It does not matter how amazing your business is, as long as customers don’t know about it, it is as good as a diamond buried deep under the earth.
Technology has led to radical changes in the market; traditional advertising is dying out, and the media companies’ revenue from this is declining. Yet, despite not investing much in advertising, the exposure of companies is at an all-time high.
Are we caught in a middle of a market evolution? Everyone is trying to predict what is going to happen. Reports by the likes of the World Economic Forum, McKinsey & Company and PricewaterhouseCoopers are springing up everywhere. Some are correct, others are dismally wrong.
If you are an entrepreneur in Africa with a fervent drive to conquer a particular industry, whether or not you have a budget for advertising, you need to explore the most effective strategies to market yourself in a world where you can end up drowning amid the plethora of ads and messages in the media. It’s a mad show out there, all you have to do is take a walk along the street or browse the internet to realize this.
Let’s look at some of the effective ways to convert prospective customers to actual clients.
There is a model that many entrepreneurs don’t know about – the freemium model – which is one step below the paid for premium model. Freemium is where you offer your products and services for free and then make money on the other end. Facebook’s monetization strategy is selling advertising to other companies, on the back of the popularity of their service. Bear in mind that the high usage of their service is down to it being free.
Chinese ecommerce company, Alibaba, did the same thing to kill eBay when the American company tried to enter the Asian market half a decade ago. They invited eBay to follow their free model, knowing that the listed company’s shareholders would persecute its senior executives if it did so. Alibaba is now the king of the Asian ecommerce market, while eBay fizzled out.
You need to be creative to stretch a dollar in today’s economy, whether your company is big or small.
Referral is one of the most effective marketing tools for your business. It’s a form of trust transferred by another source you know and respect. Uber has used this method well. The taxi company offers free rides to their existing customers when they refer Uber. In this case, an incentive rewards existing customers for finding new customers.
There are products that go viral without monetary incentive. WhatsApp is the best example in this case. Existing customers were pushing the product themselves because they wanted to use WhatsApp to message everyone else in their phonebook. It helps that WhatsApp is cost effective as well.
Offering your product for potential customers to use over a trial period has been popular in recent years. Most anti-virus and software companies use this as a marketing strategy. It is not a new concept though. William, a young salesman in the 1930s, worked for a company that sold home appliances. He walked from door to door, allowing people to use particular products until he returned to collect them a week or so later. More often than not, when he returned, the majority of those people discovered that the items were useful and refused to give it back. They chose to pay him for the item instead. It led to him becoming the number one salesman in his company.
Some say print media advertising revenues are going down because many marketing campaigns are online. That cannot be the entire reason, only 9.8% of Africans are internet users.
Then internet is not the only answer to marketing these days. Many companies collaborate to leverage each other’s client base. Insurance, retail and healthcare based companies are good at this. Partner with a company that opens your business to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of clients; it could save you piles of money that would usually be spent on ineffective campaigns.