The beauty of Africa

"It's really beautiful. It feels like God visits everywhere else but lives in Africa" ~ Will Smith

Lets preserve our heritage

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered" ~ Nelson Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom"

Africa, our pride

"Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them" ~ Miriam Makeba

Friday, 31 August 2012

Blogging Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Unlike web sites, which require design and HTML skills to produce, blogs are quick and easy to set up using off-the-shelf software with easy-to-use features. With just a little basic know-how, you can quickly and easily establish and promote your blog. Here are some specific tips to keep in mind:
  • Before you begin, think carefully about the name of your blog and its tagline, which will be indexed by the search engines. It is very difficult to go back and change this information once you have established it.
  • Easy-to-use blogging software is available from TypePad, WordPress, Blogger, and others. Some of the services are free and others require a small subscription fee. Research the services and choose wisely based on your needs, because it is difficult to switch to a different service without losing all the content you have already created. And once your blog has been indexed by search engines, and people have subscribed to your RSS feed or bookmarked your URL, a change to different software is really tough.
  • You will need to choose a URL for your blog. The blogging services all offer customizable URLs (such as or You can also map your blog to your company's domain ( or to a custom domain (
  • Blogging software makes it easy to choose color, design, and font, and to create a simple text-based masthead. You might consider using a custom graphical image as your masthead - these are easy to design and will make your blog more attractive to readers.
  • As you begin your blog, tweak your design, and tentatively try a few posts. I recommend you use password protection for the first few weeks or so. That way you can share your blog with a few friends and colleagues first and make changes before opening it up to the world.
  • The look and feel of the blog could be complementary to your corporate design guidelines, but it should not be identical. For many blogs, it is better to be a bit different from the corporate look to signal to readers that the blog is an independent voice, not corporate-speak.
  • Blogging software usually allows you to turn on a comments feature so your visitors can respond to your posts. There are several options for you to consider. Some people prefer their blogs to have no comments from reader at all, and that might be the right choice for you. However, one of the most exciting things about blogging is when readers comment on what you've written.
  • Pay close attention to the categories you choose for your blog, and add social media tags for services like Technorati, DIGG, and to each post.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standard delivery format for many of your readers. Make certain that your new blog has RSS capability. Most blogging software services have RSS feeds as a standard feature.
  • Include an "About" page that includes photo, biography, affiliations, and information about your blog. Often when people visit a blog for the first time, they want to know about the blogger, so it is important to provide background.
  • Encourage people to contact you, make it easy for them to reach you online, and be sure to follow up personally on your fan mail.
  • Don't write excessively about your company and its products and services. You must resist this urge to blog about what your company offers. Instead blog about a subject of interest to the people you are trying to reach. What problems do your buyers have that you can write about? How can you create content that informs and educates and entertains?
  • Involve other blogs and bloggers by becoming a true participant in the online community. Link to and leave comments on other blogs. Let someone else's post serve as the starting point for a conversation that you continue on your own blog. You'll generate much more interest in what you're doing if you are inclusive and integrative.
"Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers. Copyright (c) 2011 by David Meerman Scott. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers."

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Is An Attractive Website Enough?

Some business owners and marketing managers feel that having an attractive website to capture the customers attention and making them "WOW" is just enough in their marketing drive.

However, a "WOW" website that propagates your product or service message is not enough. Customers have grown pass this stage of product or service message bombardment. Frankly speaking, customers have seen and read a lot of the same propaganda messages all the time. Product or service message have now become unauthentic and seen as empty noise by discerning customers.

Being in an information era does not mean putting out information only about your products or services. It means going beyond that and providing real information that solves customers real problems.

Be seen as thought leader in your market niche. Have the passion to solve customers problems by providing them with the valuable information. Be sincere and even willing to give out what you consider as hidden or reserve secrets that can solve a customers problem. 

These are what delights a customer and not the attractive website and the propaganda product or service messages. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

How To Promote Your Brand Through Thought Leadership

“Thought leadership centers on earning trust and credibility. Thought leaders get noticed by offering something different—information, insights, and ideas, for instance. Thought leadership positions you and your company as an industry authority and resource and trusted advisor by establishing your reputation as a generous contributor to your industry.”

Now! how do you promote your brand through thought leadership without mentioning any of the products or services that you offer? This will be quite uneasy for marketers since they have been thought to always mention products and services during the marketing drive.

The following highlights some key things to consider when thinking of how to create thoughtful content:

1. Do not write about your company and products. Thought leadership content is designed to solve buyer problems or answer questions and to show that you and your organization are smart and worth doing business with.

2. Define your organization goals first. Do you want to drive revenue? Get people to donate money to your organization? Encourage people to buy something?

3. Based on your goals, decide whether you want to provide the content for free and without any registration (you will get many more people to use the content, but you won't know who they are), or you want to include some kind of registration mechanism (much lower response rate, but you build a contact list).

