Top 5 digital marketing trends to stay on top of the wave

digital marketing trends

Digital marketing is the wave of the future. Many millennials are creating brand awareness online, and there’s no reason African women shouldn’t capitalize on this trend in our journey towards becoming industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

If you’re a techie, then this post isn’t for you. But if you’re a newbie looking to stay ahead of the curve, then these 5 trends are right up your alley.

Mobile in motion

We use these devices to chat, search for deals, get directions, and read our favorite blogs. In 10 countries, including the US and Japan, Google found most searches take place on mobile devices. So, you see going mobile is the future.

Free stock photo of iphone, smartphone, technology, mobile phone

Many brands are making their webpages more mobile-friendly to accommodate the growing use of hand-held devices. Mobile payment technologies such as PayPal, ApplePay, or Google Wallet are making it easier than ever to purchase items online.

Paid social media marketing

We’ve all seen the word “sponsored” with a post directly under it or adverts on the right side of the Facebook homepage. Paid social media marketing simply means paying a social media company to advertise your web content on its platform.

The goal for many brands is to create a “conversion funnel,”  a series of desired steps that converts a visitor to a loyal customer. The process works like this: social sharing of web content –> exposure of brand to online user –> online user visits website –> user becomes potential customer –> user converts to customer –> brand loyalty established.

Paid social media is not limited to big corporations only. Smaller firms are reaping the benefits as well. Paid social media allows brands to reach their defined target audience.

Brand humanization

Many brands are beginning to understand that connecting to their target audience on an emotional level is more likely to generate leads. No one wants to be seen as just another number, and customers love to feel valued. Brands are finding creative ways to demonstrate their personality by engaging with customers via company blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Many YouTube vloggers for example,  have achieved financial success and a host of other opportunities because of their engagement with their audience.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 76% of online customers will share personal information with a brand they trust if they believe it will upgrade their experience and interaction.

In summary, a humanized branding strategy is the way to go.

Video advertising

Video advertising is on the rise on desktop and mobile devices. According to Business Insider, “video ad revenue will increase at a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5% through 2016.” Even Facebook and Twitter have gotten in on the video ad action, letting brands reach customers through ads.

Free stock photo of woman, hand, smartphone, picture

Companies understand that people using mobile devices are usually on the go, so the length of a video ad can’t overshoot the 30 seconds mark. However, on a desktop, since the user is stationery it is assumed that they have more time to view lengthier video ads.

Ephemeral marketing

Social media platforms such as Snapchat, which allows you to put on posts for a few seconds before it vanishes, encourages users to pay attention to the message presented to them.

Companies are using ephemeral marketing to post exclusive offers such as coupons and promotions. In a recent poll conducted by marketing company Sumpto, over 50% of college students indicated that they would purchase a product or service from a brand that sent them a coupon through Snapchat.

Many brands believe that it will provoke an immediate response on the part of the audience to take a call to action.  A call to action (CTA) in marketing refers to brands motivating their audience to take an immediate desired action upon request.

For example,  “click here” or  “Buy Now” buttons incite an urgent response on the part of the audience.

There is a significant level of excitement about ephemeral marketing, and companies are tapping into it to engage with customers.

Which trend are you looking to follow? Which won’t live up to its hype? Tell me below.

How one company defied the odds and is grossing almost $1 billion in revenue… in Nigeria 

[Editors Note: This post was originally published on Medium and is republished here with the permission of the author.]

Nigeria in 1988 — Not a premier investment destination

In 1988, Nigeria was not a premier investment destination. Life expectancy for the country’s 91 million people was 46 years; gross domestic product (GDP) was about $23 billion; GDP per capita was about $256; 78% of people lived on less than $2 per day; about 37% of people had access to sanitation while roughly 58% had access to improved water source; Nigeria had experienced six coups in its short 28 years of existence as a republic. It was also under military rule so technically and literally anything could happen.

Then in 1993 Nigerians woke up to the news that General Sani Abacha, one of the most corrupt and brutal dictators Nigeria would ever know, had become the military Head of State. If you were an investor, Nigeria was just not the place to go.

Yet, executives at Tolaram Group paid little to no attention to those statistics. Tolaram began importing instant noodles into Nigeria in 1988. Since then the company has vertically integrated in-country and grown their Indomie Noodle® instant noodle sales to a staggering $700 million a year. A packet of noodles cost about 18 cents.

They sell more than 4.5 billion packets of noodles per year. In 1988, Nigeria did not have an instant noodle market. How was Tolaram able to set up and sustain operations in one of the most difficult countries to do business? After assessing Tolaram’s strategy, I cannot help but highlight the following attributes and impacts of their business — business model targeting non-consumption, interdependence, patient capital, and job creation and tax revenue.

