HOW I WENT FROM MY 9-to-5 TO PERFORMING ON A WORLD TOUR WITH MR.EAZI – SINGER-SONGWRITER, TOME

Building a successful brand is challenging whether you are a small business or individual. Historically, breaking out has especially been a tough job for women in music and entertainment.

One talent who seems to have cracked the code in navigating the music business is a 9-to-5’er turned singer-songwriter Tome. In just 2 years of becoming a full-time singer-songwriter, she has performed with Burna Boy, Wizkid and Mr. Eazi on world stages, and she is just getting started.

In March 2019, she debuted her single L’amour and released her debut EP, The Money, in February 2020. With her mantra, “I am enough. I am TÖME”, she’s determined to become a household name and empowering voice to African women across the world.


Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Michelle Oluwatomi Akanbi. I’m a Nigerian-French Canadian Singer-Songwriter born in Montreal, Canada. I was raised in the diverse city of Toronto where I grew up listening to Fela, Erykah Badu, and Alicia Keys.

Music is a very important part of my life. I am my art! I put 100% of me into my music – sound, vocals, lyrics – all of it.

How will you describe yourself as an artist?

My music is what I like to call Afro-fusion. With a fun mix of genres, my songs have messages of love, fun, and empowerment. As an artist, I would say I am a lyricist with a message.

What influenced your passion for the arts?

I honestly can’t say there was any specific influence on my love of the arts. But I remember watching Superstar (1999) with Molly Shannon as a child and thinking to myself, I’m going to be a superstar one day. #Day1Dreams

What motivates you to get up every day to make music?

My motivation to keep going in my career is to make my family proud. I hope to provide them the ability to live the lives they want to.

Other people also motivate me. I am so lucky to be around people I can learn from. They add to my experience and view of the world which makes it easier to write music. There’s always a story to tell apart from my own.

Tell us about your career journey.

I’ve always been making music. I released my first project on SoundCloud in 2015 – an EP titled One with Self. It was a really personal project of 5 songs I recorded on my phone while I played guitar. 

In 2018, while I was still working as a Marketing Executive at my full-time job, I recorded Tomesroom Chapter 1 and many other songs. I didn’t release any of the songs at the time because I had no team and didn’t want it to go “nowhere”. I planned to do another year working at my 9-to-5 job and “learn more about the industry”.

In 2019 my dad (who is now my manager) heard my song L’amour and asked me if I was ready to work. I said yes and officially started my career as a full-time artist.

So far, I have been really blessed. In my first year as a professional recording artist, I have shared the stage with incredible talents like Wizkid, Burnaboy, and done a tour with Mr. Eazi in Europe.

I have learned so much and improved my craft in such a short time. It’s amazing to know that it’s only the beginning.

What influence do you want your music to have on the African woman in today’s world?

I hope my music helps women accept their own strength. Every time I get on stage, I remind myself – “I am enough. I am TÖME”.

I want to show that the African woman can be and do anything. You don’t have to limit yourself to what anyone wants to tell you to be. All the obstacles in your way are only temporary. 

You attract what you think and if you are focused and know what you want, you can never fail.

What are your top 3 tips for young African women looking to make their mark in their career or business?

  1. Stay on-trend. You have to continuously push yourself to experiment to stay as relevant as possible and grow. 
  2. Stay open-minded and knowledgeable. It’s the same whether you have a 9-to-5 or business.
  3. Stay true to yourself. People can tell when you’re not being genuine. You will never make your mark if you don’t know yourself and get lost in other people’s vision of you.


Follow Tome’s journey and vibe to her music.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/Tomeofficial_/
Fanlink: https://fanlink.to/tome

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YETUNDE TAIWO-SHORTERS: 7 POWERFUL WAYS TO LEVEL UP YOUR PERSONAL BRAND IN 2019

It’s Yetunde Shorters here, chiming in sharing with you, as we plan for the New Year, seven powerful ways to level up your personal brand in 2019. This year flew by so quickly that we couldn’t even catch a breath, but it’s never too late. You can start now and start today, and let’s plan for manifestations in 2019. Below are my suggestions of 7 powerful ways to level up your purposeful personal brand in 2019.   

PLAN AHEAD

Planning means take the time one of these days before the year is over and sit down and plan for the things you want for your brand or your business. Plan what your social media would look like, what each quarter would look like, and what products you’re going to launch. Write it out. You have plenty of time to do that this year so that you can be prepared and schedule things for next year. That way, you save yourself some time. You can start now and start today, and let's plan for manifestations in 2019 - @Yetunde . Click To Tweet

MANAGE YOUR TIME

Manage your time like a boss. We all have 24 hours in the day. If you’re a solopreneur or you have a small team, you have 24 hours a day. You have a lot to do. What that means is you need to be conscientious of how you spend your time. What are you doing with your mornings? Do you find yourself on Facebook or Instagram immediately? STOP IT!!! The first 90 minutes set the tone. Be intentional about those 90 minutes.

