Section 1: Understanding your customer and the market
Section 2: Your vegan marketing toolbox
Section 3: Creating and carrying out your marketing plan

You are not your customer

When you started your business your first thoughts were probably about yourself.  The chance at a more flexible lifestyle, the products you are going to sell, the chance to align your passion with a way to make a living.  Although you are one of the most important people in your business, you are not THE most important.  The most important people are the kind people who are going to give you their money.

You might call them customers, clients, donators, sponsors or funders, but if you do not understand the people who are going to put money into your business (and what will make them part with their hard-earned cash) then any success you have will be down to sheer luck.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are your customer.  Just because you are vegan yourself, you cannot base any marketing plan on yourself, how you think and what you buy.  You need to become an expert on your customers, you need to know them, their problems and their pain points as if they were your closest friends and family.  Just because you are vegan yourself, this does not mean that you understand the marketplace for vegan products.  You go on holiday twice a year, but does that mean you understand the travel market well enough to launch a travel agency?  Of course not.  You go to the hairdresser every few weeks, but does that mean you’re an expert in all the different styles and practices of hairstyling?  You might know how to play a single song on the piano, but that doesn’t mean you’d get far as being a piano teacher.  You cannot base your knowledge of vegan customers and the vegan marketplace on a sample of one – i.e. you.

You are not your customer.  I cannot overstate that enough, because it’s where a lot of new vegan business owners make their first and biggest mistake.  You assume that your customers will want exactly what you want.  You might think that your customers are at the same point in their vegan journey as you are.  You might assume that because your customers follow a vegan diet that they will also avoid palm oil, because that’s what you do.  You might assume that because you are vegan for the animals, that your customers are also and will engage with your ethics-lead message.  However, unless you have already talked to and surveyed your customers (or potential customers) in detail, unless you have researched the wider marketplace beyond your personal experiences, assume that you know nothing right now.

Some of the most successful businesses I know started out in one direction, but found their eventual success in a completely different one as they got better at understanding the market and their customers. So, if you want to better understand how to market to vegan customers, you first need to understand the market itself.

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