Going to Market? Go to Charleston and Greenville first.

July 26, 2023

A gut feeling. A fortune teller. A magic 8 ball. If only there was a way to know if your business will succeed? Having worked with startups and rapid growth companies in different countries, I know there’s no sure-fire way to know. 

But there are ways to put your concept to the test, learning and iterating to give your fledgling idea the best chance of success. 

The soft-launch city 

Nothing removes those rose-tinted founder glasses like the general public. 

Focus groups have a role to play, but nothing gives you the same honest, unfiltered insight as a soft launch. Will real people spend their real hard-earned dollars on your idea? 

Choosing one city and creating a test location or pop-up service is a great way to do this. But it has to be the right place. 

All roads lead to Charleston and Greenville

Here in South Carolina, it’s a tale of two cities. Charleston is very much the test bed of choice for food concepts, fast-casual dining and fast-moving products. Greenville is quickly becoming a test bed for new tech. But why?

Charleston’s big pull factor

Not just on Conde Nast’s Best Small City in the US list for 11 of the past 12 years and full of character and charm. It has a strong mix of people and preferences – the young, the more refined, wealth, people starting out and lots of visitors. 

Attracting more than 7 million tourists each year, the fact that Charleston is a tourist destination makes it the perfect test bed. One city, global reach. Mass appeal insight with single-city investment – win win. 

Greenville a new hotspot

Often running slightly under the radar, Greenville, SC is fastly becoming a tech and app hub, with investment from South Carolina, Next Innovation Greenville, Startup GVL, as well as other privately funded initiatives. The city offers a growing hotspot of people, an influx of young talent and a network of great funding, investors and mentors. 

With perhaps a little less bureaucracy and red tape than its other city counterparts, Greenville has a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-stuck-in mentality, which is why more and more startups are setting up shop here. 

Usually though, when you try out a business concept in one city, there’s no guarantee that its success or failure would hold true in others – you’ve only tested it with one audience. For Charleston and Greenville, even though you’re only in one place, you’re testing the reaction of people from across the US and the world. 

Survival of the fittest 

Charleston’s popularity and surging footfall make it fiercely competitive. And that’s a good thing. Greenville’s entrepreneurial scene and do or die mentality, means it’s survival of the fittest. 

If you want to be sure you’ve got a strong concept, test it against the best. Test it in the most crowded marketplace and figure out how to make it not just survive, but stand out. 

The kudos

Succeeding in Charleston and Greenville carries with it more than just proof you can tough it out, it’s a seal of approval. If the Charleston crowd loves you, you can use that halo effect in your strategy. 

Greenville offers a great launch pad. Use it to regionally test your technology and springboard to Charlotte, Charleston, Atlanta, Savannah. That halo can then drive demand as you enter new cities and markets. Brands that can capitalize on their success with messaging around “coming straight from” can convert a win from one city into multi-city success.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Indaco for dinner, or it could be O-ku. Did you know they’ve come to Greenville straight from Charleston? 

If we can help your brand get off the ground then get in touch dani@wearebodhiandco.com 

Author Headshot

Dani Wilkinson

Dani has a passion for making brands sparkle. From Dyson vacuum cleaners to Pies, she built brands from the ground up and has a strong perspective from both high-level, to actual practicalities and how to get something done.

The Emperor’s New Threads

July 24, 2023

We often think of “technology” and “new” as the same thing. And much of the time they are. Tech pushes progress, redefines what we can do — it even creates new worlds. 

It’s an expectation we’re so used to that we often don’t stop to really look under the bonnet and see if the newest, shiniest thing is the step forward it promises to be. 

This is especially true when it comes to social media. A little quiet since Snapchat capitalized on a bored and frightened world in need of a distraction during the pandemic, the launch of a new platform Threads has made waves the world over. 

Taking just five days to reach a huge 100 million users, Mark Zuckerberg’s latest Insta-Frankenstein seems set to deliver the final knockout blow to a Twitter stumbling beneath the Musk ego. 

The speed of adoption alone marks it out as the new must-have. But a closer look at the platform means these might not be the new threads that Mark Zuckerberg, Emperor of Social Media, would have us believe. 

In fact, Threads isn’t really new at all. Anyone logging into the text-focused platform for the first time expecting “new” stands to be disappointed. 

