Running a brand or business online today keeps getting more sophisticated. To thrive, you need to keep acquiring relevant skills that can help you to stay better in business. Nigeria’s online marketplace keeps getting larger as the years pass. According to Statista, the internet penetration rate is about 70% and the number of online shoppers in Nigeria is around 76 million.
As the internet penetration increases, the number of people who sell online also expectedly increases. More and more brands, from micro-businesses to large corporations, are getting to realize that the world is now digital and not being online would mean having to lose a lot of money on the table.
There is so much ado about doing business online and reasonably so. However, what factors guarantee success for an online business owner? What distinguishes people who eventually thrive building an online business from those who struggle? What determines ultimate success for the people who have it and for those who do not?
The answer to this, for a start, often lies in the skills that each individual acquires and effectively uses to move their business forward. In this blog post, you will be learning some of the top skills you should have in your arsenal if you want to succeed online.
1. Research, Planning & Strategy
To effectively gain customers, you must know how to research and plan for your potential customers. This is the first stage a lot of small brands miss. To increase your chances of success, you should get your research, planning and strategy right. Here, you want to ask yourself questions like:
- What are we selling?
- What are our unique selling propositions?
- Who are we serving?
- Where can we find them online/offline?
- What age, gender or location are they?
A clarification of what you offer would allow you to know how to craft your messaging in such a way that people want to buy from you. Understanding who you are serving and where they can be found online will also help you to prevent ineffective marketing and wasted efforts.
Having a clue of what I call the most basic questions of marketing will help you to better understand where to market, how to position yourself, what to pay attention to and what you ignore. It will also guide your efforts as you go on and help you to stay on track.
“To increase your chances of success, you should get your research, planning and strategy right”.
As a brand owner, you cannot ignore the effects of networking. You need to be open to creating connections with different sets of people in order to grow and sustain your business. You need people because they hold the key to the next level of your business. Also, networking is not just about thinking of how to get from people you perceive have something to give you, it is also you thinking ahead of ways to deliver value to them as well. Always remember that networking thrives on value. Some kinds of networking relationships you should look out for are:
- Potential clients and customers: A lot of times, you will need to reach out to the people you consider your potential clients or customers. This is called prospecting. When you let them know about the benefits of your product or service, they are likely to want to buy from you if it’s something they need or want.
- Partners and collaborators: There are people who have something you need to grow your brand. It could be a larger audience, physical resources or a network. You can consider ways to network with people like these for the purpose of collaborations. This way, both sides win.
- Investors: To scale your business, you might need investors. You may consider debt financing, equity financing or even grants to get more funds to expand your business. Therefore, you want to pay attention to the people who are likely to either be able to invest in your business or can introduce you to people who can.
- Mentors: With appropriate mentorship and guidance, you are able to move faster and also avoid mistakes that those ahead of you have made. Finding the right kind of mentors, a lot of top business owners say, is instrumental to your growth as an entrepreneur.
“Networking is not just about thinking of how to get from people you perceive have something to give you, it is also you thinking ahead of ways to deliver value to them as well”.
3. Sales and Online Marketing
There are different forms/branches of online marketing that are necessary to thrive online. As you definitely know by now, sales and marketing are the lifelines of any business. Without this, a business could go underway in no time. Some of the most popular online/digital marketing branches include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Through this, you are able to drive organic traffic to your website. If you run an e-commerce site, SEO should be one of your top long-term marketing strategies.
- Content Marketing: Through this, you are able to research, create, distribute and measure content that is relevant to your audience and target towards specific goals. Content marketing is important because it shows you ways through which you can show that you care for your potential customers without being salesy. You can sign up for our content creation and marketing course here.
- Email Marketing: With an email list, you have a database of people who are likely to be interested in what your business offers. This allows you to build a relationship with your existing and potential customers.
- Copywriting: It is not enough to ask people to come and buy from you. You must also be able to craft your offers in such a way that convinces them to buy. This is known as copywriting. As an online business owner, if you are unable to convince people to buy from you, you will struggle with sales.
- Social Media Ads: Running adverts online can help you reach larger audiences, especially if you are unknown or have a small business. With a small budget for Facebook Ads, you can reach thoudands of people.
“Sales and marketing are the lifelines of any business”.
4. Graphic Design
Everything is visual and for a highly visual world, you will be losing much of your audience if you are not focusing on the kind of designs you’re creating. Good graphic designs will help you:
- Communicate the value of your brand, products and services
- Consistently develop a visual identity of your brand in the minds of your audience.
If you’re building your business with a lean budget, you can learn how to use tools like Canva or to create your designs yourself and save more money. Tools like Coreldraw and Photoshop are also amazing tools, although they take more time to master
5. Online Customer Service
Running an online business is almost the same as running an offline business. However, if your business functions solely online, then it means that you must have your online customer service in place. Customer service allows you to ensure the satisfaction of your customers, retain them and resolve complaints amicably. In our world today, a single call-out from someone online can cost your business a lot of money and brand reputation. Hence, paying attention to your customers is a major way to pay attention to your business too. Tools like Hubspot CRM allow you to manage your customer database properly.
6. Business Analysis
Whatever is not measured cannot grow. It is not enough to start an online business, you must also be able to analyse on a regular basis. This will allow you to understand what is working, what is not working, what to keep doing, what to stop doing and what to review. It might seem like a huge task but you can start out with keeping records about the small things that happen. If you are able to hire a business analyst, it would also take the stress of your neck.
