We recently announced a giveaway. This is a pretty significant kind of giveaway — $100,000 — that will all go to one of our customers.

We expected to be able to get broad awareness from a combination of earned and paid for media. Earned for the philanthropic component and the big number, paid for re-engaging and reenforcing our existing relationships.

Our strategy was to pace out the split. First three weeks (1 week leading into and 2 weeks after launch) would be focused on earned and then we would kick in the paid – a combination of SEM and radio in all our markets.

We are 9 days into the earned media as I write this and the biggest lesson we’ve learned to the moment is: Earned media hates the words “contest” and “giveaway”.

This seems obvious as I write it down but it goes to show you how using the wrong word or two can have an impact.

We have always been a company that focuses on the small and medium sized businesses that are being hammered by big box retailers like Amazon. Allowing them to out-compete them with faster same-day, local delivery. We firmly believe that the diversity brought by independent retailers and merchants is what makes our communities and cities unique. We all don’t want to shop at Buy ‘N Large, wear the same clothes and eat the same things. Homogeny in retail is bad for us, bad for the environment and bad for the economy.

We also firmly believe that entrepreneurship is the kindling that stokes the economic fire in our cities and our country. The problem with kindling, while essential, it is the first thing that burns.

I’m explaining this because the $100,000 we were handing over to one of our customers was meant to give them a leg up, to elevate the pressure, the make life a little easier for them to focus on building their business with some breathing room. A luxury most don’t have.

This is also a quarterly initiative. A version of this will happen on repeat every 3 months.

That’s the back story. The reason we are doing this. But then we added “giveaway” and “contest” to the end of the sentence. No one wants to support a contest or help promote a self-serving giveaway.

This is why you, as a founder, need to scrutinize every single word, every single number and be unapologetic about doing so. Slow down. Get the position right. Think from other peoples’ angles. Don’t stop asking questions.

At least we realized this early on in our journey with this program (<– WAY better than “contest”) and have made adjustments in our language and our positioning. Lesson learned.