4. Think like a publisher by understanding your audience. Consider what market problems your buyer personas are face with and develop topics that appeal to them.

5. Write for your audience. Use examples and stories. Make it interesting.

6. Choose a great title that grabs attention. Use subtitles to describe what the content will deliver.

7. Promote the effort like crazy. Offer the content on your site with easy-to-find links. Add a link to employees's email signatures, and get partners to offer links as well.

8. To drive the viral marketing effects, alert appropriate reporters, bloggers, and analysts that the content is available and send them a download link.

"Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers. Copyright (c) 2011 by David Meerman Scott. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers."

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

FrontlineSMS and SMS Marketing

I have been wondering how possible and feasible will it be to run a SMS (Short Message Service) marketing campaign for businesses in Africa. I have also been thinking of the tools and possibly opensource SMS tools for the job. For your information, i believe in opensource tools and always advocate for its use.

If you have a mobile phone, chances are you've received a SMS text message at some point in time. SMS has been used for ages to reach out quickly to colleagues, friends and family members. The same can be used to reach out to cherished customers with your deals and special offerings.

I found frontlineSMS to be the tool that can help you do your SMS marketing effectively and efficiently. One good thing about it is that it's an opensource tool hence, it's free. Setting up frontlineSMS is very easy and in my opinion, this product is specifically made for Africa.

Technorati Tags: frontlinesms, sms marketing, african businesses

Monday, 13 August 2012

Online Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

I stumbled upon this comic video that tries to distinguish the differences between online marketing and traditional marketing. It is educative, informative and above all, inspiring.

Friday, 10 August 2012

How to build online marketing plan

So you are looking to create an online marketing plan. Great. Before you start and become successful on the web, there are two key questions you should ask yourself.

What do i hope to accomplish?
How can i make it happen?

The best place to start is at the end, that is where you hope to end up. It is important to start with your marketing goals when coming up with a marketing plan. Think, how i want this to turn up. Then figure up the steps or actions you need to achieve those goals and set a marketing budget that helps achieve them.

What are marketing goals?

A marketing goal for your business can be anything for making a sales, spreading the news about your company, promoting a discount, to having more people find your website. Whatever your goal, it should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. In other words you must create SMART goals.

The following are a few concrete examples of SMART marketing goals.

  • Sign up 200 new customers for a free consultation by August.
  • Sell 500 units of a particular model by September.
  • Collect 100 qualified sales leads from 400 existing customers by April.
  • Drive 1,000 unique visitors to the site by the end of the month.

Your goals should be whatever your business needs to grow. But be careful not to add too many.

Once you have gotten your goals done, think about how you can accomplish those goals and the steps you will need to get there.

Step 1

One of your first step should be determining the kind of online presence you will need to achieve your goals. You may be able to do everything right from your website or you may feel the need to branch out beyond your website and add a blog or social networking site.

For example, if your goal is to increase sales, you may just want to drive more people to your website. If your goal is to build a stronger relationship with existing customers, a networking page may be right for you. And if you want to make sure that potential customers in your local area can find you easily, you should consider local offering such as local online listings.

Whatever route you choose, make sure that the people who you are trying to reach i.e. your potential or existing customers can find you. Ask yourself, where are my customers most likely to look for me?

Step 2

Once you know what you want to achieve and where your customers are, the next step is point customers into the right direction. And there are different ways you can promote your online presence to potential customers.

For example, you can give your website a content face-lift so that it appeals better to potential customers. Create ads that link to your website and promote your offerings and special. Include your business on local listing directories like google local listings to drive local sales. Create a social networking site for your business and share updates, coupons and more with followers. List your deals or discounts on coupons sites like dealfish.

Setting your marketing budget

In other to determine how much you want to spend, you have to ask yourself how much your new sales, referrals, inquiries or other is worth to you. This can be difficult question to answer but it is very important. Also factor in any cost associated with your actions steps such as the cost of hosting your website, listing your deals, running ads online and more.

Remember, first set your goals, then come up with steps to achieve those goals and setup a budget that works for you.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

5 Smart Ways To Promote Your Business Online

Marketing your business can be a full time job. While there are many ways to promote your business products and services online to potential customers, the following details the five (5) values ways to market online.

1. Free Website Listing On Search Engines

A free and popular way to promote your business online is through organic search. Organic search result refers to the free website results on search engines like google. For most searches, the list spans multiples of pages and includes millions of websites. Ideally, you will like your business to meet the customer on the first page but there are a lot of businesses out there, many of them selling products and services just similar to yours.

Take the following steps to make organic search work for you.

  • Make sure your website domain or url are listed on google -
  • Consider giving your website a content face lift to make it search friendly. This means making sure your website has texts, images and other kinds of content that are related to words that people use to search for products and services like yours. The more relevant your website, the higher it will be listed on search results.

