The Academy

Useful Tips On How To Boost End-Of-Year Sales With Social Media

As the year winds down, many business owners and managers are thinking of how to cash in on end-of-year sales. Edem Kodjo is not an exception. An “old school” folk, he used posters, handbills and word-of-mouth to announce his end-of-year sales promotions in his shoe boutique in the last few years.

His success has been largely limited as local government council regulations about cleaner environment have reduced where he can paste his posters or share his handbills. He has also recently noticed that young customers who are his target are increasingly migrating to the social media. 

Before launching his sales promotion campaign this year, Edem spoke with a friend, who shared with him an advice he had read in a special publication online: 

 Social media allows salespeople to see what prospects are saying about their brand and competitors. You can really get to know a customer’s needs through social listening. It’s a great way to research a market and initiate conversation leading to a sale, regular or end-of-year.

Not only can social listening help you generate new leads, but it also allows you to build deeper relationships with existing clients that drives them to purchase again and again.

The biggest sales have come from salespeople using Twitter to find opportunities and LinkedIn to find the names of the true buyers inside organizations.

Facebook and blog platforms have proven to be essential for salespeople, as well.

Someone selling digital scrapbooking software and supplies, for example, can connect with his or her customers on Facebook and through a blog where they can share project ideas and digital photo advice. 

So how can you use social media to make sales, especially this end-of-year?

Step No. 1: Determine the best way to connect with prospects

Social media is a smart selling tool only if your clients and prospects are using social media. It’s a huge waste of your time if your clients are spending their time elsewhere.

But if you learn they are indeed using popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you need to determine which space is best for connecting and interacting with them.

Facebook is one of the best arenas for business to consumer sales.

It’s also important for brands to consider tools like Instagram and Pinterest along with their Facebook strategy to increase visibility and sales. LinkedIn is the appropriate platform for sales of business-to-business products or services. LinkedIn is a more professional networking environment, so this is the right place to connect with people at big corporations that might be interested in your product or service.

Step No. 2: Join a community and create a persona

It starts by spending some time with the tool you plan to use. Build up a personal account, have conversations, and become acquainted with the norms and expectations of the community.

Without misrepresenting yourself, create a persona that’s likable and trustworthy within that community. If I think you’re a jerk when I see you on a social media site, I’m not going to do business with you. If you comment a lot to get people to go to your site, I’m not going to listen to you. You can’t abuse or misuse social media.

Show your network that you’re an amiable, trustworthy resource.

How To Know If Your Social Media Strategy Is Working

Since she launched her clothes selling business two years ago, Chioma Ebube has tried all sorts of social media “tricks” to help create awareness, and hopefully, improve sales. 

She is on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and even Snapchat. At the onset it seemed to be working well, but in recent times, her enthusiasm has waned with falling traffic to her multiple platforms. 

Now, she is at a crossroads. If, like Chioma, you’ve written out your social media strategy with the steps you’ll take and the goals you want to achieve, how do you determine the impact you’re having?

These are just five of the many ways you can determine your strategy’s impact.

1. Vanity Metrics

While they’re not the highlight of your results, vanity metrics can help you quickly and easily see whether your activity is working. When you gain fans and followers, see more “Likes,” “favorites,” “shares,” and “re-tweets,” you can tell that what you’re publishing is drawing in interest.

Measure these metrics, and keep an eye on what types of content you’re sharing is bringing in the most interaction. You’ll learn what content works best and what period has the most activity.

2. Sales

After sharing on social media, ask your sales department staff whether they see an increase in activity on their end. Request they reach out to interested parties, asking how the person found out about your company.

If you learn that new customers are reaching out based on your social media activity, you’ll have evidence that your strategy is working, and your sales staff will appreciate it.

3. Website Traffic
Do you use Google Analytics to measure your website activity? Did you know this service can show you how social media plays a role in your website traffic?
In Google Analytics, you can set it up so you can see where your traffic is coming from. If you have visitors coming directly from your social media accounts, you’ll know that they were interested in you based on your activity.

4. Workload
Although you might question whether this is a good thing, you will see an increase in your workload if your social strategy is working.
More users will want to reach out to you on social media, you’ll have a bigger audience to respond to and interact with. You might even need to hire more staff to handle this workload - but that’s a good thing.

A larger workload means a higher interaction rate with your social presence. A higher interaction rate means your strategy is working.

5. ROI
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to prove the return on investment (ROI) of your social media strategy. Your company leaders will want to see whether social media is money well-spent.

