5 tips to starting a side hustle whilst working at your 9-5

When people consider launching a new business, most imagine quitting their jobs and risking it all. However, aspiring entrepreneurs should stick with traditional jobs, rather than take a complete leap of faith by quitting their jobs. This is to ensure they can take the necessary time to grow their brands whilst earning multiple streams of income.

A side hustle is a business you run in your free time, which allows you to pursue what you are most interested in. It is a chance to delve into different areas such as  fashion, food, hair ,the not- for- profit world  or whatever you are passionate about- whilst keeping your day job.

Yes we love working our 9-5’s! But, extra cash from something we really love is vital. The good thing about having a side hustle is that you can make extra money and use talents that are dormant in your 9-5 day job.

Starting a business whilst employed gives you the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the world, doing work that you love on your own terms. It is not easy as you’ll have to share and balance your time between your day job and business. However, it is possible.

Here are some tips for starting a side hustle:

Pinpoint your passionchoose something you are really enjoy, which people need and are willing to pay for. E.g. Event planning, logo illustrator etc.

Use your network – don’t be afraid to let your contacts know that you are open for business. Post it on social media, send emails, make phone calls get the word out!

Stick to the schedule – set time aside for your business periodically, like an appointment. Have a specific time during the day to work on your side hustle. It is important.

Collaborate/Network – the bigger your community, the more potential opportunities you have. Also, always make time to meet with new people.

Hire an assistant – remember, you have a day job, and most of the time you won’t be able to have meetings with clients or customers. Hire someone who can help with the work while you’re at your job.

Starting a side hustle is not easy and you probably won’t get it right the first time. Just be patient, focus and plan and it will happen!

Do you have side hustle? How do you balance your side hustle and 9-5?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni: Digital Marketing Is Taking Over Rapidly

Everyone can afford to take advantage of digital marketing services.- Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni is currently the Senior Account Manager at Nigeria’s foremost digital marketing agency, Webcoupers. She has successfully worked with several brands and has helped them achieve digital footprints on the web.

In this interview, Oluwaseyi gives us exclusive insights into why small business owners need to incorporate digital marketing services into their sales strategy.

Tell us a bit about yourself & your background

I’m a 25 year old branding powerhouse! A slightly eccentric creative genius, obsessed with the color pink and a Nigerian woman on the rise.

I spent my childhood and high school years in Nigeria after which I moved to the States for the first half of my undergrad. I then moved to Canada where I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Economics as well as a certification in Business Analysis. Followed by a few years of work in the financial sector.

Eventually I became quite jaded, packed my bags, and moved to France last year to attend Business School where I received my MBA with a specialization in Marketing & Brand Management.

I just relocated to Nigeria a few months ago, and I am currently the Senior Account Manager at Nigeria’s foremost digital marketing agency, Webcoupers.


Why did you decide to come back to Nigeria?

I never wanted to leave in the first place! Nigeria has been experiencing a brain drain for a while now but all we do is complain. Those abroad refuse to return while those on the ground want to flee! So who is left?

A lot of people don’t see the digital landscape in Africa as viable and I knew I had to play a role in changing that narrative in my own little way. You are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. I decided it was time to become a part of the solution. That being said, having 24/7 access to pounded yam may or may not have played a role in my decision.


Having worked on several marketing campaigns for major brands, what would you say to those who are yet to optimize digital marketing to grow their businesses?

It’s 2017 and there is a 99.99% chance that your target market is online, what are you doing? From personal experience, I find a lot of key decision makers in Nigerian businesses are not as open minded as they would like to think. They would rather play it safe and splurge on traditional modes of advertising which don’t even produce trackable results, while neglecting the digital side.

That’s not to downplay the importance of non-digital mediums but can you tell me how many people viewed a particular physical billboard yesterday? Probably not. But I can tell you how many people viewed an online ad banner, clicked on it and made a purchase after seeing it! That’s the power of digital.

Businesses are literally stagnating their growth by refusing to key into digital marketing vehicles.


Digital Marketing is scalable to fit any budget. - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

What are the various aspects of digital marketing services that small business owners can leverage on?

The wonderful thing about digital marketing is that it is scalable to fit any budget. From the frugal university student selling jewelry on the side to earn extra income, to the massive multinational firm spending the big bucks to drive sales, everyone can afford to take advantage of digital marketing services.

Social media

Without getting too technical, I’ll discuss a few simple ways SMEs can utilize digital marketing to drive sales. It goes without saying that establishing a social media presence and providing engaging content is imperative.

Word of mouth

We all know of “Word of Mouth”, but what needs to be leveraged is “Word of Mouse”. This is essentially free advertising by connecting with and building a network of brand loyalists who will help spread the word about their products or services online. With over 70 million Nigerians using the internet, the click of a mouse on social media can get you in front of your target consumer faster than any mouth can.

