IYFA - Finalist for the Barclays Award for Building Resilient Business

Finalist for the Barclays Award for Building Resilient Business

It’s hard to get noticed these days. But small businesses need to be seen and heard if they want to survive, especially when the town centre is in decline. In Your Face Advertising (IYFA) decided to do something about it.

Rather than heading to the outlets in their local community, people are either shopping online or in out-of-town specialist centres, dominated by the larger companies. And effective advertising can often be out of reach for smaller businesses. “SMEs’ choices are far more limited,” says Arthur Chirkinian, CEO of IYFA. “Not only can they not afford the budget needed to advertise, they frequently lack the know-how and marketing expertise that will allow them to develop an effective campaign for their business.”

Larger companies, on the other hand, have the clout – in the form of a healthier budget and more resources – to develop complex campaigns across different media channels. Giving SMEs an opportunity to compete with larger and established organisations is good for the high street and local business community at large. After all, a resilient community is a stronger community.

Resilience will ultimately benefit the community with stronger and safer businesses. But with the demands of running a business, resilience often ends up as a low priority for many companies.

- Arthur Chirkinian,
CEO, IYFA

Getting it right for others

Thinking ‘outside the box’ IYFA is an advertising agency with a twist as it owns the media as well – and this comes in the form of eco-friendly eBins and eBags. The eBins are 100 per cent biodegradable practical storage solution, while the eBag is a 100 per cent decomposable carrier bin for shopping.

IYFA owns and manages the entire supply chain of the advertising process – from designing the ads on its own bins and bags, to developing an online presence for companies where they may have none and the clever usage of QR codes, something that brings its own technological challenges.

“We are pushing the existing usage of these codes to a new level and therefore, we are creating a new demand for them,” says Chirkinian. “For example, we are enabling social media sharing functionality via the QR codes; a consumer can view our client’s promotion via the QR code and share it across different social media with one click.”

SMEs can purchase advertising according to their budget, and the bins and bags are strategically placed in areas of high footfall within the community.

“It’s a complete, 360 degree circle of cross promoting businesses and raising awareness about resilience at the heart of local communities,” Chirkinian says.

Resilience will ultimately benefit the community with stronger and safer businesses. But with the demands of running a business, resilience often ends up as a low priority for many companies.

Advertising raises awareness 

And the organisation is using this advertising method to raise awareness of programmes such as the Business in the Community and Barclays B:Resilient – an initiative to help small businesses overcome disruptions – encouraging businesses to consider resilience as a commercial priority and “change the perception that resilience is a cost rather than an investment that helps companies stay in business longer,” says Chirkinian.

So far, the company has reached around 3,500 small businesses through its support of B:Resilient events and outreach to local businesses in West London. In the local area, it is working with 12 businesses, with the aim of rolling it out to other town centre communities.

Mindful of its carbon footprint, IYFA’s products are either produced entirely from post-consumer waste, or from the natural fibres of the hardy and fast growing Maritime Pine. This is an actively renewed source, and is unbleached to reduce the environmental impact of processing.

The approach is also positive for employee engagement. One staff member said they “have never before worked for an organisation that placed so much resource on getting it right for others, rather than just for itself” and that “If more organisations were this focused on doing good in the world, then we would live in a much happier place”.