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How You Can Use Digital Marketing To Grow Your Business

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Digital marketing quite simply means marketing in the digital space. But what is marketing? Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. So digital marketing is doing all that but in the digital realm. Now we get the full picture of digital marketing.

Digital marketing has been with us for about a decade or just a decade depending on perspective (yes a decade) but it has turned the marketing world upside down. It has not quite replaced traditional marketing but that is a just a matter of time. Let is go over some advantages it has over traditional marketing.

1. Empowers small businesses
Any business can compete with any competitor regardless of size. Using the marketing budget that the business can afford, a business can be able to carve out its own niche in the market place. In the digital world a crisp well thought out website with a smooth customer experience and fantastic service is king- not size.

2. It makes it easy quantify and measure results
Anybody is the business world will tell you that data is king. A lot of the risk associated with business has a lot to do with the unknown. Digital marketing addresses this problem quite effectively. In traditional marketing a business for example might pay for a billboard to advertise its products. The amount the business will pay is based on how many people may see the billboard during the duration the ad is up. The key word here is might. There is no verifiable way to know how many people actually saw the ad.

In the digital world/internet it is possible to know exactly who sees your ad. In addition to that it is also possible to see where the people who saw your ad come from and in some cases one is even able to build a complete profile of the viewer including age, sex and even spending habits (yes even spending habits). To a business this information is vital and enables it to plan its marketing campaign more efficiently.

3. Reduced cost
In traditional media a company may need a fixed amount per year to dedicate to advertising. In the online realm, a business sets its budget according to the intended results of the campaign. There is no fixed amount. Pay as little as you want or pay as much as you want, the only thing that matters is your marketing goals.

The How

Now that we have a clear grasp of what is possible let us go through how it actually works. There are three main ways to go about digital marketing.

These are the main categories everything else falls under one of them. They include;

The Search

Search includes using search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engines are simple to understand. A user visits a site and searches for what he/she want, Simple and very basic. However that is where the simplicity ends. The search engine in turn invites advertises to advertise on the pages of the results of what a user is searching for. A search engine, through machine learning and rudimentary artificial intelligence is able to build a complete profile of a user. The search engine knows who the user is, their preferences, demographic and the user’s exact location. All this information is used to determine the kind of advertisement that the user will be shown. Thus a user is shown advertising which is relevant to them. Tools used in this category include Google AdWords.

Social Media

Social Media is also very simple. Everybody is in something. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. The process is still the same but very refined. Using all the information someone posts on social media a complete profile of the person is built and the person is served ads that are relevant to the person. Tools used in this category include Facebook marketing

Content

Content is very powerful. As an internet user visits the website that interests them relevant ads are shown. For example a person reading a car blog will be shown advertising that involves cars. Video advertising is a form of social media but it is in a category on its own. Video is the most engaging of all media and thus an incredible powerful tool. Tools used in this category include affiliate programs and YouTube marketing.

That being said the internet is just a tool; the principles of traditional marketing still apply. One still needs a definite strategy and plan of action. A business also needs to know its marketing objectives be it increasing sales or improving brand awareness. The business also needs to keep a watch on the metrics and adjust strategy as new data or trends are discovered. This is enabled by the flexibility of digital marketing. A good search engine optimized website goes a long way. A search engine optimized website ranks higher on for example a google search. Also building a following on social media helps brands engage one on one with the customer. This sort of feedback provides good insight on whether a brand is keeping its promises or not. The entire categories search engine, social media and content should be used together for the best results.

Digital marketing is all about coming up with your campaign strategy and create relevant advertising material for the various media. After that now comes the difficult part of measuring metrics and results and optimizing for the best results

It is also easy to get lost in the digital marketing world but not to worry trained experts are also not far away. There are numerous digital agencies catering to all types of businesses be it a startup or a fortune 500.

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Bolt Announces Expansion to Kakamega, Thika, and Kisumu

News Team

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Estonian ride-hailing firm Bolt, formerly called Taxify, has announced its expansion to three more towns in Kenya. This as it continues to widen its reach across the country, in competition with Uber and Little Cab. Uber operates in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Thika while Little Cab operates in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa.

