In a recent webinar at The Business Show :: Africa 2022, Mzamo Masito (Chief Marketing Officer for Google Africa), gave us some tips and tools to work on building a sustainable and successful brand.
Most small businesses are micro-businesses which means they are run by one person. With 58% of micro-businesses owned by women and the small business industry employing about 80 percent of the nation, it becomes essential that your brand is well-established and successful to keep our nation stable. So, how can you build an outstanding brand?
One thing to note is when you are building a business and a reputation, especially in the early days, you, the business owner, are the business and the reputation.
A great brand reputation = winning + strong values
We need to remember that when we are building our business, we are building a reputation and selling a reputation. Your brand reputation is made up of your desire to win and having strong values. When we talk about winning, we mean you are competent and will do what you claim to do in your marketing. Strong values that come out of respect for people, your opportunity and respect for your partners who are involved throughout your business process. Remember you, the business owner, are responsible for the reputation.
Trust = (character + competence + consistency)/ time
Another element to remember is that in the end what you are truly selling to a customer, no matter the physical product or service, is trust. To build trust in your brand we need to look at the sum of three pieces. They are:
- Character: Are you a trustworthy person and do you behave in a trustworthy way?
- Competence: Is the product or service you are offering work and do what you say it will do. If your product is weak, then it doesn’t matter what labels you give it, it will still be unsuccessful.
- Consistency: You need to give the same experience every time your customer interacts with your product or service.
The more you do all three well, the more likely your brand will grow and succeed.
Brand growth = helpful/useful + visible + available = solution
To have a successful solution which in turn will lead to brand growth, you need to have three items. Firstly, your product or service needs to be helpful or useful. You need to have a customer base that wants what you are selling. Be careful on basing your business on me research. You may have a need and a solution but are there other people outside of your friends and family who have a similar need or want, and sees your solution as helpful or useful.
Secondly, you need to be visible. If we don’t know that you exist then how can we buy from you? You need to put your offering out there for your target audience to see. You also need to keep reminding them. Our mind also remembers things we see often. We know about Coke and other famous brands because we see the ads when we browse and also when we drive along the road. Therefore you need to ensure you post regularly so that your target audience is reminded of your offering.
Lastly, you need to be available. You need to be proactive when your customer contacts you and ensure you keep communicating with them throughout the purchasing process. If you miss a communication, don’t reply or even worse, reply rudely, there is a good chance you will miss a buying opportunity and you will have some negative word of mouth going around when the potential customer speaks to their friends and family. Therefore you must communicate clearly and timeously with your current and potential clients.
This all makes up the solution you offer your customers because in the end, they aren’t buying a physical product or service but rather the solution to a current pain point they have.
When they say you are too expensive. It is not because your price is too high but rather they don’t see the value in your solution. When you get this feedback that you are expensive, re-examine your solution and improve it before you worry about your pricing.
Why are businesses going online?
According to the statistics in the last two years, 1.79bn people shopped online in 2021. 97% of people learn more about a business online than anywhere else, and lastly, it is predicted that 95% of purchases will be through e-commerce by 2040. With these statistics, we can see the importance of being online but we must not negate the need for offline. Humans like to use their five senses when purchasing items. So, we need to have both – an online and offline presence.
We need to keep in mind when the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside your business, then your enterprise is nearing its end. You always need to be a few steps ahead in your business to be successful.
Here are five practical tools for getting your businesses online:
- Google Test My Site: This is a diagnostic tool that checks the speed and user-friendliness of your site. You will get a report which you can forward to your web developer to improve your site.
- Google Trends: This tool can help you see the trends in your industry and what are the keywords being used. This can assist you to add the keywords to your content. It will also highlight the intentions of your target audience.
- Google Business Profile: If you don’t have the funds for a website, a Google Business Profile may be the stepping stone for your business. It offers a well-optimised website. You can also get Google Analytics on your business and you are more visible in searches and you will be present on Google maps when you are vetted and verified.
- Google Ads: As was mentioned visibility and showing up in your customer’s feed regularly are important to help grow your brand. With Google Ads, you can be featured in searches, have ads displayed on relevant websites, and show up during YouTube videos. All these places are available with Google Ads.
- Google Market Finder: Want to take your brand globally then Market Finder is the tool for you. This tool helps you find new markets and also helps you to set up for global exports.
Google regularly hosts webinars to help with navigating the above-mentioned tools successfully.
All this technology may be a bit frightening but as a successful entrepreneur, you need to be constantly curious and keen to learn new things. Google has a few ways it helps to build SMEs up
- The Google Hustle Academy: This is a free week-long boot camp designed to help SMEs to grow by increasing revenue, positioning them for investment and building a sustainable business for the future. You will get access to live training sessions, 1-1 mentorship, and masterclasses by industry leaders.
- Digital skills for Africa: This platform has a variety of courses to help you grow a sustainable business.
It’s critical as an entrepreneur to learn constantly about your industry and have a broad understanding of the different units in your business.
Some entrepreneurs may have fears about their privacy and safety as well as the customers that interact on their website with them. It is therefore essential to learn about safety and privacy online as you have to abide by the POPI Act in South Africa. You can learn the basics through a course offered by Google called Internet Awesome. Though designed for kids, many adults have gained useful information going through this course.
So remember, when you build a brand you are selling trust and solutions. This should be the narrative you use to sell your products or service to clients. People buy from people they like and who sell them a solution that effectively solves their problem.
You can learn more from the full webinar on this topic here.