CONNECT, BETTER

That means online and offline. Sometimes we get caught up in posting, and we forget that we have to engage other people, so dedicate 20 to 30 minutes of your time per week and go back to the people that follow and engage on their pages. Like the comments, like their pictures, read stuff, and leave your thoughtful feedback. Also, do this in live events. That means go out more, look for networking or marketing events that you can be a part of.

MAP OUT YOUR SYSTEMS

If you are going to be doing events, a photo shoot or consulting with clients, write out what that looks like. For example, when a client inboxes you, what is your response? Or when a client responds to you. What do you reply to that? Write it out step-by-step. Having automated content helps in a way that when anything happens, you’re literally just cutting and pasting again saving you time. Or you can use e-services to create an auto send out.

DOCUMENT IT

This is one of the things that were actually in the recent book I had with the Better Business book. I shared the 10 things I’ve learned from my 10 years in business. If I knew then, I would have documented any good thing that happened in my business. When you’re going to do a review of the year or an analysis to a client, you can go back and have documentation. Documenting things is a great way to track your progress - @yetunde Click To Tweet So, at the end of the year, if you have to do a year in review, you have all your ducks in a row. You have content for your portfolio. You have content for testimonials. It’s a great way to track your progress. 

TRACK AND ANALYZE

This often depends on how engaged you are on social media or your newsletter or in person, to see what’s working. Test it out and then come back and take off the things that are not working. Tracking and analyzing helps you see that your efforts are being put to good use. That way, you will get into the quality of what works for your brand, and so you just rinse and repeat and use the things that work over and over again.

AUTOMATE YOUR PROCESSES

Create your automation systems. What does it look like when someone signs up for your newsletter or signs up for talking to you, what is that process? If there’s anything you can automate, which means use a mailing service where something is automatically sent to them without you, your business can function without you; you automatically automate all the stuff that you want your customers or potential clients to know. Again, you have a plan ahead, manage your time like a boss, map out your systems, connect better and more, document the milestones, track and analyze often, automate, engage, and convert. These 7 steps are what you need to level up for your brand in 2019.
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I’ve Got Bills To Pay & You’re Talking About Brand Building?

Not every single marketing activity will translate to direct sales! Can someone please scream this from the rooftops?

If you’ve worked in a marketing capacity, you know this. And you also know a lot of clients straight up refuse to accept it. It’s easy to want to connect all marketing activity directly to ROI.

Some of these activities, such as social media, may be viewed as extras and add-ons because they do not translate to direct revenue, but do they help in solidifying the overall brand picture?

You bet!

It’s imperative to place brand building and sales activities in separate categories. Although they might occasionally overlap, they must be treated as different actions, with different strategies that generate different results.

if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It is easy to overlook the importance of building a solid brand before diving straight into selling. Especially after investing funds into a business. Granted, in the beginning stages of running your business, you might command profits left, right & center.

But what keeps your clients coming back? What prevents them from switching to a competitor selling the exact same product or services for slightly less?

Your brand – that’s what!

 

Big brands invest millions of dollars in building and maintaining a certain brand image with no direct translation to sales. This is not just for fun or because they feel like splurging. It’s because they understand the value and the equity that comes with a solid brand name.

Even the good book says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold”.

Hallelujah, somebody?

Take Coca-Cola, for example, this brand participates in different types of brand building activities designed to trigger emotions, nostalgia, and certain positive feelings associated with the brand.

Amidst these activities, Coca-Cola products are not explicitly sold. Why? The brand understands the value of building brand equity with their current and potential consumers. What is this brand equity, you ask?

It is simply the value placed on a particular brand, based on the experience, feeling, or perception a consumer attaches to it. Simply put, if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it.

If they view your brand as the best thing since sliced bread, they will be willing to pay more for it compared to similar brands. Thus it has a higher equity and commands a price premium in the market.

The problem with focusing on sales before boosting brand awareness and equity is that you may attract a slew of one-time clients. They buy and use your product,  but have no connection to keep them coming back, so they keep it moving!

A competitor product pops up the next time and they switch. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’re all guilty of doing this. We’re also guilty of being extremely loyal to certain brands based on the value we have placed on them.

