For a vegan business owner (ok, for any business owner), there are few things you can do that are as impactful over the long term as nurturing your community. When you do a good job of nurturing, you build a loyal following who will support you in your business as it grows.

Sounds great? But it’s not always as easy as it seems to do this well. If the balance of give and take isn’t quite right, it doesn’t work. It involves providing your community with something they find valuable, but not breaking the bank while you do that.

A successful nurturing process starts with offering people free advice, information or tools that can help them. However, key to the process (and a lasting connection) is follow up with relevant information about a service or product from your business that can support this free offering. By providing potential/existing customers/clients with something of value for free, you then have an opportunity to make sure they know about what you have to offer if they want additional help, or are ready for the next step. This approach works well because it allows you to give before you ask anyone to buy. It also allows you to showcase your experience and creates a natural progression to selling your product or service. For example, if you are providing people with a free weekly recipe, you might include a link in every email where people can sign up for your paid meal planning program.

The nurturing process can be facilitated in many ways, via blog posts, videos or email services, for example. But far and away one of my favorite tools for nurturing is webinars.

Full disclosure…I’m a webinar fanatic!

I started doing webinars in 2010 to give me a way to connect directly with others who share my passion for veganism and business startup. It wasn’t so easy back in 2010 to find fellow vegan professionals. I was attending vegfests, but at that point there wasn’t much interest in having someone talk about business. It was hard to compete with the food!

So I thought about developing my own direct channel, my own way to speak to the people who were interested. I quickly learned that I didn’t have to travel. I could connect with people all over the world from my home office, and it wasn’t long before I began to establish myself as an expert in my field. I was able not only to get people to show up for a webinar, but most of the people who attended wanted more…and this is where the business connection came in.

I started to use my webinars not only to help others, but also as a tool to educate prospects. If someone wasn’t ready to work with me one-on-one, I would recommend they join a free webinar. This helped people to relax because it gave them a way to get to know me and my services without feeling like they had to commit right then and there. And honestly, some people never buy, and that’s fine. The goal of the webinar is to help, and then to convert. If I help 50% of the people on the call and a few people buy, then it’s been a worthwhile exercise.

That’s what I love about webinars; it doesn’t have to be all about the sale. You aren’t just pushing a product or service. Instead the medium is designed to allow you to connect with people, to help them, and, if you ultimately decide to go that way, to drive revenue. Plus, you can use webinars strictly as a lead-generation tool if your sales process isn’t done online.

So, how do you get started?

First, ask your audience on social media or in your email list what topics they would like to discuss. What’s a burning challenge or obstacle they face? Then develop a webinar that teaches them how to solve it. During the last 10-to-15 minutes of your webinar, you can promote a related product or service. Remember though, you must provide value first. Don’t hold back your best stuff…anything offered for free in your webinar needs to be great value. If the free stuff isn’t great value, it’s going to be hard to convince people that the paid product is worth investing in.

Here’s an example of how to approach webinar content: if your online course deals with five topics, then teach the first item in your webinar. If it takes 10 hours to learn something, then consider offering the first hour in your webinar. If people are able to feel, touch and see what they might learn from working with you, they are likely to be more willing to move forward and invest.

Know that this concept isn’t limit to service-based businesses. If you sell vegan skin care products, think about hosting a webinar teaching people how to identify the best product for their skin type. If you sell vegan clothes, how about a webinar focusing on how to buy clothes that fit your body type? If you sell vegan protein bars, host a webinar to help people determine the best products to pack and use on race days. The possibilities are endless.

As you consider ways to successfully nurture your business community, leverage the power of the mighty webinar! This is one tool that is beautifully designed to help your non-buyers become buyers and fulfill your desire to help the world.

TAKE ACTION

Think about 3 webinar topics that would interest your clients/customers. When you’re ready, put it out to your community to see which one they would prefer. This will help you to gauge their interest in attending a free webinar, and hopefully get you pumped to make it happen!

This article is part of the Vegan Mainstream Essentials Guide, Marketing Madness. Download all the articles in this collection, here:

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