Various variables accounts for the successes of a business and the more the variables mixed together to improve business practice, the more the growth and the chances of survival in the long run. The business community is becoming highly competitive by the day and start-ups have no choice than to up their game to ensure they continue to make wealth for themselves.
This material is similar to an academic public lecture where an academic is expected to elucidate his academic findings, gains, postulates, theories, etc. over the years. Accordingly, this material outlines what I have been doing with academics and business in the most part of the last decade which Prof. Jonathan Obukohwo referred to as “loading over time and space”.
Over the years, I have learnt, conceived and implemented various business strategies, principles, logics, approaches, trials & errors and models in an attempt to ensure I acquire more and more customers. To us as marketers, customers can never be too many, hence customer acquisition have no end. In fact, it is the volume of customers that should be the major determinant for business growth, hence customer targeting and acquisition is a topmost priority.
On my way up here, being a self-learnt customer acquisition and audience expert, I have come across, practice and implemented many marketing concepts that actually converts, taking my business above the comprehension of any possible competitor. The truth however is that anyone can decide to make his or her own mix of marketing practices to arrive at a different conclusion/result. The discussion of these principles and practices are the major target of this material. However, let us first of all take a look at the following assumptions/postulates.
- Marketing channels, practices and principles are numerous, hence, the more marketing practice a marketer implements, the more customers he is bound to acquire.
- Marketing becomes more real to you when you personalize it and practice it in your own way.
- The benefits and sweetness of marketing only become the more visible when you make it a lifelong practice. This is especially true as you can only make name for yourself in the long run. Goodwill takes a little more time.
- If you are not going to remain a marketer, do not become one.
Quote from the Author
He who owns the audience owns the market.
What the above means is that to own the market, you may not necessarily own the products or established offices. What you need mostly is the attention of the customers. Once you have the orders, you can become an affiliate marketer and sell. He who owns a product but do not have the attention of the buyers is a time waster.
Haven stated the above, let us look at the following practices that I have used to build my business over the last couple of years.
One of the greatest tools I have used in business is my personality. So other numerous practices are embedded under this personality clause in my business. I became more jocose, more accountable, more fun in the office, higher personal and business integrity levels, built my goodwill more than never before, sought for customer welfare, dedicated funds for customers welfare, spending more time with customers, etc. The list just goes on and one. To acquire a huge customer base, a marketer must do all he can to keep current customers while new ones are attracted on regular basis.
2. Business Comics
From the very beginning, I didn’t really understood and implemented business jokes until halfway into my marketing journey when I realized the huge fortune that business jokes brings for business. Business jokes attracts customers, open them up for patronage and keep them closer. Business jokes are a very important point in my marketing drive. While the practice of business jokes may have been in existence, in my case however, it is a self discovery which I conceived, implemented and has attracted thousands of customers to me. I use business comics to retain old customers and to keep prospects till they make their first patronage. So, with such level of continued relationship, sure they always come back to do business with me.
There is a tacit attraction that the office arrangement has on the customer. The attraction happens subconsciously. I have practiced and continued to implement this particular aspect of my marketing strategy. I have spent unnecessary amount of money just to keep my office sparkling that once you entered, though still very humble, you conclude in your mind that this is the very best place to do business without further conviction. My office arrangement and design are nice with flowers to top it up. More importantly, the place does not just have to be neat but super neat and presentable.
I overheard someone saying “this place looks good. When you are down, just come here to relax and you are soothed”. Then I said in my mind, “yeah! That is the point. This is the impression I want to give. The best place to be and do business”.
4. Ergonomics and Office Smartness
Through some of the numerous academic studies I partook, I easily came to realize that there is a significant influence between office arrangement (ergonomics) and customer retention. This conclusion is not one of the regular and mere academic findings but a conclusion drawn by an industry expert in practice. All the desks in my office are well arranged with individual staff names tagged to the desks. The choice of colour and smartness in the arrangement too is also easily noticed by visitors and customers who wouldn’t leave until they give a nice comment. Enticing my customers has become a very important part of my marketing practice. Then task completion time, staff-customer interaction, office ethics and decency, financial management trust, etc. are all part of this strategy. My customers are fully confident that a dime does not get lost in my care.
5. Staff Welfare and Identities
When planning to be at the top, if you do not have the motivated workforce to handle any possible skyrocketed patronage, then problems may arise. Knowing this well, I have often attempted innovative and best payment system that suits my business and staff. I do not only think of my profits, pocket, expenses and all; I also understood that the workers have to be properly motivated to ensure they develop that mindset of die working (put all their minds in the work because their payments reflects their work. So, I used earn-as-you-work payment system. At the end, I do not need to beg staff to be regular and punctual. I do not need to beg staff to remain with us. I do not have to beg staff to work hard. All of these begging are already in the payment structure. The staff who is more regular, punctual, smart and hardworking does more jobs and practically earns more.