For some mothers, only a certain brand of diapers will do for their babies, for others, such as myself, we buy fuel from only a certain brand of petrol stations. That’s the beauty of building a strong and trusted brand.

There are many angles to this “brand equity” business, including consumer-based brand equity as discussed previously, employee-based brand equity, and more. As your business grows, employee-based brand equity cannot be neglected.

In growing brand loyalty and equity, employees can be your most cost-effective brand evangelists. The people who will love and promote your brand from the mountaintops – for free.

Let’s use Heineken as an example, I have a couple of friends who work for the brand, and as we say in Nigeria, they “carry it on their head”. Sometimes I think to myself, “Na your papa own this place?”-(Does your father own Heineken?) but guess what? The last time I was in Amsterdam, where the HQ is located — What was I most excited to see & do? To tour the Heineken brewery!

The passion their employees have for the brand and the sincere love and joy that emanates when they speak about it, in turn, gave me the “ginger” and excitement to go see things for myself. When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens.

They become one of your greatest and cheapest marketing assets. The word begins to spread organically and the positive brand equity transcends from employees to consumers.

When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It’s understandable, you put money in, you want money out, and quick! Unfortunately return on investment is not always immediate or that simple.  

Recognizing the need for brand building activities which may not necessarily translate to sales in the short-term is the first step. Understanding the need to cultivate long-term meaningful relationships with your target is the next.

While creating a distinction between brand building and selling activities, always remember to look at the big picture and think long-term.

As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “Brand is not transactional. Brand is forever”.


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AMBER WILLIAMS: PEOPLE DON’T BUY PRODUCTS. THEY BUY STORIES

Amber Williams is the founder of Punkyflair, a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. Building iconic statement-making brands is her jam, and she is committed to helping businesses grow authentically through a story.

Through Punkyflair, Amber has positioned new businesses in the marketplace, molded magnetic personalities, crafted money-making narratives, and named global product collections for leading brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Shea Radiance, and Marjani.

Amber Williams connects young brands to the customers they want to reach through a story. She believes that story is the most critical business asset for one simple reason: it can’t be duplicated.

It is the key to building a brand that will withstand the test of time and last forever.

In this interview, she discusses how you can best understand your audience, communicate your vision, and sell with a story.  


Tell us how and why you started Punkyflair

 

My early career was spent in corporate America where I used my formal training in psychology and integrated marketing to create and launch brand strategies for companies like Armani Exchange, Volkswagen, The United States Olympic Committee, and Feeding America.

I was working within a world of limitless resources and possibilities in marketing. I had the freedom to be creative, spend however much was needed, and most importantly – test the water.

After several years of implementing creative brand marketing campaigns, I realized that my signature approach to every strategy I created was rooted in a story.

Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story. Inadvertently, I used my knack for writing and understanding of human behavior to put words together that would sell clothing, jewelry, cars, and even promote funds for world-renowned athletes.

Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

I was a storyteller. At 29, I decided that I would package up my approach and all of my corporate learnings into a framework that would help startups launch and grow their businesses.

I created Punkyflair to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, training and thinking necessary to understand their audience, communicate their vision, and sell with the story.

Today, I have the good fortune of doing so for leading woman-owned brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Marjani, BLK+GRN, and Shea Radiance.

What is brand storytelling and where does it fit in marketing strategy?


Simply put, brand storytelling is a method for connection. If you consider your favorite storybook or movie, there is most likely a character in it that resonates most with you.

Maybe it’s because you see yourself in them. Perhaps it’s because that character represents who you want to be. All great stories make you look at yourself and consider how you connect to the tale being told. Brand storytelling is no different.

A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives. When done well, your brand provides the perfect reflection for who they already are but better.  Brand storytelling is the most effective, non-salesly way to build meaningful and profitable relationships with the customers you want to reach.

A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives.” - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

How can businesses effectively explore the core elements that make up their customer profile?

 

All businesses should view their customers as the star characters in their brand story. Everything that your brand does–from operations to product innovation and marketing–should be built around your customer. It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs are willing to skip this essential first step.

A strong customer profile is made up of three key elements: perspective, preference, and personality. Understanding your customer’s perspective is all about figuring out where your customer is coming from, the unique challenges they face, and what they really want from your brand.

The next step is to discover what your customer prefers by digging deep to understand purchase motivators and where your brand solution fits into their lives. Finally, you’ll want to explore your customer’s personality traits.

Doing so will help you tailor your messaging in a way that gets the people you want to reach to listen and buy from you.

A strong customer profile is made up of 3 key elements: perspective, preference, and personality - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

As they discover their customers, how do businesses determine the best approach in talking to their audience?

