You have a great business idea but you have no idea how to translate that into dollars. You know your business needs a marketing boost but you don’t have the time or the resources to implement a whole new marketing strategy. I get it. I get the fact that, for most business people right now, the focus is on survival in a tough market. I understand that formulating a creative strategy just seems like an unnecessary addition on top of everything else you’re already struggling to get done.
My one year of unemployment left me with a lot of free time on my hands and forced me to consider alternatives to working for someone else and getting a salary in the bank every month. I don’t have an MBA but I have gathered ideas from some of the most successful business people today who have used the Internet as a platform.
I want to share these ideas on how to make the hours that you spend online productive and profitable. I want you to start seeing the Internet as an effective business tool instead of a distraction. I want to give you a handle on how you can get the largest marketplace in the world to work for your business.
When the going gets tough, the tough innovate.
It is 5PM and people stream out of office buildings into the streets of Harare. It is rush hour and the informal bus rank on Park Street is packed with people looking for transport home. The kombis are lined up bumper to bumper and the passengers are packed inside like sardines. There is a sophisticated and secret system that defines routes and departure times and which kombi leaves when because at any given time, there are at least two kombis going to the same place.
The competition for passengers is tight and every so often you will hear a driver complaining about how useless a tout (hwindi) is. On any given day, you might be the unfortunate passenger who gets caught in the crossfire of the hwindi wars. The kombi rank is one of the toughest marketplaces out there and if you’re going to succeed then you have to have an effective marketing strategy.
And that’s why hwindis shout.
Hwindis understand that if you’re not getting heard then you’re not getting business. They get the fact that when a potential customer enters the kombi rank; they come there with a need and are confronted with multiple options for meeting that need. The first obstacle then, is getting the customer’s attention and once you do that the customer wants to know what you have to offer, how much it’s going to cost and how quickly you can get their need met.
Mandara – Kamfinsa vabereki! R5, Mandara – Kamfinsa! Two vasara, Mandara – Kamfinsa!
In any business venture, the key to success is being heard, being seen and being connected. This is especially true in tough business environments where everyone is competing for their space in the market. It doesn’t matter how effective the product you’re offering is, if people do not know about it then it won’t reach the people who need it. It doesn’t matter how much effort you’ve into developing a high quality good, if you’re not trying to connect with your customers then all your effort is going to waste.
Today, the Internet is the biggest marketplace out there. For one thing, it is a place where millions of customers meet every day; wanting to have their needs met and ready to give you their money if they think what you’re offering is worth it. As a business-person, it is not enough for you to simply be in the marketplace, you need to establish a platform. A platform is a space that provides you with the opportunity to be heard and seen by your customers and a place where they can come and connect with you and your product.
- Be heard.
You have hundreds, thousands, millions of potential customers out there who need exactly what you’re offering. But currently, their attention is being grabbed by the loudest voice out there, they can’t hear you. The first step to being heard is that you need to become fearless, unapologetic and you must stop being modest about what you do well. Stop hoping that someone will ask you about your product; tell them about it.
Social media is a great way of promoting your product to potential customers for free. Facebook also offers various paid advertising options for business people who want to target a specific audience.
- Be seen.
Do you remember the last time you actually read what was on a billboard? I think there’s a very high chance that when you stopped at the robots, or while you were stuck in a kombi in rush hour traffic, you didn’t look out of your window to see outside. You know what you did? You picked up your phone to check your Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. You went on to the Internet.
Billboards were the old way of elevating yourself above the crowd and being seen, but today, the website is the new billboard. Customers don’t want to know where they can find your office; they want a link to your website to see what you have to offer.
- Be connected.
Strive Masiyiwa has a following of just under one million people on Facebook and it’s not just because he is a rich businessman. He doesn’t just exist on Facebook, he engages. Customers care about the person behind the brand. They can tell the difference between someone who is just in it for the money and someone who cares about their needs and meeting them in the best way that they can.
Being connected is about engaging with your customers on topics that matter to them and the most effective way to do this today is through blogging and social media. The benefits work two ways. As a business-person, engagement helps you to understand the needs of your customers better – you are better equipped to meet them and they receive more satisfaction as a result.
There are many things that go into the success of a business but you must be seen, be heard and be connected. Instead of spending hours on Facebook, spend some time reading up on ways that other business-people in your industry have used a website, blogging and social media to attract and retain customers.
What other ways do you think business-people can think like a hwindi?
Main image taken from www.onlinemarketingassistance.com