Targeted ad’s

Another way is by running targeted ads on social media platforms. You don’t need a big budget or a formal education to get these up and running. Most social media platforms offer a lot of free learning resources to assist you in getting your campaigns up and running.  Easy-to-use tools like canva can aid you on your creative journey where you can design colorful engaging ads to appeal to prospective clients.


Ensure your website is SEO optimized. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and what that means is you want to boost the visibility of your brand when words relating to it (keywords) are searched for.

There’s a popular saying that the best place to hide a dead body is the 2nd page of Google. Seriously, no one checks there. It is estimated that 75% of users never scroll past first page results; The first page is where all the action is and this is where your business needs to be.

This does not happen overnight and takes a bit of dedication. But, by using relevant keywords, consistently churning out pertinent content and also having links to your website shared on other sites, small businesses can boost their SEO ranking to drive traffic and sales.

If you’re not too keen on trying these out yourself, enlist the services of a digital agency and get on it fast!


Some people think digital marketing is expensive. What is the average amount that a small business owner needs to run a digital marketing campaign?

There are so many myths surrounding digital marketing. I frequently ponder on where they emanate from. There is no “average” amount as strategies and requirements vary from business to business and campaign to campaign.

For example, you can run online ads for various types of campaigns for less than N2,000 a day or you can choose to spend over N200,000 daily. Heck, you can spend N2m a day depending on what your campaign goals are!

You also have to take into account the duration, type of campaign you plan to execute and what online platforms you plan to utilize. Will it run for a day, a month or longer? Is this a physical product, an app or maybe an event? Will you be advertising on the Google Display Network or Social Media? All these factors and more tie into the cost of running a digital marketing campaign.

Digital is taking over rapidly- Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

Do you think small business owners can depend on only digital channels to drive sales?

Certainly! I’ve seen it happen first hand, over and over again. It could be quite beneficial to complement digital with offline marketing strategies, but not all businesses can afford to or necessarily need that.


What do you think is the future of digital marketing in Nigeria?

Digital is taking over rapidly. I predict a massive shift in the industry with new media completely overtaking traditional media. Think about it, who really watches TV anymore? Where do the flyers shove into your hands end up? Probably underneath a pile of suya somewhere.

Although I don’t think traditional media will completely die out, I do foresee a complete role reversal between digital and non-traditional marketing channels.I am ecstatic to be an agent of this digital transformation in Nigeria & Africa as a whole through my role at Webcoupers.

How has digital marketing helped you grow and scale your business?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more  here.

Joyce Muthoni: Starting entrepreneurship at a young age has given me time to make mistakes

Joyce Muthoni
The name Viral Gorrrila came from a need to have our audience be curious about what we do Click To Tweet

She calls herself a spirited individual and she has accomplished a lot in a short span of time. Joyce Muthoni is the founder of Viral Gorrrila and has worked in her first business for 6 years.

She started her first business Proteque Consulting while still on campus, just before she graduated. After six years of running it, Joyce started a balloon business, retailing helium balloons. In under two years, her balloon business is now getting into retail stores and expanding into other regions in Kenya, after successfully setting up the Nairobi and Mombasa offices.

The balloon business led to the founding of Viral Gorrrila, a digital marketing agency. It was because of digital marketing activities that her balloon business grew its client base. Joyce quickly saw an opportunity to venture into an untapped industry and help companies gain more market share through digital activities.

Tell us why you choose the name Viral Gorrrila for your business.

Viral Gorrrila is a digital marketing company that deals with a number of things including website design, Google analytics, Google ads, social media marketing and advertising, and content development. I believe that content is king and conversion is queen. the coining of the name Viral Gorrrila came from a need to have our audience be intrigued, attracted and curious about what we do.

The essence of our work is to ensure that as many people as possible get to learn about our clients’ brands and services. The ‘viral’ bit is coined from this while ‘gorrrila’ came from the word guerilla in guerilla marketing. The goal of the company is to develop creative, captivating and memorable content for our clients and this is what guerilla marketing is about.

Our creative content seeks to fulfill this and create advocates out of the audience. The Viral Gorrrila term in its self-symbolizes disruption, doing things differently, changing the way digital marketing has been done in our country and helping our clients and other brands see the value of change. The “rrr” in Gorrrila reflects this.

Why do you say you’re a new kind of digital marketing agency? What makes you different?

There are a lot of agencies in the country, some with a wealth of experience and others starting out and learning the ropes as they go along. We have a strong team that is conversant with Google advertising and social media advertising.

We also have a deep focus on creative content development and we have ventured into animated productions in 2D and 3D for our clients and are pursuing a digital channel that will air only animated content made in Kenya. This will, later on, open up to airing content from the rest of Africa.

What exciting projects are you working on lately that you can share with us?

