No matter how useful or exciting its products and services are, without marketing your business is not going anywhere fast. 2020 and the pandemic that came with it put a huge dent on the storefront approach to marketing where business owners just chose a great location with a lot of foot traffic, put some signs in front then sat back and waited for passers-by to turn into customers. Due to restrictions on movement, foot traffic in even the most prime of business locations have all but dried up which is not helped by the fact that many people’s spending power has also been severely depleted. Therefore nowadays businesses need as many customers as they can get and they need to explore a wider variety of advertising channels to achieve this. Here are a few ways in which businesses can advertise their products and services.
Posters are often regarded as one of the crudest forms of advertising and there are many businesses out there which will not even consider using them. However, they happen to be one of the most effective ways of advertising. They are also great for smaller businesses or those which wish to limit their advertisements to highly specific areas e.g. only a few suburbs. Unfortunately, due to their overwhelming use, posters end up being regarded as an eyesore in most towns and cities. Because of this, chances are high that there are council by-laws in your town restricting or regulating their use. Familiarize yourself with these before pasting your adverts all over town as you may end up getting fined or worse.
There may not be much road traffic this year but you can still rent a billboard or two to advertise to the fewer people who are still on the road. Whether or not a billboard is a good idea for your advertising campaign will depend on the nature of your products, your budget and your target market. For instance, there are now few, if any, young people who regularly travel nowadays so renting a billboard for your new lollipop brand may not be the best of ideas.
Website and SEO
While a company website is not necessarily a form of advertising, when you apply Search Engine Optimisation techniques to it, it becomes one. Search Engine Optimisation can be defined as the process of getting more people to visit your website by making it more visible to users of web search engines. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are most people’s gateway to the internet; it’s where they enter their queries when they are looking for something. Let’s say you sell car parts, you can use SEO techniques to increase the chances of your website appearing near the top of the search results when someone in the country is searching for those.
Online classifieds, listings and directories
You can also increase the internet visibility of your business by using online classifieds sites such as Webdev’s Classifieds or Cassava’s Ownai to advertise its products and services. Online listings and directories, especially local ones, can also be used to share what your company does together with its contact details all over the internet. You can also use regional directories such as Esaja.
Create a blog
Since you are reading this article, I have your attention which means that I can sell you my traditional concoction which gets rid of bad luck if I wanted to (but I’m not, so please don’t inbox me with strange requests). Hopefully, you can see from that example that a blog can be one of the most effective ways of marketing your business, products and services online. The target audience of your blog should also be your business’ target market. For instance, if you own a shop which sells clothes and cosmetics, you can start a fashion blog and hire writers if you are not much of a wordsmith.
Advertising mail is one of the most popular ways of marketing products and services in some countries like the US even to this day. You might scorn the idea of using physical mail in this day and age but remember that physical mailboxes don’t come with spam folders like their electronic counterparts. If you find posting too expensive, you can hire people to hand-deliver your ad mail from door-to-door. The prices of your products or services and your expected response rates must, however, justify the cost of using this method as the printing and delivery won’t come cheap.
Social media marketing is now getting embraced by companies of all sizes. You can use platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to engage with customers, both current and potential. It, however, requires some skill and talent. Your posts can range from the informative to the hilariously obnoxious like the infamous Mambo’s Twitter account. Marketing your business on social media can also take the form of you just socially interacting with other people and notifying them of your products or services now and then i.e. networking.
You can also use Facebook to advertise to the large number of Zimbabweans who are regular users of the social media platform. Enough people and businesses in the country are using the platform for this purpose that the company is now charging local advertisers Value Added Tax.
A huge chunk of all internet traffic in Zimbabwe is said to come from Whatsapp. The popularity of the instant messaging app in the country cannot be overstated. Advertising on Whatsapp can take the form of you either using the features of Whatsapp Business or advertising in groups. You can either advertise in groups created specifically for advertising—which tend to be less effective as most of the participants are there for that same purpose and the large numbers of adverts being posted reduce the likelihood that anyone will look at yours—or you can pay to have your adverts posted in large groups created by individuals and businesses to share news and other popular content.