The Art of Communication : $300,000 business revenue in 3 years without advertising.
A few years ago when my little person was around two years old I left the corporate world in the city and we moved to the seaside purchasing a business down there for my husband.
I was finding it difficult to travel to the city for consulting work with a little child at home – occasionally making use of a lovely nanny but preferring to spend my time with my little person in her most formative years. But I needed something to keep me challenged and busy in between baby naps. So I reactivated my twenty year passion of aromatherapy and herbal medicine and start up that little business again. This gave me the freedom to work from home, be creative and spend quality time with my child.
So I began the rebrand that became Harriet Herbery – a predominantly online aromatics and herb business. Despite starting this business as a side hobby in 1999, at the point of reactivation I must admit I was entering an extremely saturated market – especially with the advent of all the networking marketing companies barging their way over from Utah! I grabbed one of my pictures I had drawn a few years back of a little girl holding a heart and stylised it for my logo (below).
With my twenty years of public relations and strategic communications background, I wasn’t about to start spending a heap of money on advertising like all my competitors and traditional marketers. I had also spent the last 20 years training in aromatherapy and herbal medicine – what a great combination for community engagement, trust and momentum.
I built the business up organically by creating a user-friendly website, a Facebook page and a Facebook group. This allowed customers to add their friends and allowed me to skip the algorithms of traditional social media marketing on Facebook given the group was so highly engaged. I developed programs and workshops and gathered people together to inspire and learn about botanicals. Being a keen gardener, I was lucky to actively show customers real products and the process of creating. Teaching and empowering them to do the same.
I created a community of like-minded women who in three years across all platforms has now grown to over 10,000 people. These thousands of people are all their from word of mouth and referrals – meaning they are engaged. There is no point in having 100,000 who are not.
Harriet Herbery‘s branding is strong – a sage archetype that offers organic products from bespoke distillers allowing customers to support local and small rather than the commercial and overpriced companies competing in the space.
Over the last three years I have created this business through strong community engagement – bringing in other experts in their fields to ensure true collaboration. Robust conversations have been had. The brand is not afraid to advocate for justice and supports sustainable causes and charities. Training has been delivered through paid workshops and free speaking opportunities. People are empowered. It has become so much more than just an online retail shop. It is a community.
If you look at advice about starting an online retail store you will generally get something around the lines of 1) start a website 2) open social media accounts 3) spend a tonne of money through Google Ads or Facebook (or other).
There are so many other exciting ways to use strategic communications and PR without having to rely on advertising.
Every day I see other business owners wondering why they aren’t getting sales or otherwise a return on investment with their current methods – yet their tactics are extremely limited or unsuited to their business. Be creative. Broaden your outlook.
Over the course of the next few blog posts I will outline some of the strategies I undertook to meet my objectives in Harriet Herbery. I will teach you the basics of community engagement and PR as well as outlining some further case studies across a broad range of organisations and projects I have work on. If you would like to learn more – get in touch and we can have a free introductory chat about taking your business to the next level through strategic communications and marketing.