Five ways to attract and nurture the right community around your conscious business – Episode 131

How do you make sure you nurture the right community around your conscious brand?

When you start a conscious business of any sort, you might expect that everybody else who believes in the same cause will support you no matter what. Yeeeaaah, that’s not gonna happen! Haha Everybody has their own way of thinking, own set of ethos, opinions. So not everyone will agree with the way you run your brand.

The sooner you let go of the notion that everyone from your movement will have your back, the better for you. You’ll be protected from the great disappointed of having unrealistic expectations.

Instead, focus on the people who truly do want to support you!

And then put your complete efforts there. That’s how your community, the right community for you, will grow. And guess what? These might even include people who may not even believe in your core cause.

When a strong, loving community surrounds you, they come through for you all the time! In this episode I share…

  • Why it’s important for every conscious brand to build and grow a community
  • Real life example of the incredible way in which a strong community had supported my business in the past
  • How Namu Recommends has been harnessing the power of community to make their vegan markets wildly successful
  • Understanding the right kind of people to reach out to and make a part of your conscious community
  • Five ways in which you can nurture your own brand’s community

If you’d prefer to 🎧 listen to this episode, go here. Or continue reading...

Hello, hello, hello, welcome back to the Feel Good Factor. I’m Susmitha Veganosaurus, and I’m so glad you could join me here today!

If you’re in Bangalore this weekend, you have to come visit the Namu Recommends Vegan Market. It’s happening on the 16th and 17th of December 2023. But even if you miss this weekend, the market happens maybe three, four times a year.

So, you know, if you’re listening to this episode much later, just check for when the next market is and go attend. It’s so much fun!

And oh, this is not some sponsored post or anything like that. I’m telling you this because I truly love the market. The energy, the vibe, the people, everything about it is so delightful. You’ll get to meet a variety of people from various backgrounds, and age groups. And then all these different vendors.

The Namu Recommends Market is completely Vegan, so all the stuff being sold at the event is vegan

You’ll be mind blown at the number of possibilities available! Some of the vendors are fully vegan, some of them are not. But even those that aren’t have either introduced vegan products just to sell at the market, or into their menus or shops.

There’s a lot to discover. And even if you aren’t shopping at the market, it’s great to come and check it out because so many people have some yummy samples for you to try. Just with those samples, you kind of get filled up. So it’s totally, totally worth checking out.

I’m going to be there on Sunday. If you’re listening to this and you visit, then if you see me come say hi! I love meeting podcast listeners in person and hearing about you, getting to know you. So just come say hi. If you heard about the market on this episode, then come and tell me about it, okay? *smiles*

Now on today’s episode…

I wanted to focus on how to build the right kind of community around your business

Having a community is one of the most effective, powerful moves you can make. It’s totally worth putting your efforts towards that when you run any kind of a conscious business.

Build a community of people who love your products and services, and who’ll go out and spread the about it. Word of mouth helps you grow organically. This is the most important thing to work on in your business.

Yes, when you do marketing on Instagram or other social media, you may get some spikes in sales for a short while. But then, you know what happens on social media. People are either looking for new things all the time, so they always want novelty. Or that audience may be the kind who’re looking for some sales or discounts. So they only buy from you when you have offers.

Social media marketing is a good way to get you your brand name out in front of a wider audience, but that’s about it

Your true efforts are so much better spent on building your community. Build the community around your business, because that is what’s going to create a strong foundation. A foundation of supporters that’ll help you in the long run. Especially, you’ll see this make a difference in times of difficulty.

I used to run a vegan restaurant for several years. In early 2020 things shook up all around the world, and we were struggling. We called out to our community to support us in some way. You know, just spread the word, order from us, support us in whichever way.

When we asked our community for help, oh how much of a difference it made! They really supported us. And these were the people who truly liked what we were serving, what we were offering – our products, our energy, the kind of people we were, the team.

These people truly wanted to support us, from their hearts, and they did

Then in 2021, we shut down the restaurant. I mean, we could last that whole year, 2020-2021, when several other businesses had closed down. We could still come through all that time only because of our community’s incredible support.

But in early 2021 we had to shut down the physical restaurant (and we did it just in time before things got a lot more scary here in India). A few months after we shut it down, our Chef requested if he could take over the brand himself and run it. So we just gave it to him.

