Why you need a Long-Term Digital Strategy for your Business

One of the biggest issues I have with my Nigerian clients is that they don’t particularly think long-term. Everybody wants results right here, right now.

Social media isn’t even helping matters with the instant gratification.

How else would you explain why a lot of e-commerce stores aren’t invested in an SEO and blogging strategy? A lot of businesses in Nigeria just create websites and leave it there excepting orders to magically appear.

 

But I get it. It can be hard to think about a long-term strategy for a side hustle especially if you don’t have any plans to extend it into the main hustle just yet. Still, it is important to consider a long-term strategy for your business even if it doesn’t get there.

Whether you like it or not, the internet is here to stay and is not going away anytime soon. If you have decided that you want to invest in a digital strategy for your business, you need to have a plan. You need to create a strategy outlining your goals and all the efforts it would need to achieve them.

Don't be afraid of failure. Failure is part of life - @Ebun_Oluwole Click To Tweet

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Perhaps the most important thing about an effective digital strategy is consistency. No matter how little you’re putting into it, as long as you’re consistent, you will get results in the long term.

A lot of people sometimes prefer to test the waters with social media before plunging in completely. But the problem is you can become complacent and forget your goals.

This is why it is important to set defined goals from the onset to keep you focused and accountable.

Need I remind of the numerous benefits you can get along the way:

  • A recurring and diversified income
  • Brand authority
  • Thought leadership
  • Influence

But perhaps, you’re struggling to stay motivated and you need to be constantly reminded of your goals, positive affirmation helps. You need to place them where you can see them every day.

You can use a vision board or just have them in strategic spaces like on your desk or on the walls of your office.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is part of life. Don’t be afraid to think long-term because of failure. Even if you do fail, do not stop there. Pick up the important lessons and move on to the next one!

In conclusion, to get the reap the incredible benefits of a digital strategy for your business, you need to think long-term.


 

Help a sista out! Answer this quick 3 minute survey

help-a-sista-out - survey

Starting a business is tough and can be pretty scary when you’re going from just an idea to actually putting yourself out there. You have a vision and a dream and no clue if it will actually work out. We always encourage fresh entrepreneurs to get out of their heads, off their laptops and into the streets to survey potential customers and see if their ideas make sense to the people who might actually buy from there.

We’re always happy when people actually listen to us and then of course come to SLA for help. Two young women are working on a business concept that will provide a global audience access to the freshest and most creative beauty and fashion products that Africa has to offer. Their brand will focus on high-quality tailoring, textiles, luxury and accessibility for an international market while celebrating the best of African talent beyond patterned prints.

They have big dreams but need your help to get there. Basically they need you to be the Beyonce to their Nicki.

giphyHelp a sista out and fill out this quick 3 minute survey below. As a special thank you, we’re offering one lucky person who answers the survey the opportunity get featured on our Facebook page and be seen by our 45,000+ community.



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Dziffa Ametam: Tools and tips for building an e-commerce site

From Amazon to Alibaba to Jumia, ecommerce has taken the global retail market by storm. Data suggests the trend is here to stay. With internet penetration improving across Africa, we expect ecommerce industry to expand.

Dziffa Ametam of Dziffa is on a mission to create an online marketplace for authentic handmade African goods. For any one who had spent time on the continent Africa, this is no easy feat. Internet speed and pricing are two of several hurdles ecommerce business have to surmount.

In this piece, Ametam shares tips that have helped her build her business, and pitfalls to avoid.

Can you give us some insight to some of the important tools you started out with?

1.  Stick To Your Principle

At Dziffa, our principle was simple: sell authentic handmade African goods that add value to our local economy and expand the global reach of our local artisans. We started by combing Ghana for artisans who made high quality goods from locally sourced raw materials.

We partnered with them, providing professional photography, branding, and marketing services free of charge. As they had nothing to lose, they agreed to the partnership, and that helped stock the site with products that are aligned to our principle of creating a store with authentic African goods.