On Wednesday, the firm launched its services in Kakamega, Thika, and Kisumu; bringing the total number of towns it covers to five, including Nairobi and Mombasa. This makes it the largest taxi-hailing platform by geographical coverage in the country.

“After Nairobi and Mombasa cities, it was natural that Bolt would gradually expand across the country. We now intend to build new communities in Kisumu, Kakamega, and Thika as we continue to gain the trust of the Kenyan people,” said Ola Akinnusi, the Bolt Country Manager for Kenya, at the press conference.

“Launching in these areas will allow us to provide a safe and affordable avenue for passengers to get a ride.”

The firm also unveiled a rapid expansion plan for East Africa, whose five-year strategy will focus on the provision of local transportation options that include tuk-tuks and boda-bodas.

Bolt revealed that it charges a 15 percent commission on net profit, leaving its drivers with 85 percent.

“We are always looking out for partnerships and opportunities that will enable drivers to reduce the cost of doing business and have better earnings. We have always believed that happy drivers translate into better customer service for the riders,” said Akinnusi.

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Inversk Life

The creativity that M-Changa inspires

Matt Roberts

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Mon.28 Jan. Irene Akenga,

M-Changa is a fundraising platform that allows anyone to start a campaign within their network and beyond. Lets check in some of the successful stories within the platform.

GEORGE’S SPINAL SURGERY IN INDIA

(Above: Mr and Mrs Ambayo)

George Ambayo, born in the year 1952 is a loving husband to gospel songbird Florence Ambayo and father of two sons, Richard Oketch Otiang’a and Barnabas Yuka .

George has lived a happy and healthy life until mid-2018 when doctors diagnosed him with spondylosis and disc disease of the human spine (lower back) with maximal changes and neural compression at level L5-S1.

A compressed nerve by a prolapsed disc caused George to have leg weakness and problems related to urine and stools. As a retired accountant, he wasn’t able to come up with the funds needed to travel to India for spine surgery.

“By God’s grace when I was stuck in terms of getting the finances a good friend of mine, Joshua Ochieng introduced me to M-Changa. He told me M-Changa is a very effective organisation that can help you raise funds” – George Ambayo.

George set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform M-Changa, managing to raise Ksh. 743,000 in just three weeks thanks to 235 friends, family members and well wishers who supported his campaign.

Thanks to Kenyan generosity, the funds raised enabled him to travel out to India on the 4th of November. He was taken to DELHI GURGAON hospital on the 8th of November to undergo a 6 hour successful spine surgery to remove two discs and replace them with artificial discs.Miraculously George was discharged and has been able to walk without a walking stick or wheel chair. To this day, George walks 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening as his physiotherapist instructed.“I want to say a big thank you to the 235 people who contributed to my fundraiser, I also want to thank the wonderful team at M-Changa who were so caring and supportive throughout the process” – George Ambayo

An unexpected side effect to his fundraising activity online is a raised social life, “I remember when I got back from India and I decided to send thank you messages to each and every person who had contributed to my M-Changa fundraiser and many people got back yet I didn’t even know them.”

“Fundraising can be a daunting task, especially for hard working members of society like George Ambayo. If anybody out there has a fundraising need – they should take advantage of fundraising platforms such as M-Changa to help them reach more people quickly – it can help them to quickly raise funds and prove their genuinity” – M-Changa contributor.

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Entrepreneurs

Complete Guide On How to Build a Tech Startup on a Budget of Zero

Jordan Stephanou

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You may have a terrific idea for a tech startup (an app, website etc), but you don’t have funding and you definitely don’t have hundreds of thousands of spare cash lying around to invest in a project that may or may not bear fruit down the line. What do you do? Most people will let the dream die there and then.