My work and keen interest in the animation field has led me to work with a local gaming and animation company that is making great strides in the market. I was approached by the Director of ISHAKA LLC, Mr. Sagwa Chabeda, to assist in the project concept and fundraising.

We are currently working on a gaming, animation and manga franchise that is set to take the African, European and American markets by storm. It is a bold statement to make but it is a viable endeavor. We have attracted interest from some international production and distribution companies who are looking for new content to market to the world.

The ball is in our court and we want to tell our African stories and help the world understand who we are, our cultures, traditions, and heritage. We want to give our viewers an authentic display of the different countries in Africa, one story at a time.

My keen interest in animation has led me to work with ISHAKA a local gaming & animation company Click To Tweet

You started your business while in school, what was your experience being a student entrepreneur?

I started my business in my final year of campus. I had some work experience previously in my father’s company and it was here that I made the decision not to pursue employment after my education. Understanding my personality and passion, I knew what my dreams were and I didn’t want to wait to pursue them.

The great thing about starting my business while I was still on campus was that I got business referrals from my fellow classmates who were older and already running their own businesses. I also received advice from them on business planning and execution. On the other hand, I was inexperienced in many things and my lack of experience cost me a lot of money and brought a lot of tears. I had no HR, finance or management skills. My background was in marketing. I had to quickly learn the ropes and continue to keep an open mind, learning attitude, build tough skin and pursue continuous development.

Starting entrepreneurship at a young age has given me time to make mistakes, understand my strengths and grow into the business woman I am today. I am now very clear on what I can and cannot do and this has helped me to avoid taking up projects that I know I will not be able to adequately serve. Starting early has also been beneficial in giving me time to grow my network and I can confidently say I am a very resourceful person.

I have come to appreciate the pains and pleasures of entrepreneurship and I have a big heart for those who want to venture into business. I appreciated the assistance I got when I was on campus as I started out and I would not hesitate to help anyone seeking advice as an entrepreneur.

You have to tell us about your balloon business, how did the idea to run this come up? How exactly did you use digital marketing to grow it?

The idea of Helium Balloon Company started as an accident from a marketing campaign I was running for a client, that failed. I had been awarded a contract to do a guerilla campaign for one of the leading FMCG companies in Kenya. The plan was great, we intended to use helium balloons to promote their confectionary products.

This strategy failed on the day of execution because the reaction and interaction with the balloons were overwhelming and we could not fulfill the intended purpose of the campaign. We went back to the drawing board and decided to use air balloons instead. The campaign was well received by the market on the promotion day and everyone was enjoying bursting balloons and eating chewing gum until the county council officers of Nairobi arrested me and part of my team for a violation of environmental cleanliness. This was something I should have had a permit for but was not included in the licenses I had procured from the county offices. Long story short, I was not paid by the company for any of the work. I lost about $7,000 and was left with 3 helium tanks almost full of gas.

I was depressed for a while because I had invested all the money I had in the campaign. After a while, I got back on my feet and a year later I decided to just sell the gas off and return the tanks to the supplier. I had to figure out how to let people know that I was supplying helium balloons and get them to buy from me. I used my personal Facebook page to talk about them and ask people to buy them. Slowly, I sold off one tank of gas, then two and finally when the third tank of gas got finished, I looked back and realized I had run a small business from my dads’ house and it had brought revenue.

I could have returned the tanks at this point but I decided not to because for the first time in a long time I felt rewarded for my efforts in business. I made the decision to start the business formally and register it as a limited company. I sought funding from friends and family and invested in a website and Facebook advertising for the company. To this day I have only used Facebook advertising and Instagram as marketing tools for Helium Balloon Company.

The company has grown in reputation and size within the market and a lot of our customers are now referral based. We are among the top three suppliers of helium balloons for events. We are now going into the mass market retail of balloons and party items. Our plan is to be the leading supplier of helium balloons in East Africa in the next four years and then venture into the rest of Africa.

What practical advice would you give to a young woman looking to work with companies like Safaricom, Chase Bank, Foreign Services Institute, and other brands you’ve worked with?

I would encourage any lady who wants to work with top brands in the market to first package themselves and their service offer very well. Work on your personal brand as well as your corporate brand. Let the way you present yourself and the quality of your brand material communicate the quality that you intend to bring to the table.

It is important to do a good job because your business will grow once people trust you and believe in your work. The second thing I would encourage one to do is to build their business networks by joining business clubs and attending functions like trainings that will not only enhance their business skills but also expose them to people who work within these organizations.

The third thing I would advise a young lady to do is to maintain her professional integrity. Carry yourself with respect and other people will respect you. It is the only way to build a sustainable business relationship with any organization.

Work on your personal brand as well as your corporate brand @JoyceMuthoni Click To Tweet

What is the number one tool that has helped you manage your many hustles?

The number one tool that has helped me to manage my many hustles has to be the “human resource tool” aka my team. I have come to appreciate and value the benefit of having great people working for you. My business ventures would not be where they are today if I did not have the support of my staff.

