A lot of billionaires rarely give financial advice. But sometimes, they chip in some wisdom only discerning ears can catch.
Here’s a wise insight that was given by one of the wealthiest men in modern history:
“If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” — Bill Gates.
While you might not be able to get your hands on Bill’s billions, incorporating this advice into your businesses strategy will fetch you good returns.
The internet currently houses over 4.3 billion people. These are individuals who could be potential clients and they probably haven’t ever heard of you.
Every second your business isn’t online, you’re missing valuable opportunity to expand and grow your business.
What’s the big fuss about taking a business online?
A lot of businesses are beginning to see the relevance of the digital community and are taking quick steps to ensure their platform doesn’t fall behind.
An example is SUCCESS MAGAZINE— a top business and personal development magazine that has always created its material in printed form for over 121-years!
But in January 2018, they ended print media and migrated fully into publishing their content digitally.
This is not uncommon as we’ve seen numerous companies ditch old conventionally means of doing business and applying a new and more effective way of reaching a wider class of audience —digital.
“It is not the strongest species that survive, but the species that are most adaptive to change.” — Charles Darwin.
The world is changing rapidly, and intelligent start-ups and SMEs are adjusting their systems along with it. This is basically what intelligent businesses are doing and if you’re not following suit, you’ll be left behind.
Why should your business be online?
In Nigeria, there are over 92 million active internet users. That’s the entire population of South Africa and Ghana combined.
The internet gives you the flexibility to connect and reach these folks who could require your services or products.
Not being online is leaving a lot of money on the table. Yes, you’re losing money and shutting out from very good opportunity to take your business to the world.
Companies like Coca Cola spend millions of dollars monthly on digital advert just to reach more clients online.
If an already established brand such as the beverage giants—Coca Cola— could invest millions to be online, why should you think the internet isn’t for you?
No matter what services or products you offer, the internet is the first place you should be looking for clients. Reason being that, your customers literary live here!
An average Nigerian spends 3 hours on social media daily—connecting with friends and family—as well as discovering and following up on new products and services.
Having your business online is an opportunity to get your content on the screens of these individuals who could transform into customers.
Having an online presence in 2019 is non-negotiable. It’s a must!
Most people are still sceptical as to whether or not they should promote their business online. Well if you haven’t made the decision yet, be rest assured that your competitors are already beating you to it.
I once had a conversation with the manager of an aluminium roofing sheet production company on the need for his business to have an active online presence.
He told me point blank that a website or a social media handle wouldn’t be favourable to his establishment.
It’s quite unfortunate that someone would arrive at such a conclusion in this modern-day and age. And it’s even more saddening that a lot of folks who run SMEs in Nigeria hold the same belief.
A lot of end consumers now go online to verify a company’s credibility before deciding to purchase a product or hire a service.
7 out of 10 customers prefer a business with a social media presence. Nowadays people are quite careful by the way they treat their money and would want to be very certain of a brand before patronising them. Hence, they go online to look up a brand’s credibility.
What if a potential client Google’s your band and nothing pops out? Or even worse, Google recommends one of your competitors?
You’ve just lost money.
That’s the reason you must ensure your brand is online. No matters how insignificant a role you might feel the internet plays in advancing your business, at least have a Facebook page.
You can no longer rely on traditional means of marketing to target new customers. The use of TVs, Radio and print media for ads are becoming obsolete and in a few years, would have lost its relevance as an effective means of marketing.
Digital marketing is the future of marketing. There’s no going back and you can not avoid it.
Benefits of having an online presence.
- Beef up your credibility and authenticity: Having an online presence with an active social voice gives off the vibes that you’re serious and you care about your public image. To potential clients, this is a score that signifies they can trust you.
- Easily showcase your products and services: A Website, an e-commerce shop or a social media handle offers the perfect space to sample your products and let people know what you’re about. It’s also a great means to unveil new products and keep clients abreast with latest deals and offers.
- Build close relationships with your customers: The virtual space offers the most flexible means for effective customer service. Through social media, you can follow up on inquiries and answer questions clients might have concerning your products or services. Consequently, you’ll be fostering a good client-business relationship.
- Expand your brand reach: This is the culmination of being online—your business is exposed to over 4.3 billion people who use the internet. When it comes to the digital space, every business has a potential for growth as you’re presented with the opportunity to reach people from all over the world. The moment you take your business online, your business stops being local.—anyone from across the globe can see you.
How to build an online presence for your business.
