If you’re the owner of a small or medium company in this digital age, it might be tempting not to spend money on advertising and just set up social media accounts through which to promote your business. That may not be such a good idea, though. Not only might your potential customers not be there, but even if they are you will require some marketing knowledge to get them engaged. And if you don’t have a good website as a foundation, all your tweets and Facebook posts are probably futile.
These and other very practical tips and knowledge were the subject of the first one-day Digital Marketing Masterclass organised by Markedu in Kigali in October, presented by the company’s founder and director Michael Leander.
Leander knows what he is talking about. Before creating Markedu, he had a career of 20-odd years first in the corporate world as a CEO and chief marketing officer mainly in northern Europe, and later as an entrepreneur with his own publishing, consulting and tech companies. He founded Markedu in 2009, starting with webinars on direct and digital marketing and later evolving into events, first in Europe, and then looking at East Africa.
“Our main objective now is to go into emerging markets and train primarily in digital marketing,” Leander tells Hope Magazine. “We do it with events like the Kigali masterclass, and hopefully get people interested enough to do bigger programs with an actual accredited certificate in digital marketing.”
And in his view, emerging markets are exactly the right environment for digital marketing.
“Look at the whole ecosystem of entrepreneurs that is thriving right now in East Africa; a lot of brilliant things that are being done that solve real problems,” Leander says. “But for people to know about it, it’s very expensive if you use traditional channels. But with social media, content marketing and various types of paid advertising, even a small bootstrapped business can actually find an audience.”
He also thinks that digital marketing is the way to go for SMEs, which constitute the majority of companies in an emerging market like Rwanda’s.
“I actually think it levels the playing field. Look at Europe 15 years ago; the internet was not a new thing then, and SMEs who didn’t have the funds or skills were able to level the playing field because the larger companies kept doing what they had always done. SMEs with all their constraints would see digital as a way to actually compete with the big guys – they could reach customers in a better and cheaper way, engage with them by showing much more who they were by having a great website, educate with a blog, maybe written by friends or family,” Leander explains.
“In other words, SMEs can move on a good idea and immediately make it happen; in a large corporation you need a plan and a big agency to do it, and it takes forever,” he adds.
While not divulging all the secrets you will learn in a digital marketing masterclass, Leander was kind enough to share with Hope Magazine four essentials in digital marketing for SMEs.
1. Have a good web presence
You should have a core website which has all the information required for someone to make a decision, either about purchasing or about getting in touch with the company. The web presence has to be anchored into the e-marketing ecosystem. There might be an e-commerce component, depending on what you’re selling, and there could be a blog involved as well. That is really the starting point.
You have to see it like this: if you’re a retailer, the essence is that the better you display the goods, the more active you are in creating offers and so on, the more sales you’re going to get. And a website is similar.
What we see in Rwanda right now is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of focus in getting that right, to say the least.
2. Don’t over-estimate the power of social media
While it’s great to get engagement, and relatively easy to get it, all social media today are advertising platforms. It’s proven that you don’t get successful unless you put money into advertising; you have to boost your post, you have to run actual campaigns and so on. A lot of small businesses, especially, think they can just have a good presence on social media and everything is going to be great. It is not.
3. Know your marketing foundation
All the marketing things about positioning, value proposition and knowing your audience, they still count a lot to become successful digitally.
And that’s where a lot of SMEs go wrong. They go with the channel: they see that Facebook is popular so they want to be on Facebook. They don’t ask themselves: 1) is my audience there, 2) what do they do there? If you’re in a B2B context, Facebook often doesn’t work because people are there in a private context, not for business.
4. Understand direct marketing principles
Digital marketing is a direct marketing channel, so you need to understand direct marketing principles. This has to do with psychology: how do you get people to engage, how do you create an emotional connection with your message and – very importantly – carefully detail the flow that you take an audience through in order to get a sale.
They say retail is detail, but I would say, so is digital.
Roopak Gorajia, Marketing director at Akagera Business Group
I attended this training to see if I could progress my knowledge in digital marketing for our company on our social media presence, our website and actual physical presence as well.
The training is going well so far, I learned a couple of things that we can apply to our business and also about our clients and how we can start new business products and services. So I think it’s good; we have a couple of hours to go so I hope to learn more.
Marie-Claire Muneza, Marketing, Media and Sponsorship Specialist at Tigo Rwanda
I was interested because of my working experience in digital marketing, and I wanted to learn from Markedu about the channels where marketers can best push the brand and products and so far we have learned a lot.
Nowadays, we’re moving from outdoor advertising to online, so getting more knowledge is helping us to get to know where we can push the brand with a lot of impact to reach the customers.
For more information on future workshops, check http://www.markedu.com/
Read this article and more in issue n° 79 of Hope Magazine.