They have encouraged me when I felt like quitting, they have made me more responsible because I know that their livelihoods depend on my ability to lead and grow the companies. They have also helped me to learn to let go and trust that work will get done. I have seen tremendous improvement in their work and that encourages me to delegate and work towards bigger things.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

6 digital marketing myths you need to stop believing

Conduct your research and prepare a digital strategy that works for your business Click To Tweet

Digital marketing used to be a thing of luxury but now it’s a complete necessity in order for brands to stand out. There are some myths surrounding digital marketing that could be holding back most entrepreneurs from maximizing output and engagement online.

Some of the myths were once true but need to be revisited once again and some were just not true, to begin with. Here are a few:

Myth #1: “My business must be on every social platform”

Social media has become a very important tool for many businesses but that doesn’t mean you should be on every platform.

For instance companies with technical service offering would succeed best on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook rather than Pinterest and Instagram while fashion related business would do well on Instagram and Pinterest.

It can be time wasting to update all social media accounts with fresh, relevant and regular content so it’s better to focus on 2-3 platforms that will give you results than keep track of many platforms which won’t provide results and your target audience isn’t necessarily there.

Use this guide to find out which social media platform is best for your business.

Myth #2: ”It’s all about followers”

There are a lot of goals and metrics that you can establish when creating your digital strategy like page views, followers, likes, comments. They are great but such can be misleading.

Go a little bit deeper than that, look at the time spent on your website, abandoned cart (if you have an e-commerce site) and more importantly conversion rates. How many of those who view, comment or like on your social media become paying customers?

Goals and metrics are great but such can be misleading Click To Tweet

Myth #3: “Boring industries can’t benefit from digital marketing”

Rest be assured that whatever industry your business is in, your targeted customers are bound to be online somewhere. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your product or service isn’t too exciting or glamorous for you to profit from social media. It’s a matter of finding the right people to offer your product or services.

“You’re only boring to those who aren’t in your target market.”
– Harry Gardiner

Additionally, stay ahead of the curve if your competition isn’t online yet. It is better to capitalize on their mistake and gain the first mover advantage to capture a new segment of customers.

 black women GIF

Myth #4: “Online negative comments are bad for my business”

Of course, it is emotionally hard to see bad comments on something you have worked so hard to build but use this to your advantage. While some resort to hiding comments, blocking users etc. responding well and timely to legitimate concerns will do you a world of good in creating a virtuous reputation for your company.

Motherland Mogul tip: There is no point in responding to insults and baseless comments. If you follow the tip on responding above, you will create brand loyalists (“your tribe”) who will defend your brand to the so called “keyboard warriors” who just want to destroy you.

Besides, recently Instagram just like Facebook has rolled out a new feature which blocks offensive language. This feature is currently only available in English but more languages will be added later on.

Whatever industry your business is in, your targeted customers are bound to be online Click To Tweet

Myth #5: “It’s all about tech”

Do not make a mistake of thinking traditional marketing is now a thing of a past. Yes, technology is key in digital marketing but it will be wise to merge it with your existing traditional marketing practices like TV and radio commercials, newspaper, networking etc. into one so that you have a lasting impact and become more apparent.

The Internet is unpredictable and with the influx of many updates per seconds, minutes or hour, you are better off maintaining a balance between the old marketing approach and digital marketing.

Motherland Mogul tip: If you run a digital marketing campaign only you run a risk of being swallowed up by the Internet.

Myth #6: “Why blog when I have a social media?”

You probably should be writing content because chances are your target audience may be searching for it online when they are looking for tips, how to guides, product recommendations etc. The importance of having a blog cannot be understated as when on social media, you are on someone else’s turf and on their terms.

With a blog, you’re on your territory and you make the rules. You can write as much as you want about anything. People come to check you out and here is where you build your position as an expert.

There are a lot of myths out there but these ones are the ones I meet the most and are quite misleading. Don’t let any of them hold you back from fully benefiting from the digital world. Conduct your research and prepare a digital strategy that works for your business.

Are you familiar with any other digital marketing myths that may have been left out on this list?

Keep it movin’: How to get more work as a freelancer

You are only as good as your last job when it comes to freelancing Click To Tweet

Working as a freelancer has amazing perks: you keep your own hours, you do the work you actually want to do and above all, you do not have to answer to anyone else. You are your own boss and that is so liberating.

With the highs come the lows: the inconsistent paychecks, the odd working hours and the never ending search for more work. Until you build up a reputation and have people knocking at your door you have work twice as hard- for your actual content as well as looking for more business.

So how do you keep the business rolling in when starting out as a freelancer?

1. Be proactive

You have to look for the work and until you become a brand name, it won’t look for you. So spread the word among your friends, family, even the stranger down the street (jokes, don’t do that unless you really have to).