If it’s an app and you’re not technical, many would seek out a technical co-founder that they barely know, pitch this flaky idea with the promise of equity down the line – if, and only if, they commit hundreds of hours to turning the idea into reality now, and if the product becomes a resounding success. That’s not the most appealing pitch for the software engineer, right? I mean, this person could be spending those hours building any product for themselves, or earning good money at a corporate. Also, if they’re good, they probably have 5 phone calls a week from people requesting similar miracles. They’re just not going to be interested.

In my experience, the answer is a simple one:

Get a client.

You may be thinking I’ve lost my head and ask “yes, but, how am I supposed to get a client if I don’t have my product on the market?” I’m glad you asked. I propose the following steps:

Step 1: Ask your Market’s Opinion

In a B2B, this should be at least 10 of your highest value clients. In a B2C, we’re talking hundreds of users. What do they think of the problem? What do they think of the solution you’re proposing? What holes do they see in it? What would they do differently if they were you? What fatal flaws do they see that will prevent your idea from succeeding? What would your product have to be for them to guarantee being your customer?

Important: Do. Not. Sell.

Explore… Learn… Test your hypothesis… Gather info. This is not the time to acquire your first client. Yet. But it is a critical first step.

Step 2: Develop a Prototype

Yeah that sounds terrifying for someone who’s not technical. How am I supposed to do that without any programming knowledge, you might ask. Fear not, the 21st century has gifted us with an amplitude of free online drag-and-drop tools that even your grandmother could use to build your prototype (see Just in Mind and Proto.io as two examples). Still terrified? Have you ever used Paint? What about Microsoft Word? What about a notebook? Your prototype, in its simplest form, is supposed to show off your idea in a way that people can visually understand.

It most definitely does not have to be anything resembling the working version, and it definitely does not have to show off all the features you want in your dream product. This prototype (or wireframes, in its simplest form), is a series of screens that can help get further buy-in and feedback on your idea. They should show a “user journey”, or what would happen if a user clicks this, or what new screen would open if a user clicks that. This is essential for talking to potential clients, and for talking to potential software engineers.

After all, no backend developer could even think of building anything for you if you don’t have a visual representation or process flow of what you want from them. This is the point where most non-technical founders give up. Because the idea of developing a process flow, user journey and wireframe (screens) and prototype for their idea sounds daunting, the dream reaches its premature death. Don’t be that person. It’s quicker and easier than it sounds, and it’s a fundamental step in the process.

Step 3: Take the Prototype Back to your Market

Remember those people you spoke to in step 1? They respect you. They love someone coming to them with innovative ideas asking for their advice for their egos. Because you weren’t looking to sell to them, you made them feel like a thought leader in the space, that you were relying on their wisdom, and they will be happy to be on this journey with you. They say “ask for funding, you’ll get advice. Ask for advice and you’ll get funding”. Well, I believe the same applies for winning clients. Ask advice to build the ideal product for your market, you’ll eventually capture that market because you’re solving the real problem they have.

I digress.

Now that you’ve taken their feedback, comments, criticism and pleasantries on board since Step 1, and you’ve shown that you’re serious about this idea by designing a prototype (no matter how amateur it looks), they respect you infinitely more than any of the hundreds of other people trying to sell them useless things. By taking it beyond an idea to prototype, you are already in the top 1%. Now with this prototype, you repeat Step 1. Once again, no selling. Based on what you’re showing them, have you truly understood their problem? Are they confused by your prototype? Do they understand that they are your target market? Do they understand the user journey? Do they agree?

Once again, pursue fatal flaws in your thinking. Pursue cold hard rejection. Pursue them telling you “it’s not going to work because…” . I need to emphasize this point. Some people call it a pre-mortem. Ie. Before you even have a business, you want to note down all the reasons why your business will fail. This so important, because if you can make it your mission to understand why it will fail, then you can make it your mission to see if it’s possible to remove those failure points. If you can, you may just have a massive business in the making. If not, you may have saved yourself years of psychological trauma.

Step 4: Make Adjustments and Do Pre-sales

Now that you’re armed with knowledge from your market based on something more concrete in the form of your first prototype, you’re ready to iterate on your first prototype. Take every comment that you’ve heard on board, along with your own personal convictions, and refine, improve and deal with all the possible failure points they mentioned. If after that you’re still confident this business is solving a real problem and worth pursuing; then proceed.

