TIPS ON HOW TO ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS FOR FREE

Advertising and awareness is the oxygen which every business needs to survive. As a medium or small business owner, you may not have lots of cash to spend on marketing. And it can be frustrating when your budget dictates how many people your business can reach. Interestingly, there are a lot of ways to incorporate free advertising tactics into your business strategy, so that you can remove some nonessential costs and divert your limited budgets to other more important things.

Before the Internet, small and medium businesses only had a few means to market their products and services at cheap costs. They engaged in printing out flyers, sponsoring little local events or getting a good number of people on buses or lorries and advertising their products as the bus drives slowly. I know this method is popular in Nigeria. Although these methods, were quite effective and are still effective, they are not free and they are becoming obsolete. Now there are all kinds of opportunities out there on the internet. You just need to look in the right direction.

 

Regardless of your budget, here are 8 ways you can use to spread the word about your business without breaking the bank

1.       Use Google my business to claim your business

One of the most powerful free ways to advertise your business is through the 3 most popular search engines; Google, Yahoo and Bing. If you are more comfortable with Google, it has a service called ‘Google My Business’; which enables business owners and companies to manage their presence on Google Search and Google Maps. Using this tool can bolster your rankings on local search results. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail.

Ranking high in local search shows you’re a legitimate and reliable business. When people see your business in google search, it gives them the reason to trust you since everyone believes that google can be trusted.  Plus, if you rank high in local search, more consumers will choose your business over a competitor’s. In today’s fast-paced world, once we think of going to the internet in search of a thing, the first place we go to is Google and this make Google the best site to place your free advert.

 

2.         Use Social media effectively

Many people use social media for various purposes including; fun, relaxation, source of information, e.t.c. As a business owner, social media shouldn’t just be used as a tool to gain exposure rather, it has now become a necessary time investment for every business. It’s free to set up a social media account for your business, post contents and engage with other users. As a business owner, create facebook page, instagram business account and twitter handle for your business and advertise from there.

In order to draw massive attention to your social media platform, you need to provide useful information, news or fun consistently. Before your start, you need to carry out very in-depth research to gather information, news and fun stuff concerning your business. If your business deals on products, research the health, financial, spiritual or aesthetic relevance of the various products you have. Carry out a deep comparison between alternative products or same product of different brands. Also, find out how different products are used and equip yourself with this information. Then post educative and informative content which you found through your research on all your social media handles.  

If your business is all about providing services, research valuable information concerning your service, alternatives to your service and what makes your service stand out from the crowd. Just research anything you can find out about your business. Start posting some of these interesting and educative contents which you have researched over time on your business page because, people need to be convinced  of the value you have to offer to them before they can buy into your idea. Then follow people and businesses and invite them to like or follow your profile or page. Thereafter, be consistent in creating contents and sharing on your page to keep your followers abreast of what your business is all about. Remember, you need to do some good work before people will look to your direction.

This was exactly how I built my facebook business page: First I wrote about different topics which I thought my audience would like. The ones which stood out for me were titled ‘The Magic of Doing It For Free’ and ‘Nobody Owes you shit’. I wrote many of such articles and posted them online. When people liked my post, I will in turn invite them to like my page, they never resisted or asked questions because they found value and fun.

Once people are hooked to your social media handles, give them value , fun and advertise. The ration should be 1:2:1

                                      Value  :  Fun  :  Advertisement

                                          1     :     2   :           1

If you bore people with your adverts, they will get tired of seeing the same thing and they will either unfollow your business page or stop reading posts from you since they know the likely content of your posts. However, if you mix your content, they will always be curious to know what you are serving them next. And as they come, your serve them more advert.

On your personal social media handles, you need to give value and value and value. You can give value by providing tips on your business which will help your friends and followers solve simple issues they have, or help them improve their current condition. These tips should be delivered weekly or twice a week. Make sure that you maintain the days and make your friends and followers anticipate the next one with endings like ‘Another fresh and interesting tip/advice/joke is coming your way same day next week’ or ‘Just as you know I am bringing another fresh and interesting tip/advice/joke next week’ or ‘Keep a date with me on Tuesday as I will be bringing new tips’. This way, your friends would be waiting eagerly for your next content.

At the end of every content you post on your personal handle, invite people to like and follow your social media business profiles. Put a link to your business accounts as well as your Whatsapp number.