If you’ve left a previous job to become a freelancer ask your old colleagues to put out the word for you, even if recommending you for work they can’t take on. Referrals will help you get new jobs especially when you have a good reputation.

It might be worth it to talk to other freelancers in your field, hear how they built their business and they could also become someone worth partnering with. Approach people you want to work with/for, put yourself out there.

2. Be social media savvy

Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, your clients are literally a click away. I am not a fan of the, ‘Guys, my client could be on your timeline’ tweets but I also appreciate the resourcefulness.

If you use a website remember to link it to your social media so you can direct traffic to your site. Keep it updated, showcase your work and also engage with your followers. Social media is a great tool to build up and maintain your clientele.

Until you have people knocking at your door you have work twice as hard Click To Tweet

3. Be accessible

Nothing irritates a potential client more than having to work for someone and not being able to find them. You don’t have a PR team behind you or a secretary so you have to balance your work and being available.

Make sure you keep your contact details and website up to date. When your clients want you, they should be able to find you. When there are events or opportunities to attend conferences for your field, go!

Get out there and get known, build your brand by being reachable. Having a good reputation is as necessary as producing good work.

4. Don’t be too picky

Image result for mindy kaling quotes gif

Sometimes, you’ll look at a work offer and be like, ‘I’m above this’ but when you a starting out you cannot be too picky. You’ve got to do some not so great work to get access to the more exciting work.

Sometimes this might mean doing work for free – which is a freelancer’s nightmare. Annoying but necessary in some cases especially when it will contribute to exposure and portfolio building. It is part of the process of starting your career. You get to be pickier when you have the choice to be. Right now you don’t.

Talk to other freelancers in your field, they could become someone worth partnering with Click To Tweet

5. Plan, plan, plan

Without the daily structures of office life, it is easy to be lax when it comes to planning and having a set routine. In order to put out good work, you have to be efficient and structured. You are in charge of your schedule and it’s easy to let things slide but you have to create timelines for projects and mark down deadlines.

Put in a weekly reminder to track your progress, that way you are consistently putting in the work and not just waiting for the due date to get the work done. You have to be on top of your schedule to stay on top of your work.

6. Let your work speak for itself

Image result for gina rodriguez quotes gif

You are only as good as your last job when it comes to freelancing. When looking for working on sites such as UpWork, you may be requested to give examples of previous work.

Your portfolio is as good as your CV. Always be consistent in terms of quality by making sure it is always up to date. Another way to get more clients is to have your previous clients speak up on your work.

Freelancers need to get out there and get known, build your brand by being reachable Click To Tweet

Have them quote their opinion of your work on your site/ portfolio. This builds up your reputation and shows a history of satisfied clients.

The ultimate marketing plan guide for the service industry

We've put together an easy 7-step guide to creating a marketing plan for your business Click To Tweet

A marketing plan is a written blueprint on how to sell your services to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and build a profitable brand.

Together with EM Consulting, we’ve put together a guide to help marketing planning for startups in the service industry. The aim of this guide is to provide a simple process for organizing your marketing efforts to achieve business growth and profitability.

Without an intentional marketing plan, business growth becomes a function of luck and individual effort.

What is the service industry?

Just so we’re clear, this guide is geared towards businesses in the service industry. The service industry consists of businesses that provide services (intangible goods) to other businesses as well as final consumers.

Such services include professional services, online services, ICT, tourism, travel, ecommerce, financial services, online services among others. Basically, a service business is one where no goods are produced/ manufactured.

Click over to the next page where you’ll find the detailed guide as well as a link to a downloadable template (plus a surprise offer from EM Consulting).

Discover six ways to use Snapchat for business

Ready to start using Snapchat for your business? These six tips will help you Click To Tweet

Have you thought of adding Snapchat to your marketing mix? Well if you haven’t, you should. A breakdown of Snapchat’s numbers will show you why: over 100 million daily active users, 400 million snaps per day, and over 1 billion views of stories each day.

And there’s more. For the personal user, Snapchat lets you easily talk with friends, view Live Stories from around the world, and explore news with the Discover feature. It also presents huge possibilities for your business. One of the key ways for brands to connect viscerally with their customers is to share brand stories.

Shared value has been known to create brand loyalty and with Snapchat being real-time, it provides a ready platform to showcase the values and cultures of your company in a personal and visual way.

Find out six ways you can use Snapchat for your business in the infographic below (text follows after).

6 ways to use snapchat for your business11. Cover live events

You can use Snapchat for product launches or one-of-kind events like the 5,000th customer to shop in your store etc

2. Offer contests or promotions

You can offer promo codes or discounts to the fans who watch your entire Snapchat story, or ask them to take a snap while holding your product.

3. Behind the scenes

You could show off your company and make sure to have fun with it. Capture birthday parties, Friday afternoons or company outings. The idea is to show how your brand differentiates itself with company culture.

