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040 - How to get your business out there (by actually getting yourself out there!)

Increasing your visibility by getting out from behind your computer. One morning, the owner of vegan greetings card company Avocardo got up, made a sandwich board from some old cardboard boxes advertising the company, put it on and headed out to talk to complete strangers about his business. It was so successful at getting him new customers that he ended up on the local news.

We get asked a lot about how a vegan business can generate more visibility. How do you actually get your company out there? Well, sometimes the best way to get yourself out there is to do literally that! In this episode we look at the different ways you can get your company noticed by moving away from both your computer keyboard and your comfort zone. We are also joined by Louis Sandford, founder of Avocardo, to find out what impact the sandwich board stunt had on his business.

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Full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to episode forty of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast with myself David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe.  And if you have a vegan business, or are thinking of starting one, then Vegan Business Tribe is here to support and inspire you not just to build a vegan business, but to build a SUCCESSFUL vegan business.
And if you have a vegan business and you only listen to this podcast every week, then you are missing out on 90% of everything that goes on at Vegan Business Tribe, including getting to know everyone else in our amazing community of vegan business owners.  Full membership to Vegan Business Tribe is only £12.99 a month, and although our members regularly tell us they would pay a lot more, we’ve purposely kept it this low to make it as accessible to as many vegan businesses as possible – even if you haven’t fully launched your business yet.  And signing up to Vegan Business Tribe as a member does two things:  first, it means we can keep producing this podcast every week, and keep putting out all our content and doing everything we can to champion the vegan business scene – we could not do that without the support of our wonderful members and patrons and we are always grateful to our amazing membership.  Second, it also it gives you access to the full Vegan Business Tribe community.  So that means you can join our networking meet-ups on Zoom to meet the other members, you can book onto our weekly business clinics if you need some help with your business, you can attend all our online events, be part of our group on Slack if you want to share about your business or chat with the other members – and ALSO get full access to our 24-module online course on how to promote your vegan business.  And let me tell you, if you are looking to get better at marketing your vegan business then you won’t find a full vegan business marketing course like this anywhere else.
And as a welcome when you join Vegan Business Tribe, we also invite you for a free 1-2-1 with Lisa and myself to talk about your business, or even just your business idea, so that we can really get to know you and see how we can support you.  And all this is, as I said, is just £12.99 a month, which is the equivalent of buying a coffee a week from your local coffee shop.
Now, today we’ve got an episode of two halves.  You might have noticed that I don’t usually have guests on this podcast – partially because there are a lot of people already doing really good interview podcasts in the vegan business world, and I would especially recommend looking up Katrina Fox’s ‘Vegan Business Talk’ and Jim Moore’s ‘Bloody Vegans Podcast’ as two that I listen to a lot if that’s what you are looking for.  But when we launched this podcast I wanted to focus on actually teaching you something new each week and it also gives me a place to answer some of the questions we get asked a lot.  However, every now and again someone does something that I really want to share with you and I think you might learn a lot from.  So in a short while I’m going to share just a short 15-minute chat I had with Louis Sandford who is the founder of vegan greetings card company Avocardo.  Now, although Avocardo is an amazing vegan company, all their cards are made from recycled materials, they use vegan inks and laminates and they also plant a tree for every card ordered (they are basically a more ethical version of online card companies like Moon Pig) but I wanted to bring you this chat with Louis because a few weeks ago he did something that most business owners would never do.  He woke up one morning, made a sandwich board out of some old cardboard boxes (so a sandwich board is a sign that you wear, it has a board on the front and a board on the back attached by two straps and you can put it on and walk about wearing it) and he then headed out onto the street to – well – talk to complete strangers about his business.
And the thought of doing something like this might absolutely terrify you, you think that you could never be confident enough to do something like that – but let me tell you two important points.  First, as you will hear in the interview, Louis is as mild-mannered as you can get.  He’s no extravert and, yes, it terrified him too – at first.  And second, from just a couple of hours walking around talking to people he picked up 12 new customers.  Yes, twelve new customers for just a bit of time, a bit of cardboard and a bit of worry that people might think you’re an idiot.  How many customers has your marketing picked up so far today?  And that’s the really important point – we get asked A LOT at Vegan Business Tribe how do you get your company out there.  It’s probably in the top 5 questions that our VBT members want to ask when we have a 1-2-1 with them.  But sometimes, the best way to get yourself out there is to, actually, get yourself out there.  Too often we try to build a business from behind a keyboard.  We put all our time into our inboxes or on social media and then struggle to actually get any visibility. 
And Louis isn’t the first person to do something like this to promote their business, in fact I mention in the interview (and I’m really showing my age here) when I started out in marketing, we didn’t have social media so we had to come up with things like this all the time to get people to see our business.  We have, genuinely, got a bit lazy with our marketing. If we can’t do it from our computers we don’t even think about it.