2.  Focus on the Supply Chain

Most ecommerce sites fail because they are unable to meet demand. It was very important for us to maintain consistency by fulfilling all orders. This sounds very basic but it is actually the hardest part of our job. We work with artisans from various regions and each has his or her own challenges with getting the products to us on time.

I moved to Ghana to ensure that all orders, no matter how small, would be fulfilled. Fulfilment is crucial to turning curious customers to loyal customers. Someone could buy a bookmark out of curiosity, but if she received it on time and is satisfied with it, she just might become a loyal customer. Plus, her friends will know about her new discovery.

Pitfalls to avoid

Getting heavily involved with manufacturing. Because we work hand in hand with artisans, we are always tempted to get involved with the manufacturing process.

This was a big distraction in the very early days of Dziffa. We would get consumed with the manufacturing process that we didn’t have time to focus on our core responsibility, which is selling.

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What are some tools you started without that you soon realized were necessary?

Social Media, Blogs, and Magazines.

Stories matter and we underestimated the power of storytelling in the very early stages of Dziffa. We communicate to our audience through our weekly blog post and bring them along with us on our journey. We reach out to magazines to share our discoveries. We also leverage social media to brand and sell beyond our immediate market,Ghana.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs trying to get into the e-commerce space?

1. Do your research

I cannot stress this enough. As an entrepreneur, every mistake you make is costly. Do your research or speak to someone who has been down a similar path. Make sure you thoroughly research the market you are going into and fully understand the opportunities and challenges.

2.  Embrace the struggle

Entrepreneurship is not easy. You will be faced with a lot of challenges. Embrace the struggle; they teach you a lot about yourself and your potential. Remain persistent and always remember why you chose this path.

You can learn more about Dziffa? You can find out more on her website and social media pages – Facebook and Instagram.  Want to learn more about ecommerce or running an ecommerce business? Comment below and let us know.

 

Don’t vex: 10 must do’s for using social media for business

There is so much hype on using social media for business. Yet, many brands are not using it at all or many of those who are, are not getting it right. We’ve complied the basic must dos for all of us to revisit once more.

Thousands of businesses have taken to platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus to build a brand that’s accessible, lovable, and profitable. Instagram has proved to be an especially viable means of building a customer base for fashion brands. Think Orange Culture, Eve and Tribe, Shop Zuvaa, Iconola, Tzar Studios, and so on.

Social media gives you access to an enormous audience that could be converted to loyal customers if you play your cards right. Below are 10 steps that will help you dominate social media and harness its potential.

1. Know your why

Explore why your business is on social media and why you are on each specific platform. While social media allows you to build a relationship your audience, the nature of the relationship you have with your consumers is completely up to you.

Are you on social media to share relevant information to your industry, showcase your business products, establish yourself/business as an expert or some mix of them all? Whatever it is, knowing your ‘why’ is an imperative first step.

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2. Decide the best platforms for your business 

Use your why to inform the social media platforms you choose for your business. There are over 400 social media platforms currently active and it is impossible to be them all. What platforms do you think would be more beneficial for your business? Let’s dive into the benefits of a few: Instagram and Pinterest allow you to connect with audience on a visual and emotional level.

Google Plus helps with search engine rankings. LinkedIn is great for publicizing your company profile page or business resume. Ryze is a social network for businesses, may especially helpful for business to business (B2B) companies. Twitter, Facebook, Talkbizniw, Affluence, and Quora; the list is exhaustive.

Take time to study the benefits of each of these platforms then pick at most 3 of the those platforms for your business.

3. Develop a strategy

Wondering why 100 fashion bloggers are talking about the same shirt from a particular fashion brand at the same time? Well, it’s no coincidence. Welcome to the world of strategy – the ultimate key that unlocks opportunities for businesses.

To start, your key strategies must align with your company’s mission. While all of the elements listed below are part and parcel of doing the strategic work, it is important to understand that setting time aside to write our your overall social media strategy is a vital actionable step that stands alone.