4. Partner with influencers

Just like with Twitter and Instagram, social media influencers on Snapchat can help spread brand awareness and reach. Allow these influencers “take over” your brand’s Snap for maybe a day to help with the promotion of an upcoming event, product launch etc. These influencers will help introduce & bring their own followers to your page.

5. Publish transparency series

Like we mentioned earlier, shared values help build brand loyalty. One of the best ways to do so is present a backstage company access to your customers. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in your internal processes.

Cisco has done a neat job of sharing the daily goings-on in the firm with their “A day in the life of an Account Manager” series.

If you are wondering what Cisco – a networking and telecommunications company is doing Snapchat – you are not alone. Telecommunications isn’t the most interesting subject to talk about, but Cisco managed to flip the script. They focused on their culture and exposed a human side of their brand.

6. Host AMA sessions

Ask Me Anything sessions can be anything you want them to be. They can be about your goofy company culture or a professional conversation about trends in your industry. It could be “We just bought a N1 million camera for our production team, ask us anything” or something a little more serious like “We got 2 billion organic impressions on a campaign last week, ask us anything.” or something random, “We can tint my eyebrows with Coffee, ask us anything.”

Find relevant topics you can start with your audience that will pull them in and engage them.

The Art of loyalty: How to build brand love and engagement with content marketing

Few people are loyal to brands, here's how to get people to love yours with content marketing Click To Tweet

What brand of seasoning cube was in your home growing up?

Right now, if you took a random survey, odds are your respondents will tell you they saw only one brand of seasoning cube.

When I surveyed my colleagues -mostly 90s kids- the results match up. Most remember seeing only just the Maggi seasoning cubes or the Knorr seasoning cubes.

It used to be that people were faithful to brands because they have a history with their products and services. They bought only one brand of cars; one brand of toiletries or picked groceries from only one store.

Lots of factors are responsible for this loyalty; top on the list being limited choices. But that’s beyond the scope of this article. The point simply is that people are buying differently than they did in the 90s or as early as the turn of the millennium.

These days, few people are loyal to brands. According to Accenture, only 28% of customers are loyal to brands. When one considers that it costs up to 25x more to acquire new customers than it does to keep one, this trend provides a unique challenge for business owners.

For small businesses, the way to level the playing field with tough deep-pocket competition is to build brand loyalty. Customers will return to you come rain or shine when your brand inspires loyalty.

How do you solve this problem as a small business?

Enter content marketing.

Engaging positively and consistently with customers along their different purchase journeys will nurture brand loyalty. This is most true for millennials; 62% of whom feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand.

Triggering loyalty might just be the core of content marketing.

What is content marketing?

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,”Content Marketing Institute.

If you received an e-mail update from your spin class instructor this morning, you’ve been exposed to a form of content marketing. If you’ve read a guide on “how to make Bantu Knots when your hair is only two inches long” – that’s content marketing.

Combined with a top-class customer service, content marketing will create a community of rabid fans around your brand.

Customers will return to you come rain or shine when your brand inspires loyalty Click To Tweet

How do you begin?

The first step is to outline your typical customer journey. There are many frameworks that explain the process from consumers’ awareness of your brand to transactional engagement with it. My favourite is Google’s “See, Think, Do, Care” framework.

see think do care

Understating this funnel helps you shape your message for the right customer in the right context.

If you had a business selling lactation cookies, your communication at the “See” stage is to “all pregnant women.” At the “Think” stage, your communication is to “pregnant women or new mothers who are unable to lactate naturally.”

At the “Do” stage, your communication is to “New mothers who want to buy lactation cookies right now”. Finally, at the “Care” stage, your communication is to “new mothers who bought and are taking lactation cookies from me.”

At the last stage of the process, the goal is primarily to build loyalty. But nevermind this, elements that build loyalty should be baked into content at every stage.

Shared value

To consistently infuse brand loyalty triggers in your content is to develop and share content that is useful and conveys shared value.

Shared value is about focusing more on people and their beliefs and less on your product. The focus on the product is why many contents from brands are ignored.

According to a Corporate executive Board (CeB) study published in 2012, most consumers say that they were loyal “not to companies, but to beliefs.”

From the text on your landing page to the call-to-actions on your ebook, your beliefs (and that of your audience) should shine through.

Content that engenders loyalty is more than a blog post, find out more here Click To Tweet

The types of content that engender loyalty

Content that engenders loyalty is more than a blog post. Although those play a big role, loyalty-driven content marketing is driven by a deeper understanding of your customer motivations, their engagement behaviors, and your company goals.

Some of the short examples I will proceed to share may not fit snugly with your brand, but you can deploy them based on your specific needs.

1. Culture blogs

Culture blogs reveal the safe internal conversations of a company.

