At the top of the mind of any business is the question – “How do we increase our customer base and get new customers?”
This is no different for businesses looking to tap into the growth opportunities of the most populous country in Africa.
With 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria offers promising business opportunities for companies looking to grow in an economy that is on the trajectory to be a Top 20 economy by 2030.
Although filled with opportunities, Nigeria abounds with multiple challenges. Among these set of challenges is the rigorous task of finding new customers. A recent survey revealed that finding new customers is top of the mind for 66% of businesses in Nigeria.
Here are some steps that you can use to find new customers for your business in Nigeria.
1. Develop an intimate understanding of who your customers are
To develop a profitable and sustainable business you have to serve a particular need of your new customers in Nigeria.
Understanding the needs of your customers in Nigeria would help you build a marketing strategy around serving that need.
By building a relationship with your customer, over time, you can discover new needs. This will allow you to innovate your business model and capture more opportunities – by providing more value for your customers.
To understand your potential new customers, do the relevant due-diligence. Take the time in the initial stages to understand your customers – where do they live, how do they make their purchasing decisions, what are their top priorities and challenges.
Do they shop here….
Or do the shop here….
Take time to understand your prospective customer to avoid the temptation of assuming that you know exactly what they need without even attempting to find out.
This is a major step in the initial stages of your business development. This understanding of your customer has to be reassessed to stay in tune.
Develop your unique value proposition by identifying a need in the local market and serving that need – creating true value.
Building a business around creating true value is the most successful way to find new customers in Nigeria.
2. Understand the competitive landscape
So what makes your product or service different from the competition?
Is it the price? Quality? After sales service?
First, understanding the competitive landscape for your business is important.
Knowing what makes your business stand out from the competition is the next important step in finding new customers in Nigeria.
Customers in the Nigerian market are generally very price-sensitive. This is a trend not just unique to Nigeria but generally around Africa.
This is in part due to the access to lower cost manufactured goods imported directly from China – a country that keeps developing strong economic ties with countries across the continent.
Due to the access to low-priced goods and substitutes, companies that cannot compete purely on price have to find other ways to be successful by standing out from the competition.
Something that makes them stand out of the crowd.
Making it easy for your ideal customer to spot you and pull out his or her wallet to pay you for your product or service.
You have to look at what your competitors are currently doing. Figure out the successful companies in your segment and get insights on how they are overcoming distribution challenges to get to new customers in Nigeria.
Study price points and combine that with the knowledge of your ideal customer base that your competitor is currently serving.
By understanding your competition, knowing what’s working and what isn’t, you start to get the insights to understand exactly how to position your unique value to your target market.
Matching the knowledge of exactly what you’re offering to the unique needs in the market is the next step in the piece of the puzzle of finding new customers.
3. Be clear on why your solution needs to exist? Your unique value proposition
Now you know who your target market is and you understand exactly what they need.
You also know what makes your solution uniquely fitted to address that need.
Your next task is to be clear in explaining to your new customers why your product needs to exist.
Many new businesses make the mistake of thinking that because they have identified a pressing need, then new customers should come in running to their solution.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
If it isn’t clear that your product or service is going to help your customer overcome a challenge, then your prospective customers wouldn’t give you their hard-earned money in exchange for what you are offering.
Successful companies go the extra step to clearly communicate their value to new customers.
To create a crisp and compelling communication strategy, start by answering one simple question.
“Why does your product need to exist?”
You should be able to explain this answer easily to your target market – in a language that they understand. That’s the only way it would become clear exactly how your solution will be beneficial to new customers.
Always remember. Your customer is asking “What’s in it for me?”
Have a unique value proposition and know how to easily explain that proposition to them. This will help you in the next step of identifying the best marketing and sales channels to reach your new customers.
4. Build a marketing strategy to funnel new customers into the door
Determining how to get your product to your customers efficiently is the next step in serving the needs of your market base.
Over time you would figure out the best marketing channels for your organization. In the growing phase of your business, particularly the initial stages, you have to find the best marketing channels to get your solutions in front of your customers.
The marketing channel that would bring you the highest return on investment (ROI) on your marketing budget.
In Nigeria, you have to use an “omnichannel” approach to find new customers and get to your business goals.
That means you have to use a combination of traditional and new marketing channels – both offline and online.
Since you have to build a good amount of trust with your new customers. Opportunities to reach new customers through face-to-face interactions are still very important in Nigeria.
