Meet the co-founders of LDN Muscle
Hi Tom and James, thank you so much for joining me. Tell me about your journey and LDN Muscle.
We started as a fitness blog in 2013, created to enable anyone and everyone to transform both how they look and feel. Since then, our business has evolved considerably, moving from training guides into supplements and even a personal trainer academy. Our aim is to show that anyone can be fit and healthy, as we are all about creating goals that are achievable and can fit around any schedule.
We also regularly get involved with helping startups to develop their social media approach. We’re ambassadors for this year’s Plusnet Pioneers, a programme which helps entrepeneurs overcome the challenges they may face in funding or marketing and to reach their full business potential.
How do you set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry?
Customer service has always been very important to us. We’ve spent years on social media, replying to every single comment and question to ensure our brand is being as helpful as it can. Every time someone tweets about how they’ve made progress with us it gets retweeted. This is one of the main things that sets us apart from other businesses in the industry, as our personal touch means we have built a large following over the years.
We’re four normal guys with jobs like everyone else, and we think this made us more memorable. We wanted to set ourselves apart from other supplement companies, and really stick with the online, real life transformation content that people could relate to.
What’s the single most important decision that you made, that contributed to your business?
Definitely investing at least 10% of our business revenue into our marketing budget and directing money towards whichever platform was delivering the greatest return on investment.
However, we suggest not splashing out on marketing from the outset as you don’t always have to spend on social media straight away to get a return. Definitely explore the free opportunities social media offers your business before investing in a paid strategy when you start to earn.
How did you fund the launch of your business and what creative strategies did you use to execute a minimal cash flow?
When we released our first product, in February 2013, we weren’t setting out to make millions. At launch we had zero overheads and no staff, which converted into a decent profit. We only spent £50 on our first logo!We had no capital investment when we started and only spent £1,000 on the website and £10,000 per quarter on social media advertising. As our following increased on social media we were able to release more products and therefore increase profit. This just continued to grow over time.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is anyone who is interested in fitness. We don’t want to limit ourselves to a certain type of person - the purpose of our products is to be accessible to everyone. We want people to feel as though they can incoportate fitness to their daily rountine, even if they have an extremely hectic work lifestyle. Tom works as an investment banker in the City and James is a trained barrister, so we understand how hard it can be. We didn’t want to hammer a specific niche – we wanted to be mainstream and help as many people as we could.
What would be your number one tip for young entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their own business?
When we started, we just had a blog and website that had free articles, workouts and recipes. For the first six to eight months we used this approach and engaged with people; offering advice and replying to every single social media post to create the perception of ‘we’re being helpful’. We attracted tens of thousands of followers this way, and when we released our first product, it started to sell to the very same people that we’d been helping out for the past few months.
So ultimately, our key focus was adding value for our followers and fans on social media with free, quality content. New research from Plusnet found that one in five businesses admit to not using social media to market their business as they are unsure which social media channel is best for the business, while one in 10 (9%) admitted to not knowing how to advertise on social media. We feel like developing a strong connection with your audience is extremely important, and this only comes with a strong understanding of how to use social media to your businesses advantage.
What plans do you have for LDN Muscle over the coming 12 months?
One of the main growth areas of the business has been our academy, where we offer personal training qualifications. That’s gone really well, and we’ve had 500 graduates now through the academy. We’ve brought on a head of training, but we’re on-hand too. We’ve got some new product releases, and our supplement line is going to expand. We’ve taken on a chairman recently and it’s putting some much needed structure into the business instead of just four guys faffing around on iPhones.
What’s the most important question entrepreneurs should be asking themselves?
The most important question entrepeneurs should be asking themselves is this - what is the purpose behind your brand? Once this is clear in your mind the rest follows suit. Everything you do should link back to this intial purpose, and drive your future ambitions for the company.
What habits do you think helped you to become successful?
It definitely helped that we all had jobs. This meant we were used to hard work, and understood the struggle of finding time to fit in fitness around a busy routine. This gave us a more down to earth approach. Obviously, on top of this, hard work and dedication is extremely important. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for long nights and early starts. However, if you’re passionate about something it’s easy to throw yourself into it.
People have often seen our success, and they think: ‘I’m just going to create a social media account and sell some guides and I will be successful in life’ but in reality it’s anything but that. For every single thing we put out, there is a process, analytics and research behind it. The process of managing our social media account is a lot more tactful than people might think. It even comes down to which emoji we chose and which one is getting more clicks.
How did you build such an amazing consumer culture around LDN Muscle?
The idea behind LDN Muscle is not to sell lies or false hopes, but to help people become the best versions of themselves. We all have realistic and achievable physiques that can be gained with hard work and dedication, and this appealed to people. We are relatable and always willing to help, which is extremely important when building strong relationships with your customers.
The way you have utilised Instagram to grow your brand is amazing. What would be your top 3 tips for any small business owner, on how to build an engaged audience on Instagram?
Our first tip would be to keep your social media identity as personal to your company’s beliefs and ideas as possible, as that’s the way to grow your business. Reply to every comment, like every post, and engage with every video, to show that you truly care about your customers. This was extremely successful for us, and enabled us to build a very loyal customer base. Another tip would be to share potential competitions and prizes, as this is always a great way to engage with your audience. Finally, utilise all that is available on Instagram. There are so many ways to engage with your audience. You’ve got live-streams and can include URL swipe-up links, and Instagram stories. Make the most of them!
For more information on Plusnet Pioneers, please visit www.plus.net/plusnet-pioneers