Business Model Targeting Non-consumption

Tolaram entered Nigeria with a mission to target non-consumption. The company’s vision is to “bring affordability and quality to the lower socio-economic segments” in the country. In order to execute that vision, Tolaram developed a business model that allowed it sell its product profitably for as little as ten cents (due to inflation and currency depreciation, Indomie instant noodles now sell for 18 cents).

Tolaram developed the necessary distribution infrastructure and relationships to get its product to as many Nigerians in virtually every corner of the country as possible. To target non-consumption in a country without the necessary infrastructure — roads, reliable electricity and water supply, etc. — Tolaram had to integrate across multiple components in its value chain.It had to build an interdependent architecture.

Most innovative companies, especially in emerging markets, have to build interdependent architectures because most of the components they need are usually not available.

Interdependence

Whenever a product* or the delivery of that product is not good enough**, the company providing the product has to create an interdependent system. In other words, the company has to integrate across multiple components in the value chain. It does this so that it can manage the interfaces across the different components in the system. Consider Tolaram.

The poor state of infrastructure in Nigeria necessitated Tolaram to integrate multiple components in its value chain. The company has had to provide its own electricity; manage a fleet of more than 2,000 trucks for its logistics; and build a palm oil factory (palm oil is one of the products needed to make instant noodles).

Creating an interdependent system can be expensive, especially when compared to a modular system. In modular systems, there are other players (either the government or private enterprises) that provide the necessary components to build or deliver a product.

For example, if Tolaram were set up in the United States, the company could leverage electricity, water supply, and logistics from existing companies or government entities. This would greatly reduce its cost of doing business.

Interdependence, while typically more expensive, is not all bad. The fact that Tolaram has had to develop these components has enabled it offer those products to other companies in Nigeria.

Tolaram now has 17 manufacturing plants in Nigeria (including noodles, flour, palm oil, seasoning, etc.); a packaging company; and a logistics company. Building an interdependent system enables companies to offer products to other companies once they satisfy their demand.

Stay tuned for part 2 to learn about how Tolaram used patient capital to build their company.


* product here refers to product or service

** not good enough here refers to products that don’t yet meet the performance standards of most customers

Launch Your Business In 10 Days

What do these three women all have in common? rsz_1rsz_cherae_robinson_nour_drissi_and_taffi_woolward_with_checks

They are obviously SLA rockstars but more importantly they are young women just like you who decided to take the leap to do something about a business idea they had been thinking about for awhile. They decided they wanted to put themselves on the path towards self-sufficiency, independence and success by becoming an entrepreneur. If you’re looking to start your own business but don’t know how, our email course on “How To Launch Your Business In 10 Days” will give you all the fundamentals you need to start successfully.

In the course we’ll cover these major topics:

What Are You Passionate About?

Before you launch your business, you need to know what type of business you actually want to pursue. We’ll help you figure out exactly what that is—so you can go after it.

How to Find the Right Problems for You

A major part of building a successful company is solving an actual problem faced by people who will pay you to solve it. We’ll show you how to identify problems worth solving and evaluate all the options out there.

How to Make Your First Sale

When it comes time to launching a business, the best proof that it works is having someone pay for it. We’ll help you develop a plan to reach your first customers and actually generate revenue.

How to Market Your Products

Once you’ve found some initial interest and a couple of customers, you’ll now need to think about how to reach more customers and position your products in the broader market.



Want to sign up for this class and get yourself one step closer to the SLA stage?
Kasope Ladipo-Ajai - Entrepreneur Showcase 2015 winner

We’re starting a new cohort every two weeks, so you’ll get an email when your cohort is ready to start.

Rita Kusi shares 6 tips on how to make your marketing stand out

coke billboard marketing africa

Are you having difficulties marketing and or selling to an African audience? Perhaps you should reevaluate your marketing techniques.

Prior to relocating to Ghana, my way of marketing and working was mainly digital and via online platforms. After relocating, I realized that while these methods were very effective abroad, they were not as effective in reaching a large audience in Ghana. This is probably the case in most African countries. Digital and online marketing, commonly known as Above The Line (ATL) marketing, is a great way to target the urban youth and the global audience.

However, if you want to reach adults and local residents living in rural areas, your best bet is to use effective Below The Line (BTL) marketing techniques, such as, on-the-ground activations and promotions.

In Ghana, ATL marketing is effective because most people are almost always tuned into their local radio or television stations. The use of the internet has only increased recently because of the rising use of mobile technology. As a marketer, you have to know how to adapt to this environment.