2. Advertise On Search Engines

If you want more control of when and where your business appears on search engines like google, you can do search advertising also referred to as search engine marketing. It allows you to place your ads next to or above the organic search results. With search marketing, you can choose words and phrases that you want your ads to appear for. It gives you control of when, how and where your business shows up on searches related to your business on google and other related search engines -

3. Local Listing On Search Engines

If you have a brick and mortar shop or office or only provides services in a single city or areas, you can use local listing to connect to customers right around the corner. Local listings are displayed in search results when someone searches for products and services in a specific location. For instance when someone searches for "plumbers in Kigali". They will see a list of plumbers closest to Kigali. Google pages listing for example allows you to display your business address, phone number, description, hours of operations, products listing, etc. Where you show on google listing is up to you and the result is a premium opportunity to drive customers to your prime location or contact -

4. Social Media

Social media is not just for playing anymore. Today, business owners that want to promote their businesses attract new customers, create and deepen relationship with customers going the social round. Social network sites, video sharing sites, blogs and other social media offers unique opportunities to get feedback, share exclusive offers and information and increase the reach of your marketing efforts to customers, friends and families.

5. Email Marketing

Email marketing is a cost effective way to market your products and services to new and existing customers and to drive traffic to your website. You can share news about products and services and treat them with special offers, keep them informed about changes to their accounts or just thank them for the prior order or inquiries and invite them to come back. There are many companies that offer easy to use, low cost email services that will help you write, design, send and manage your email marketing campaigns.

Finding the right way to promote your business online may require some testing. So do not be afraid to mix and match approaches to see which one gets you the results you want.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Web Site Personas

Have you considered who exactly visits your site? Each person that visits your site have a particular need. It could be a need for more information on a subject matter or a need to find a solution to a problem.

You should not be serving "eba" to someone who wants to eat "fufu". In the same vain, we should not serve "eba" and "fufu" from the same bowl. That will confuse the visitor who might ignore your content. Based on the needs of every user, your content must be tailored to serve each user accordingly. I believe you are asking yourself - How do i serve each individual user that visits my site?

To answer the above question, you need to link that question to the overall objective of your organization or project and your online marketing strategy. Your site visitors must be broken down into distinct groups by cataloging everything you know about each group including their needs.

Let's use the banking industry as an example to explain this subject. The overall objective of this industry is to

  1. Attract new customers and
  2. Retain existing customers
By cataloging based on our objective, we have two(2) distinct groups and the information needs by these groups will vary. The first distinct catalog (new customers) will be looking out for your value proposition from your website and the second distinct catalog (existing customers) will be seeking for information that will let them stay glue to you.

By truly understanding the needs and mindset of your personas, you will be able to create appropriate content.

NOTE: You only have about 1 to 5 seconds to impress your visitor with your content.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Web Advertising Return On Investment (ROI)

Relying exclusively on expensive advertising and the media to deliver organization's message is long gone. It is worth noting that the mainstream media is still important, however, innovative marketers create compelling information/content/story and use the web to tell that story.

The Web allows organizations irrespective of the size to reach both buyers and sellers directly without the hassle involved in the mainstream form of advertising. Web advertising investment provides the most significant form of return on investment (ROI) for organizations.

I keep on wondering why African businesses are not actively involved in moving their advertising investment to the Web. Is it that they are afraid to make a move and prefer to stay in their comfort zones or what? It is important for marketers to know that potential clients are searching online for answers that only their products/services/information/contents can provide.

The Web has liberated businesses including businesses emanating from Africa from relying on exclusively on buying access through advertising or convincing mainstream media to talk about their organization. Since potential clients are eager to consume your organization's content, now is the time to publish your content on the Web.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Online marketing flavors

Online marketing comes in several flavors. It is however important to note that it takes considerable amount of time and effort. Applying the right flavor at the right time is very crucial to your business success.

This is simply because applying the right flavor at the wrong time will be a wasted effort in terms of time and money.

Take a detailed look at this wiki to wet your appetite on the available flavors of online marketing.

Online marketing - The African Perspective

Online marketing is an innovative strategy adopted by organizations to either brand themselves or drive sales leads.

Online marketing can take several forms namely; display advertising, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), email marketing, referral marketing, affiliate marketing, inbound marketing, video marketing, etc. The internet has grown to be an obvious tool for brilliant marketers since that enables them to really measure their marketing spending.

But let me hesitate to ask this question -  Is Africa ready for an online marketing experience? You can answer this question for yourself. But what i know is that Africa is a developing continent and no doubt one of the fastest growing continent in terms of internet usage. Figures about internet usage on the African continent will keep increasing for a long time to come.

However, business on the African continent are yet to come to terms with the anormous benefits derived from the internet. Business in Africa are cool with their traditional forms advertisement and do not want to change. The innovative once are somehow doing well to embrase this new wave of advertising while the majority are just literally standing watching.

Businesses that are not embrassing this new form of marketing are really doing a great disservice to their businesses in terms of branding.

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