Some of you are still trying to determine a suitable product or service, others have gone past that stage and are researching their ideal customer targets, while others are currently seeking ways to promote their business online.
Whichever category you belong to, this article will provide tips on how you can buy and sell online, post free adverts online and grow your income. In order to start a thriving online business, your first task is to identify a product or service. You should do some research about several examples of highly sought-after products and services that people will be comfortable to buy over the internet. If you choose a physical product, you will then find a good source to buy the product at a discounted price so that you’re still able to sell online profitably. Since you probably don’t have any capital, you should negotiate with the vendor (seller/distributor) that you would only buy after you get an online. If you choose to sell service, you must ensure you choose a service that you have the capacity to render to customers.
Once you have determined the product and service, you then need to identify your target customers. You must be able to answer the question – Who is your customer? To answer this question, you must be able to provide detailed description of the types of customers you’re seeking. This will help you to be able to create appropriate marketing and sales strategies to get those customers to patronize you. Since this article is about promoting businesses online, I will like to discuss different ways by which you can promote your business online in Nigeria.
Register your business with google and other free listing websites so that people can find you easily. In addition to this, you must utilize social media a lot. Social media is no longer just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can include ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. You can also use Linkedin to market yourself and your business in a more professional way than the other social media platforms.
If you can afford it, get someone to create a nice simple website for you. Develop good contents for the website and highlight all that prospective customers need to know about you and your business on the website. It is a good idea to try to address the following questions in your website and other marketing documentation – What is/are your products and/or services? Who is your customer? What is your unique selling proposition (another way of saying what makes you different)? What kind of people or companies can refer customers to you? A website is not compulsory to start a business, so if you don’t have much money, don’t stress yourself setting up one.
Though it is not compulsory to have a business name, it is strongly advisable to do so. A business name will actually be required if you want to register business with the government, open a business bank account and pay business taxes. Make branding choices like colours, fonts, sizes, formats, etc and stay consistent with this.
Create nice videos for your business and tie these to your social media platforms and website. For a small company, you don’t need to spend money on professional videos. Use your phone to make videos and open a business youtube account to post them on. Create new videos regularly (maybe once a month, once a quarter or even once a week in some cases). Remember that you should do your best to spend as little as possible to reduce your startup risk. This is why we always advertise at Delon that you can begin a business on our free classified ads website with zero capital.
Without spending much, put in place some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies on your website and social media accounts. You can learn basic SEO strategies from google search and you don’t need to invest heavily on this.
Join several online communities and make sure you are regularly contributing and visible. If you are creating a website, make sure you have a blog section that allows you to regularly post your articles but if you’re not creating a website, you can set up a free blog website through which you can regularly post articles in your business area. Blog is really a great tool that can make people quickly view you as ‘subject-matter-expert’ if you are constantly writing with facts and authority.
So how do you aggressively market your business online in Nigeria when faced with enormous competition?
Take advantage of several free classified ads websites in Nigeria (e.g. Jiji.ng, Delon.ng, etc) that allow you post ads free of charge. They are usually very easy to use – below is an example of a homepage (Delon.ng) that shows how simple it is for a seller to post an ad.
Classified ads websites are usually just for adverts and the actual buying and selling activity happens offline. In other words, though some users pay for adverts on the classified ads website in order to boost their advert, actual payment, shipping, or return of products and services don’t happen through the website. The buyer and the seller meet each other through the website, but perform their transactions outside the website platform. On the other hand, you can also advertise your product on e-commerce websites through which you can actually complete transactions with the customer. Payment, shipping, returns and other related activities typically happen through the e-commerce platform. You should consider using both the classified ads website and e-commerce marketplace like Amazon to promote your products.
Whichever additional methods you choose for marketing your business online in Nigeria, you must ensure you’re creating contents that attract people to view your contents (website, social media adverts as well as your adverts on other 3rd-party websites). You must be engaging either through highly valuable texts, apt marketing pictures or funny educational videos. The competition in the online space is so vast that you have to do a great and consistent job with your contents to get noticed.
Don’t consider linkedin as being too formal – use it to link up with your former school mates and former colleagues, who can really help you promote your business a great deal. LinkedIn groups are a great way for quickly connecting with others in your industry or niche to help spread your message. You can promote your content through LinkedIn groups as long as you don't come across as spammy. It's best to add value to a conversation or discussion before trying to drop your links.
LinkedIn groups are also a great way of contacting people who you might not have mutual connections with. You can message any other member in the group without being connected, which can become a huge asset depending on the situation. Share updates often in the group and be sure to stay in the spotlight without oversharing.
Use Facebook effectively and if you have extra funds, you can place good ads. Facebook ads offer a great opportunity for reaching the right demographics for your business. As long as you know your customer well, you can use metrics like interests, geographic location, marital status, age and many others, to locate potential consumers to send to targeted landing pages, also known as squeeze pages. Don’t forget - use Instagram to build followers.