As a growing marketer, I also understand that giving my staff identities gives them such pride and sense of belongingness. Hence, we had t-shirts with staff and company name tagged on them. Then their desk has their names. So, when their friends comes to visit, you see them behaving like persons who has made it in life. Imaging such level of pride and feeling of responsibility and belongingness! All these have its own impact on the growth plan.
6. Use of Social Media (Facebook)
Facebook has been my major platform for business growth. My Facebook groups and pages are my major channels for advertisements. Although I use my personal Facebook profile, I realized early enough that the contents in my profile with just 5,000 friends are wasting. Why not post where there are more persons? Hence, I focused more on Facebook groups which to me grows faster. Today, all my contents goes to the groups first before being sent to my profile and other channels. One principle guides my online content, “if it is not going to reach as many persons as possible, there is no need to create the content”.
Today, I have 9 active groups with 4 others; 3 active pages with 6 others. 1 active profile and a few others. All these accumulated to ensure business grow at all cost. It is also on record that NDU Latest News which is by far the largest and most responsive group in the Niger Delta University is also one of my products.
I actually got into WhatsApp status for business lately. Some marketers call it WhatsApp TV marketing. It is one lucrative business platform that marketers utilize to grow their businesses. Although I have been using WhatsApp to attract and chat with customers for long, I actually started using WhatsApp status for information dissemination and marketing in 2021. For now, my audience is still very low with just an average of 600-700 viewers. If well utilized, WhatsApp status can help you greatly.
8. Minimizing Competitors
Growing to become the very best amongst my competitors wasn’t all too easy. First, my competitors are mostly copy and paste competitors with no trace of marketing ingenuity. Hence, to ensure I keep my quality contents to myself, far away from their reach, I started blocking my competitors, they cannot see my contents at all. I also started using watermarks on my designs to ensure where they have access to it, there is watermark to show I own such material.
So, my competitors are not following me on Facebook nor on WhatsApp unless for those I am yet to ascertain as competitors or those playing hide and seek with me. But once my hand touch them, they will surely hear from me.
9. Spending everything possible to acquire a customer
Brunsen Russell, a marketing guru stated that “he that spends more in acquiring one customer gets the most customers”. I have actually put this practice to the test over and over again. Sometimes, you do not have to look at the profit from that job; spend all you can to acquire just that customer. Spend the time money and any possible resources to get that customer. In that process, you are more likely to get him/her and her referrals haven being satisfied that you are the best. In the long run, you will also learn from the process and improve from the practice. So the money you spent is never lost.
In 2020, I attended an online class of Professor Akpe’s Bachelor of copywriting. One of the key areas touched was promotion and upfront value. From 2020 till date, I have effectively utilized promo to the growth of my business. I now have school fees promo (500,000 in 2020/2021 and 1,000,000 in 2021/2022 academic session. This amount is expected to be higher in subsequent sessions.), hostel promo (100,000), monthly promo (20,000), Emerald Care promo (200,000), Emerald Anniversary promo (100,000), Holiday counterpart funding promo (100,000), customer welfare plan (10% of office profit).
I also have highest Jamb scorer giveaway (20,000), highest Post UTME scorer giveaway (20,000), Post UTME application promo (100,000), etc. The list goes on and on. The benefits and patronage that these promotions have brought are immense.
11. Emerald Student’s MPCS
Emerald Student’s MPCS is a cooperative society primarily for students’ school fees run by the A & U Ng administrators. We were able to bring customers together to save their fees and access school fees loans where necessary. Emerald brought a lot of benefits to us. From access to funds to the attraction and acquisition of new customers, the benefits were invaluable to us. Emerald Student’s MPCS is an example of how a business person can offer related services that resonates around his/her existing business. It is just like Facebook and all of its other related services tied to Facebook.
12. Customers’ Esteem
I also looked at another part of marketing in the acquisition of customers and realized that attaching esteem to customers who identify with my brand could also attract more customers which could not have been acquired. So, I created backgrounds themed with my brand for photoshots. So, customers who came for business can relax, snap and post in their social media profiles just for prestige. It is a way university freshmen used to communicate with their friends back at home that truly, they are in school now as the brand is a well know ancillary academic enterprise. If doing business with you comes with some sort of esteem, then expect more patronage.
13. Customer Appreciation
In my office, there are few inscriptions thanking the customers for doing business with us. In business, appreciation is very key and so, we do it in the most excelling way. Some of our office inscription reads: “thank you for being a great customer”, thank you for doing business with us” and I am still thinking of how to improve on this practice with more inscriptions. Appreciating customers is very important for customers’ retention.
Over the last two years, I have been particularly fixed on the benefits of good business designs and how they influence the business audience and growth. Within this period, I have spent hundreds of thousands in naira to make excellent designs. I don’t manage my pocket when making designs. These designs convey a very important message to the audience both near and far. They answer questions in their minds and gives parents the impression that this entity they are dealing with is genuine.
