Starting your own business is a huge undertaking and it’s often difficult to get traction with so many things to do at once!
In this guide we’re going to give you real actionable steps to getting the digital side of your business sorted for you new venture so you can be assured you’re setting off on the right foot.
What does your vegan business offer?
The first step to marketing your vegan business is understanding what your business offers. What kind of products and services does your vegan business offer? What problems do you solve for your potential customers, that they will pay you money in exchange for?
Take a look at your product and ask yourself if you can explain it in just a single sentence. Is it clear what you’re selling or do you require a convoluted explanation just to show it off? If it’s far too complicated to understand then it’s not going to get people interested. Regardless if it’s a service or an actual product, it needs to be very obvious what you’re offering so that your audience can relate to it and have their interest piqued.
Who is your ideal customer?
The next thing to consider is the ideal customer profile that you’re looking to do business with. Who is your audience and how will they use your products and services? Are you a vegan nutritionist that will help people with their vegan diets, or are you aiming to promote veganism with your products instead? Is your ideal customer someone that already understands the benefits of going vegan, or are you planning to educate them about it? What about the age group of your ideal customer? What about the communities they hang out in?
Understanding your customer is a huge deal which is why it’s important to start with an ideal customer profile. You can tweak it as much as you like in the future, but the goal is to get a rough idea of the type of person that you want to be offering your products and services to right from the start.
How do you plan to reach your customers?
One of the trickiest considerations for a vegan start-up is how they plan to reach their customers. Where does your audience hang out? If they’re predominantly on Facebook, there’s no point in starting up an Instagram account and posting there.
Once you’ve identified where they are, you can next work out what kind of content do they like. Research your competitors and see what kinds of content they’re publishing.
Publishing highly valuable, and relatable material on your website is great for SEO longterm, and a great resource to send paid traffic to in the short term. Just make sure you’re offering the opportunity for the visitors to sign up to your email list – more on that later.
Using social platforms is one of the most straightforward and accessible ways for a new vegan business to reach a wider audience, but there are also paid options such as advertising campaigns and even a focus on search engine optimisation so that your site appears on the front page of Google search results. You can also make use of influencers who are essentially figureheads in different communities that could recommend your products and services. With so many options to reach your customers, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of each one to maximise your visibility.
DIY or Hire a Professional?
Hiring a graphics designer? Looking for a social media manager? Focusing on your logo and website first? There are many ways to approach your branding and it’s vital that you seek the right people to help you establish a solid brand. Even then, branding is a lot more involved nowadays than just having pretty graphics or a working website. It’s all about how you conduct yourself in public and the message you stand for.
You can use fiverr.com, logojoy.com or upwork.com to get design artefacts created relatively cheaply. Just make sure you get the Photoshop or Illustrator files for later use if you decide to hire a dedicated designer to make any changes.
On the topic of looking professional, we highly recommend using a dedicated email address. No GMAIL or HOTMAIL emails addresses. Sure they perform the same function, but it suggests you’re not taking the business seriously.
You can always hook your personal GMAIL account to send and receive emails from your business domain, so you get the benefit of the convenience, whilst maintaining a professional and reputable appearance.
Don’t Be A Social Butterfly
Social media is the go-to platform for most businesses now thanks to the immense reach that is available to you and the use of influencers who can improve your visibility on those platforms. However, spreading your resources too thinly can be detrimental to your business, hence why it’s important to focus on one or two that suit your business instead of trying to grow on all of them. We recommend Instagram if you prefer to focus on the visual elements of your products or Facebook for an all-purpose social media platform.
Don’t create 5 social profiles and get caught up in trying to populate each and every one with content….it’s impossible. Pick one (or two) and do them well.
Make sure you publish content on your website, and share it on social media. We’ve seen far too many people create awesome content on FB, but not link back to their websites. This is costing them traffic. If you can get people to your website, you can offer them the opportunity to provide their email address (usually in exchange for an eBook or other free item).
How will you capture leads?
Leads are essentially prospects who have shown interest in the products and services that your vegan start-up is offering. This often happens when they sign up for your website newsletter when they register for your services or even when they contact you. The way you capture leads will have a huge impact on your potential customer base and when utilised correctly, could have a drastic effect on your business’s growth.
Call To Actions carefully placed on your website to capture email addresses will be a key element of your strategy. Mailchimp offer FREE accounts up to 2000 email addresses, so it’s a great way to get started.
