RSS

Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

You Need an EchoSystem

What good is a great product that no one knows about?

Or as Philosopher George Berkeley asks “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It is not enough to have a great product.

Brand recall is so important that corporation budget millions into running campaigns.
As a startup, you cannot compete with big corps, your feeble voice will be drummed out to oblivion even if you tried. But you can key into an echosystem to create the best brand buzz possible.
For the purpose of this post, echosystem will be defined as a system that you can key into to create the best brand buzz possible such that the noise will reverberate in the community over which you wish to exert influence.

You may have been told that the best place to start your brand buzz is your virtual office also known as your website. Well, this is not totally true, except your business is totally dependent on your owning a website, when you are lean on cash, it would be a wiser choice to wait. Instead, you may want to take advantage of the social networks which are free: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, and Linked in are all networks you may want to take advantage of depending on your line of business.
Signing up is just the start. No sooner, have you signed up to a network than you realize that it is called a network because you need to bring people together. You call them friends, fans or followers. These would be the first in the line of your echosystem. You need people that will help you make some noise.

How do you find them?

Start with the known
Start off with friends you know who share similar interests. Find out if they belong to your social network, if they don’t invite them. They will help build a base. In creating an echosystem, you will find that you have to set the tone and pace of the conversation or someone else will and when they do, you may not like what they’ll be saying.

Make Friends with your customers.
Your first set of customers/clients is very important. If you offer very good service they will talk about it. They will become your brand ambassadors. If they are on your social network, reach out to them. Find out things like their birthday or anniversary and send a special message to them on that day. They will be happy you remembered them and may seize the opportunity to talk to their friends about you. You need to be careful though that you do not mix up names or dates. This tweet screams all kinds of tardy

quote

Find the Influencers
Yes, you may believe you are the best thing to have happened in your ecosystem since the first man landed on the moon, but you must acknowledge there are people who have gone down this lane before you. For every social network, there are the lords with influence. You may want to make friends with a few of them. Find them and contribute to conversations they are having and they will reecho your thoughts when you politely ask them to.

Attend events
Keep abreast of events that are organized within your ecosystem. This is a good way of meeting people who share the same ideas as you do and learning and sharing with them. Always remember to take exchange phone numbers and social media contact information. Be the first to add people to your network, remember, you are the one who needs them. For instance you may want to join one of the growing hubs in Nigeria and actively share in events they organize.

Contribute to ongoing conversation
Use your social media pages to talk about your brand. Remain focused and yet give your page personality. While it is important to talk about things that has to do with your start up and your wonderful achievements, ensure that these will be presented in such a way as to appeal to people in your network. For instance, we don’t really care if you have hit one millions subscribers and therefore you are smiling to the bank. We will be more interested in the process. What business model did you use? Can it be replicated? Also, get involved in conversations that concern other people and the projects they are working on. We already know that people who run startups have oversized egos. Try and keep yours in check.

And then the Website
When you have created brand buzz, more and more people would want to know more about your business and buy from you. They would need to find you online. This would be a great time to build a website.
When building your website bear in mind that everything, from layout, to architecture to design and content, should be built to sell without screaming “buy me”. It would pay to get a professional to work on the content of your website and create a brand story. An experienced content marketer would know how to sell your product with the least amount of words to your target audience in the shortest possible time.

Remember, building a great social network and designing a great website can only contribute to your echosystem if it keeps the customer returning and talking about you. As Jeff Bezos puts it, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends”.
If you are a fan of the chicken and egg joke, here is the best place to insert it.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Entrepreneurship

 

Tags: ,

The Customer is STILL King

Act 1. Scene 1
I had a problem with my Final draft software. I was in the process of completing a movie script on which I had a 24 hour deadline and then the script suddenly refused to open. I tried all the tricks I knew including shutting my system and counting 1-10 backwards…nothing worked. My act of frustration was to go on Twitter and lament. I mentioned that Final draft had done me in. Within minutes, a member of the final draft team had contacted me and initiated a process to help me recover my lost document. I didn’t even need to mention their handle.

Act 1 Scene 2
I needed to organize a party in my office. Someone suggested that I could order food from a restaurant that serves Indian cuisine. I was a little worried as to whether they catered to vegetarian diet. I was happy to find they had a Twitter handle. So I followed them and then tweeted at them to ask for help with their menu. They responded two weeks later.

Research has shown that the number one reason why customers walk away from a brand is bad customer service. This can be either that a customer care representative was discourteous or the service was slow and ineffective. When a customer experiences bad customer care, they will talk about it to their friends and to anyone else who pays attention.
When you run a startup that is online based, the fastest way to the valley between is to have a poor or inadequate customer service.

Act 2 Scene 1
I was searching for a hotel/catering service for an event and I saw a website with live chat options. I decided to try it out. I discovered that there was no one manning the live chat. I checked back thrice within two hours…it remained unmanned.