If you sustain this for 3 months, your social media friends and followers would see you as an authority in that area and refer more people to you.

 

3.       Register on Anyservice.ng, Jiji.ng or similar platforms

There are many websites where you can just post your products for free for people that need your products. Such websites like jiji.ng, sellfast.ng, yakata.ng provide you opportunities to sell your products for free and upgrade to paid version if you wish. Seeing how difficult it is for service providers to advertise and market their services, I dug to find out platforms where service providers can advertise their services for free. Luckily, there are websites dedicated to service providers in Nigeria like Anyservice.ng and service.ng. For businesses outside Nigeria, angieslist.com is also a website where you can find/post your services for free. General, household, work and entertainment services are registered on these websites for free for people who need them. Most importantly, these websites are particularly known for services as they do not allow product sellers to register on them.

Now let us take a look at anyservice.ng for instance:

This website creates an online office for your business where you can showcase your services and describe your job for customers to find you. It allows prospective customers to checkout your past jobs through your photos, chat with you, rate your service and call your number directly.

To post your service on www.anyservice.ng, you need to first register on the platform to be granted access. Then click on ‘Add new service’ to post an advert for each of the services you render. The good thing is that you can post as many adverts as the number of different services you render. A beauty business which provides pedicure and manicure services in addition to body massage and makeup would place 3 different adverts, one for each of the three services they render.  

Comparison of anyservice.ng with Social media posting

Anyservice.ng Social Media
Visisted when people search for services Visited often
Specifically meant for businesses Specifically meant for pleasure but business can be incorporated.
Your online office Not your online office
Adverts on your profile are always visible except if you remove them Adverts on your timeline are always visible but are usually overshadowed by more recent posts
When people in your location search for your service, they will find you

People do not search for services here

Anyone can find the services you post once they search

You can only advertise services

Only your friends can see your posts

You can advertise goods and services

 

4.       Start Writing a Blog

Starting a blog is one easy and free way to advertise your business for free. You can start a free blog on sites like Wordpress or Blogger.com and later upgrade to a paid version.

On your blog, write posts and articles that clearly explain different aspects of your business especially those aspects that worry your prospective clients. For instance, if you are an event planner, you could write posts about ‘How to find and choose a good event planner’, ‘The best season to host an event’, ‘What makes a perfect event’, ‘How I estimate the expected number of guests at a party’, ‘Wedding location and how it affects attendance’ etc. You see that the list of posts that an event planner can write is endless. Make sure that you are so detailed in your posts such that when a visitor finishes reading your post, they will be convinced that you can do the job. At the end of the post don’t forget to put down your contacts.

Some of the gains of starting a blog are as follows:

1.       It tells the world and your prospective clients that you have a very good knowledge of your business.

2.       It tells people how to reach you.

3.       Creates opportunities for you to be a consultant if you are really good at your job.

4.       Can bring you the opportunity to speak at events and conferences which enables your business gain popularity and trust in your area.

5.       You can also monetize your blog to make extra cash.

 

Advertising your business using a blog is closely related to how you advertise on social media. The main difference is that your contents and articles can easily be accessed by your friends and friends of your friends on social media whereas anybody can find and access your contents anywhere through your blog. Also, you cannot really write so much on social media whereas you can write and deliver as much information as you want on your blog. This is because people who visit blogs are generally open to reading long articles while on the other hand people go to social media to have fun and are not open to reading long posts. That is why long posts are often skipped on social media. Note, your blog would really not have traffic unless it is optimised for search engines.

 

5.       SEO Your Website

Does your business have a website or do you advertise your business through your blog? Then you must carry out an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to make your website or blog visible to millions of people that visit the website searching for contents related to your business. Without optimising your website/blog for search engines, it is as good as not having a website/blog.

You can perform an SEO for free if you know how to do it or if you have the time and patience to research about it. There are many aspects of SEO like link building, on-site SEO, off-site SEO etc. When starting off with your website/blog, you need to have SEO in mind as this will guide us in choosing proper titles for your posts or categories. Before you start a new category or writing a new post in your website/blog, carry out a keyword research of your intended topic and coin your title around the keywords with the highest traffic. 

If you do not have the time or expertise to carryout an SEO for your site or blog, then you have to outsource it. No matter what you do, make sure that your site/blog SEO is near perfect. You can find some affordable and good SEO companies in Nigeria like Crank Digital and VTNS.

