Bay Area Vegan Biz Owners Mixer – July 10

This coming Saturday is an SF Bay Area Vegan Business Owners mixer!

When: Saturday, July 10, 2010 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Where: Nature’s Express, Berkeley (map)

Meet and get to know other dynamic local vegan entrepreneurs…  All you have to do is show up!

Nature’s Express’s many tasty vegan offerings will be available, too.

See you there!

San Francisco Declares Mondays as “Vegetarian Day”

This past Tuesday, April 6, nearby San Francisco has declared Mondays to be “Vegetarian Day.”  A full news article is available here.

Way to go San Francisco!  It’s fantastic that awareness continues to expand all the time.  Every little bit makes a difference.

Can Marketing Really Be Sexy?

Okay, I up and did something a little crazy.

In a fit of blatant and unrestrained vanity, I entered the Sexiest Vegetarian 2010 competition!

SOOooo…  Do you think I’m sexy?  :)

Whether you do or not, please go here and vote for me: (It takes just a moment.)

Anyways, I’m not vain enough to actually believe I have a shot at winning…  But hey, I had to try it.  :)

(The contest is put on by PETA.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of PETA.  Their heart’s in the right place, but I’m not into the militant, in-your-face tactics.  It seemed like a fun little contest though.)

Once you’ve finished voting for me (thank you!), think about the gem of a marketing lesson behind this.

Did you notice how they asked for your email address — with an option to subscribe to their email newsletter — when you voted?  If you enter as a contestant, they also ask for your mailing address.  Both of these give PETA additional reach to disseminate their message.

This process gets them gobs of new subscribers.  And of course, a list of subscribers is essential for the all-important relationship and trust building it takes to turn prospects into purchasers.

(You DO keep a list of subscribers/prospects for your business, right?)

In PETA’s case they’re probably not looking for purchasers, but the principle is the same.

Why does this work?  Observe what just happened.  I signed up as a contestant, and then immediately proceeded to ask everyone I know (and some people I don’t know!) to vote for me.  Believe me, that’s what every contestant is doing.  And so the contestants are doing all the leg work to bring awareness to the competition, and in turn, to PETA.

What’s more, what type of people are the friends of the vegetarian/vegan contestants likely to be?  That’s right!  More vegetarians and vegans — or at least tolerant or leaning toward the idea — just exactly the kind of folks PETA is looking for.  In other words, friends of your prospects also make good prospects.  Tamarinds fall not far from the tree, after all.

Plus, this type of event is something the media can make a newsworthy story out of.  The competition is sure to bring PETA a healthy shot of PR in the coming months and beyond.

Winners become mini spokespeople for PETA.  Even while enjoying the trip to Hawaii, winners are bound to make chit-chat on the plane or in passing about how they’re traveling because of this PETA contest.

This is their fifth time holding the competition, so it must be working for them.

Your take-away:

How can YOU use a contest or competition to involve people, increase awareness & exposure of your own business, and build your prospect list?

One bonus tip.  A tactical item you can take to the bank.  Did you notice how I registered the domain just for this event?  If I’m talking to someone in person or over the phone, which one is easier to ask them to visit (and stands a better chance of actually being visited):




In print or on the web, the short domain name on its own carries more authority and will get more visits.  And I spent less than $8 on it.  The most important web page(s) for your business may deserve such a tactical domain name.

Now…  soon I will be joining the ranks of the winners, thanks to your help, right??

Share your voting love here.

"I'm dead sexy..."

"I'm dead sexy..."

I believe in miracles…
Where’re you from, you sexy thang
(Sexy thang you)
I believe in miracles…
Since you came along, you sexy thang
…  …

"I'm dead sexy..."

The 5 Steps That Turn Dream Into Reality

How did you like the special PDF article “Action River” that I gave you?

(Haven’t seen it?  Just enter your email into the box on the right, and I’ll get a copy right to you!)

Was it useful or inspiring to you?

What are your thoughts about success?  What’s your story?

Leave a comment below and share with me!

How NOT To Treat Your Customers – Lessons From a 7-11

Last week I visited a local 7-11 to purchase a refill card for my cell phone (I use a pay-as-you-go plan).  In order to get the best deal, I always buy the $100 denomination cards.  I had only a credit card with me, and no cash.