Act 2 Scene 2
One day I was 10 minutes early for an appointment. I arrived before the receptionist. When she eventually arrived, I noticed she wasn’t too glad that I had dared to arrive early for my appointment. She did not even acknowledge my presence as she shook her head slowly from side to side. Finally, she turned to acknowledge my presence. I had a few choice words for her and to my advantage her supervisor was there to listen in. She earned a query.

Do not make promises you can’t keep. Back in the Jurassic years of Nigerian banking, people needed to pick tallies and stand in line for hours to make deposits or withdrawals. The new generation banks came up with 3 minute banking. To support their claim, they removed chairs from the banking halls. That was a case of putting their money where their mouth is.

Whatever options you have for customers to reach you ensure that you have the manpower to sustain it. It might appear the in thing to have a Twitter or Facebook page for your business, but if you do not have the manpower to respond to enquiries and complaints within 5 minutes during business hours then it may be a good idea to take them down.

Remember, you have 10 seconds to make a first impression. Customers are constantly searching for brands that will listen to them and put their interests first. They want the care of a small company integrated into the service range of a big corporation. That is the edge startups have over larger firms. You can be a caring person to your customers why throw away that edge in order to feel large?

You do not keep paying handsomely to train uncivilized staff. Sacking could be a fantastic idea. Also, pay attention to your recruitment process. You may want to consider running your customer service yourself at the beginning. Depending on the service you render you can indicate when customer service will be available. For instance, if you will only be available 9am-12noon why not state that clearly? And when you are available be there.

If growth is a tree, then great customer service is the tap root. A good product is important but in the land of good products, excellent customer service wins…always.

A good host always stands at the door to welcome his guests. What are you doing to show you are a good host? Each time your phone line rings you have a chance to create an impression. Every update on your social media page adds to the bigger picture.

Do you now understand why a host does not start eating until all the guests are served?

Additional content from Tomisin Ajiboye @tomisinajiboye

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Entrepreneurship

 

Tags: ,

I pledge to be Loyal

You may not have heard of US Congressman Myers. He was a Democrat and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. On August 22, 1979, he was involved in the Abscam scandal and was videotaped accepting a bribe of $50,000 from undercover FBI agents. On that tape he stated: Money talks, bullshit walks.

Employees are getting more and more disloyal, like bullshit they walk once ‘money talks’.

I was on a doctor’s appointment recently and asked the doctor consulting about a particular birth control method and he responded “I don’t think they do it here”. I didn’t take the conversation any further because in that one sentence he told me all I wanted to know, about him and about his attitude to the job he was doing. He had the ‘they’ mentality.

The ‘they’ mentality is often exhibited by workers who do not feel they have a stake in the company they work for or in their activities. Most employees with the ‘they’ mentality are not very loyal to the organizations they work for and would be ready to walk away once ‘money talks’.

What though is loyalty?

According to Wikipedia Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. It is also defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Synonyms of loyalty are: allegiance, fidelity, faithfulness, devotion and faith. In his book,” The Loyalty Effect” Fred Reichheld defines loyalty as the willingness to make an investment or personal sacrifice to strengthen a relationship.

If you are a budding entrepreneur, you may have realized how important it is to have loyal employees around you; people who will stick with you and have your back; people who will not walk because ‘money talks’.

Studies have shown that there is a direct link between employee loyalty and company growth and profitability. Look at it this way: when you have a lower employee turnover then you spend less on training and retraining of new employees. Therefore, you may want to invest in employee loyalty. This article offers some candid advice on how to foster employee loyalty http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/225432.

Yet, in this age where corporates are hanging around ready to poach any readymade human capital, individuals whose business are highly dependent on training manpower have to be careful that they spend more time in the recruitment process. It would be worth all the time and investment to sieve out individuals whose records have shown that they lack the capacity to be loyal. For instance, if a person’s CV reads like he is constantly on the lookout for “greener pastures” hardly spending up to a year in any place of employment then I doubt he would suddenly grow loyalty genes because you hired him.

As an employee, you may want to work on being more loyal by being less openly critical of your bosses. If you see something not going right, wouldn’t it be better to approach your boss in private instead of going on and on about it, whining to everyone ready to listen?

Also, do not be so quick to jump ship because you are offered a higher pay. Money is never everything. There is something I have always believed in that has often worked for me – paying my dues. See every job you take on a training ground. That entails that you have to stay long enough to learn all you need to before you think of moving on.

Even when you have to leave for some further career growth, do not just turn in a resignation. If you have been important to the company, give them enough time to train and get a replacement for you. That is what loyalty entails.

Remember, if you walk because money talks….then you are just, well “bullshit”.

Oh and as for the doctor…on my next appointment I was told he had walked.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Entrepreneurship

 

Tags: ,