Last time I closed with “It matters”. So what has mattered for me a lot during the last…wow, 3 years, is a small business me and my business partner and best friend Paul have set up: bee me yogurt (beeme.co.uk).
Our small corner shop on the famous Portobello Road in London, UK is known to serve the best frozen yogurt that side of the Atlantic (I don’t want to enter this discussion with my American friends, but the stuff here really is too icy for me).
From our little nucleus in Notting Hill we would now like to grow our business. After spending 21 months (yep – we non-tech-entrepreneurs really don’t benefit from the tech craze) and some hard thinking, we are now beginning to provide all cafes, gyms and office spaces we can find with our natural frozen yogurt solution. We provide you with equipment, product, toppings and ancillaries.
So far, so good. I realize I’m a bit whiny complaining about the internet stealing our investors, so I better look at what opportunities does the web offer for our small business? There are probably a lot which we have not explored.
Now, as an entrepreneur in retail always something happens: your employees bring in a life-size Christmas tree into your 90 sq ft store or the yogurt machine breaks just as the hottest day of the year approaches and lines form out the door. In short, you’re busy. We tried to create a bit of an online presence with yogurt-dripping from our elbows, but the result is not really satisfactory:
– A website that requires urgent improvement: beeme.co.uk
– A twitter account that only recently came alive: @beemetime
– A facebook page that also still needs to find the right interaction with our friends: facebook.com/beemetime
Up until today we have many a social media agency and web designer pitch to us and convince us that they would bring us returns in them that far outstrip our investment in them. While I really feel that we should urgently do something, I think it is more key to first understand ourselves what we ought to do. My awesome course on media, politics and power in the digital age at the Kennedy School gives me now the opportunity to do exactly that: write an online strategy for bee me.
As I begin to think about how to do this, I want to address the following points:
1. Define Goals & Objectives
What do we want to achieve with online? After all, you cannot download and install yogurt. Also it will be hard to ship it to you – even with expedited shipping. Broadly I think we want our website to be an information hub for the end customer (i.e. hopefully soon you) but also give our clients (i.e. the outlets that serve our product) a central information hub and – at a later stage – a marketplace to order our products online. All this will have to flow from our business strategy, of course. Hard enough.
2. Identify your Target Audience
As I think about what I learned about the “long tail” and how companies successfully use the internet, it’s become clear to me that we’ll have to be very specific about whom we will talk to. This will also not be quite as easy because how do I differentiate the end consumer from our clients and make sure to reach out to both? In a way, the latter is easier, as café owners and other retail managers are a relatively focused community which we have belonged to for the last 2+ years. How to narrow down the former will be more critical.
3. Analyse the Competition
We know these guys and I won’t list them here – none of the frozen yogurt companies ultimately pursues the same business model as we do, but it’s always wise to look out and see what they are doing.
4. Define our specific steps
This is a bit early to predict what we’ll do here, but I think it is safe to say that a website overhaul needs to happen. Flowing from that, we need to be very clear about how we communicate with whom on both facebook and twitter. I expect much insight from defining our target audience.
Paul always jokes that for me every slide or document needs to have either 3 or 5 points. Yes I am weird like that, but also I think it’ll be important to conclude this and make sure the train of thought makes sense.