 

6.         Create YouTube videos

Creating YouTube videos is a good way of advertising your business for free. These days people are lazy to read but quick to watch videos and you can tap into this by making quality online videos about your business. This is one of the cheapest ways of advertising your services for free because you only need a phone with a very good camera to start. After shooting the videos, download a video editing software to enable you trim and edit the videos to look good on youtube. Start a Youtube channel where you will be posting all your videos.

YouTube videos are related to giving contents by blogging just that here, you or someone else will have to sit down and explain or discuss your topic. Here, you also need to discuss your topics in details or show how it is done. A doctor, chef or baker on YouTube will need to explain and as well show the viewers how it is done. While a counsellor will only need to explain or discuss.

It is not easy to build YouTube subscribers unless you are a model or celebrity. However, if you produce regular quality content, then you will be favoured by YouTube viewers. And don’t forget to sell your business or products at some point during the video because that is the major reason why you started making the YouTube videos. As long as you give valuable and interesting contents, your viewers will always subscribe to your channel to see more of what you have in stock for them. One of the most effective ways of growing your Youtube subscribers is by cross-link posts on your Youtube channel and your social media accounts.


7.         Join relevant online communities and contribute

There are 2 ways to this one;

1.         Join relevant online communities.

2.         Contribute at relevant online communities.

As more people tilt towards the internet for information acquisition, participation in online forums and communities is surging. More people now visit forums to find and compare information from specialists concerning their needs and this makes online communities very important marketplaces. This method will pay you if you are knowledgeable in your field and willing to share your knowledge. Online communities like Quora.com and Nairaland.com are question and answer platforms where you can provide answers relevant to a person’s question. Just selling your business here will not cut it for you. But if you provide quality answers, then visitor on the forum will sought after you. When you find customers through online communities, you can charge higher than your normal price because that customer sees you as an authority in the field. Moreover, while providing information in the forums, you can subtly direct the reader to your business for more information/inquiries and this might lead to business. Now, the success of this deal solely depends on your ability to manage it as well as your knowledge base in that field.

Remember that your name (and sometimes qualification) is attached to your posts so people can attribute your quality posts to you or your business. On Nairaland you can make a name for yourself if your business is located in Nigeria while you can make name for yourself in your niche on Quora irrespective of where your business is located on the planet.  

 

8.         Email marketing

Do you know that it is easier to keep old customers than to find new ones? Yes, because old customers already know you and had trusted you once to patronize you. So, it will not be a hard thing to convince them to trust you again. Except if their first experience with you was terrible. And this is why email marketing works wonders.

So, email marketing is a system where businesses would deploy strategies for collecting the emails of their customers and people that have already patronized them at least once. This is more common with businesses that have websites (for small business owners who don’t own a website, you should practice message marketing… I will come to that later). If your business has website, you should include an opt-in page where customers can drop their email addresses. Then you can send them emails related to your other products and services taking into consideration the products/service they have bought from you in the past.

Ways you can use e-mail marketing

Use email marketing to inform and educate your customers.

Use it to upsell new and complimentary products to them.

Use it to felicitate with your customers in times of personal crisis, state crisis or national crisis.

Use it to inform your customers of latest developments in your business.

This way you will always be in the minds of your customers. I recommend that you do not drive your customers nuts with excess emails. Otherwise, they would unsubscribe from your email list.

Wait! I know you are thinking ‘small businesses do not gather emails’ but I will tell you how small businesses can still apply this email marketing techniques in a method I call ‘Message marketing’.

Message marketing is for small and medium businesses that do not own websites, thus they do not collect customer emails. You can do this by collecting customers’ whatsapp numbers. Convince your customers to give you their whatsapp numbers at the end of the transaction. Thereafter, send them greetings and try to create a kind of relationship with them. Send them ‘Happy new week’ wishes every Monday, advertise your business and offers to them on Wednesdays and send them jokes on Saturdays. This way, you will always remain in their minds and when you update your whatsapp status containing your business, they will see it.

You must be curious to know why I did not suggest normal phone messages but Whatsapp messages. It is because I want you to be able to show them pictures of what you are marketing. Moreover, Whatsapp messages do not have limits while normal phone messages have limits. This gives you room to express yourself in full. In addition, normal messages are not free (Whatsapp data charges are relatively less expensive). However, if you do not need to send them pictures of your services or products, you may wish to use normal phone messages.