The solution is not to give up on the old tactics you know or are familiar with but instead, effectively incorporate new strategies to help you become a well-rounded marketer.

So what characteristics do you need to be a great marketer in the African context? What marketing strategies are effective for engaging the African market? Well, I discuss them below.

Characteristics of a great African marketer

I’ve always considered myself lucky to have the skills of a marketer. At times, I wonder if one is born a marketer or can learn to become a marketer. I believe effective marketers are born with certain traits and also learn as they go. The world is always changing so we must be able to change with the times. Here are 10 characteristics that are time tested to be true of an great African marketer:

  • Have a genuine passion for people
  • Honest, personable and approachable
  • Possess networking skills
  • Embrace and drive change
  • Stay connected to an African audience
  • Communicate effectively
  • Passionate
  • Innovative and thinks outside the box
  • Take chances
  • Wholehearted belief in the product they are selling

Motherland Mogul Tip:Remember, good marketers can market and sell any product, but great marketers choose the products they want to market and sell.

They are persistent and do not understand the word “no”. Good marketers are led by passion and the need to connect the right people to the right product. They understand their target demographic and will go to great lengths to connect them to that product. Next, we discuss strategies for marking effectively in the African context.

Strategies for marketing effectively in the African market

Now, with these characteristics, you must be willing to do some things differently to gain traction in the African market. Let’s discuss a few strategies below.

1. Establish strong genuine relationships

Often many of us like to take the conventional networking approach. I’ve been guilty of this in the past. We attend an event, meet someone and have a two-minute conversation then request for a business card.

Effective marketers actually take the time to follow up and establish rapport with potential clients, sponsors, partners, and their audience. In Ghana, it is all about who you know. Therefore, establishing relationships is crucial to your success in almost any field.

2. Sustain relationships

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that it is not enough to establish relationships with people. Sustaining those relationships plays a crucial role in the success of your marketing strategies. It is one thing to establish relationships but what are you doing to sustain them?

Sustaining relationships are one of the hardest and most challenging things to do because it requires time. It is none the less a great investment. An occasional phone call, email, or visit helps you to stay connected.

3. Form strategic alliances/partnerships

It is a fact that we all need someone and cannot get to where we are going alone. Form strategic partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Align yourself with people who have a similar mission and your best interest at heart. They will help you sell or market your product.

In Ghana, having notable sponsors and partners as part of your event validates your event somehow. Rarely do you see fliers or posters without sponsors. However, you want to be strategic in forming these alliances and not overdo it.

4. Networkability

Word-of-mouth continues to be the #1 effective way of marketing. As a marketer, it is your responsibility to go out and network constantly. Whether your goal is to increase your clientele or fan base, go out there and meet the right people who will help get you to your goal.

True marketers understand that time is of the essence. There is no need speaking with everyone in the room, just key people who you share commonalities and a similar vision.

5. Communicate effectively and believe in the product

As a marketer your verbal and written communication must be up to par. You have to believe in what you are selling in order for people to believe in it as well.

Therefore, your way of communicating must be clear, concise, convincing, and easily understood.

6. Think marketing

True marketers are always thinking about marketing. They apply marketing to almost any and everything around them.

To conclude, marketing in Africa is very different from marketing in the States or elsewhere outside of the continent. Sitting behind your PC expecting to reach a large number of consumers is not ideal. Bottom Line Marketing is king! You must be willing to go out and connect with people.

7 things I learned from my first startup failure

At the beginning of 2014, Kegaugetswe Florence Mukwevho and her two business partners started a food company. The startup, which launched in April of that year, was on a mission to create youth employment by operating a low cost, scalable mobile kitchen for a local growing chicken brand.

The business was doing well in its first few months; sales were high, showing that there was a market for the product and service they offered. Startups in their early stages need funding for growth and expansion and this was the case for the food company.

Kega came across the 2014 She Leads Africa Entrepreneur Showcase and thought that it provided a great opportunity for the company to get much-needed funds. With the support of her co-founders, she applied and was selected as one of the top 10 finalists. Although she didn’t win the competition, she received great feedback from the judges and mentors and support from the SLA team.

Upon her return home however, Kega noticed that the dynamics in the company had shifted. In partnerships, group dynamics can bring synergy or divide at the expense of the business.

The latter was the case for the food startup. Ultimately, the three entrepreneurs decided to go their separate ways. Although it has been a difficult journey, Kega shares firsthand what she learned from the failure of her first startup.


