards.
Also published on Medium.