Telling your company's story is crucial to creating a good presence for your small business online.
From harnessing social media, to gathering online reviews and posting content consistently, there are many things to learn about setting up a good presence online.
In this week's episode of The Bold Leap business podcast sponsored by Sage Accounting, host Graeme Richards chats to Thandi Mbulaheni, the CEO of African skincare brand Skoon.
With the world having moved to remote shopping and living these past 18 months, being able to reach customers online has not only become crucial to access new revenue streams, it's also become crucial for survival for many small businesses.
Agile businesses that are able to successfully create and maintain an online presence therefore stand a greater chance of retaining core customers, and gaining new ones in the "new normal".
For this unique, South African company - Skoon - there are six crucial tips one can utilise to improve your online presence, and it all starts with understanding your story.
Have a story
Skoon – Afrikaans for 'clean' - is an African skincare brand with an emphasis on natural, botanical ingredients. Its founder Stella Ciolli had the idea for a clean, natural, non-toxic range of skincare products in 2015 after reading a newspaper article that said the average person applies 515 ingredients on average to their bodies without knowing it.
Three years later, Thandi Mbulaheni was brought on and tasked as CEO to use her 15 years of experience in the fast-moving consumer goods space to build the then small, indie skincare brand into a competitive player in South Africa.
Today, Skoon sells both topical products and "ingestible" skincare products like beauty smoothies to a growing customer base locally and internationally. For Skoon to compete online and internationally, it had to lean into what they do best: promoting African, botanical and heritage skincare products through a 360 degree approach. This meant promoting both topical and dietary productsthat use local, clean ingredients such as Buchu, baobab, rooibos and Nkuto butter from Ghana.
"That's our story. We're not just selling a product, we're telling the story of 'this is who we are' as a South African and African business."
Six tips to moving online
Like many businesses, Skoon experienced all the ups and downs of adjusting to lockdown and remote work over the last 18 months. The business was also reliant on raw materials incoming from international markets, and was thus affected by the supply chain issues that lockdown brought with it.
This forced Skoon to be forward thinking to solve cash flow problems, but also improve their online presence. Mbulaheni shares six ways in which Skoon has learnt to improve brand presence online.
1. Specify your niche
By being specific about your niche, both you and your customers know exactly what you are offering, and which part of the market you occupy.
"You can't be anything and everything to everyone. You need to understand what you are selling, and what your product is."
By communicating your niche, customers have a clearer understanding of who to contact to solve a specific pain-point.
2. Content is still king
Content marketing is a useful way to tell your own story. Through blogs, email newsletters and other organic or visual storytelling techniques, this type of content allows you to focus on the launch of a new ingredient or product, in your style and tone rather than relying only on traditional ads.
Content marketing allows you to continue to use the language you prefer to promote your brand. In Skoon's case, their tone is to tap into the idea of "speaking to a friend" about beauty products, and in this way, their customers relate on that level.
3. Utilise paid media
Regardless of how many rands you have, ensure you put some money into paid media relative to your budget in order to help you achieve reach.
"You don't just want your core customers to know you, but you also want to attract new customers. Apart from engagement, reach is the second most critical metric you want, to get as many eyeballs on your small business' brand as you can."
Mbulaheni has three more tips to share, including the importance of the rise of video marketing on new social media platforms like TikTok, understanding your audience's demographics, and creating partnerships with the correct people in the media.
Join Graeme and Thandi as they discuss these ways to create a good presence online for your small business by listening to the podcast below.
LISTEN to the full podcast below:
The Bold Leap Business podcast sponsored by Sage chats to a range of dynamic small business leaders to provide the best insights into how to effectively manage your small business.