One main reason why businesses love email marketing is that it keeps their memories fresh in your mind. All the big and great companies you know engage in email marketing. Great businesses like Jumia, Konga, Amazon, Sportsdirect and all banks engage in email marketing. They do this because it is one of the most effective and professional way of performing free advert.

 

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COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS IN NIGERIA

Nigerians are naturally entrepreneurial people who will always find ways of surviving. However, the way of running a business to feed your family is different from the way you run a business that will change your lifestyle. If your aim is to improve your lifestyle, then go through this guide to see the things you need to do to grow your business. I admit that some of the suggestions here may require you to commit some resources to your business while others are just the simple things you neglect.

Let's go...


1.    Understand your customers' needs 

Every business person is in business because he has clients/customers. The truth is that the customer holds the money that you want to collect. So, you must understand him and treat him well in order to collect the money. Every customer has a need that he wants to be solved. Understand that need and solve it with pleasure. Apart from getting what they want, they need the business owner or service provider to be knowledgeable, trustworthy and fast.

a.   Knowledge:   Have you noticed that during a debate, the man that talks the most gets almost all the attention? Unfortunately, that is how the business world works (Note, you do not have to talk too much anyway). But in order to talk the most and explain the most, you need to be well informed about the goods or services you provide and how it will help solve your customer’s needs. This is why knowledge is key in business. Customers tend to get attracted to business owners who know their products and services very well, who can advise them better and who can help them make calculated decisions. Therefore, you need research and ask question about your goods and services as this will enable you acquire deep knowledge about them help you stand out from your competitors. 


b.   Trust:   Some business owners, especially the service providers (like tailors, auto mechanics, electronics repairer etc) cannot really be trusted to solve their customers’ needs completely without creating another problem. In reality, some of them solve one problem and create another one that will manifest after sometime so that their services will be required in the near future. But do not forget that the customer cannot be deceived forever. So, immediately he discovers your insincerity, you will never see him again. Your customers need to trust that you are truthful, reliable, capable and responsible. Great business owners grow their business on trust. This is because trust helps them retain their current customers and increases the number of referrals they get and this in turn helps them grow their business.

c.   Speed:   Have you ever gone to buy a thing and the seller takes ages to attend to you? And even when he starts attending to you he moves sluggishly as if he is giving you the product for free? Yes, this happens every now and then and it is one of the actions that kill businesses fast.

In 2008, I traveled to Greece for education and as you expect, I needed to open a bank account. I went to a bank ‘Eurobank’ in Athens to open a new account. Immediately I entered, I was ushered to sit at a corner and almost immediately, a lady was coming to attend to me. I was surprised when the lady that attended to me was almost running as she came to take my details. And she carried out the transaction briskly and off I went. This endeared me to Eurobank (this is not an advert) and I was stuck with that bank.

When you attend to your customers fast, they feel appreciated, they know that you are a serious business owner and they tend to believe that you appreciate their time. Speed saves time and saves money as well. Dazzle your customers with speed and they will always come back since they have no time to waste.


2.     Get your business online

When a person says that business is bad nowadays I ask them 4 simple questions which are:

1. Are u on social media?

2. Is your business on social media?

3. Are you online?

4. Is your business online?

If the answers to all 4 questions are 'Yes'. Then, we search deeper for the cause. But if the answer to any of them is a 'No', then that is the cause of the problem. People are on social media because they want to be found be other people and also to find others as well. So you should put your business on social media so that people can find your business. Also, people are online to find information, ease off stress and carry out some work. So, take your business online so that when people come to do their thing online, they would find your business. 

Nowadays, everybody is online and if your business is not online then you are loosing a huge percentage of the market that would have been your customers. According to www.edition.cnn.com about 30-40 million Nigerians are online which makes the online marketplace the best place to sell your products and services. 

Many businesses in Nigeria harness the power of social media to spread their news and sell their services and products. This is most common with fashion, beauty, food and other fashionable businesses. On the contrary, you hardly find a plumber, nanny, a car mechanic, dentist or taxi driver promoting their businesses on their social media. The reason is basically because their businesses are not regarded as socially fashionable. But the real question is: Who actually gives a hoot weather your business is fashionable or not? Your family only needs to see food on their table and money to buy your own house. If putting your socially unacceptable business online would bring you that money to carter for your family, then do it. 