1. Have a partnership agreement

New Girl no such thing as love

Our business relationship was going so well in the first few months that we delayed creating a partnership agreement. For me, it was unspoken. Our official agreement came much later as a reaction to issues rather than as a proactive step in the initial phase. It is important that one does not assume that common sense is common to everyone. We are all human beings with different backgrounds therefore we do not think the same way.

“We could have avoided some disagreements by clearly putting down expectations regarding our roles and responsibilities, how to run the business, funding and equity earlier on.”

Make sure you seek assistance from mentors and other entrepreneurs  to get an idea of some of the real issues that may arise in your business.

2. Be 100% involved in your company

When we started the business, we were full-time students with the exception of one partner who was studying part-time. As such, he was the operational partner and was on site all the time. Starting a business is no easy task and it is well known that the failure rate for new startups is very high within the first 18 months.

It is during this infant stage that a business needs the most tender, love, and care. I was juggling being a full-time student and a business partner. As a result, I did not give the business the undivided focus and attention it needed during this critical stage. Not only did this hurt the business but it also placed a greater burden on my partners.

“We did not realize from the get-go the kind of hands on involvement and input we needed in order to thrive.”

I wish I knew then the importance of being more involved in the daily running of the business.

3. Things are not always as they seem

Mya

Business is about testing assumptions. While we might have had a very convincing story on paper including a probable financial model, things don’t always turn out the way we envision them. According to our business plan, we were set for success. In drafting any budget, there is a principle that you “overstate your costs and liabilities and you understate your revenue and assets”.

This is particularly important for a startup. We did not prepare for the worst case scenario and found ourselves running into serious cash flow problems. It may seem like everything will go well, but things do fall apart. You must be prepared for the possibility of failure.

When it comes to financial modelling, you should rather exaggerate your costs and other expenditures by using the worst case scenario, just to be safe. Also, financially, physically and emotionally, prepare yourself to not be profitable for the first few months.

4. Don’t underestimate your competition

We chose to locate our business in a township. We assumed that because we were selling grilled chicken, it would be better to sell it near a large hospital because people would want a healthier alternative. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

We had underestimated our competition. Although there wasn’t a flame grilled chicken option in that area at the time, we had competition from people selling cakes and other fatty foods.

The market wasn’t open to having healthier alternatives. Our competitors had already realized this.

5. Invest in a stellar marketing strategy<

Beyonce-Signs-50-Million-Pepsi-Deal

Around October of last year, our sales were increasing organically because it was the festive season. But even then, we knew there were certain challenges. In the beginning, business was good because we had a new product that people wanted to try out.

But in the long term, it was not. People tasted our chicken and liked it but in that township, eating chicken was more of a status thing. We were trying to create a lifestyle but most people could only buy our chicken at the end of the week or month when they had been paid.

We made a lot of assumptions but I think that is what business is about – testing assumptions. We tested our assumptions and some of them didn’t turn out as we hoped. We tried to have more marketing to increase sales to the level that we wanted.

However, we did not allocate a sufficient budget for this and as such we could not do everything that we wanted to do. There is a lot more we could have done with a lot more time and money; we should have thought to invest in a marketing strategy much earlier on.

6. Keep employee morale high

The loyalty of employees is very important as they are the operational drivers of the business. Having a relationship with the people who work for you makes a world of difference. This is even more important when you are struggling and having cash flow problems.

Initially, we paid our employees competitively – above minimum wage. Then we started having pay issues. When things were not going well sales-wise, we weren’t able to pay them as well as we previously did. Our staff was constantly updated on the progress of the business and when we were having tough times.

Whilst some of them endured the struggle and remained a part of the story right until the end, we lost some key employees earlier on. Staff retention is unfortunately a real struggle for any business.

While employees have to be paid well regardless of what is happening in the business, it is important that you incentivise them in other non-financial ways, as well as communicate with them regularly and honestly. This way they will have your back during the darker days.

7. Share the spotlight

Nicki Minaj Paparazzi

Participating in the SLA Pitch Competition came with a fair amount of media attention. It was mainly focused on me as the only woman on the founders’ team. This brought some tension. I have been thinking a lot about this.

If you had a partner who wasn’t as involved in the general running of the business but saw an opportunity to promote the business, took it and ended up in the spotlight it, it would affect you.You would think, “But I am the one doing all the work”. It’s a natural reaction. This would negatively impact your working relationship.

Overall, I don’t regret getting involved in the startup at all. I feel like I bought a valuable experience with my investment in the company. I have so many projects that I want to venture into after I complete my CTA Honors in Accounting and Finance postgraduate studies. I am moving forward wiser and with a better perspective on what it takes to run a successful business.