 

Now that you know more about your customers, you’ll want to speak to them in a language that they understand. The best approach is first to visualize precisely who this person is. Bringing the person you want to reach to life humanizes your communication.

It brings back the reality that you, as the brand, are talking to a real person. When working to craft your narrative, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Why does my brand exist?
  • What problem do we solve for our customers?
  • What values or beliefs do we stand on as a business?
  • How do our products/services make our customers’ lives better?

The answers to these questions make up your core brand narrative, letting your customers know exactly why they should trust and buy from you. Plaster them everywhere (tactfully of course)!

As businesses increasingly incorporate storytelling in marketing strategy, how can “Motherland Moguls” craft a brand story that yields customer action?

The marketplace is getting extremely crowded! It’s never been harder to cut through the clutter than it is now. Customers are continuously bombarded with marketing messages and brands are spending a significant amount of money just to stay visible.

In this landscape, the challenge lies in not only being seen, but in making money also. The best way that Motherland Moguls can yield a favorable action from their target customers is to keep a pulse on their customers’ wants and needs.

Don’t get too caught up in the competition and what they’re doing. Always remember that people are buying from your brand for a reason. Serve them and then explore what else you can create to serve them again. Be authentic and tell the story only you can sell.

What’s your go-to advice to a business owner trying to instill more brand storytelling?

 

My go-to advice is simple: take yourself out of it. Simple, right? The #1 thing you must do to grow your brand and instill more storytelling is to get yourself out of it.

Sure, you are the founder and mastermind behind the business. It was your sweat equity and creativity that launched the brand. You identified a problem and created a solution. It’s your baby. I get it.

However, if you want your baby to grow, you have to move out the way and tell a story in your marketing that centers around the customer, not yourself. Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves.

Make your story a two-way dialogue, not a diatribe about your own journey. Spend some time understanding what matters to your people: what values they hold, what additional problems they face, what viewpoints they have on the world and your industry. Create stories from the deeper emotional layers that (above all else) truly connect customers to brands.  

Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves. - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

What product and service offering do you have in the works to help rising entrepreneurs with brand storytelling?

 

I recently released Customer Kamikaze. my 3-part customer discovery framework. It’s the exact same framework I’ve used to help my startup clients scale their businesses (some into the millions) by understanding their customers and building their brand stories around them.

People love it because it’s self-paced and fun! The exercises are intuitive, simple and impactful. Also, the result, once the framework is applied, is far higher than the minimal cost of the product.

I wanted to create something super affordable, even for early-stage entrepreneurs, but something that would have a tremendous impact and set the tone for a brand story that sells.

What are you most excited about at the moment, and what are you working on next?

 

I’m most excited about my next chapter! I want to move in a direction that allows me to help multiple entrepreneurs at once. This fall, I’ll be speaking more and even playing around with group coaching and live workshops.

Brand story is a concept that I absolutely love teaching and one that I love to see entrepreneurs benefit.

Amber Williams is offering a free audio training on building lasting brands. Contact her here.


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SAMANTHA MOGWE: I collaborate with other brands that share the same values as me

Samantha Mogwe is a Motswana singer/songwriter who brings a fused element of neo-soul/RnB. Raised to appreciate poetry and performing arts, she was exposed to music at an early age.

She has had the opportunity to perform not only in Botswana but in South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Sweden. Sharing the stage with well-known artists such as Zahara, The Soil, Zonke, Joe Thomas, Kenny Latimore, Lira, Micasa, Hugh Masikela among others.

Samantha is a 2014 YAMA award winner for Best Female Artist for the year and a BOMU Award winner for Best packaged Album, in 2015.

She is a multifaceted individual who places great value on edification and re-inventive qualities. She holds a degree in Theology and has studied music with the Trinity College of London.

Samantha is a wife and a mother, radio personality on local radio station Gabz Fm, a voice coach, fitness enthusiast and businesswoman who maintains her work-life balance by scheduling everything and prioritizing what is important.

In this interview, she chats to us about personal and business branding qualities, new radio show venture and social entrepreneurship.


 Have you always wanted to be a musician?

I come from a family that loves music and arts in general. I knew I loved music but I did not grow up thinking I would choose music as a career.

It’s something that crept up on me when my best friend forced me to join My African Dream when we were 15. We came second in our category and then I would always find myself gravitating towards performing on stage despite fear and being shy.

 

How have you steered clear of the ideology that doing music in Botswana is not a sustainable career?

Like any career, the arts are unpredictable, and I say this because we now live in a time where a staggering number of our graduates are unemployed even though they are in fields that our parents assume would be safer when it comes to making an income.