On the other hand, there are some websites where you can advertise and list your businesses for free in Nigeria like Anyservice.ng, Sellfast.ng and jiji.ng. Actually, there are many websites where you can post your products for sale but there are very few website where you can market your services. So, I will tell you about anyservice.ng. Anyservice.ng was created for those people who rarely advertise their businesses online. It was made to help service providers like event planners, plumbers, nanny, caterers, comedians, car mechanics, painters, electricians, land surveyors etc put their business online without the fear of segregation from the glam on social media. Thousands of services have been added on the website as this website is growing to become a list where you can find any service provider, artisan or freelancer in Nigeria. The good news is that advertising on the website is free.  

As a service providers, if you want to advertise your business and reach more customers beyond your circle of friends and beyond your social media circle, I advice you check www.anyservice.ng and register. 


3.     Create a website

Creating a website for your business is the trusted way of validating your business and building trust in your customers. It helps them to know what you can do, your range of services or products, who has partnered with you in the past and many more information about you. In fact, this is the best place to sell your business.

Most times, when people hear about a new business, they quickly go online to search for it. This is a way of online verification and proof of competence. Creating a website opens you up to a different type of customers who are not in your social media circle and may be living in a different state or country thereby increasing your business reach.

One good part of creating a website for your business is that it is like creating a new branch for your business. Imagine the increased benefits of creating a branch for your business in Abuja or Enugu when the head office is in Lagos. That is why a website is regarded as an online office. A mini website could also do the magic so that you do not have to spend so much money in building a big website. Several good companies like Zariat Kay Concept (in Lagos), Leewebs Technologies (in Lagos), ATTS Nigeria Limited (in Abuja) and CNC Tech-Alliance Limited (in Abuja) can build really good websites for you on a budget. And I actually found these websites developers on Anyservice.ng.

Creating a website can reduce your startup cost. If you are just starting up for instance and you have a website, you may not need to worry about hiring an office. This then means that you will be working from home. Remember that when you hire an office you have to pay the rent, contribute to building maintenance, pay extra light and water bills, transport yourself to and fro your office everyday etc. Owning a website and working from home eliminates all these expenses and allows you to channel your money to where it would start giving results as soon as possible.

Owning a website keeps your business open 24 hours a day. Unlike your physical office which closes by 6.00 pm, your website which is your online office will be open all day long. A key benefit of this is that customers can visit your online office to get information, ask questions, place their orders, make purchases and even pay while you are asleep. This gives you more liberty to face the challenges of life like sickness, loss of a loved one, pregnancy, minor accidents and child birth. As long as you have a good internet connection, your online store would not miss your presence even if you are absent from your physical store.

Imagine closing your office for a whole week because you want to attend the burial or funeral of a loved one. This can cause a great harm to your business if you do not have an online office.


4.     Create a referral reward system

A referral reward system is where you reward a customer for bringing other customers to your business. This reward could be monetary reward, items that the company wants to sell out or a price slash for next purchase. Psychologically, we all want to be gifted with one thing or the order. And as a business owner, you can decide the value of the gift you want to give to your customers as a reward for referring another customer to you. And just as the saying goes, “You don't look a gift horse in the mouth”, your customers would gladly accept your gift if it is valuable to them. 

The ripple effect of this is that it will make them to want more thereby making them bring you more customers. In the end, you come out as a winner. No wonder they say “Givers never lack”. 

However, the value of this reward has to be carefully calculated in order to avoid jeopardizing the financial standing of your business. Have you ever wondered why Multi Level Marketing businesses like Oriflame, GNLD, Longrich, Alliance In Motion, Edmark and even MMM made money in Nigeria? It is because they reward people for bringing more people to their business. I do not advice that you set up a multi-level reward system because that might be unhealthy for your business financials. But I sighted these examples to enable you understand the possibilities of growing your business by setting up a system that rewards customers for bringing more customer. Paypal started growing when they incorporated a good referral reward system to their marketing plan.

 

5.     Recognize loyal customers

It is always easier to maintain an already existing customer than to find new ones. A customer that has bought into the ideas of your business will look for ways to defend his choice of purchasing from your business. Thus, it is a wise move to recognize and reward your loyal customers so as to keep them coming back.

Carefully identify your most loyal customer or one who has helped you grow your business the most and feature him as your customer of the week or month. You will see that this will go a long way in making others to want to be recognized. And instead of making it to be just one person, you can actually make a list of your 10 most loyal customers as customers of the month. This will make people know that there are very many slots and it will make them feel like it is easy to be among the 10. One great company that does this is ‘Wrapsody’.

