British Airways has been quite innovative in creating promotions to reach small business owners. They have sponsored several contests offering free international travel to small business owners. It is their version of an economic stimulus package.
British Airways encourages small business owners to think BIG. Mannequin Madness was the winner of one of the contests and as a result, we are thinking big and will have a satellite office in London next year.
When I first heard about the BA contest, I must admit I thought it was atypical for British Airways to support the small business owner. I always associated British Airways as the airline of choice for heads of state and heads of global corporations. Richard Branson’s Virgin Airways was the airline for risk-taking entrepreneurs and rock and rollers. But I was wrong – bloody wrong!
British Airways is doing much more than Virgin Airways (or any airline carrier for that matter) to support the small business owner. In October 2009, British Airways offered 3,000 (yes 3,000 business owners) the chance to fly to London to attend a BA sponsored business conference. That alone is fantastic but in addition you received an open ticket to fly to any other destination that BA flies. In many cases the business owner could bring a companion!
To be eligible for the contest you had to write an essay about how a face to face meeting with a potential partner, investor or customer could help you grow your business. The underlying message of the contest was in this era of Skype, email, Facebook, webcasting, webinars , et al– these tools still cannot replace the value of a face to face meeting.
We could not agree more that a face to face meeting can enhance your business. And we wrote a winning essay, which not only got us a free flight to Europe but a chance to meet our new business partner – Roz Mita of Mannakin Ltd in England.
Roz had emailed us after seeing Mannequin Madness featured on CNN. She was curious about our success in recycling mannequins for global retailers. She had been quite successful with her mannequin rental business (called hire over there) especially in the fashion industry, but she wanted to branch out to mannequin recycling. We wanted to get more fashion industry business for our New York office that we opened last year.
Roz and I started brainstorming on ways we could do some joint marketing but it was difficult talking about this via Skype and email. Those tools are better when you are maintaining a relationship versus starting a new one. Now that BA gave us an opportunity to meet Roz face to face and spend time with her and observe her operation we discussed all kinds of joint marketing efforts that we will start in 2010.
Mannequin Madness/Mannakin Ltd offers a one stop resource for global retailers for mannequin rentals, repairs and recycling.
Despite how dreadful this year was for us economically, we see light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you British Airways!