Interview: How can social media help market a small business?

What is myteabox.mu?

myteabox.mu is a monthly subscription box containing 3 different flavoured teas that have been blended by hand. Our boxes also contain little goodies and a tea related gift which varies from one month to the next. Our aim is to provide our customers with a sense of anticipation in awaiting their monthly box to arrive in the mail, and excitement and suspense in not knowing exactly what blends or goodies they will find when opening their box.

Why and how did you decide to get into this new venture?

Myteabox.mu has been a long time coming. It took a while to get here, but it was certainly worth the wait. After a three-year stint in the corporate world, I (Arshad) decided to try my hand at entrepreneurship and created (with lots of help from Zaïra) an online store selling novelty gift items.

Unfortunately, this first venture didn’t quite pan out as we’d hoped for and the business had to grind to a halt. This was followed by a three-year hiatus during which I tried dabbling in other small businesses, all of which failed to gain any traction. Eventually, after thinking long and hard about what I was truly passionate about, and how I could use my passion to bring something new to the Mauritian market, I had the idea for myteabox.mu.

I (Zaïra) thought this idea to be brilliant and pushed for us to really get it launched this year. It took a few months of working on tea blends – a lot of trial and error (and horrible tea tasting!) – before we agreed that our product and brand were ready to meet the Mauritian market. As to why I decided to take the plunge? I have been working for corporate companies, start-ups, and done freelancing for the last 7 years, always passionate about Digital Marketing; however, I have always had the ambition of creating something for myself. Having the opportunity to do it with my husband is really the cherry on top.

Why did you choose this specific product?

We have both always been avid tea lovers and enjoy tasting teas that are out of the ordinary. We’ve tasted different flavoured teas from all over the world, and after doing a bit of research, we realised there was a gap in the Mauritian market for flavoured teas that were ‘out of the box’, so to speak.

We chose to create a tea subscription box because our mission is to deliver a product which is greater than the sum of its parts and provides our customers with not only a few flavoured teas, but an entirely new tea-drinking experience.

Was it a natural choice to go towards social media for its launching and marketing?

Absolutely! We knew all too well that social media has become the most powerful marketing tool out there, especially in Mauritius. If used correctly, it has the power to create, enhance and maintain a positive brand image. Social media offers a direct line of communication between ourselves and our clients at the push of a button.

How did you decide which platforms would be best for you?

We wanted to utilise platforms that would connect us directly to our target market and allow us to engage with our customers on a friendly and personal level.

For these reasons we primarily use Instagram and – to a lesser degree – Facebook. We feel that these are the two best platforms to use in meeting our goal of building a brand that our target market wants to be associated with.

As a newly launched business, how has social media been helping you so far?

Social media is the go-to marketing tool for all businesses, big or small, and it suffices to say that without it, our business would most likely have never even launched.

Our social media pages – Instagram in particular – have allowed us to engage directly with our target market by means of aesthetically appealing content. Through social media we’ve slowly, but surely, been able to identify our ideal customers more clearly and deliver exceptional service.

How did you decide on your pricing model in order to aim for long term sustainability?

We chose to go down the subscription route as we felt that this would be the best means of ensuring that our business could grow sustainably. A subscription based business model allows us to remain solvent due to positive cash flows.

We see the subscription based business model as a win-win situation, i.e. our clients win by saving substantial amounts of money, while in return our business wins by retaining clients in the long run.

Small business owners most of the time have to single-handedly manage every aspect of their marketing, any tips to excel at it?

Personally speaking, we try to market our products in a way that matches our business goals. We have intentionally chosen not to invest heavily into paid marketing campaigns, but to rather grow our business slowly and organically in the initial stages.

We’d advise small business owners to not simply create content for content’s sake, but rather think carefully about the people you wish to engage with, and how your content engages with them.

We also firmly believe it is better to have a small group of loyal supporters than a large following who do not show any loyalty to your brand. Remember, if your customers love your product and the service that you provide, they will become your brand ambassadors without even having to be asked.

If you had an advice for small business owners what would it be?

We all fail from time to time. It’s part of being human. Don’t let your failures hold you down, but rather learn from your failures, pick yourself up and keep moving forwards. If you have the right mindset, anything is possible.

About the team

We are a husband and wife team (Arshad & Zaïra) who co-founded the business together. We’re just a couple of people doing something we love and trying to connect with like-minded individuals through a product we’re passionate about.

Arshad has a background in Environmental Sciences and Sustainability, but has always been keen on the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. He enjoys the nitty-gritty aspects of business and is in charge of all of myteabox.mu’s administrative tasks.

Zaïra is experienced in the world of Digital Marketing and has a great knack for creating exciting content. She handles all aspects of the company’s social media. She also actively engages in customer service and client acquisition using a human touch through her communication skills.

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