Small businesses in Nigeria must embrace digital channels in order to thrive during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
If you run a small business, or in the process of launching out, I would like to share with you seven different ways to build or improve your business during this crisis and into the future.
1. Build Your Website
Build your website, blog, or online shop. If you have value to offer, now is the time to announce it to the world.
Go for simplicity but let your website tell your audience what they want to know immediately.
If you have an existing website, audit it, and ensure it’s sending your intended message, meeting your perceived audience needs.
Why would you need a website in the age of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter?
The truth is, some businesses may be just fine without the hassle of a website. Think of your website as your headquarters, social media platforms as branches. Again, you may consider social media as extensions of your marketing and sales efforts.
2. Implement A Digital Payment Solution
This is another good reason to build your website if yours is a service-based business e.g., writer, designer, lawyer, business coach, etc.
I would recommend Paystack. They are a Nigerian company helping business owners and their customers carry out transactions securely, without stress.
They even have USSD payment options for three banks – GTBank, UBA, and Sterling Bank. You can even set up recurring payments or subscriptions, and also donations.
Go for Paystack if you need customers to pay for your products or services right from your website.
I recently shared their guide for businesses looking to go online on LinkedIn where I praised the simplicity of their solution.
In case you were wondering, they didn’t pay me for all this. I’m just being factual about their services, from a technical perspective and also as a consumer who has made purchases using their services on different platforms.
3. Switch from Desktop Apps to Online Versions
G Suite – Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Classroom, and others are my default recommendations.
You could work with the free versions or go for the paid version which allows you to use your own business / domain name. Microsoft 365 apps are another great option.
I have had the privilege to use Google Apps as a consumer and also as an enterprise administrator. And I must tell you I have remained a fan. From sending emails to organising your days, creating documents, and planning spreadsheets, they have the full works.
And one great thing is the ability to work on the same documents with your co-workers or business partners without needing to send versions back and forth over email! Simple, powerful stuff.
You can create surveys, enquiry forms, KYC forms and others for your marketing and customer service needs.
4. Continue Your Meetings Online
Did you schedule some business meetings in advance or have to see who you’re talking to?
Continue to interact with clients on Zoom, Skype, or even WhatsApp.
Did you know that you can host a meeting with up to 100 people with the free version of Zoom?
Go virtual for your meetings, interviews, sales pitches, conferences, seminars, you name it.
Nothing replaces face-to-face but it is increasingly evident that we must adjust and adapt to the situation. So make use of these online communication tools.
5. Nurture Your Community
Stay in touch with your clients and prospects by publishing helpful content on your website as well as on social media.
Create helpful content and share with your clients and prospects. The keyword here is helpful. It’s not just about sales or marketing pitches, buy, buy, buy all the time. You should also share information and ideas your audience will find useful.
Did someone say, “I’m afraid I do not have the skills to communicate my ideas well”?
Not a problem. You can engage with people or agencies who provide such services. I can also help with that in a cost effective way.
The most important thing is to stay visible and stay in touch with your audience or market.
You should share great content on social media. But we all know those platforms are set up to favour paid advertising.
So, is it a good idea to advertise on social media now?
My answer: Yes, as it aligns with the rest of your marketing efforts.
Now, there is a high likelihood that your prospects are paying more attention to happenings online. Yes, yes, I know we’re inundated with COVID-19-related updates for good reason but your communication can be welcome news or information in the midst of it all.
Of course, it’s even better if you can find a way to still show that you’re sensitive to this global situation as you wish everyone well.
Which advert medium works for you?
Facebook and Instagram ads, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google ads are some great options. You should confirm which one has the best potential to reach your target audience.
With more people spending more time online, now is the time to become visible and reach out to your customers and prospects.
7. Outsource Your Logistics
Sign up with a delivery company if you sell physical goods or produce items (e.g. food or clothes) that you need to deliver to your customers.
Businesses offering essential commodities, food, water, drugs have found it necessary to engage delivery companies in Lagos, Ogun, and the FCT during the 14-day restriction.
But even pre-COVID-19, many small businesses found it reasonable to outsource their deliveries to logistics companies. It’s all in the maths.
In Lagos, I learnt some bike hailing services switched to offering delivery services in the wake of the okada ban from February 1 earlier this year.
Some features of their services include:
- Pickup from you or designated location
- Doorstep delivery to your customer
- Accept cash on delivery from your customers and remit to your account
Please note that I make no recommendations here nor offer any guarantees.
Like I said these are some popular logistics outfits amongst others. You would need to talk to them about your requirements and negotiate the best value for your business.
To conclude, here are the seven things you can do to build or improve your business during this COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:
- Build a website or refresh your existing site
- Implement an online payment system
- Switch to online versions of productivity apps
- Meet virtually with colleagues and clients
- Stay in touch and nurture your community by publishing helpful content
- Advertise online
- Outsource your transport or delivery operations
These are challenging times indeed for us as individuals, a nation, and as humans. But with faith in God and some imagination, our hard work will be well rewarded.
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