He’d put in as much effort and love as us, and a lot of his life, into building that brand with us

So when he said he’d like to take over the brand name and run it as a cloud kitchen, we were happy. We said, “Okay, go ahead!” Because we also wanted to see our baby thrive.

We weren’t open to selling the brand to somebody else who may or may not take good care of it, but we knew that he would do a very good job. So we didn’t want to sell it, instead we just gave it to him. We said, “Here, take it. You run it.”

In July of 2021 he put out a call to action that said he’d like to raise funds to restart this pioneering vegan brand in a different form, in a form of a cloud kitchen instead of a restaurant. So when he put that fundraiser appeal out there, wow! The support was again incredible.

People from all over the place were sending in funds. They really wanted the brand to come back. And this was not the novelty crowd or some strangers. These were people who were the community, the community of the brand itself. People who’d been with us through all those years, supporting us, bringing their friends, family, putting a word about us out there. These are the people who truly loved the brand for what it was.

It was kind of amazing to see the support that came from this community that we’d nurtured with so much love through several years!

How do you make sure you have the right community around you? Supporting you?

When you start a conscious brand of any sort, you might expect that everybody else who believes in the same cause is going to come and support you no matter what. But that’s not going to happen.

You see, we’re all humans. Everybody has their own way of thinking, own set of ethos, opinions. Everyone may not agree with the way you run your brand.

So everyone will not come and support you. The sooner you let go of that expectation, the better for you because you’re going to be protected from feeling disappointed and having expectations that just won’t pay off.

Instead, you focus on the people who truly do want to support you and you put your complete efforts there. Then that community, the right community, will grow. And these will be people who might not even believe in your core cause, whatever movement you want to support. They may just like you for who you are, your brand for what it is, that’s it.

So here are five things to do to ensure that you’re nurturing the right community, the right fit community around your brand.

1. Identify your own core messaging

What is it you truly believe in? What cause is it that you want to support? And once you identify this core messaging…all the other stuff around it? You decide which you want to include, which you don’t want to include.

For example, I was telling you about the Namu Recommends Vegan Market earlier. Namu who started this market, what she did was look at her strengths, her connections. She’s well connected outside of the vegan circles – high-end vendors, people who like gourmet stuff, who like spending money on things which bring them that kind of a value. So she just completely focused on them.

Now, there were people in the vegan community who thought this market was positioned towards only a higher end audience. The brands featured were selling things at a higher price than other normally available brands out there. You know, the affordability part of things, they were concerned about that.

But none of that mattered because even though there were critics of the market, there were also plenty others who wanted to support the market.

Identifying the core cause helped Namu stick to it

The whole point of making these markets happen was to ensure veganism becomes more mainstream, more people become aware of it, more brands who’re outside of the community of vegan brands introduce vegan options and food and all kinds of products and stuff. She just focused on that and the market succeeded. It has continued to succeed. This will be the 10th edition of the market.

So that’s the first thing. Identify what your code value is, what it is you want to do with this brand, and do it your way. Figure out which way you want to do it. Do bother all the other opinions because people will all have different kinds of opinions. Figure out your goal and you move towards that. That’s the very first thing.

Two Indian ladies in red printed dresses. Side hugging and smiling wide at the camera. Part of a community preview event for Namu Recommends Vegan Market
Namu Kini of Namu Recommends and me, at Shangri-La Hotel, the venue for December 2023’s Vegan Market

2. Find the right people to work with

So the vendors in this market are highly curated. They have good quality stuff. The pricing is on the higher side, but also, the quality matches it. You get what you pay for.

Namu works with a bunch of different people like bloggers and social media creators who like to promote products that they like. I’m one of them.

I’m one of the people who’ve been promoting the market from its early stages because, not only do I like the whole concept of the market and the way it’s being done, but also to support the different small brands that get a good platform through the market.

The outside world sees, “Oh my god, there are sixty-eighty vendors here. All selling only vegan stuff. How amazing is it?!” It’s really helping the movement by blowing their minds.

That’s why I’ve been supporting this market all along. And they’ve not hired me to promote it or anything official like that. I just spread the word about it.