If your strategy is working, you’ll have the evidence you need to prove ROI. Your vanity metrics are a great introduction, but using deeper metrics and analytics can really drive your point across.

These five pieces of evidence can help you see the impact your hard work and strategy is having for your company.
Measure them and you’ll know whether your strategy is working.

Culled from and adapted

8 Best Practices To Promote Your Business On Social Media

There are not a few Nigerians who think social media is only useful for gossip. Adokie Tarila used to think that way - until his friend, Dickson Nariebo, shared the secret of how positive use of social media has transformed his business from an obscure restaurant to one of the hottest eateries in town.

A study conducted in the US showed that in 2012, 54 percent of small-business owners, needed help with social media. Two years later, that number dropped to 45 percent. This confidence seems to be translating into success, with 72 percent saying that their marketing efforts across the channels that matter, including social, email, mobile and Web, are working.

Socially savvy entrepreneurs know that it’s all about engaging the right audiences with valuable content. The online community has little tolerance for self-promoters who view social media as a means to free advertising. Given this, small-business owners face a challenge when it comes to striking a balance in using social media to engage and promote.   

Promotion and engagement are really two sides of the same coin. Engagement is rooted in consistently sharing insight and providing value every time you connect with a customer. This establishes credibility while building trust and inspiring customers to tell their friends about you. Promotion extends your engagement efforts by presenting a valuable offer that’s based on your customers’ interests and needs. Social media amplifies your efforts so you can be found and engage a wider audience to grow your business.

To put it all together, here are eight best practices for successfully engaging customers and promoting your small business through social media.

1. Follow the one-in-seven rule.

This rule is where only one of every seven posts overtly promotes your business. The remaining six should be focused on sharing valuable content, including posts from the community. This doesn’t mean you can’t promote your business in those other posts; just be sure you pair it with great content.

2. Ask conversation-starter questions.

Most people enjoy sharing their opinions, so ask Facebook fans to weigh in on topics that are relevant to your business and interesting to them. For example, a fitness center may ask fans to vote on their favorite summer sports in order to be entered into a drawing to win private lessons for them and a friend who joins the club. The questions should engage fans and inspire them to refer business while giving the business owner great insight.

3. Share your expertise.

Post little-known, fun facts in the form of questions with a special offer presented to the first person to answer correctly.

4. Provide value.

While including fun posts that reflect your personality is a must, it’s important to create content that benefits your followers. That can mean posting tips on best practices, providing access to white papers, or offering special deals on products or services.

5. Enhance the rewards for virtual check-ins.

For a specific period of time, double the points each time a customer checks in on Foursquare and triple the points each time he or she brings a friend. Their friends on social networks will see when they’ve checked in while you expand your reach exponentially.

6. Create a Pinterest board.

Make sure the board has eye-catching visuals and run a contest through it that will inspire and reward customers for their participation. Be sure to encourage them to re-pin and create their own boards that reflect the initial contest for additional social amplification of your campaign.

7. Avoid syndicated messages.

While you can use tools that allow you to write one message and have it appear on a variety of social media outlets, you risk losing the sincerity behind the message. You can use similar language as you promote your offer on different sites; just be sure to change up the words while reflecting the tone of each network.

If you find that your customers are scattered across a variety of networks, focus your efforts where they’re most active. Not sure? Ask. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of time skimming the surface of multiple networks with little results.

When small-business owners apply these best practices to social media engagement and promotion, we’ll likely see that already impressive 72 percent success statistic continue to rise.

Culled from American and adapted

Important Tips On Export Promotion For Your Business

Many entrepreneurs want to export their goods or services but are often confused about what steps to take. When the Federal Government began to export tubers of yam, for example, James Ugocha a yam farmer in Benue State quickly approached his friend for advice on how he might take advantage of the yam export policy!

Some tips by his friend, Abdul Echenum, summarised here today, might be useful to entrepreneurs who may find themselves in a similar position like James.

Export promotion is a set of public policy measures, which could potentially enhance the export activity of a company, industry or a nation. Such policy measures are subject to a variety of factors and regulations that could affect the volume, types of goods and services exported from their areas of authority.

Export development is important to the firm and to the economy as a whole. Export Promotion Strategy promotes only the industries that have potential for developing and competing with foreign rivals in the international market. The main goal of export promotion is to prepare the “potential” industries for competition with the foreign rivals. So these industries at their infancy must be protected by government policies for a while.