With credit card in hand, I took the refill card to the counter, where the store’s proprietor was at the cash register.

Tersely he said, “Cash?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash with me.  Do you not take credit card?”  I could see the little electronic credit card terminal right in front of me.

“Debit card?”

Me: “Uh, sorry, I only have a credit card.”

“Fine, slide your card…”

Now, I understand why he balked at the credit card.  Credit cards impose a percentage fee, probable around 2% (worth $2.00 in this case) for him.  Debit cards have a fee which is less expensive.  And of course cash is best.

So by my using credit card, he would earn $2.00 less profit on this transaction.

Previously I’ve used a credit card to buy phone refills at places like Target without so much as a bat of an eyelash.

That was my first visit to his 7-11, and it will be my last. Why?  His reaction left me feeling hesitant to go through that experience again, when a much easier and friendly experience is available elsewhere.

He gained nothing.  In the end, I still paid with credit card, and he missed out on $2.  Worse still, he lost a potential repeat customer (the 7-11 is conveniently located along my daily route).  On subsequent trips, maybe I’d have cash.  Or maybe I’d also buy other items in the store (with higher profit margins) while there to get a phone card.

In this light, it was very shortsighted to be so concerned about a single transaction — especially since this was my “first impression” with his business.  Conventional wisdom says that existing customers are 7-10 TIMES more valuable than new customers because someone who’s bought from you before is far more likely to buy from you (again).

It’s all about your customer’s experience.

If your customers have a good experience with you, they’ll happily come back for more.

If your customers have a GREAT experience with you, that they can’t get anywhere else, they’ll become raving fans and tell all their friends.

Think about your business from your customer’s perspective.  What can you do to give them a great experience?  What can you offer your customers that’s uniquely you?

P.S. Bonus points if you can figure out how I knew the man at the register was the proprietor.  :)

SF Vegan Drinks Night!

SF Vegan Drinks

This Thursday January 28, 6pm to 8pm, is SF Vegan Drinks night!

Could be a good networking opportunity for fellow vegan entrepreneurs.

Hope to see you there!

(If you’re planning on going please drop a comment here so we’ll know to look for each other.)

UPDATE 1/29/2010: This was really fun!  I had a great time and met a bunch of interesting folks: Shannon of Cinnaholic fame, Bob Linden from Go Vegan Radio, Brian Grupe from Vegan Outreach, and Sarah from Colorado.  :)

SF Vegan Bake Sale Benefit for Haiti

Vegan Bake Sale Benefit for HaitiThis Saturday there was a vegan bake sale in San Francisco to benefit Haiti.  Since it had been raining, it was held indoors at the Mercury Cafe at Octavia & Page Streets.  There was a steady stream of people, which kept the cafe full and bustling.

There was a veritable cornucopia of pastries, cookies, pies, rolls, breads, and more.  I won’t tell you how many treats I bought in the two trips I made to the counter, since it was embarrassingly many.  But it was definitely for a good cause.  Kudos to the organizers for their generous support of Haiti in the aftermath of its recent tragedy.

I had gone hoping to meet up with Cinnaholic’s Shannon Michelle-Radke, but it turns out we missed each other by mere moments!  (I did snag one of her s’mores rolls and pizza rolls on the way out, though.)

A veritably vast variety of very voracious vegan vittles.

A veritably vast variety of very voracious vegan vittles.

Without resorting to "one of each," my son and I choose our indulgence.

Without resorting to "one of each," my son and I choose our indulgence.

New Vegan Business Needs YOU

Bountiful Vegan is a new vegan business in the San Francisco Bay area.

They make the vegan “Intention Cookies” and are starting to see business pick up as area stores like Whole Foods begin to stock their cookies.  (Read their story here.)

Co-founder Mary Wilmer (and fellow SF Bay Area Vegan Business Owners group member) says:

Business is growing steadily and has already reached the point where we need help. Currently, we do all the baking, packaging, labeling, deliveries, sales, and in-store demos. We can handle everything well, except the in-store demos, which are absolutely vital to the success of our cookie business. We need 3 or 4 people to do the in-store demos for us — but for a short period of time they’ll have to be unpaid volunteer positions. We’re estimating that within just one or two months we will be able to make these paid positions. Our current store accounts are in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. Store demos generally run from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. We’d love to get started as soon as possible because we’re already at the point where we can’t handle all our stores, as well as do all the other things we need to do.