Now it’s the fun part. Now you’ll have a prototype version 2 (which can still be amateur-ish as long as it communicates your idea effectively) and you’ll be an expert on your problem and solution. Now you organize a third meeting with all those potentially high value clients and your close advisors. You show them that you’ve taken everything on board and you try get a commitment out of them. Hear me out, if you have truly listened to the needs of your ideal client, and your solution is genuinely going to solve the problem that they have, they will be ready to commit. They won’t be able to pay you anything at the moment because you still don’t have a tangible product, but they will be able to commit in writing. This is the beauty of a pre-sale.

At this moment, you will clearly communicate with them what your Minimum Viable Product will include (version 1), and what could come in iterations thereafter. Make sure that the MVP is the leanest, quickest, simplest, least features version solving only 1 problem that you can think of. This is important in the following 400 ways (well, I’ll only list a few here but you get the point): an MVP is easier to explain what your solution is to your client. An MVP is easier to explain to a software engineer. An MVP is cheaper to build. An MVP is quicker to build. An MVP gives you the opportunity of getting lessons from your market in real time. An MVP gives you the opportunity to excite your clients with a list of other features that will come at a later stage. I could go on and on. The point: Start with an MVP, and not the “Rolls Royce” version despite the temptation.

So now your potential client loves the idea of your MVP. They sign your pre-contract stating the following: If X (insert business/product name here) is built according to the following requirements (all of the requirements of your MVP, along with any service related elements you may include), then the purchase will be completed at a discounted pre-sale price of Y (insert pricing model here).

Of course, there should be an incentive for your client to want to commit to the possibility of the product now, and an attractive pre-sale discount is usually the best way to go. Bear in mind, this is under the assumption that this is a B2B tech startup. In the case of B2C where there is no sign up cost, I recommend getting proof of interest from as many users as possible. Something like a Google Form could work for this, but in a B2C market, you might need thousands of people to complete the form saying that they would use your app in order for it to be of value. Don’t let that put you off, using social media, and getting the right shares from people in your network who believe in your idea can easily lead to getting the volume of completed forms you need. The point of this is to get some of proof of pre-commitment and proof of more than a just mildly interested market. You need to have a compelling case that you have a captive market who are obsessed with your idea and can’t wait for it to be released.

Step 5: Pursue your Technical Co-founder / Development Agency

You’ve made it this far, and now this is the final and one of the most important parts of the jigsaw to take the product to market. If you approached someone to build the app / website when you just had an idea, you would have no leverage and definitely no reason to get anyone excited. However, now, you have options. To have options is to have power. You would much rather any negotiation with power rather than no power, right? Now that you’ve done your research, you’re absolutely confident in the vision of your business, and you have tangible proof from your market that when the product is ready, you will capture that market – you’re in a great position. If you have a B2B, you’re in an even better position, because you’ve got the pre-contract, and proof that once the product is built, you have direct cash-flow coming in.

Now it’s time for you to choose your development option based on your network and preferences. If you know someone who is the right fit, with incredible technical skills (ideally well versed in the full tech stack, a self-teacher, and up to date with the latest technologies) and infallible integrity, pursue that person as a co-founder and use your newly powerful sales pitch and proof to win them over. Offer them equity of a business that you already have some level of proof will get off the ground. Sell them on your vision; sell them on the possibility of being part of something great. If they don’t believe like you do, they’re the wrong person. Keep looking.

In an ideal world you would find the right person as your technical co-founder and you are in it together through it all. This is undeniably your first choice.

If you aren’t able to find a co-founder at this point, that’s no problem. Next best thing is to use an external contractor to do the development work of your MVP. That would probably be a software development company; the top ones in your area can be found through a quick Google search, and by browsing their websites to assess credibility. Find a contractor that is reasonably priced and who agrees with your payment terms – ie. payment on delivery of the MVP, which will then be funded by your first client that signed the pre-contract (you see how that pre-sale becomes a trump card?).