I like to give examples of businesses that you can start promoting today. I was talking to a friend recently who studied French. She has been fluent in French in the past 10 to 15 years and she was recently looking for a new job. So I spoke to her on phone and helped her identify multiple French-related services that she could promote online for her to make money. First, I suggested that she could offer to teach French to kids within her area whose parents are able to afford such services. Second, I explained that she could market ‘English-to-French and French-to-English’ translation services online. Third, I explained that she could market remote French classes through Skype to customers living far from her area. I told her I had once enrolled my 6-year old daughter for a Yoruba class through Skype and it was successful.
I also know someone who told me that she was desperately looking for money to start business. So I asked her about what interested her mostly. She said she loves going to market to shop and she had done that for many people (family and friends) in time past. I asked if she could sell things online and she said she already has a good idea of what she can sell but she has no capital. I asked if she knew how to navigate her ways very well at Idunmota – and she said yes. Then I suggested that she should visit Idunmota and politely negotiate with some retailers that she would be buying the products from them at discounts every time she got orders. She got a retailer that agreed and within 2 weeks, she put up nice ads on multiple free classifieds in Nigeria. She was very aggressive and continued to post. Within 2 months, she had started getting orders online and she is doing well today.
Let’s talk about fashion designers:
I have many friends today who have learnt the fashion design skills but have been seeking ways of getting customers. The industry is new but is gradually getting competitive. One way you can distinguish yourself is to advertise yourself online. Delon.ng is a free classified in Nigeria that is currently focusing a lot on fashion designers and offering free featured ads to all interested fashion designers. I have seen several talented fashion designers struggle and we really want to help them showcase their talents to people across Nigeria, Europe, America, etc. Apart from fashion designers, we’re also helping people to promote sale of women clothing, children clothing, jewelry, shoes, bags, trousers, suits, gold, heels, sunshades, etc
If you are greatly interested in agriculture and you have been wondering how you can promote your business online, I am happy to let you know that you can also utilize Delon and a few other free classified in Nigeria to promote your agricultural products. Most of us agree that the solution to Nigeria’s economic problems is to create massive jobs and dollar income through export from agriculture. So while the federal, state and local governments, as well as major private investors and making their own efforts in that regard, young Nigerians must also take advantage of this opportunity to try to make money from this greatly emerging industry. One of my friends who has over 100 acres of land recently told me that he met a few exporters of Cashew that told him that their demands far outweigh the available supplies in Nigeria. This has been the case for several years and it continues to baffle me that Nigeria is not able to take advantage of this vast opportunity. There are several ways for unemployed youths to make money from agriculture, and you need to research what areas you can fit in so that you can begin to promote that agricultural business online from today.
One other new way that people can promote their service and product online is to post their CV and directly market themselves recruiters. Today, a few classified ads websites in Nigeria (including delon.ng) are allowing users to paste PDF or JPG versions of their CVs as free ads. You can also do this on linkedin by preparing nice elevator pitch for yourself.
Let’s get more technical. While creating texts/contents for your products and services, you need to spend good time to research the appropriate keywords that people will typically be using to search for such products. If you are a Nigerian living in the United States and want to sell some products and services in Nigeria, you must research the appropriate keyword relevant to Nigerians. And if you are a Nigerian, seeking to sell products and services to people in the United States, Europe or China, you must research the right keywords that these prospective customers will understand. When you input the right and relevant keywords, customers will be able to search and find you quicker, and you will be able to sell your products and/or services faster.
Ultimately, it is very important to develop a sound marketing and sales strategy to effectively promote your business. Research about your competitors and constantly find ways to outcompete them. Consider location, interests, culture, trend, economy, etc in determining your specific products. You should also build a database of prospective buyers and determine how to regularly reach out to them. Use email and whatsapp to contact prospects regularly and keep reminding them about your products and services. Join whatsapp groups and make sure you use that group membership smartly by sending occasional group messages to the members about your products and services. Don’t be shy to seek referrals from people.
As I round off, I like to remind you that you must utilize other techniques alongside online marketing in order to succeed in business. Do not think that the only best way to promote your business is through online. For some people, they may regularly get 20% of their customers through the internet, while some will get up to 80% online. You should not ‘put all your eggs in one basket’ – as you are working very hard to promote your business online, you must also continue to promote your business through other ways. You should print and hold your business cards always, and be generous with them. You may also find printing and distribution of flyers helpful. Also, you should always be ready with your elevator pitch everywhere you go – you never know when you would meet a prospective customer. Be consistent with your messaging in online and paper media, as well as during verbal communication about your products and services.
Finally, pick up a book, jotter and pen and spend quality time to write down how to promote your business online based on this article and several other texts you may have stumbled upon. If you jot on your laptop, pick up your laptop to type and print your step-by-step strategies and if you don’t have a laptop, you can check one good and affordable laptop here.
Don’t keep it in your brain, mind or even your phone. You will be able to execute your strategies better if you take time out to put them down on paper. Also, I hope this article has encouraged young Nigerians that instead of spending too much time on gossip, entertainment or even the news, you can really start making some extra income by spending quality time to research and promote a business online.
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