15. Adequate Advertisements
If you are not ready to talk about your business and products, why did you start the business in the first place? Buyers do not patronize these days again without some forms of manipulations and persuasions. So why keep mute over your product existence? Whatever service I have to offer, I ensure I talk about it long enough and repeatedly as I can. This helps to make the audience to be familiar with the product/services. I use my Facebook profile pictures spot, cover photo spots, Facebook groups banner spots, WhatsApp profile, etc. to lodge designs for my business. So, I rarely use my picture as display profile. It doesn’t bring patronage. I have to be intentional in doing what brings patronage.
16. Use of Low Language in Communication (Pidgin)
When started marketing newly, I was more focused on academic news. Then, my news are filled with grammar and students will come to my dm or in private message to appeal for an explanation of the news I published. I realized that the message is not getting to the people. So, I switched to local parlance. Then I started communicating with the Pidgin English. With this local language, we are able to flow together without any division between my status and the status of the readers. Especially those who may have a lower control of the English language. Many colleagues have commended the use of the pidgin in my works and they have also followed suit to improve their craft.
17. Use of Multiple Platforms (Product Omnipresence)
I wasn’t too comfortable staying in one place. I always look out to the next best thing. So, I have been utilizing all possible means to improve. In marketing, the principle of omnipresence is very important. Marketing omnipresence is your ability to place your products in multiple platforms to the extent that wherever your prospects goes, they see you and your products. It kills their fears and seals their conviction that you are real; this is especially important for online marketers. So, you can go to Google and search for an information and you will meet me there. Go to Facebook, you will meet me there. Enter WhatsApp, I am waiting for you there still. So, you want to tell me that if you send money to me to do business, I will just carry your money and run away from all those many places? Do you know the time and efforts to make all those plenty ads placement? So, this is the logic. Be everywhere, let the prospects know that you are real to do business with.
18. The Use of Relevance
How relevant are your contents to your audience? The fact remains that no matter how omnipresent your products are, no matter how efficient, no matter how valuable they are; what I always consider is relevance. What you are advertising, is it relevant? Because you will post all your life but there will be no/low patronage. So study what your audience like, how your audience like it and advertise accordingly. Another thing here is timing. Always make timed adverts. For instance, I cannot be making post UTME adverts when candidates are still writing Jamb exams. I may end up getting prospects but not actual instant patronage. So, ensure your act is timely and relevant.
19. My Identity
In the internet space, prospects are primarily afraid of scam. So, what are you ready to do to allay the fears of your customers? This is mostly applicable to website users. A client called me from Canada and while trying to explain myself to him to allay any fear of scam, he told me not to worry explaining myself that my profile is before him. I had my life profile from birth till date appended to the page he visited. My Facebook profile was also appended. Meanwhile, my Facebook page is replete with posts that convinces you behind me that this user is an established person and not a scammer.
What have I succeeded in doing? Identity! I was able to identify myself properly that my customers do not need be afraid of my personality. Even my Facebook profile is 13 years old. Can you beat that?
20. Multiple Audience
As a self established audience expert, I have learnt to dichotomize my audience into responsive and related units rather than attending to all the units in one place. Hence, in my audience development practices within the Niger Delta University, I have groups for students in general, for parents, for Jambites, Post UTME candidates, freshers, those looking for roommates, postgraduate students, Predegree and Basic students, Part Time, etc. The list goes on and on.
21. Linkages and Connectivity
One thing I also do is to link prospects to their respective audience. So, if you search for NDU Postgraduate in Google, you will be referred to my materials. Then, while reading, you will see links directing you to the NDU Postgraduate WhatApp group. Same thing goes to other audience. This gives me the ability to acquire more customers with no extra efforts.
I will keep on updating this material on regular basis. This because more and more information and strategies comes up to my head even as I write.
Let us agree that not all the practices and principles in this material will apply to you. During my learning period, there are several practice I learnt but I couldn’t integrate and apply them in what I do. So, I only picked those related to me.
I also have a long way to go in the practice of marketing. For instance, I have not been able to fully implement funnel marketing and email marketing in my field of study. Also, I am also not complete in my use of auto responders. Hence, there is a long way to go.
In the future, all these shortfalls and more will constitute the volume II of this material. The author expresses his gratitude to all those who read this material to this very point.
The author expresses gratitude to the Vice Chancellor, Niger Delta University, Professor Samuel Gowon Edoumiekumo for his administrative policies which has been very lenient with business. His policies did help businesses in the local university community to grow.
About the Author
Michael Jules, is a scholar, educator, vocational tutor, writer, publisher, marketer/affiliate marketer, customer acquisition expert, audience expert, academic critic to the core and believes so much in best practices and standard performance in the unfolding of academic processes. He studied Accounting Education (B.Ed.) in the Niger Delta University (2009-2014) and Marketing/Management Education (M.Ed. In.V), Niger Delta University (2018 till date). His penchant for academics and learning in totality has made him engaged in various endeavours in the bid to improve practice. Read more…