I personally have never been the type of person who was caught up in following the ideas and norms of what society expected of me.

I think it’s because I remind myself that I came into this world alone, and one day I will SOLELY stand before God to give an account of what I did with the gifts and opportunities that He has given me.

My faith and hope for being a successful musician are what also fuelled me to keep at it even when there were so many reasons to just simply give up and try something that seemed to have more certainty.

My purpose is clear in the lyrical content of my music, my radio show & in the conversations I have - @samanthamogwe Click To Tweet

Why was it important for you to transition into the radio realm and how did you prepare for it?

How I got into radio was a bit of a strange one. Some people think it’s because I “knew someone” who gave me the opportunity but that is not how it happened.

At the beginning of 2017, I had a deep inclination to invest in myself and learn the art of public speaking. I joined Gaborone Toast Masters and spent the entire year with the Club, learning how to speak in public without being afraid and how to articulate myself.

Gabz Fm then put out an advert where they were looking for new radio presenters and I tried to ignore it. My husband and sister then convinced me to drop off my applications and demo.

Three months later after they had gone through the applicants, I was shortlisted to join a group of ten who had potential. We began training in December of 2017 into January of 2018 and that’s how I got in.

I have always known that I would love to be able to speak on a public platform because writing music can be limiting as you are working on sharing an idea on an instrumental that is less than 4 minutes. That’s quite limiting.

I wanted to diversify my brand in a way that still maintained my purpose and vision and also challenged me so that I would keep growing as a person.

Not only that, I found that it was important that I should try and reach people who might only see me as a performing artist, but often wouldn’t think that I have opinions on issues that we as Batswana are dealing with on a day to day basis.

 

The “Sams Purple Lounge” among other things addresses interesting business and social issues. What encouraged you to address these? 

 

I want us to fix ourselves and in turn fix our immediate community in our own little way. This is what Sams Purple Lounge is out to do.

To be honest, I have gotten tired of having us constantly complaining as a people. We have many problems in our society so why not show solutions.

This is why I try to bring guests who are addressing various social concerns. Our conversations are geared toward fixing social issues, and also at times educating and challenging the mindset that often needs challenging and encouragement to look at life beyond ‘ME, MYSELF AND I’!

I am overwhelmed by the response. So far people love it, and I couldn’t be happier because that encourages me to keep going and keep growing as a radio presenter.

Can you tell us more about your social enterprises?

I have aligned myself with two specific social causes:

LOVE IS ART: The whole point is to use theatre and performing arts during the 16 days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse. Here we tell stories aimed at creating dialogue and in the process, we raise funds for safe houses for battered women and children.

This seems to be a big trouble area for Batswana as most times, we do not talk about the abuse that goes on in our homes. We see that women are daily encouraged to stay with spouses who abuse them and/or their children.

We have also gone as far having a sanitary pad drive for incarcerated women.

SKY GIRLS BW: I have been working with them since 2014, and the relationship stems from their focus on the young Motswana girl.

Teaching the young girl how to be assertive, how to be grounded and how to be okay with being themselves and not succumbing to peer pressure that comes in different forms. I think this especially is close to my heart because our peers can often derail us from following a dream.

This is because they do not understand what it is that we want to achieve in life,  and I know this as someone who decided to follow the arts as a chosen career path instead of the conventional 8-5 office job. 

Authenticity cannot be faked - @samanthamogwe Click To Tweet

Name three factors you used in building and sustaining your personal/business brand.

Looking back at my own personal brand, I would say what has helped me achieve a sustainable brand over the past few years include the following things

AUTHENTICITY

A lot of the time, people assume that you have to be a certain way in order to amass a following of a specific magnitude. I have never tried to be anything that is not Samantha Mogwe. You will see this is not only what I post on social media, but how I write my music as well as the content I bring on my radio show.

I try to be transparent and real when it comes to what I portray. I also ensure that I am credible and trustworthy.  In being authentic, I make it known that I am finding my way, learning and growing just like everyone else. I am never afraid to admit when I don’t know something.

Another thing that people will realize is authenticity cannot be faked as people watch and observe to see if you maintain consistency in the things that you value and how I communicate issues that are close to your heart.

PURPOSE

From the beginning, I have always told myself that I wanted to live a life that made a difference in the lives of people. This might include simply educating, bringing awareness, teaching, challenging.

My purpose is clear in the lyrical content of my music, in my radio show, in the conversations I have, in the projects that I affiliate my brand with, in the things I post about on social media.

VISIBILITY

How prominent is your brand? I have always made sure that I continued and still continue to build my brand internally and externally. This means that I attend networking sessions and find ways to grow myself.