So they’ve identified a bunch of different people who, in their own way, in their own style, tell their audience about the vegan market

And to decide who they’re working with, they didn’t go for vanity metrics. It wasn’t like, “oh somebody has a hundred thousand followers, so we’ll ask them to promote the market.” They didn’t look at that kind of stuff.

Instead, they looked at the creators themselves, the kind of messaging that they share, and how much they would truly value the market and want to promote it. These are the kinds of things they looked at and they selected the right people to work with.

This has helped the market grow a lot because people are out there genuinely spreading the word about it.

3. Make your community have a sense of belonging

Make them feel the ownership of working towards the bigger cause that they might want to support.

In the case of the market, they get goodies from different vendors, samples of products. Then they make these goody bags and send them out to people like me who want to promote the market.

This way, we feel pampered because we have all these goodies, but also, not just any random goodies but products that we would actually love. We feel good to support these small brands and get their names out there because we truly love the products that they offer, and their brand values.

When this clicks well, then there’s a long term benefit to everybody involved

For the market, people are going to keep talking about the market and telling their friends and family about it. For the vendors, their products have gone into the hands of people who truly would want to support them, keep buying from them, and then tell more friends about it. If the products are really something they like, something impressive, good quality stuff, then they’ll do that.

For the people who’re promoting the market, they get to try all these goodies each time, and they feel a sense of belonging like, “I’m going to try this, I’m going to spread the word about it”. And even though they aren’t actually the owners of the businesses or of the market itself, they get to spread the word about it and feel like they’re contributing towards the higher good. They see how it’s directly supporting the cause that they believe in.

Like in my case, it’s the vegan movement

I see that, with this market happening regularly, more and more people are becoming aware of veganism, vegan food, vegan products, the ethos of veganism, everything.

More awareness is being created, and it’s reaching the kind of crowd which has disposable income. The kind of people who are actually going to make a difference in the demands and supplies in the Indian market because of the choices they make, because of the way they spend their money. It’s reaching that kind of a crowd and I feel good I’m a part of helping this happen.

Veganism is something I so deeply believe in, and I’m able to help the movement just by getting these goodies, posting about them, telling people about it, and spreading the word. I’m actually making a difference and that feels really good!

So that sense of belonging is very, very important to nurture within your own community. And once you’ve actually reached out and connected to all these people and different parts of your community…

4. Bring them together and ensure that they stay within your ecosystem

For example, whenever I teach workshops, have classes, do coaching sessions, whatever I do, I always ask people to sign up for my mailing list. My mailing list community is the most precious to me!

My newsletter peeps get to know more than anybody else. More than the podcast listeners, more than the Instagram followers, anybody! I send out my newsletter once a month…twice a month, not even regularly, but there’s a lot that I share there which I don’t put out into the world.

And my newsletter audience, I call them The Feel Good Tribe, they’re the first to know when I launch something new, or they get special offers and things that I don’t offer anywhere else.

Very important to nurture your community this way by getting them into your ecosystem in one way or another. Otherwise, the first three things that I told you about, after putting all of that effort, you kind of lose out on a lot of potential.

Have them within your world, where you’re able to reach out to them whenever you want to

And the beauty is, with my mailing list, I know that these are people who want to listen to what I have to say, who are truly interested in what I have to say. It’s not like social media audience where they’re just randomly liking some posts, engaging with some posts, and then forgetting about it, moving on to somebody else.

That’s not the case with my Feel Good Tribe, because I know that if somebody’s making an effort to open my email and read it, it means they’re interested in what I have to say, at least to some extent.

So, having them get into your ecosystem in some way, particularly an email list, is key to ensuring that you retain them. It’s a long-term retention plan.

If you want to, join my Feel Good Tribe. You already listening to my podcast, you’ll love what I have to say on the newsletters too.

And if you have a conscious business or brand, make sure you have a newsletter where you have a very personal interaction with the people who’re subscribed.

5. Pamper the people in your community!

You don’t have to do it all the time, but make sure you fill their life with some nice surprises. Treat them special, because they are special. They’re a part of your community, your brand’s community. They support you, they spread the word about you, simply because they love you for who you are.

They deserve to be pampered once in a while so that they know that you realise how special they are. Give them something special, maybe send them extra goodies. If you have something new launching, make sure your community is the first to know about it. Ask them for inputs.