You can as well design a loyalty programs where customers accumulate points anytime they do business with you. For instance, Access Bank gives you points whenever you use their ATMs. Although most customers do not know how to use the points yet, they would prefer using Access bank ATM whenever they want to withdraw money with the hope that someday they might get to use the points. Just like Access bank, you can design a loyalty reward program where you reward your customers with points.  Just create a register (could be physical or electronic) where you write down your customers’ names and right beside it, write down how many points they have gathered. If you are a small business, you can make it look simple to avoid confusing your staff. It can even look so simple with the following headings:

Customer Name  

Customer ID             

Previous Points                

Today’s Points  

Total Points       

Date              

                                                                                      

Allocate points to every amount a customer spends on your business. For instance:

500 naira – 1 points,

1,000 naira – 2 points,

5,000 naira – 12 points,

10,000 naira – 25 points

50,000 naira – 77 points

100,000 naira – 160 points and so on.

 

Note that amounts and points stated above can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your business. You can set a threshold where customers are rewarded once they hit the 50 points mark or 100 points mark. Then you will see how your customers will keep patronizing you and only you to hit the mark and get their reward. The customers’ psychology here will be, ‘instead of spending the money somewhere else, it is better I spend it where I will surely get something in return for spending my money’. One company that maintains customers by doing this is Carrefour (a mega retail outlet in Europe).  It does this through their loyalty card. 

Another way to make your loyal customers to feel recognized is to make them feel special on their special days. Humans are emotional beings, every human being takes actions based on their emotions and then look for logical reasons to defend their actions. Therefore we must relate to our customers emotionally by remembering them on their special days like birthdays, wedding, engagements, birth of a child and even death of loved one. In order to do this, you should be friends with your customers on facebook or follow them on instagram and twitter. As creepy as this may sound, this will help you know when your customers are celebrating or mourning and allow you relate appropriately. In addition, this will give a human face to your business and enable your customers know that you are not only after their money.

Once customers know that a business (owner) cares about them, they tend to patronize him the more right? This is what will happen to your business once you add the emotional touch to your business. Depending on the value of a customer to you, you can even send physical cards to them and watch the magic. 


6.     Communicate your vision

A vision is a plan for the future. Your vision tells your customers and employees why you are in business. When your customers understand the WHY, they will know that you are not just out to take their money. And if your vision is one that they can buy into, they will help you achieve it.

Now you want to know what kind of vision to set for your business? Set a vision that affects the customer and requires some participation from them for it to be actualized. The customer needs to see your vision playing out all around him, he needs to see your staff and employees communicating it. He needs to see it in your products or services (whichever one your business provides) and he needs to see it in your customer relations. To achieve this result, you and your employees should think, see, breath, eat and live your business vision.

Encourage your employees to use your products or services, that way, they will find out the flaws in your business and help you in fixing it. For instance, if you run a laundry business, your employees should be encouraged to be part of your customers. That way, they will be able to see the flaws in your business themselves and fix it.


7.     Understand your employees

In 2015, Mr Bill Gross made a presentation on TEDx where he explained the main elements which cause startups to succeed. He considered these 5 elements which include Ideas, Team, Business Model, Funding and Timing. I know that at first guess you would say that funding or Idea is the most important of them all but I am sorry to disappoint you as the Timing is the most important. You can have a great idea with a wonderful business model but if the timing is wrong then your business will fail. You already have your business running so timing is no longer your problem for you. Funnily, the second most important element is team which refers to your employees.

The employee is the middleman between the business owner and the customer. So if you need to treat your customers right then you should treat the needs of your employees first. In December 2019, I needed the services of an SEO expert, so I called 5 different SEO agencies in Nigeria but only 2 of them Crankdigital.com.ng and Richieemedia responded satisfactorily (for the sake of saving face, the other 3 companies were not mentioned here and this is not an advert for the companies mentioned). The problem with the other companies varied. One of the companies always had the company phone line switched off. So, I could not contact them. It is possible that the company email handler would reply if I sent a message to him but I needed a company I could call whenever the need arises to explain things clearly.

