Online tools to win customers
By Ogbuagu Bob Anikwe (@oanikwe)
As funny as it may sound, our eyes have been opened by Coronavirus and its 2019 deadly virus called Covid-19. Covid-19 showed us as never before that we can carry on business through the use of technology. Even during lockdowns.
Many people took advantage of their New Media skills to continue to make money during the lockdown. On the other hand, those who hitherto relied on traditional marketing methods stayed home and gnashed their teeth.
My Enugu people, the moment has come that everybody has to wake up to the reality. Doing business without online presence will get one into trouble a few years from now. If you don’t know, take a look below at the numbers of social media users in the world below. Facebook alone has almost 2.5 billion users!
It’s not difficult; its DIY
Do it yourself. There are simple things anyone with data and smart phone can do today to start the process. This piece is not for experts. It is for those who are yet to learn the tremendous benefits of using the internet to market their business.
If you are one of them, my task here is to show you, in simple English and with examples. It’s good to adopt a strategy that works now and when the current coronavirus travails would have ended.
You should be looking for new customers using tested and trusted online digital media. In this first entry, I shall present four of the most important online tools to use. For thosr who haven’t already started using them.
I divided them into four sections in all, as follows:
- Start Marketing with a Corporate Website or Blog
- Email Marketing Continues to be the “Old” Reliable
- Instant Messaging has Important Uses for Efficiency
- Enter the Biggest Masquerade Called Social Media
Tool #1: Begin with Corporate Website or Blog
With millions always online, doing business without a website is like locking up shop when most people are out shopping!
You need a professional website for your business. It is your own real estate. When you advertise your company website (e.g. www.mycompany.com ), you tell the world that you mean business. If you garnish it with a corporate email (e.g. [email protected]), everyone will stand up and take notice. They know that you are truly in business.
You can use Facebook to create a website but anyone who opens it will still see that you are struggling.
When you construct and hoist a corporate website, you will be doing so many things. At the click of a button, everybody in the world, no matter where they are, will see your store or office in Enugu. International vendors and suppliers will see that you mean business.
Your shop of office will never again be closed for the day. People can visit your online shop or office 24/7 to see what you are selling. A website is like opening a giant store for the whole world. People that are searching for your products or services through the popular search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) will easily locate you.
Many small businesses do not have websites because they think it is very expensive and difficult to maintain. Not true at all. In our next entry, we will show you how a website does not cost a fortune. And how you can actually get one for free!
Tool #2: E-Mail Marketing is “old” reliable
E-Mail, as you know is the digital letter writing tool. It is the first tool that killed the post office as we knew it. People realized that it is a swifter way of delivering messages. Technology has continued to evolve but, as at today, email is still holding its own. For many reasons. It is still the most robust free application to send text, video and audio documents. Email documents and messages are accepted in court as certified and official documents.
With the email, you can send customize messages for individuals and send them in bulk. You can send up to 50 persons without it being treated as spam. On ypur website, there are plugins that allow you sen 300 messages free. The messages could be advertisements for new products or services, enquiries, or requests for business support.
Everyone who uses the email application will, over time, build a list of personal and corporate email addresses. They can be used for future marketing. It is a great way to keep in touch with customers and prospect for new customers.
Like websites too, there are free and paid email platforms. The more popular free ones are – you guessed it – Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo. Yahoo appears to be the first and most popular, even though it is not as robust and versatile as its other cousins.
Again, like websites, people will take your business seriously if it comes with its own branded email. If your website is, say, www.oanique.com and your email address is [email protected], you will be paid more attention and taken more seriously than when it is [email protected].
Tool #3: Instant Messaging Drives Efficiency
Instant messaging (IM) applications are those tools that make it possible for two persons to chat over mobile phone or over the internet, using short or long texts. Anyone n Enugu who has a simple phone (not even a smartphone) has texted messages before using the GSM network’s Instant Messaging Service Centre (IMSC).
With the smartphone, many of us have upgraded to online chats from applications such as Google, Outlook and Yahoo. Some of them have become so robust that they can also, like email, be used to send text, audio, and video, and enable online mobile calls and video chats over the internet (e.g. messenger apps from Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp).
If you are in business, it will be foolhardy to ignore the instant messenger application which gives you added bonus, once you have purchased a data plan, to chart freely with your vendors and customers over the internet or to initiate audio and video calls with them. This is because the alternative – carrying out voice conversations on your phone – comes with prohibitive cost considerations. WhatsApp or Telegram offer the best free options for staying in touch.
Tool #4: Social Media is Biggest Masquerade
Between 10 and 20 years from now, the people who will be making purchase decisions in almost every organisation will be between 30 and 50 years. These same people are now between 20 and 30 years, and their biggest market will be people who are 0 – 15 years. The entire age groups are people that we call Digital Natives today because of they are born with new media and use it for almost every activity in their lives.
I hope we understand what this means? Let me make it clearer. According to the latest census figures, people who are between 0 – 25 years (the digital natives) constitute more than 60 percent of the Nigerian population! In 20 years, anyone who is still using traditional marketing methods, will be talking to mostly old people! Using only traditional methods of marketing today means you are addressing less than 40 percent of the population.
Here is another way to look at it. The following social media applications – Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram – have more than a billion users each, with Facebook being No. 1 at almost 2.5 billion users. Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram while Google owns YouTube. Both Facebook and Google have strong presence and investments in Nigeria, an indication that the patronage among the Nigerian youth audience is tremendously high.
As in instant messaging, any serious business manager cannot ignore social media tools to prospect for new customers. It is the preferred tool of choice for the young generation, including those who are in their thirties now.
Forward thinking managers today use social media to promote what they do. Facebook, for instance, makes it possible for a manager to advertise and track the success of their ad campaigns, engage their current and future clients and customers, and send out information to the general public. In 2020 when a pandemic (Covid-19) ravaged the whole world, people instantly kept in touch with care givers and authority experts through their twitter posts.
Most of the social media apps will also allow managers to advertise their excellent services through “earned meda” – using under-generated content such as online comments and product reviews to show how popular or robust their offerings are, instead of spending money to write ad copies.
Making sense of it all
The biggest challenge that managers face, especially those who run on lean budget with few staff is this: How can one person keep up with all of this and still find time to do other things in the office? The answer is quite simple really. In the next installment, we’ll show you how to set up and integrate all of the platforms so that you can work with only one of them if you run a small company with lean staff.
Between now and then, you can try your hands at ensuring that you set up as many of these marketing network tools as you can.
And, by the way, if you are finding trouble with any of these chores and you need me to give you a helping hand, kindly fill this form, tell me the nature of your problem, and I shall get back to you as quickly as I can to assist you solve the issue.
How to set up a website that integrates other platforms
AND NOW THIS…
THE 042 BUSINESS ADVANTAGE NEWSLETTER
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