Threads feels so familiar in fact, that Twitter’s lawyers immediately hit out at Meta in a letter accusing Meta of poaching Twitter employees and threatening legal action

In terms of user experience, the two apps share a lot of features. There’s no new concept, no different way of adding value and connecting in an increasingly screen-sensitive, social-media-sceptical world. Put simply, it’s Facebook’s take on Twitter. 

More than a missed opportunity for progress in the virtual-social space, Threads’ all-too familiar owners mean it could even be seen as a step back. 

From your physical health to your financial health data, your GPS location to your device’s camera, Threads continues the access-all-areas approach to personal data that’s already seen Meta handed a $1.3 billion fine less than two months ago.

Using the same privacy policy and business model as Meta, Threads’ approach to personal data means its EU launch has been put on hold as the app is likely to breach soon-to-be-launched privacy regulations. 

Threads isn’t really “new”. It’s an all-too familiar app and experience, that reminds us not to forget some of the key challenges and debates in tech. 

Meta moved too slowly with Threads. With the advent of AI, the innovation cycle is no longer years or months — it’s days. 

The Meta team made one of the most common product development errors. They decided on their idea, then put their heads down. While they created what they thought the market wanted, the market changed. Expectations changed. The result? Threads falls short. 

Threads is new-ish — it’s an iteration, built on familiar and increasingly cracked foundations. 

What we’re seeing with the record number of sign-ups is real appetite for something new in the virtual social space — that and the power of FOMO. 

After the initial excitement, the Threads experience isn’t likely to meet that demand for something really new. Something that offers real progress, that creates difference and value for users. Now that platform will be worth joining. 

Author Headshot

Dani Wilkinson

Dani has a passion for making brands sparkle. From Dyson vacuum cleaners to Pies, she built brands from the ground up and has a strong perspective from both high-level, to actual practicalities and how to get something done.

Summer: Here for a limited time only

July 12, 2023

Summer in Carolinas: the season of beach trips, lake days, All-Star baseball games, and… limited time offers. Seasonality has and always will play a key role in marketing. 

From summer specials to Christmas and holiday exclusives, seasonal campaigns and products show you’re paying attention to what’s going on in the world around you. They can be a powerful tool. But they have to be done right. 

Why brands like them 

From the iconic McRib right through to luxury Hermes x Apple watch collabs, brands in all sectors and at all price points play around with limited time offers (LTOs). Both as Marketing Director for British restaurant chain Pieminster and now as the Founder of Bodhi & Co, I’ve used LTOs as a tool to boost demand. Why? They work. The combination of relevance and scarcity can deliver a surge in interest and demand. FOMO can be a powerful revenue generator. For smaller brands, they’re an opportunity to buddy up with big names, reaching and delighting a new audience. 

Why consumers like them 

From a consumer perspective, variety really is the spice of life. Whether it’s re-engaging with a brand you already know or finding a new company through a seasonal campaign, LTOs give us that shiny new feeling that us human magpies can’t ignore. 

Repeated LTOs also become a calendar feature. Just think of the Starbucks red cup. There’s a whole group of customers who countdown to its return. They feel like the holiday season only starts once there’s a hot peppermint mocha in a red cup in their hands (and they’ve posted it to Instagram, of course #StarbucksRedCup).

Thinking lean for LTOs

Done right, the scarcity factor of LTOs makes you instantly relevant, reigniting interest from existing customers and attracting new ones. But overcomplicating and overproducing for a temporary product line can result in huge waste, both in materials, operational complexity and time. Instead, see LTOs as a lean way to test a new menu item. Plan well, and keep things simple, producing small quantities to test the water and minimize waste. 

The customer is always right 

The golden rule for LTOs? Listen. Reacting and responding to your customers is even more important with an LTO. If it gets a negative reception or – even worse – stony silence, be prepared to pivot or pull the plug, ready to carry learnings into next season. 

On the flip side, if it’s a runaway success, who’s to say that limited time offer can’t earn its place as a permanent product and become the next old favorite. 

Dani@wearebodhiandco.com www.wearebodhiandco.com

Author Headshot

Dani Wilkinson

Dani has a passion for making brands sparkle. From Dyson vacuum cleaners to Pies, she built brands from the ground up and has a strong perspective from both high-level, to actual practicalities and how to get something done.

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