A dog food business, the latest venture of a serial agricultural entrepreneur, has enjoyed a whirlwind first year in operation winning four industry awards and increasing sales by more than 10-fold between June and October.
Beth James founded TP Feeds, based in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, in April 2017 and hit the ground running with three trade contracts within the first month. The business now boasts customers across the UK including in London, Devon, Hereford, Merseyside and throughout south Wales. It has also expanded its offering by launching a cat food recipe at the start of the year.
Beth, who has two boys, set up TP Feeds at her family’s small holding, which is also home to Beth’s other companies. Her other businesses are gundog training and supplying free-range meat from the farm. Previously, she ran a double award-winning online pet store, The Working Pet, which spawned the idea for TP Feeds.
She said: “I decided to focus on high-quality, affordable dog food. It’s a topic I feel passionate about due to owning and training working dogs myself, as well as my father being a retired veterinary surgeon.
Integrating digital with traditional led to success
“I didn’t imagine it would go this well so quickly. I set a conservative target of winning two retailers in my first year, and I had three within days of launching! It was a huge confidence boost.
“Integrating digital with traditional processes has helped with the success. For example, one of my Facebook posts received a lot of engagement, which increased its reach. A dog groomer in Ceredigion saw it and contacted me via social media as well as met me at a local event I attended with a stand. He now stocks my products to add value to his customers.
“Also, I review my Google Analytics daily, particularly after I attend county shows and country fairs and notice an increase in web traffic and purchases through my ecommerce site. When orders are placed through the website, I use PayPal, which allows me to easily manage funds and payments.
“I use the site’s analytics to inform my tactics. For example, I receive weekly reports and I know my blog attracts lots of visitors. I note which topics do well and continue the conversation with follow-up posts. I also analyse customer data, including buying habits. This means I can send personalised and tailored emails from Mailchimp, which have a fantastic response rate and increase sales.”
Superfast Business Wales helped improve my website
Beth attended the Let’s Get Digital Superfast Business Wales workshop shortly after launching the business to check on her online activity to ensure she was being as efficient as possible.
“The course was good as it covered various aspects of website promotion,” she added. “After the workshop I tweaked the layout slightly to put sliding banner images across the top of the home page, as well as placed key messages and content prominently at the top of the page. My site looked a lot better, and was more appealing and professional.
“I also received a diagnostic report from a Superfast Business Wales adviser afterwards that listed areas to focus on and suggested minor changes. It provided further peace of mind that a key part of my business was effective.”
Continue to use online and offline marketing to grow the business
Beth is continuing to seek integrated online and offline opportunities to assist the company’s growth in year two, which includes creating an ongoing partnership with a major Wales visitor attraction as well as raising awareness of the cat food recipe.
She added: “Launching the cat food recipe was a result of speaking to my customers who told me that their cats were stealing the dog food!
The aim is to increase turnover by 140 per cent over the next 12 months.
As part of the strategy, I will be attending and sponsoring events, both in Wales and in England, continue to raise awareness of my brand, and increase and fine-focus my Google AdWords and Facebook advertising campaigns.”