So what do you say?  This business is in its infancy and could use a little vegan community support to carry it forward.

Please note, these are unpaid volunteer positions until the business gets on its feet and can make these paid positions.

(Could be the perfect opportunity to see how things work “from the inside” if you think you might ever want to start a vegan business of your own.  Like an internship.)

Are you outgoing and enjoy working with the public?  Do you have a few hours to spare to lend a hand?

If you’re interested in learning more, please leave a comment on this blog post with your contact information.

(Don’t worry, your comment won’t be visible to the public.)

Let’s wish Mary and Terry all the best of success with their vegan business!

Nature’s Express Berkeley grand opening a phenomenal success!

, ,

Today was the grand opening of Nature’s Express new Berkeley location.

I went expecting there to be a handful of people — but instead was greeted by a line that extended outside the restaurant and down the sidewalk! The place was JAM PACKED. The spectacle generated a tangible buzz amongst the passers-by. (See photos below!)

There were so many people I was in line for about an hour before I could place an order. But it was well worth the wait! I had a “classic burger” and it was delicious.

I drove all the way from San Rafael, and despite the distance, I will definitely be back. There are few restaurants I can eat at and feel 100% confident about the vegan-ness of the food. On top of it, I get to feel good that I’m supporting something I believe in and voting with my dollars.

Nature’s express is 100% plant-based “fast food” — though it’s not what you might think of as fast food. There’s an appetizingly large variety of options, and includes items like fruit smoothies.

While there I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Carl Myers, the founder, as well as general manager (and fellow SF Bay Area Vegan Business Owners group member) Molly Patrick, green event planner Karine Brighten, and (vegan) photographer Cathryn Lovecraft.

Congratulations to Nature’s Express on such a phenomenally successful opening!

Nature’s Express
1823 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707

Monday – Saturday 6 am to 9 pm
Sunday 8 am to 8 pm

If you’re in the area, definitely stop by and support this fantastic vegan business!

Nature's Express Berkeley Grand Opening - Line Extends Down the Sidewalk

There were about 30-40 people in line when I got there, and the line continued to grow. (I'm all the way on the right talking to vegan photographer Cathryn Lovecraft.)

Nature's Express Berkeley Grand Opening - Inside is Jam Packed

Nature's Express founder Dr. Carl Myers gives a brief speech to an enthusiastic (and hungry!) crowd.

Why Vegan Business Owner?

Although still a minority, we vegans are a passionate bunch who know that our choices represent a win-win-win situation: The individual vegan wins, animals win, and the world as a whole wins.

In supporting veganism, there are two basic paths to choose from. The first is trying to increase the number of vegans. The second is supporting those who are already vegan.

The first path involves the long and difficult uphill task of changing people’s awareness and thinking. This is what organizations such as PETA try to do. I’ve found that, for whatever reasons,  most people just aren’t ready yet to be so conscious and open-minded.

It doesn’t make sense to try to "convert" people to veganism, any more than it makes sense to convert people to a particular religion. And in-your-face dogma typically backfires.

People are willing to give it a try only when they believe they have come to their own conclusions and feel that the time is right for them — and not a moment before.

Making factual and non-fanatical information available for non-vegans to educate themselves about the merits of a vegetable-based diet is an important part of this.

There are many intelligent and dedicated individuals and organizations pursuing this first path.

I have chosen the second path for myself. I want to help vegan entrepreneurs and businesses succeed.

Why is it so important to me that you succeed?

It’s about making a difference, and beneficially touching as many lives as possible.

There are limits to what I as an isolated individual can accomplish. So to maximize the positive value I can add to the world, I aim to leverage myself through supporting vegan entrepreneurs and vegan business owners. This is the perfect intersection among my passion, experience, and abilities.

When you, the vegan business owner, prosper, you’re in a position to make your optimal positive impact on the world. When that happens, everybody wins.

Entrepreneurs are the life blood of society. Vegan businesses add value to the lives of vegans everywhere. By helping vegan business owners, I indirectly support the vegan society as a whole and help vegans thrive.

At least, that’s my humble goal.  :-)


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