I collaborate with other brands that share the same values as me. Even when I was expecting my son and took a break from music, I maintained visibility. This kept me visible yet allowed me to share something that I was passionate about.


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The Art of Customer Service every business should adopt

As important as branding and advertising are, one of the most important elements of selling a product/service is customer service.

Excellent customer service puts your business ahead of the competition as it is something that is often missing from the a lot of countries, especially the Ghanaian business model.

Small businesses tend to jump straight to digital marketing or advertising without taking a moment to fully understand their business model and industry and how their product (or service), pricing, place (online store or brick & mortar store) and people (service personnel) intertwine and affect the overall brand and ROI.

In case you didn’t know, people are one of the most important aspects of the business, that is service personnel across the production line or yourself if you are running a run man show.

Customer service does not begin and end at the point of transaction and as a small business owner, you must consider the pre-purchase experience, purchase experience, and post-purchase experience

So what does this mean for your business? 

Pre-purchase experience

This refers to the experience your customer has with your brand before they decide to purchase anything. Is your website appealing? Does it have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision – or are your photos outdated? How is your advertising?

Are people speaking positively about your brand?

Purchase experience

This is the actual moment of transaction where you exchange the product (or service) for payment. If you run an online store, you must consider your interface – is your website easy to navigate? How does your customer pay for their purchase – do you have Mobile Money integrated? Can they use a Visa Card?

There are many services in Ghana that allow you to develop a website that allows your customers to shop online. A personal favorite is Storefoundry, it works very well for small businesses in Ghana.

If you run an actual brick & mortar store, what is the ambiance like? Is it easy for customers to locate the products in your store? Are they on high shelves and do they always need an attendant to help?

Is your store so small that your customers can only come in one at a time? Is your shop attendant interactive, willing to help and offer alternatives? Or are they constantly on their phone?

Post-purchase experience

This covers your follow-ups and interaction with the client after the transaction. Are you bombarding them with irrelevant SMS messages and emails? If you provide a delivery service, was your delivery driver dressed appropriately?

Below are practical tips you can put into action to make sure your customer service is top notch.

  • Recruitment & Training – Recruitment and training is the beginning of providing excellent customer service. Even if you are running a run man show, you need to stay up to date on customer relationship trends and train yourself to always put the customer first.  If you are hiring others to handle the customer interaction, make sure you hire people who know and understand the vision of the brand and are willing to be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the workplace. Personnel must also be conversant in the industry-speak as well as in the product itself, in order to serve as a salesperson.
Hiring the right people will allow you to build the right company culture that is well aligned with the brand Click To Tweet
  • Go the extra mile – The data you collect from your customers serve many purposes. One of the main ones is to compile a mailing list for your newsletter but another important use would be to study your customer’s purchasing habits and stay a step ahead of them all the time. Group your customers by date of birth and send out a personal message to them via text message or Whatsapp, which has become a popular medium for business communication in Ghana. Get to know your customers personally, are they parents? Do they celebrate religious holidays? Make sure to reach out to them accordingly.
Reminding customers that you have them on your mind will make them feel involved with the brand. Click To Tweet
  • Feedback is key – Receiving feedback from your customers at least once a quarter is important. Simple tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey are helpful for designing easy to use surveys which gives you direct feedback from your customers and clients. This way, your clients feel involved with and connected to your brand.

 

  • Appearance – You and your staff’s appearance is one of the most important elements in building a strong brand. Ensure that staff (and yourself) look the part at all times. Customers appreciate a smile and a helping hand, as difficult as it may be on some occasions.

The best way to make sure your customer service is on point is to align the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experience to ensure a smooth transaction!

Go forth and provide an excellent service!

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Revealed: The Secret To Staying Motivated

The year is almost halfway done, and chances are, the energy you started with is most likely not as powerful as it is now. Being motivated for a whole year can be quite challenging when life is constantly throwing us different surprises. Even then, motivation can only take you so far when trying to achieve your goals. 

So, how do you stay motivated amidst all? The secret is – drum rolls please – ‘Find your Vision’! Your vision will guide you and keep you going on your journey to success. Vision ensures that you don’t go around in circles and get frustrated when things go left. 

But how do you find your vision? The following tips offer a few steps on how you can find your vision and stay motivated. 


1. Listen to your inner voice

To have a clear idea about your vision, you must look inside yourself. Vision comes from within, from the spirit or subconscious, whatever you choose to call it. Everyone has a vision that is unique to them, and you are no different.

When searching inside, you should yourself questions such as what stirs you? What is your greatest desire? What kind of dreams do you have? Once, you ask yourself these questions, chances are your vision will start become clearer for you.

