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

Why your company need to be online, regardless of your views of the internet

In this section we are going to spend quite a lot of time looking at web, social media, email marketing etc., but you might argue that your business doesn’t need to be online.  You don’t need to be on Facebook or have a website.  But remember – it’s not about you, it’s about your customers.  You might not be a fan of social media or use the internet much yourself, but I assure you that your customers do and they expect your business to be online.  If you’re not, what are you hiding?  Are you even a legitimate company?  Do I trust you enough to spend money with you if you don’t even have a website?  When you first encounter a company and you want to know more about them, what do you do?  You Google them.  And if you have no online platforms then you cannot control what someone finds when they do.  As technology evolves this doesn’t always mean having your own website, and it’s accepted that many people now run a business online through other collective platforms such as Amazon or Etsy; but the last thing you want someone to find when they Google your company is empty air and a Google review from three years ago from someone you are fairly sure was never even a customer giving you one star.  I am still a big fan of offline marketing methods, or rather joint-up marketing that uses both, but online is where your customers spend a huge majority of their time, so it needs to be where you are too.

Digital marketing can also be far more targeted than traditional marketing methods.  Historically, marketing was a broadcast; you shouted a message as loud as possible to as many people as possible and hoped that a proportion would be potential clients.  How often have you turned on the TV or radio and there’s been an advert that has absolutely no relevance to you?  You’re male and it’s a product aimed at females.  You’re 28 years old and the advert is for life insurance for the over 60s.  You’re vegan and the advert is for dairy milk.  Marketing used to be just a numbers game, but one with a lot of wastage.  The only way to reach more clients was to shout louder.  Now, with digital or online marketing, you can choose to target just the people who are likely to have an interest in your product or service and have a longer, more involved, conversation with them.  On Facebook I can pay hundreds of pounds to show my adverts just to people who ‘have an interest in veganism’, rather than paying thousands of pounds for advertising where I know only a small percent are the people I want to talk to.  Even better, I can pay just tens of pounds to get in front of vegans who live within 20 miles of my place of business, whereas in the past I would have had to take out a radio or local TV advert that covered my whole region.

And this narrowing in targeting means narrowing in budget also.  It is possible to run successful paid digital campaigns for less than £100 if you know your customer, get your targeting right and the value proposition you present is one you know they will connect with.  But in an ideal world, your online digital marketing and offline traditional marketing will go hand-in-hand.  If a potential customer comes to your stall at a local vegan fair then you need to get them to sign up to your email list to receive monthly special offers.  Or you might say “I can only fit a small selection of our products on the stand here today, but pop your email address into this iPad and you’ll get a link to my website to see my full range”.  You’ll be surprised at how many people will say yes.

That’s why we’re looking at the different ways you can market to your customers after spending time getting your customer research and message right first.  These are only ever channels to your customers.  Your product, your messages and your offer all have to be right in order for any of them to result in sales.  In my long experience, if you are struggling to sell then it’s not the channels you are using which are wrong, it’s your value proposition, your targeting or your product which needs working on.  Getting the right channel just amplifies that success.

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