For our example with our lactation cookie company, a culture blog could be “Why we keep our cookie cutter in the top drawer” or “What our new teammates taught us about cookie counting.” Or consider this super-honest culture blog from Buffer; “What We Got Wrong About Self-Management: Embracing Natural Hierarchy at Work.”

The core idea of culture blogs is to put the culture, beliefs and thought processes of your company on full display. Culture blogs (like all other content types) can be deployed at every level of the customer journey but are suited for the “See” and “Think” stages.

2. Newsletters

Newsletters are one of the most profitable pillars of content marketing. Emails have been known to provide an overall higher conversion rate when compared to other content channels.

They can often provide functional purposes along every level of the consumer journey. You can use them to share product updates or nurture your leads. How ever you use them, ensure that you are helpful.

3. Product marketing kits

What series of content will help your consumer live better, do their jobs better or increase their preferred variable of customer success?

Combine them into one big digital folder (or ebook) and share with your audience. These kits are more instructional than sales-y. They have high production value and the purpose is to let the customers see you as helpful and knowledgeable. They educate your customer and showcase your products.

For our example company, a product marketing kit could be “Lactation cookies for all season.” The kit can cover ideas on the right lactation cookie for you, how to take care of possible cookie allergies, non-competitive alternatives to lactation cookies, how to store lactation cookies and so on and so on.

Product marketing kits are perfect for the “Think”, “Do” and “Care” stages.

4. Cheat/tip sheets

Cheat/tip sheets detail a process that will help your prospective or existing customers tackle a certain task. These are ideal across all levels of the consumer journey but are suited for the “See” stage.

For our lactation cookie brand, it could publish a tip sheet on “50 survival tips for the first three months of pregnancy”.

5. Strategic social updates

Social updates are perfect in keeping your brand top of mind among your prospective and existing customers. Also, they fit in any stage of the consumer journey.

When posting on social media, consider when your audience will be online. You have to work with your engagement analytics to suss out the best time to post. As a first step, Hubspot has a general guide on when to post on different social platforms.

In addition to posting at the right time, space out your message so you don’t overwhelm your followers. A comfortable starting point is usually 4 to 6 times a week (not including your help center posts).

There are infinitely more types of content expressions that you can explore. To develop loyalty, you need to continually investigate what works for your customer. Ideas we have explored are accessible starting points.

To develop loyalty, you need to continually investigate what works for your customer Click To Tweet

Customer loyalty is no longer about loyalty cards, air miles or even price, it’s about relationship, shared values, and strategic engagement.

This article was written by Gbenga Onalaja. Gbenga is a Content Strategist at Wild Fusion, Africa’s leading Digital Marketing Agency. He specializes in long-form content, email marketing, SEO, and writing compelling brand stories.

Emma Macharia: Invest in data and analytics from the beginning

EM Consulting exists to help such businesses scale through effective communication Click To Tweet

Emma Macharia is a communications consultant at EM Consulting, a communications firm based in Nairobi, Kenya. EM Consulting is dedicated to helping start-ups and SME’s grow and scale by effecting impact based marketing and communication strategies and tactics.

Passionate about life, people, and business, Emma loves insightful conversations and turning ideas into successful business stories. Emma shared with SLA her thoughts on the Kenyan start-up ecosystem and her tips on effective marketing for start-ups.

What are your thoughts on the Kenyan start-up ecosystem? How does your company fit into it?

Kenya’s startup ecosystem, in my opinion, is at maturity level. By this, I mean that we are slowing moving from the hype of entrepreneurship and now starting to look at the sustainability of businesses. We are evolving from collaborations into partnerships and similarly from churning just new products and services to products and services that are customer focused and scalable.

EM Consulting fits into this system simply because it exists for one agenda only which is to help such businesses scale through effective communication with all their stakeholders; suppliers, customers, shareholders and so on. We help your business speak one language to get everyone growing and moving in the same direction.

How easy (or difficult) was it for you to step up EM Consulting in Kenya? How did you overcome any challenges?

Setting up EM Consulting in Kenya was not too difficult because of continuously improved business facilities and regulations that make the process of setting up a business more flexible. Similarly, the relevant government institutions have begun opening up to entrepreneurs and taking a more active role in the entrepreneurship space in Kenya.

However, building a communications firm in Kenya was quite a challenge due to the cut-throat nature of the industry. For this, I ensured I built my business on values that would withstand the industry such as innovation. Also, I ensured to surround myself with people of different skills sets and expertise to help me create a solid and well-planned business. Some of these experts include financial experts, tax consultants, brand strategists and technology experts.

I ensured to surround myself with people with the expertise to help me create a solid business Click To Tweet

What do startups get wrong when it comes to marketing?

When it comes to marketing within a startup, it is very easy to initially place the customer in the back seat of the business. Between figuring out your financials, to perfecting the product and pleasing investors; customers tend to take a back seat in the scheme of things. This is where I feel startups get it wrong. If startups and founders mastered two key things then their solutions would be irrefutable. These are; the problem around the solution they are working on and the value proposition of their solution to their customer.