2. Prepare yourself mentally

Your vision begins in your mind and heart. It is something that burns within your soul. it should be greater than your all of your past memories, mistakes, and accomplishments. If you know what your vision is, you will have a purpose and won’t get lost on your journey.

Sometimes, when you don’t have a distinct vision, it is easy to become distracted. If you don’t know where you’re going or how to get there, the journey will seem a lot longer and harder. To avoid this, make surer you prepare your mind for challenges ahead.

3. Surround yourself with people who have a clear purpose

Greatness breeds greatness, and it is for this reason that you should seek out the company of others who can appreciate and support your vision. Network with winners and it will keep your motivation high.

4. Develop your vision

Do you want to be the next Bill Gates but because of the way your bank account is wired it may seem impossible? The truth is, there are times when it is hard to understand how to apply your vision to your life in order to reach your goals. Don’t worry, all visions start from scratch!

Your vision will grow from your experiences, talents, dreams, and desires. So don’t worry if your bank account is not growing as fast as you would have wished. Great visions take time to develop and perfect. Allow your vision to slowly but surely reveal itself to you.

5. Keep a notebook and pen handy

All too often, we come up with great ideas and thoughts and by the time we want to write them down, they are forgotten. With that in mind, you never know when your vision is going to come to you, you have to keep a small notepad with you at all times. Even on your nightstand when you sleep. Write down whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly it seems at the time.

You may write down a hundred crazy ideas but number one hundred and one just might be the vision you were searching for. Don’t try to filter right now, just write down everything that comes to mind.

6. Follow your vision

The vision you are seeking will most likely come to you in ways that you won’t fully understand at the moment. That’s okay. Even your friends or family might not understand it. That too is fine. Just follow as much of your vision as you can right now, and more will be revealed to you as time goes on.

All truly successful people have a vision that they follow, no matter what challenges they may face. Begin following the above steps to seek your vision today and remember that true, lasting success will never come to you until you know what your vision is and how you will follow it.

And you will be unstoppable if you combine your personal vision with a healthy dose of motivation.

This article was originally written by Tariro.


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Babalwa Fatyi: Serving my Purpose with my many hats on

Meet Babalwa Fatyi the South African Environmental Scientist who is a wife, mother, poet, author. She is also the managing director for Myezo Environmental Management Services Consulting company, Myezo growth and development institute, and co-owner of the ZenQ fashion line.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution towards the development of the economy, Babalwa has been awarded various accolades.

She won the Standard Bank 2016 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, and in 2016, she won the Most Influential Woman in Business and Government Award. 


 

What factors have helped you achieve as much as you have?

The biggest factor that has contributed towards my success is not contradicting who I am. I aim to produce outputs that are authentic. My outputs should be aligned with my inner being and bring me peace.

To ensure this, I’ve made sure that I understand my purpose and that I align my goals with that purpose. That way when I’m faced with challenges, I am strengthened by focusing on my purpose which God revealed to me. Therefore, when I feel out of tune with what I need to do, I talk to friends and to God. They remind me of purpose and keep me on track.

Secondly, I am driven by serving others. I see my gifts and talents as a means to achieve greatness.

You wear many hats, tell us your secret ingredient for achieving it all.

The things that I do revolve around my core and serve my purpose. My responsibility revolves around showing gratitude and taking care of the environment that has been entrusted unto us. Poetry allows me to respect and feed my soul, by nourishing it.

My ZenQ clothing line in an expression of my artistic creativity through clothes. I believe clothes can reflect the essence of who we are. They can show how we feel as well as how we wish to be viewed.

A dress designed by Babalwa from ZenQ clothing line.

All these different things are just a tangible expression of who I am. My gifts and talents, which are given to me, to fulfill my role as an environmental ambassador and a steward. So I do not wear many hats but I wear one hat: I wear me.

What led you publishing your poetry book “Greetings from My Core”?

Poetry to me is an expression of who I am and a conduit through which I could find my voice and reach out to others and request them to engage with me on some of the matters that affect our society.

Through poetry, I could share my authenticity, experiences and love my surroundings, including its beautiful diverse people I encounter, who inspire me or bring life to those experiences.

This enables me to be more conscious and is also an opportunity for me to give reverence to God.

Babalwa with African Fashion Pioneer Vanya Magaliso

What can you tell us about your company – Myezo Environmental Management Services consulting? 

At Myezo, we seek to serve the environment, communities, and developers through guidance on how to best take care of the land we have. We help developers with regulations and assessing the impact of developments on both the land and the communities.