Remember, they’re only building the MVP, so it shouldn’t take more than 3 months. Be sure to find a team that is competent and has a body of work that you can trust, so that the MVP doesn’t have to be rebuilt afterwards. Speak to a few different companies to get the right feel. It’s not worth rushing.

Step 6: Implement at your First Client

This will take on the form of a pilot and proof of concept. Things will go wrong. There will be lessons. Parts of the app will need to be updated and improved based on user feedback. Great, that’s exactly what you want.

Usage. Learning. Improving. Re-releasing. The art of a tech startup. Lean methodology.

At this point when you have one real client with real users, you have a real business. Now you can build a team much easier than with an idea. At this point, if you want to hire an in-house developer (to replace an external software development team), or if you want to take some work of the hands of your technical co-founder, I have a suggestion. I introduce to you, Linkedin.

Search for Computer Sciences students at nearby universities. Scour pages and pages and reach out to people who may appreciate being part of something to supplement their university lessons in the real world. Your goal here is to then meet with as many of them as possible. Try get someone who has technical knowledge to join you for the interviews, so that they can assess the technical side while you assess the human side. Find the right person and sell them on the opportunity to build something that real clients will use. Appeal to the intrinsic motivation of lessons rather than the financial side. What student passionate about tech wouldn’t want to work for an exciting tech startup that has users and a bold vision? At this point you can probably pay them within your means too, based on the revenue from your first client.

Step 7: Duplicate

Now it’s the fun part. At this point it’s all about leveraging your previous success to get more success. You’ve got 1 client? Phenomenal. Do you know how much easier it is to go from 1 to 2, than it was from 0 to 1? Much easier. Then going from 2 to 10. Even easier. Once again, this all relies heavily on how well you implemented Step 1 and Step 3 (the feedback stages) to ensure that your business is solving a real problem. If it is, the sales process will be relatively smooth and painless. Disclaimer: It will always take much longer than expected, so if you’re expecting to get your 10th client by the end of year 1, remember that it’s absolutely okay if you don’t. Build strong foundations. Take your time with development. Listen really really well to your users and clients. Don’t build a house on a broken foundation.

Step 8: Further Leverage your Successes

Form partnerships. It’s crazy how even just one client can open up new partnership opportunities. 100 users, 1000 users and you’ll have many options that could increase your credibility, and give you excellent PR exposure and help you scale faster. Choose your partnerships wisely in correspondence with the brand you’re trying to build, and where the benefit is mutual.

The right partnerships at the right time can be the key to success. Similar to what you did with clients in Step 1 and Step 3, there’s nothing wrong with building relationships with potential partners first to find out what sort of business they would partner with, and if they would see value in partnering with you. But first make sure you have clearly thought through your value proposition and why you’re even talking to them in the first place. Do they need you? Would partnering with your business help them in a significant and obvious way? Remember that partnerships generally lead to brands being interlinked, so a major company has a lot more to lose in this sense than a startup – therefore the partnership sell from the startup has to be compelling.

Step 9: When to Get Funding

You don’t. Well, that’s not entirely true. If you need funding to get your first client then you’ve got problems. If you need funding to go from one client to two clients, you’ve got problems. Not only is it not ideal from an operational perspective, but investors are just very unlikely to invest if there’s not a compelling proof of concept first.

Pursuing funding at the wrong time can distract you from what is most important – building a better product and serving your clients better. If you’re consumed by the idea of receiving investment, take a deep breath, and remember: A good business is run off paying clients that create a sustainable revenue stream, not through external investments that paper over the cracks. No clients equals no business.

However (and this is very important), if you need funding to go from 10 clients to 1000 clients, then get funding. Pursuing investment makes sense when scaling at a rate that you can’t do within your means, or if there is an incredible opportunity to capture a massive market based on the foundation you’ve built. Funding cannot replace a good foundation.

There you have it. You have a product. You have customers. You have a team. You have the ability to build and scale. You had zero budget but through the right steps, you can build lean and grow a successful business. Entrepreneurship is fun, right?

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