One of our clients hasn’t published new content in over a year, but their lead magnet (a Vegan Recipe eBook) gets two to three signups per day.
Stay Front of Mind
Email marketing is one of the best ways to make use of the leads that you’ve captured. As long as it’s not invasive or annoying, email marketing is a great way to constantly stay in the minds of your intended audience so that you can remind them of your existing products, let them know about new developments in your business and also offer them discounts. As long as you monitor how often you send emails, it won’t be ignored as spam.
We recommend working off one list, and segmenting that list into sections. Having people on more than one list counts towards your overall limit, and it’s easier to send one Newsletter to segments, than having to create two newsletters.
If you don’t have time to create 4 blog posts per month, find and curate other influencers content in your target niche and send that to your audience. You’ll get the kudos for sending them useful and interesting content.
Who will write your content?
Copywriting is another concern that all vegan business owners need to think about. The idea is that the more content you have on your website or blog, the more likely it can be found on search engines and you’ll essentially be more visible, allowing more people to stumble upon your products and services.
Copywriting for a vegan start-up should ideally be handled by someone that understands the vegan lifestyle so that they can create content which resonates with your brand.
If you can dedicate enough time to write one article per month yourself that’s a great start. Hey why not dedicate a weekend to write the whole year’s posts and schedule them each month?
We recommend writing about topics your audience (remember we created an ideal customer persona earlier?) will find valuable. What are the top 10 questions you get asked about your business? There’s 10 blog posts!
Don’t Worry (Just Yet) About SEO – It’s a Long-Term Strategy
SEO is important, but don’t get hung up about it. We’ve seen incredible rankings for websites that haven’t paid any attention to SEO. They’ve not spent thousands of dollars on SEO consultants. What they have done is focus on creating valuable, engaging content that their audience loves, and shares.
If you are focussed on ranking for keyword phrases, make a list of phrases you think your customers might be entering in to Google. Then for each phrase make sure you have content on your website that contains that keyword phrase.
In the early days, you can always direct your marketing budget to paid ads such as Google Ads or Facebook. This will ensure you’re getting in front of your target audience immediately without waiting for SEO rankings to kick in.
Launch Your Website Before It’s 100% Perfect
The sooner your website is launched, so long as it has all right elements, the better for the search engines to see you’re up and running and they can start indexing your content. Your website will never be finished. There will always be new content to publish, keywords to focus on, changing market conditions you’ll need to react to.
You’re better off getting your website launched and indexed and work on it as an ongoing project. We’ve seen a number of clients taking close to 12 months to launch their websites because they wanted it to be 100% perfect. That’s 11 months they could have been getting indexed in Google, 11 months of missing out on collecting emails, 11 months missing out on potential sales. It’s just not worth it.
They Said What About You?
It’s difficult to showcase your work and provide testimonials of happy clients, when you’re just starting your vegan business. But for each happy client you need to ask for their testimonial. A simple email containing a link to your Google Listing so they can leave a review for you will be invaluable later down the track.
These testimonials can be used to great effect on your website to provide credibility by others that you can indeed provide the service or product you claim to. And Google will use these reviews in their ranking algorithms too.
Protect Your Assets
We’ve often been asked to rebuild websites that had people had lost access to. Whether it be the hosting company had been compromised and lost all files, or the owner had simply not renewed the domain registration and the website disappeared.
Make sure you backup all your digital assets. Files, images, copy can all be stored for free on Dropbox. Your website should be backed up and that backup stored offsite separately to the hosting of the website.
Then in case of emergency you have everything you need to get back up and running should the worst happen. It’s also a good idea, if you’re doing these backups yourself that you prove you can restore from a backup, before you need to.
Monitor, Analyse & Improve
Lastly, we also need to think about the technical side of growing your business, mainly utilising different tools to help you judge how well your advertising is going. This often involves tools such as Google Analytics which, while seemingly confusing at first, can offer you a huge wealth of information that will provide actionable statistics to grow your audience and your business.
Over time, you’ll uncover what really resonates with your audience. You’ll see some blog posts are more popular than others. This allows you to drill down and provide similar posts providing even more value.
Also make sure you also install a Facebook pixel so you can track your visitors and potentially re-market to them easily. After all these are warm leads who’ve already visited your website.
If you’re ready to start marketing your vegan business check out our 5 Steps to Marketing Your Vegan Business blog post.