Through our work, we learn’t that our solutions must be tested by our clients who are our partners. As respect, empathy and listening to others are key in what we do, we must incorporate all the diverse views we face.

How has Myezo developed in terms of creating jobs?

Our greatest strength is our heart for youth and solidarity to the challenges our country face in terms of unemployment and poverty alleviation. We aim to bring to life the National Development Plan goals by playing a role within our areas of influence and capacity.

Through providing a platform, we’ve helped youth penetrate into the job market and therefore provided them with the needed resources to improve their lives and their families.

The youth were not only exposed to scientific knowledge but also to self-awareness, project management, and organizational skills among others.

Captured with the colleques.

What does the Myezo Growth and Development Institute do?

At this institute, we do coaching and mentoring through our collaborations with some universities. We contribute to ensuring that there are no wide gaps between what is taught at schools and what industries expect from graduates.

Our other collaborations with other organizations include projects such as the Princess D Menstrual Cup. Through this, we hope to put girls back to school and not miss out on learning due to natural biological processes.

This is aligned with our environmental stewardship role as this cup reduces the sanitary pads that go to the landfill or medical waste disposal sites.

Finally, together with the Tsogang Re Direng Youth Foundation, we empower girls with career selection decisions and also help connect them to skills development opportunities. These include skills such as events management of vintage recycling where they learn practical environment-friendly skills that generate income.

What do you do to relax?

I’m a very outdoor kind of person. So for fun, I take walks at the nature reserves around my neighborhood. This helps me find peace and tranquility in just giving my self-time to be alone at times and just recharge.

I also believe in being spiritually fed and therefore fellowship with other believers. Other than this, I spend time with my husband, family, friends. Listening to the sound of my kid’s laughter and running around brings joy to my life.

Nnanke Essien: The Visibility Expert

Nnanke Essien is a visibility strategist and business transformation coach. She helps individuals with awesome ideas, products and services to get seen and found by their ideal clients.

She does this using a 5 step visibility building process to build an effective and efficient visibility roadmap. Nnanke believes that the path to success is littered with awesome but poorly marketed ideas, hence her mandate is to support businesses find this sure pathway.

She is a John Maxwell Certified coach, a HR professional and a visibility builder round the clock. She has been supporting start-ups and businesses since 2007 even through college.


Why is it important to stay visible?

If nobody knows you exist, nobody will buy from you. It’s really that simple, you must always find a way for your ideal clients to remember that you exist. We call it top of mind awareness. In other words, if at any point your client has a need, your brand name should be top of mind.

How can brands stay visible despite strong competition on social media? 

Truthfully, social media isn’t going anywhere and the earlier business owners understand this and take ownership the better for brands. Firstly, to stay visible, brands must adhere to a stellar mindset.

Beyond this, brands need clarity on why they are in the business. This is in terms of the business mission, vision, values, identifying their business playing field (niche), their core message and their brand positioning on the value chain.

Brands also need clarity on their ideal clients. Who are the people whose lives and businesses will be transformed by virtue of the fact that this business exists?

Understanding the client’s exact needs, desires, challenges, what they need to transform, lifestyle, spending power and motivation is key to business visibility success.Finally, brands can also stay visible by authenticating their authority in the market. Having consistent, attractive and meaningful bio’s on their social media platforms can contribute to this. Their bio must contain relevant information on who the brand is.

Also, nurturing communities i.e groups, leveraging on content and becoming an information reservoir for clients can be a great way of authenticating authority. In all of these, consistency and building revenue generating models, systems, processes and assets are key to success and visibility.

What are your top three tips for business owners to incorporate into their brands?

  1. Have a consistent brand voice and visual appeal that is easy for people to spot and recognize.
  2. Focus on building relationships using KLT (Know, Like and Trust) techniques like live videos, Instagram stories, guest appearances et al.
  3. Leverage on content that your ideal clients need.

How can women balance putting themselves out there while not appearing too forward?

Woman know what you want. Don’t do things out of compulsion or pressure. The woman you buy shoes from didn’t shy away from her calling, the woman who sells human hair didn’t shy away from her calling.
Recognize your hustle. Validate it! Look for a group of persons or coaches and mentors who can help you identify your hustle, find your sweet spot, stay there, flaunt it and own it.

What do you wish more entrepreneurs knew about today’s changing marketplace?

I wish they would spend more time actually researching than copying and wasting endless time doing idle and non-income generating activities. Behaviors are changing. The spending power of your ideal clients is changing. Algorithms on all the social platforms you are using are changing.

What is the next step for you in 2018?

I want to have intentional positioning. This will include focussing on my visibility cure show and collaborating with industry veterans.