Other than having a passion for ONO Tea, we are also creating a community where our friends/clients are learning fun and innovative ways to incorporate tea into their lives. To achieve a loyal customer base, we have found that networking is a huge part of our success. Whether it is by word of mouth locally or our online community such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, we have made great friendships and connections. On a business level, networking is crucial because it allows you to personally connect with customers and business partners without using advertisements or resumes. Here are a few good tips on how to diversify your networking:
- Have networks with every lifestyle and community.
- Do not restrict yourself to networks exclusively for people from similar backgrounds or in a similar line of business.
- Widen your network as much as possible.
People just don’t want to be sold, they want to believe in what they are buying and what it stands for, as consumers today are more concerned with real world opinions of a product. With that said, it is important to make sure that our brand is “touchable” and not intimidating. Word of mouth is and always will be the best form of advertising. With the viral type nature that social networking brings, it has become an important asset to any company.
We would love to connect with all our friends and clients on a personal level. If it was up to us, we would talk with each and every customer that had an interest in our company. As it is nearly impossible to talk with everyone personally, the best way is to address this is in a common location such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
We use Facebook and MySpace to show our customers that we are real people and that we use our own products everyday. Twitter is a new medium that we are exploring and we have only recently been posting updates to our websites. Our blog teaches our customers about how they can use teas for methods other than drinking. Ultimately they all work together to help market our brand.
Remember, networking has a lot of moving pieces. You must approach people, be approachable, follow up and keep your word. It takes time to make contacts, but once you've made them, they are invaluable.
As one of the co-founders of a locally owned tea company, ONO Tea, I’ve often been asked how I came up with the niche of targeting teas by lifestyle. My answer has always been the same: “It’s all about your perspective,” which has become both my mantra for business and life in general over the past year. For being such a young company (one year and counting) and owner, I have learned a lot about the techniques to penetrate a saturated market.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was the little amount of start-up capital to invest into the company. However, our change in perspective led us to a more cost-effective route and also created a very strong niche of our own.
Many companies have found their niche along the way, as we did, by falling into their own “demand pocket.” Our brand evolved from teas strictly targeted towards Yoga enthusiasts to teas targeted towards whatever your lifestyle may be. This was a direction that was not planned, but came to fruition after our teas were popular amongst a smaller yoga crowd in the Detroit area. Today we have ten tea collections, including teas for Athletes, Tots (children), Beauties, and even Real Men!
Initially when CEO Phuong Le and I started the idea of opening a tea company, we looked at other business models and almost followed a “standard path.” However, we quickly realized that this cookie-cutter approach would have made us just like every other tea company and that we needed to play off of our personalities.
Innovation was the key, and by using our knowledge of technology, online media and social networking, we were able to spread the word faster. It’s the whole viral nature of social media that attracts consumers to our products initially. We wanted our friends in our social channels to become a part of our journey and success story. This is why we will be showcasing all interested customers on our website, which is due to launch in the next few weeks.
Whatever it may be in business, fighting the economic recession or coming across a personal roadblock, it is all a matter of finding the right perspective on the situation at hand. There is always another way of looking at things and almost always another way to approach things.