The second company would forget that I left them a chat and would reply my whatsapp chat after 3 days apologizing for late reply and once I accepted the apology, the communication cut. The third company also had similar issues. Taking a cue from these 3 companies, one could bet that the owners and even the senior management of the companies were not aware of this as responding to correspondences are left to junior staff. I can as well bet that these companies are loosing a huge amount of money as a result of their employee nonchalance.  This is why it is important to understand your employees.

 

One might begin to wonder; how do you ensure that your employees do not sabotage your company?

Most times, employees do not deliberately sabotage the company. So, here are some of the few things you could do to get support from your employees.

a.   Reward outstanding performances:   Let's be frank, most of your employees are not working for you because they love it but they are working for you because they could not get that dream job they wanted. So, most of them would not willingly give in 100% at work. When an outstanding staff puts in 120% for a period of time (say 3 months) and feels not appreciated, he will feel bad and would join the gang of employees who are there because of lack of employment in the country. And your business does not need people like ‘good girl gone bad’ because these are the worst kind of employees to have. Thus, you need to reward outstanding performances from your staff. This reward could start from a welldone handshake to a small monetary appreciation and even a recommendation for advanced training or tour or promotion.

 

b.   Training:   Goal getters are always fascinated by personal growth and development. One way of getting the best out of your staff is through training. Once your staff are trained, you save your company from using crude and out dated knowledge and resources. This saves you money as the training exposes your staff to more cost effective ways of doing things. Additionally, your staff can then give your customers the best quality products and services. This will in turn attract more customers to your business.  Fortunately  staff tend to stay longer in businesses or companies where trainings are organized for them at intervals and this works in your favour.

 

c.   Close monitoring:   Closely monitoring you employees work life and working relationship with you customers and their fellow colleagues could be the deciding factor between a successful business and a failing business. Monitoring is the only way by which you can know what is happening in your business. When you closely monitor how your staff relate with your customers, you can then identify which part of your customer relations you need to work on. Do it this way; you need to eavesdrop on your staff when they are relating with your customers (yes, you heard me right. I said eavesdrop) because that is the only way you will know what is happening between your staff and customers. This way, you will understand your customer pains, staff pains and service/product deficiency. However, never you eavesdrop on their personal matter as this is unprofessional.


8.     Collaborate with other businesses

Collaborating with other businesses is the bomb and one of the easiest ways to grow your business. Collaboration between companies on marketing initiatives can be hugely beneficial. Not only can it increase exposure for both companies, it can result in more leads and greater overall success compared to working on the same initiative alone. 

 

Who to collaborate with:

You cannot collaborate with anybody or everybody. You have to select businesses to collaborate with. You need to collaborate with businesses that compliment yours and not your competitors. If your business is in makeup artistry (you are a makeup artist), it makes no sense to collaborate with other makeup artists but to collaborate with complimentary services. Look towards brands that are effective with their own marketing efforts; companies that market themselves effectively are more likely to also co-market effectively. You would not want to collaborate with a brand that will tarnish your already growing reputation.

Collaborate with people that respect your business. Respect is reciprocal and you would not want to be begging a collaborator to return a favour after you have promoted their brands. So, collaborate with businesses that value what you bring to the table and people that believe that they also need you to grow.

 

How to Collaborate:

Firstly, make an agreement (it does not have to be written) with the businesses you want to collaborate with. Let them understand what each side needs to do in order to ensure that the collaboration goes well.

Refer customers to your collaborator as this is the main aim of the collaboration and this is very easy to start. Print your business flyers and drop at your collaborators businesses such that when a customer patronizes them, they can give your flyers to the customer. And guess what happens? Because your services compliment each other, any customer that patronizes your collaborators would most likely be interested in your services and products if they have not gotten one. And this works vice versa for your collaborators. It is preferable to personally promote your collaborators to your customer after the customer has made a purchase. You should also promote your collaborators' business on your social media handles. This is a great way to tell your customers that you deal with quality vendors and partners.  

It increases your customers’ confidence in you, increases patronage for your business and introduces your collaborator to your customers and social media circle and vice versa. Now imagine if you have up to 10 collaborators and they share your business on their social media timelines and introduce you to their customers. The result would be massive if they do it right. Additionally, this adds more spice to your social media pages as people would be bored of seeing only your business on your handle.

Always remember that each collaborator will gain with respect to how his/her business is structured. As it is expected that an event planner would gain more from a collaboration than a cake baker as more money is involved in event planning than in cake baking. But the good news is that it is still a win-win deal and you are better collaborating than standing alone. 


I hope this was helpful.

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