7. Crisis Management
What happens if someone tweets that your business duped them of a huge sum of money? Before you even come online, the tweet has gotten thousands of engagements and hundreds of angry people are mentioning your Twitter handle. Every online business, no matter how great, should have a crisis management plan. While your business might not face a huge public crisis, it does not hurt to have a plan. What would you consider as a possible crisis for your business field? How will you react when something like this happens? What steps will you take to resolve the situation and restore possibly lost trust?
There are many other skills you need as a business owner who operates online. Some of them take a little while to develop while others that are more complex may require a longer time to master. Hence, it is vital to maintain a curious and willing-to-grow attitude so that you can always increase your capacity to succeed at doing business.
Are you a small business owner? What skills do you believe are necessary for all business owners to thrive? Share your thoughts in the comments. Share with a fellow business owner.
Prior to now, I wasn’t very much a fan of meetups. Blame that on the fact that I get really uncomfortable when I’m among many people that I either do not know at all or I’m unfamiliar with. But then, one of the things that I am trying to do is to get out of my shell and do stuff that I naturally do not like doing- like going out of my house to an event where one of the purposes is to network. (Hopefully, one of these days, I’d write a post about why you should be eager to attend meetups if you’re someone like me who doesn’t like to go out that much).
For a few months now, I’ve been a member of the biggest community of digital marketers in Nigeria and Africa. My friend, Deji Faniyan, saw the need for me to be a part and linked me up straight up (and that’s something I am grateful for).
DIGICLAN, as the community is called, is a community of digital marketers and influencers. The overall aim of the community is to network, learn, teach and mutually contribute to our individual and collective growth as well as the overall development of the Digital Marketing Space of Africa.
Last week, I got to know that there would be a DigiClan Lagos meetup the coming Saturday. I was reluctant at first even though I knew I had much to learn from professionals who I knew would be coming around. (I don’t like meeting people that much, remember? Lol)
But one thing caught my fancy; the fact that there was going to be Jollof rice!
Yes, I know I love food that much and I am not ashamed of the gospel of food. But see, knowing that there would be Almighty Jollof instantly spurred me to prepare for it. I just told myself, “Babe, ain’t no way I’m gonna pass up an opportunity to eat Jollof this Saturday. Ain’t noooo way!”
And so, I got up from my bed, dressed up for the event against my feelings of not liking to meet people and headed out for The Virtual Hub, Ikeja where the meetup was to hold.
The event was one of the many periodic face-to-face meetups and free trainings organized by the Clan to provide answers to questions as well as share vital information on the Digital marketing space. Furthermore, it was inspired by the need for the community to meet, network, share and learn from campaign stories, successes and failures of experts and upcoming Digital media marketing professionals.
Did I love the meetup? Hell yeah, I loved it (I wouldn’t be taking my time to write this if I didn’t love it.) There were people who shared challenges that they had been having with their online campaigns and there were more than enough professionals to help them get their problems solved.
Also, I really did get to network with a couple of people who I was absolutely wowed listening to. We shared ideas and exchanged ideas. I wouldn’t have loved it if I had missed it, really.
After I got home, one of the interesting things I thought about doing was to get other individuals who attended the event to share why they decided to attend and what they learnt from attending. I got a few responses:
“The meet-up, for me, was an opportunity to network (put faces to the WhatsApp names) as well as learn, knowing the calibre of members in the group. I got to reunite with old colleagues (as well as former wedding train mate ?) And I picked one, two and plenty ideas e.g to guide with content marketing strategy.”
-Iniobong Michael Idio, Digital Marketing Executive with core competence in SEO.
“I attended the Meetup with an intention to CONNECT and LEARN. I actually did achieve all of that from the meet-up, got to meet young great minds with amazing talents, people who are open to sharing their own ideas and experiences for others to learn from. I also got to meet some people that I’ve only been hearing about or talking to on phone, so it was really nice to place faces to them and yea, I made new friends too. The experience was truly AWESOME and UNFORGETTABLE”- Nancy Abudu Oriolowo (@oriolowonancy), Digital Marketer.
“I volunteered for the events and I attended because I want to go into social media marketing and management. The meetup met my objective because I was able to get other Digiclan members to learn how social media management works and how to get the best ideas in running campaigns.”
– Abu David Itama, Brand Strategist & Content Developer.
“I was to coordinate the volunteers. Met lots of digital media-inclined personalities from different spheres of Digital Media management and learnt one or two ideas on how to better manage my blog.”
– Daphne Isaac, Entertainment and Celebrity Gossip Blogger, www.fambles.com.
The organizers and volunteers did a great job, I must confess. The brainstorming sessions were enlightening, the networking session was fascinating. And the food…Oh God…the Jollof rice was life! Did I mention there was Puff-puff too?
The venue we used was beautiful too. Virtual Hub is a company that offers you space for events like meet-ups and seminars at affordable prices. More interestingly, they have really cool workspaces for you if you have a team or company and you need somewhere to work. The catch? You could pay daily, weekly or monthly and the charges are understandably moderate, to be honest.
I look forward to more DigiClan meetups like this. The experience I had has made me more open to going out to events more and meeting more people.
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