Having a good social media strategy is essential for growth. Your strategy should include all of the elements listed below as well as data and feedback metrics. With a clear metrics for examining progress and growth, this work will be for naught.

maya-rudolph-thinking gif4. Get the timing right

Preparation + opportunity = success.

Opportunity is a function of time, and posting the right content at the right time makes a difference. On Facebook, post from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m any day for the highest average click through rate; 3 p.m. on Wednesdays is the peak time.

For Twitter, post from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. from Monday to Thursday. The peak times for LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus are 5 p.m. daily, 3 p.m. on Fridays, and 9 a.m. on Wednesdays respectively.

5. Be human

Think of developing a well rounded person as you develop your brand on social media. You must clearly articulate your mission and choose consistent brand colors, style, and tone for all of your social media accounts.

Remember to show empathy in your branding, after all, there is a person on the end of the screen.

nicki-minaj-human-being6. Know what your audience wants and give it to them

As you begin to build your followers and audience, take the time to listen to them. Study the kind of posts they react to; which posts get the most comments? Which ones get the most likes?

Which of your social media pages does your audience constantly engage on? Are they creating content and visuals related to your product that you can repost. Social listening and data collection is crucial: once you provide your audience with what they want, they’ll stick around and tell others about you.

7. Use hashtags

As distracting as they appear to you, hashtags go a long way on social media. People are constantly searching for things, and correctly hashtag-ing your posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, will put you on the radar and increase your visibility on search engines.

Use hashtags reasonably and strategically, and soon enough you’ll see the benefits.

8. Offer promotions, contests and discounts 

Everyone likes freebies in every shape and form. Giveaways, special offers, and discounts will get people to notice your brand.

Be clear on how every giveaway you host improves your business, helps you grow, or increases audience interaction and participation. In order to create a win-win situation, everything you do must also be beneficial to your brand.

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9. Link back to your website

Many people forget this step: don’t forget that social media is there to help improve your business and as such, people must know where to find you off social media.

Connect everything to your website so that your followers can actually make the purchase after you’ve done the work of building the relationship and converting them to loyal fans. Don’t just add your website link to your social media profiles; share that link with your audience intermittently as reminder.

10. Stick to the plan

Finally, it is so easy to fall off on social media as a tool to grow your business if you are not consistent with steps 1-9. But there only way to win in the long run is to be consistent.

As famous entrepreneur Jim Rohn accurately described: “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic principles”.

We would love to know – what are some social media tips that you apply to your brand?

Louisa Kinoshi: Be OK with failure, that’s how you learn

Louisa Kinoshi - Beauty Rev NG she leads africa

Louisa Kinoshi created BeautyRevNg to celebrate the diverse beauty of African women. The Nigeria-based company, which officially launched in April 2014, aims to revolutionize the beauty shopping experience in Africa.

It seeks to put brands that cater to the needs of African women in its clients’ hands at the click of a button. BeautyRevNg also provides an online space for African beauty enthusiasts to gather and learn from each other.

“It is more than just selling makeup,” said Louisa, who is also a fashion and beauty blogger, and has written for various online publications. Before relocating to Nigeria to work on BeautyRevNG full-time, she worked for Clean Line Energy in Houston.

Prior to that, she worked in corporate public relations and marketing for seven years. Her clients included Starbucks, Pepsico and Pfizer, among others. I caught up with her to talk about her entrepreneurial journey so far.

Light-bulb moment

Louisa Kinoshi - Beauty Rev NGThe idea to start a beauty business came about when Louisa was at Carnegie Mellon University. As a student, she often travelled to Nigeria for holidays. During one of her trips, she lost her makeup bag. “It was a surprise that there was nowhere I could go to replace its contents at an affordable price,” she said.

The few places that she did find sold the makeup that she wanted at exorbitant prices. She realized then that there was a need in the market for reasonably priced beauty products that compliment African women’s skin. “I also heard from family, friends and blog followers that this was something African women want to see,” she added.