But you might have also seen that recently, the vegan charity Viva! have been touring the UK giving away free vegan burgers from their burger van and recording people’s reactions and sharing them all over social.  Meatless Farm did similar stunts, with big ‘beefy’ male models handing out their burgers at the ‘Meaty March’ event in London, only telling them they were vegan burgers afterwards.  And these kinds of stunts actually cost you very little to do except your time and mustering up a bit of confidence to do them.
If you have worked through our vegan marketing course on the website you will know that in one of the very first sections I set you the task to come up with what’s remarkable about your business.  What is it about your business that people HAVE to talk about, something so amazing about your business that people HAVE to share it and tell others about it.  The story that the local news will call you up about or the thing a podcast will want to interview you about.  And if you are struggling to find something truly remarkable about your business, then you can create something remarkable – you can do something that people will share and shout about.  Perhaps you make vegan trainers for example, yes you could talk about how great the trainers are – but that’s just what everyone else says about their trainers too.  Yes you could say they are vegan, but in this day and age where you can pretty much buy a vegan anything now, no one is going to be falling over themselves to write about that.  But how about you make the announcement that you will deliver the 100th order on foot – you will run or walk from your warehouse to the house of whoever places the one-hundredth order to hand-deliver their brand new trainers, even if the journey takes a week.  And not only that, you’re going to raise money for your local animal shelter on the way.  Imagine the marketing buzz you could create around that.  The run-up to the 100th order hoping that the person doesn’t live in the Scottish Highlands.  People living in far-out remote areas ordering your trainers and trying to be the 100th order and give you a mammoth trip to make.  And then the journey of your delivery odyssey being shared on social media and picked up by the local media.
And this is what happens when you take yourself out of your comfort zone, think outside the box and do something out of the ordinary to promote your business.  It’s what happened to Louis: the photos of him wearing his sandwich board went viral on social media and ended up being seen by his local BBC News team, who interviewed him about the stunt and his company.  The photo got over 10,000 views on LinkedIn, it got 10 times more interaction on Instagram than any other post he’s done trying to promote his business. Why?  Because he took a leap.  He decided that just running another social advert or doing another pay per click campaign wasn’t going to cut it, he was actually going to do something to get noticed.  He was literally going to get himself out there.
So, let’s go over to my interview with Louis from Avocardo – and if you want to watch the video version of this then just head over to the Vegan Business Tribe website because we recorded the interview on Zoom so you can also watch it in our latest content section there as well as see the photos of Louis wearing his board.  And after we finish this interview, don’t turn off because I’m going to set you a little challenge.  Whilst you’re listening to me chat with Louis, I want you to be asking yourself what YOU could be doing to get your business out there and actually get noticed like Louis did.
(Live recording of interview with Louis Sandford, founder of Avocardo)
So, I loved listening back to that chat, and if you want to find out more about Luois’ company take a look at (and that’s spelt AVOCARDO) and like I said – Louis isn’t some overly-confident attention-seeking guy.  He’s not someone you would imagine running out into the street with a sandwich board on and talking to strangers, but like he said – the first time he did this he got 12 new customers, and he was tracking them by giving out a special discount code so he knew how many people he had talked to went on to place an order.  When was the last time you spent a couple of hours on your marketing and it generated 12 new customers?
Now I said before that interview that I was going to set you a challenge, and it is this:  What are you now going to do to actually get yourself out there?  In the real world?  Forget just running a Facebook advert, what can you do that will get people talking about your business?  What can you do which will get the local news calling you to cover your story?  What can you do which will generate a photo that will get 10 thousand views on LinkedIn?  And what can you do that’s going to push you a little bit out of your comfort zone?  PR stunts work, and in this age of social media they are more effective than ever.  And it doesn’t have to be you making a fool out of yourself, although that’s one way to do it!  Look at how Greggs launched the Vegan Sausage Roll here in the UK as if it was a new iPhone launch – what did you do to launch YOUR last product?  Look at how brands challenge people like Gordon Ramsay and Piers Morgan (or even the Pope) to go vegan – even though they know they never will, but knowing it will generate publicity when the celebrity turns them down.  Look at how craft beer manufacturer Brew Dog bring out limited-release beers to troll big news stories, such as their ‘Barnard Castle Eye Test’ beer after a UK political advisor said he drove to local beauty spot Barnard Castle during coronavirus lock-down to “test his eyesight”…
So, now it’s over to you.  What are you going to do to properly, really, get yourself out there?
And that is it for this episode, I hope it’s given you some inspiration, and before you go I would really love to see you over on the Vegan Business Tribe website too, either to support what we’re doing and keeping letting us put out this podcast every week, and your support really does make a huge difference to helping us skill-up the vegan business scene, or so that we can support you with all the extra access and services you get as a member. Like I said, it’s just £12.99 a month to be a full member of Vegan Business Tribe.  You can find out more at and hopefully, we can find out more about you at the same time.
Thank you for giving us your time to listen.  Lisa and I, we really appreciate it every time, and I will see you on the next one!

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