Before I offer a new service or a product, or if I’m building a new course, I often send out a survey or a questionnaire or even just a simple email to my community about it. I ask them what they would like to see as a part of it.

Talk to them, make them feel, “okay, our opinion does matter.” Because they’re your community, your ideal audience. What you’re building is for them. So, of course, what they have to think, what they have to say, what they expect, all of it matters a lot as you build your brand. So really treat them well and let them know that they’re loved.

If you want to have some kind of a loyalty point system, fine. But that’s a cold, impersonal way of doing it.

A loyalty point system is nice, but what truly matters is a little more of a personal touch, a little bit more warmth.

It’s not like, “you’re buying from me, so loyalty points add up, and then you can claim this.” That’s all well and good, but what’s more important is somebody telling you, for example, “hey, you’ve been supporting me. Thank you! I have this happening and I’d like to offer it to you as a beta tester.” Or, “I just want to send you this.”

Say you run a food business, and you try a new recipe, a new dish, you baked something. Just send them a sample and say, “hey I want you to try it, to know what you think about it.” Or simply like, “this is fantastic, and we wanted you to be the first to have it. Here.”

In my case, say someone’s taking coaching from me on a regular basis, and then I do a workshop which I feel might be useful to them, I just invite them to come join the workshop for free. I’m like, “you know what, you’ve taken all this coaching from me, you’ve been supporting me, you’ve been telling people about me, and I feel like this’ll be useful to you. And since you are an ongoing client, I’d like to offer this to you. No need to pay anything extra. Just come come and attend this workshop for free.”

You know, it’s a simple small gesture, but it makes a difference because they know I’m thinking of them. They know that I know this’ll be useful to them, that’s why I’m calling them. It’s not just some random message I’ve put out online.

So to recap, the five things to do so that you can attract, nurture and grow a community around your brand

1. Identify what your core cause is. Figure out the way you want to help that cause through your business, through your brand, and stick to it regardless of opinions. You stick to your style, and people, the right people, will come to you.

2. Without considering vanity metrics and things like that, figure out the right people who you think will truly help your brand from the heart. And build those connections with them. These are the people who’ll support you because they like what you do, because they want to support you, not because you’re paying them to do so.

So make sure to identify the right people and don’t limit this to within only a certain set of people. Like, don’t say, “I’ve got a vegan brand, so I’m going to limit myself only to the vegan community when looking for people to work with.”

Sometimes, quite often in fact, there are people outside of your community who like what you’re doing for other reasons, and they do want to support you.

3. See how you can ensure your community members feel a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership. They realise how, by supporting you, they’re not just supporting you but also a bigger cause. And make them feel good about that. Help them feel that way. That’ll keep them supporting you more and more because they know that this one small effort they put into it will to make a huge impact in the long run, and create ripples.

4. Have a way to get them all into your ecosystem. All the people you work with, your community, vendors, collaborators, customers, all of them, make sure there’s a place where they can enter your ecosystem so that you can connect with them all at one go whenever you like. These high quality relationships that you’re building, make sure you use the full potential of it by ensuring that they’re within your ecosystem at all times.

And the best way to do this is through a newsletter. Though the audience is limited on a newsletter compared to social media, it’s a much more powerful audience.

5. Finally, find creative, warm, personalised ways to pamper your audience and make them realise that you know how special they are. They deserve it. It’s just a returning of the love that they’ve shown you all along.

We all like to know that we’re appreciated. Make sure your audience knows that in a more warm and personal way, whenever you can, as much as you can.

So yeah, that’s about it for today. Like I said, sign up for my newsletter, The Feel Good Tribe. I also hope to meet you in person at the vegan market.

Take care, talk to you again next week. Bye!

I use Otter for all my transcriptions, and it’s awesome! Try it out.

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Susmitha Veganosaurus

Shorth haired Indian lady, beaming a wide smile. Flowers in the background. Vegan business coach and chef Susmitha Veganosaurus

“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.

If my content resonates with you, join my free newsletter where I share Life and Business Tips, Vegan Hacks, Holistic Guidance, and more.

Vegan cuisine and holistic business building are my two biggest passions. If you’re looking for guidance with vegan cooking, or want to grow your conscious business with joy and fulfilment explore ways we can work togetherhere.”