As a blogger, Louisa spend time figuring out what was missing in Africa’s beauty and fashion industry. She talked to people on the ground who shared their beauty wants and needs with her. She also cultivated relationships with beauty influencers, who included celebrity makeup artists and bloggers, in Nigeria.

It is through this research that she was able to find out the type of products that her company would initially feature. The relationships she had built came in handy when the business started. It was easy to get people to join the beauty revolution because they had heard about it from these influencers.

Louisa Kinoshi - Beauty Rev NGLouisa wanted to start small. This approach would give her leeway to make mistakes as she worked out the kinks of her business and tested to see if it was something that people really wanted. Armed with personal savings and a little bit of investment from family and friends, she embarked on turning the idea into reality.

The first order of business was getting inventory. “We live in a society where there is scarcity of product so whoever has the most inventory is queen,”she said. “If you don’t have anything to sell then that’s a problem.”

She then had to develop a website for the company. “I didn’t have to spend too much money on this,” she said. “I have web and graphic design experience so I did a lot of the web development myself.” Louisa had also fostered relationships with photographers and designers who agreed to work with her at a reduced cost.

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Growing the brand

Louisa and her team, which consists of herself, a creative director and logistics manager, identify beauty companies to partner with through research and crowdsourcing. They first find out the brands that African women like, want and respect. “Respect is a really big factor,” Louisa said. “Then we ask, ‘Do these brands have products that cater to us?’”

They then reach out to the brands to find out if they are willing to work with BeautyRevNG and have a foot in Africa. Louisa also travels to Los Angeles and attends trade shows where she can meet with the brand representatives in person. She lets them know about her company and her mission and vision. “Once we have an agreement with them, we bring the brands to our site and market them to our customers,” she said.

Fostering these business partnerships has not been without its challenges. Some of the brands that customers desire don’t understand the opportunity in Africa yet. Others aren’t quite ready to have a presence in the continent. As such, they are not willing to form a wholesale relationship with BeautyRevNG.

“There are also some popular indie brands that are owned by small businesses, but they are struggling to provide inventory for America so they can’t quite expand,” Louisa said. “It’s not their priority.” This doesn’t deter her because the beauty industry has so many options. “If one brand says no, it definitely doesn’t kill your business,” she said.“There are also new players coming in.” “If one doesn’t work there is always the next one,” she added.

The company has also dealt with logistics challenges. Initially, it was tough to get the product from the website to the customers hands. “It would take almost three days in the same city,” said Louisa. She worked closely with her delivery partners in order to tackle this. “Now we are at a point where it takes 24 hours for most deliveries within the city.” Her goal is to cut down the product delivery time to 3 to 4 hours. “That would be the sweet spot,” she said.

Louisa Kinoshi - Beauty Rev NG

Powering the beauty revolution

The startup sets itself apart from its competition by actively engaging with its clients. “From day one we have focused on building a community,” said Louisa. “So our brand voice has always been very inclusive.” Customers participate in the company’s story. They share pictures of products they have purchased from the store as well as beauty finds they are interested in.

Through this online community, clients can also access tutorials and get beauty advice. “We are their friends,” said Louisa. “We are who they go to when they want to have conversations about beauty.” “Even if you aren’t purchasing at the time, we still want to engage you.” she added.

This online community keeps Louisa going in the face of challenges. “People are always encouraging me with their words and pictures,” she said. Her family and friends also constantly cheer her on. As a part of Tiffany Amber’s Women of Vision Mentorship Programme, she has been able to connect with other female entrepreneurs. This community of women business owners has been her sounding board and source of strength.

Louisa is excited and energized by the reception that BeautyRevNG has received so far. She is working on launching the first beauty shopping app for African women which will not only enable them to buy products, but also read their reviews and engage with beauty experts. She wants to build a beauty experience center.

Should she win the 2015 SLA Pitch Competition, Louisa plans to use the funds she gets to accomplish these two goals. “We are going to get there eventually, but winning will fast-track the process,” she said.

Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: “Be OK with failure, that’s how you learn. Mistakes are lesson plans for the next phase.”