If there is one thing I would advise all startups to have on the back of their hand it is their customer; to do this, collect insights, and invest in data and analytics from the beginning.

How can start-ups leverage their brand to achieve business goals?

Your brand is your credibility, so to this, I say build a brand that attracts your customer to your business. Communicate correctly and efficiently; figure out the one message you want your customers and stakeholders to pick from you and communicate it efficiently. Also, invest in a marketing plan to reap well from your brand.

logo_pngHow do you hope to inspire current and future entrepreneurs? How can they get it right?

Through the training service of EM Consulting, I speak to and train businesses and entrepreneurs on the value and leverage of the customer in building a business. Through these training sessions, I am able to share insights and trends about different kinds of consumers and audiences in different industries hoping to spark new ideas and innovations amongst entrepreneurs.

How to get it right? Learn from and listen to your customer. There are a lot of benefits to focusing your business on the ‘consumer;’ it helps with forecasting the numbers, it helps you anticipate future trends and therefore innovate accordingly, it helps you build a business beyond yourself.

Figure out the message you want your customers/stakeholders to pick from you & communicate it Click To Tweet

What’s your major challenge as a startup that caters to other startups?

My major challenge as a startup working with startups and growing businesses would have to be money and buy in. I have learnt that the reason a lot of businesses are failing at communications and marketing is because they do not budget for it like any other business function.

Secondly, a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners overlook the role of effective communication on their bottom line. This is why I decide to include training and business consulting in my range of services to listen to my clients immediate and long-term business needs, and show them how effective communications will help them get there.

What communication trends have you noticed as more impactful for African businesses?

I personally think Africans are by nature early adopters of technology among other solutions and that is why platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Uber, and even LinkedIn thrive in our markets. However, in the last few months is when I’ve seen African businesses applying these technologies to their context and markets.

A great example is how service industries use WhatsApp or Telegram to build niche communities with their customers and share more personalized content or using Facebook communities to educate customers and build customer lists. Other communication trends include getting in touch with Generation Z consumers who are more focused on purpose and changing the world forcing businesses to relook their social impact as well as sharing more authentic communication to reach them.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Is my business ready for SEO?

Without SEO, your business is basically invisible. You need to be visible! Click To Tweet

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of refining your website using both on and off-page optimization techniques so that it will be indexed and ranked by search engines, naturally.

Digital Marketing Institute

If you have had a hard time understanding SEO (Search Engine Optimization), let’s start with a visual exercise. Picture this -you have a wonderful store with all the best offerings, only…your store is invisible. Not just that; millions of your potential consumers pass by daily looking for just what you offer. Crazy right? Yes, that’s exactly what your business is without SEO. You need to be visible!

Take results from a Wild Fusion Digital Center 2016 channel effectiveness study, for instance; 63% of Nigerian consumers use search engines to research and buy products. This puts Search right at the center of the purchase funnel.

Source: Wild Fusion Market Research Survy
Source: Wild Fusion Market Research Survey

You need to ensure your business shows up when people search for the services you offer.

How SEO Works

Ever wondered how search results show up? Let’s talk spiders!

spider seoGoogle has an inventory or index where it stores keywords and information regarding the websites they originate from. This index is populated by search engine spiders who crawl the web. When they get to your site, they populate the index with keywords from your site. As people search online they are actually querying the index.

What Google then does is to present the most relevant results of the search from its inventory. So basically, if Google doesn’t have you in their index, there’s no way you are showing up in the search results. This is why you need to optimize your website for search engines.

Ranking on the search engine … Page 1, Page 2..Page 10

Ranking is website positioning in SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). Your ultimate goal would be to rank on page 1 and even better, be the first result. Like the saying goes ‘the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google search engine’. As crazy as that sounds, the reality is that search engine visibility is a clear indicator of good marketing, it also lends credibility to your brand.

Search engine visibility is a clear indicator of good marketing & lends credibility to your brand Click To Tweet

SEO is a continuous effort. Every day, businesses similar to yours are competing for the same keywords, trying to convince Google that they are more relevant. Google considers a number of factors when ranking websites, but today we will highlight two.

Content Relevance

You want to ensure that your content is relevant. Start your content strategy with keyword research. This helps you figure out real questions and ideas that matter to your consumers. The Google Keyword Planner will come in handy here.

Also, your content should be readable, you should avoid duplicating content at any cost.

Mobile Responsiveness 170213.mobiledesign

Nothing is more frustrating than getting to a site via your mobile phone and finding it’s so difficult to navigate. Think user experience when designing your site!

This article was written by Uche Offokaja. Uche is the Client Solutions Manager Wild Fusion, Africa’s leading Digital Marketing Agency.