Now that you’ve been introduced to some benefits of being online, the next question that should probably pop in your mind would be how to develop an online presence for your business.
A few years ago, you could simply open a Facebook page and post whenever you like. But in 2019, things have grown beyond setting up random pages and sporadically posting whenever you like.
In today’s virtual space, succeeding online requires the incorporation of a strategy, a plan, and sometimes, even a budget.
But you necessarily do not need to go overboard with spending. You can implement simple strategies—which are shared on this post— and you’ll start seeing considerable success in your digital marketing strategy.
Here are some tips to implement in building an online presence.
Have a specific goal.
I’m not sure there’s a lot of things worthwhile in life that’s ever achieved without a goal.
Just the way you set up goals for the operations your business offline, you must also have goals for your business online. Having no goals is like shooting at nothing and hitting it every time! No direct, no purpose, no vision— basically the most effective way to fail fast.
Before going online, set your objectives. What do you want to accomplish online?
Are you trying to launch a product and get more eyes to know about it?
Are you looking to expand your business reach to a different geographical area?
Or you probably already have a dedicated following and you seek to maintain good customer service?
Your goals should be clear and specific. This will help streamline your focus and you’d be able to effectively track your progress.
Choose a platform:
Most SMEs make the mistake of joining all the tops social media platforms. Before deciding to take such route, ask yourself… Do I have much time to manage all these accounts?
As a small business, time is your most valuable resource. You probably have a few staff and you get to do a lot of things on your own. Hence, opting for too many social channels won’t be the wise thing to do.
What do you do instead?
Simple. Identify the platform your customers often likely hangout.
For example, if you run a fashion shop that sells nice female handbags, your customers live and breathe on Instagram!
Reason being that, Instagram is all about visuals. The folks who log on to Instagram do not go there to READ a bunch of boring talks. They hover around to VIEW pictures and watch videos.
Therefore, you can take advantage of this by taking your business over there. Open an account and start posting bright photos of your fashion collections.
Basically, any business where good visuals can easily be produced would sell on Instagram. E.g. restaurant business (photos of your delicacies can be posted), hair styling, furniture businesses etc.
Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms out there. It currently boasts of 1.3 million active Nigerians on the platform. However, not every business niche would thrive on Twitter.
Twitter is great for news and publications. Hence, if you run a blog that ditches content regularly, Twitter is for you.
Also, if your business offers financial or business-related services, Twitter is a great option.
Facebook is all-encompassing—it cuts across all niche. With over 23 million active Nigerians on the platform, you can be sure that your target audience visits Facebook every day.
Confused on what platform to choose? Begin with Facebook!
As a matter of fact, all SMEs should be on Facebook. The large audience base offers the right opportunity to build your online presence.
Do not make the mistake of trying to be everywhere at the same time. If you’re to begin with just one platform, let it be Facebook. Thereafter, you can branch out and extend your tentacles.
Have a content calendar:
leaving your social account idle or posting whenever you feel like won’t get you far. It can even work to your demerit as an inactive page gives the impression that you’re unserious.
An active social media account gives the clue that you care about your public image and you’d offer good customer service. When people see an active page, they immediately have the feeling that their needs can quickly be attended to and their queries answered.
As a business person, you’re busy running various activities that concerns your business, and you might not have the luxury to be on social media daily to create posts. No need to worry. There are tools you can use to schedule your content and automatically post on social media. An example is Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tailwind.
Simply link your social accounts to any of these tools and they get the posting job done for you.
You can use just 10 minutes to schedule your posts for the next 7 days… Or even for the entire month.
Create a website:
Having a social presence goes beyond social media.
If you’re really serious about your business and have the desire to attain a good public image online, then having a website for your business is a must.
Good news is, you don’t have to be techy or invest a lot of money on a programmer to create a website. you can create a website for your business easily with WordPress.
All you need is a domain name and a hosting package—with a tiny investment of less than N10,000 you’re good to go. Seriously, there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t have a website.
For what’s worth, you’ll be positioned to enjoy the potential benefits of having your business in front of the vast number of people (all around the world) who might be searching or looking (via search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.) for the services of products you offer.
Bringing it together.
In the 21st century, entrepreneurs must be flexible towards change and be ready to incorporate new strategies to effectively drive their business.
Having an online presence is the new way to effectively build your brand, extend your services and reach more people. The internet avails you the tools and flexibility to get your business from the ground to the hilltop. Utilize it!