Naturally, exporters face increasing competition, in order to remain a key player in international markets there’s a need to continuously improve technologies, products and services quality. Exporters may take advantage of research and development studies.

In the process of preparation for exports, companies need to conduct a research that will help them choose a market, which will contribute to the maximization of the benefits and minimization of the risks.

Research will also help managers decide not only on the markets to enter but also on the modes of entry. When deciding on these issues, the companies need to gather information on the following parameters:

Information on the market availability: This should be the first phase in the process of research. If the result of the research shows that there are many barriers for entry on a certain market, then the company should reconsider the decision to go on that market. This is the phase where companies should collect information on the trade policy, tariff and non-tariff barriers, regulations regarding the exports and imports of the country, developed trade relations with different countries and trade groups etc.

Information on the business environment: The second phase in the process of research is analysis of the business climate and environment of the potential markets. At the same time, this is the most critical stage in the information gathering process as it helps in the development of clear picture of the markets in the selected countries and the opportunities that are offered. The most important components to be analyzed are the economic and political-legal environments and their factors affecting the operations of the companies.

Information on the size and potential of the markets: Demographic characteristics of the markets (number of inhabitants, growth rate, population density, age structure), geographic characteristics (area, climate, topography), economic parameters (gross domestic product, GDP per capita, GDP growth rate, purchasing power, income level, average salary, consumption of different category types, economy growth, industry growth), technological parameters (actual production technology, planned technological development, investments in technology, Internet users, level of development of the information and communication network, investments in hardware and software), educational characteristics (educational system, students enrolled, foreign languages learned in schools, graduated students, graduated students according to the level of education, number of master students, number on PhD students) and socio-cultural characteristics (dominant religion, dominant values, life style, ethnical groups etc.).

Information on the economic and market infrastructure, including information on the availability of resources, costs of the resources, availability and qualification of the workforce, availability of capital, insurance etc.

Information on the communication infrastructure, including information on the road network, air transport, telecommunication conditions, logistics centers, logistics network, distribution systems, availability, importance and power of media, opportunities for promotion, retail infrastructure, wholesale etc.

Information for the market of the specific product: Sales and availability of the specific product, use of complementary or substitute products, competition etc.

Five Rules To Rebound From Failure

When business fails most people don’t only tend to see it as a setback; they think it’s the end of the road. They take it personal. They don’t want to talk about it and don’t even want to remember it. They just want to escape as quickly as they can and just get on with their lives. There are many reasons why people tend to respond this way. Perhaps the most common in Nigeria is stigma. Ibrahim Alhassan, who struggled with his textile material retailing business for many years, is a good example. He was rejected from a military academy and failed his qualifying exam as a chartered accountant. The real kicker came when textile suppliers cut him off as a result of mounting debts. He had dipped his hands into sales to cater for pressing family needs, leaving his business badly exposed. He was waiting for his landlord to kick him out when he approached a family friend, who gave him the following advice. It was a lifesaver. You, too, might just find it useful: 

Don’t pretend it never happened. 

People are often so anxious to avoid the stigma of failure that they refuse to admit what happened. Denial usually results in a host of other problems, including internal stress and delaying any effective remedy. 

The late Dale Carnegie, a well-regarded lecturer and author of the bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said that when you’re quick to admit that you screwed up, your peers will stop holding your feet to the fire and actually begin to comfort you.

Avoid making excuses. 

Some people wiggle past the truth by admitting to a problem they sugarcoat in excuses. I was one of them. At one point during my teenage years I was homeless and an alcoholic. At every turn, I told myself that all my shortcomings were not my fault.  My situation only improved when I stopped making excuses and focused on a productive goal. 

Don't confuse a failed goal for a failed person. 

Sometimes people take the opposite approach from what I just described. They blame themselves for any and every failure, creating a pattern of negative self-reinforcement. Assuming you'll invariably screw up is dangerous thinking -- and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of setting up a mental pattern for failure, ask yourself how you can improve.

Remember, you are not alone. 

People fail to reach goals all the time. Take football players, for example. They shoot the ball many times over the course of a long, 90-minute game. And when they fail, they do it in front of millions of TV viewers. The point is that we’re not robots. Everyone’s bound to stumble every once in a while.

Focus on the lessons learned. 

The only way to survive such a world-class level of failure is to focus on the future. Not many people can say they’ve literally lost billions of dollars and chalk it up to "business lessons." I’m currently rebuilding my company, which now has a portfolio valued at $100 million. 

Culled from and adapted

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