I thought I’d share a few nuggets I’ve learned along the way of building my local dumplings business. Every week we hit our expanding capacity of sales. We literally have to end our week early in accepting sales because we’re hitting capacity. So we push the excess for the following week.
(1) We are super active on IG Stories:
We share our wins, our progress of our dumpling production (how many we made that day, what goes into the fillings, teaching them a little bit about what goes into our products). We often share what changes we are thinking of doing and make polls around it. We think this includes our audience and fans with the decision-making of the business, which makes them want to stay with us long-term.
(2) We repost all our customer feedback
If it’s a mention we get, or it’s a few words of encouragement or positive feedback, we share it on our stories + highlight them to our profile. I even add these on our homepage on our website. Social proof is huge. Sometimes, we include the feedback screenshots inside a carousel post on our feed with the cover picture being our dumplings, then the feedback on the slides after.
(3) We reply to all DMs quickly and fully
I thought this would be simple, but we take the time to reply to each interaction with a bit more than just emojis. We appreciate all the feedback and try to open the conversation more with our customers to hear what it is about us that makes them so interested, and we try to cater our future content around that since that is already something remarkable in us. (super meta, but it works and it builds on top of existing relationships).
We have built numerous repeat customer relationships this way. They are becoming genuine friends and we take their poll answers at a heavier weight than others. We even try to discuss our future changes with them because they are so close to us and we have a strong bond together. These are our true fans that we cherish above anything else.
(4) We comment on local places, hashtags, and engagers from other local pages
In the beginning it was only our direct friends, but as we started to expand to the public, we started to do the Gary Vee thing of leaving our $0.02 on people’s posts in our local area. Slowly these comments came back to us in terms of likes, and comments about the pictures of our food, and then they became customers. This was probably our best time for money as we were initiating relationships with people local to us who were either just local, or shared a common interest.
We only comment if there is something I can relate to ~ if it’s just a selfie and I dont think I can comment with anything, i just skip to the next one. If they happen to share something about food, i comment on their skills or how great their dish looks. Super simple.
We found out later on, that a lot of our repeat customers came through this way through genuine commenting and interest from our end.
(5) We share about WHO is behind the business
It’s common to see page on Insta with just pictures of products but without any info about the founders or who’s running it… We share a LOT about us. We want our personality to shine and for people to know is behind our business. It makes it oh so much easier to connect with people. People love faces (and great pics of our food). When we post these kinds of content, we usually don’t use hashtags as we only want that content to go to our followers. These posts often open the door to more discussions in our stories and people can relate to us even more.
People told us they loved our story of how we started and how we’ve kept it up and they feel like they know us. It’s really touching when customers come to pick stuff up and they know our names already and interact as if we we’re best friends. I wish all of you can experience that to some degree.
(6) The lurkers…
With doing all of the above, we received sales which came from people who have never interacted with us. Yet, they follow us. I suspect a % of people who will NEVER interact until they see the right things from you and then buy. This is why we think you must share a lot of various appeals on your feed. In the beginning, it was tough to know if our stuff was working, but over time, people told us they appreciated how transparent we were and they trust us even more because of it. I think this plays as a huge factor in sales as we want to be seen as doing the right things (because thats what we ultimately are doing to the best of our abilities) and we want people to see that.
(7) Great pictures
I’m sure this goes without saying… we take the time to take as many delicious-looking pictures as we can. Every week we aim to do a photoshoot to get a load of great quality pictures for our feed and our website. We watched a few webinar trainings on food photography and even watched some tutorials on youtube. There is nothing you can’t learn about it… it’s quite awesome to see the fruit of your labour shine through like sharing your pics on IG and getting people to salivate over your food… and getting sales from it… and then hearing how the picture-deliciousness matched the actual flavours (or even excelled it!)
I hope this helps some of you. We are still learning stuff in the trenches and I’m sure I have still a lot to learn.
Remember this though: reading all of this might be great, but implementing and taking action is where the true lessons hide.