Build offline marketing channels by attending networking events, participating in industry forums, surveying traditional (open-air) markets, and attending 1-on-1 corporate meetings.
Besides in-person marketing, another channel to prioritize is the growing digital marketing landscape.
Whether you are improving your online presence through your website, Instagram, Linkedin or Facebook, WhatsApp marketing, make sure you also keep in mind traditional marketing channels that still work, such as flyers, radio campaigns, TV ads.
You have to find exactly what works.
Your goal is to reach your customers where they are – a place you can build trust, prove your credibility, and build your brand.
With your targeted customers in mind (Step 1), identify those places where they are likely to be found and then create messages for them.
Here are important marketing channels in Nigeria:
- Personal Contacts (Referrals through your network)
- Trade Shows
- Community Networking Events
- Conferences and Industry Forums
- Free Trials (Providing free proof-of-concept periods for your solutions)
- Social Media & Digital Marketing
- Direct Marketing (Building or Purchasing Lead Lists)
There are two vital ingredients for this omnichannel strategy to work:
1) Make sure you’re consistent across platforms, and
2) Make sure to keep track of performance metrics to track your success across each channel.
Creating a multi-faceted plan of attack will allow you to reach and entice the largest amount of people and yield your business the most growth.
5. Partner up
To continuously get new customers in Nigeria, you want to grow by quickly identifying your strengths and finding partners to fill in the missing gaps.
These partners can help you streamline your supply chain. You want to build an efficient supply and sales channels to serve the needs of your new customers. A chain that’s robust enough to inevitable shocks in the market.
Since it would prove challenging to do everything on your own. Nigeria has a reputation for having a hostile business environment according to our annual survey.
Intermittent power, bad roads, and difficulty finding quality talent add up to the factors that hinder business growth.
Successful businesses in Nigeria seek out good strategic partners that can help them get to their goals more efficiently.
You’d want partners along the three main flows of your supply chain – information, material, and finances.
Having a streamlined way for your solution (material) to continuously flow from you to your customer, and money (finances) to flow flawlessly from your customer to you, while information flows both directions along the chain.
Optimizing this flow is what will set you apart from your competitors.
So whether you want a distributor to help you get your products to regions in Nigeria that are beyond your current reach.
Or you need a local agent that sells your products and remits payments to you.
Or an agency that can continuously streamline the flow of market information to keep you plugged into what your customers want.
Finding strategic partners would help you fuel your business growth.
Here are some strategic partners to think about along the flows of your supply chain
- Materials Partner (for movement of goods): Distributor, Importer, Warehouse, Wholesaler, Logistics provider…
- Financial Partner (for the collection of payment): Legal local entity, sales rep, distributors, local banks, customer base…
- Information Partner (for movement of important business information): Local sales rep, research agency, market-monitoring agent, credible news source, professional network or business community, lead-generation companies, Inventory-tracking solutions…
Be clear to develop your partnership requirements.
Know exactly what you want your partner to bring to the table. Then present a compelling offer that would incentivize them to partner with you.
For instance, you can start by partnering with local businesses that already serve your existing customer base. Present your solution as an add-on that they can use to provide more value to their customer base.
Combine your strength with these partners to build a resilient marketing strategy that begins the wheel that’ll continue to turn your new customers into loyal advocates for your business.
6. Follow up (It’s just part of the sales process)
Build a good relationship with your new customers and focus on maximizing the value you provide to them.
This does not begin and end during the first point of contact. You’re going to hear “no” a lot. For some people, that “no” is unyielding. But for others, the “no” is only “no” for now.
Many business owners hear “no” and give up. But the reality is that 80% of sales are not made on the first, second, or even a third contact.
Be patient, it can take five or more contacts to achieve a sale.
Keep the communication lines open with your prospect – in a valuable way – as long as they are open to hearing from you.
Following up persistently with your leads also comes with the added benefit of truly understanding what your customers need now – and possibly later in the future.
Besides the fact that you’d be consistently communicating how your solution can make your prospect’s life better, you’d also be able to innovate your business model to stay profitable in the long term.
Follow up consistently, and respectively, to turn leads into new customers.
By setting up a consistent sales process that allows you to touch base with your customers regularly, you’d be increasing your chances of success.
7. Keep them coming back: Turn new customers into repeat customers
What’s better than having new customers?
Having loyal repeat customers.
As you develop your business your focus should be on turning your current customers into repeat customers.
The best way to build a sustainable business is to have a loyal customer base that is in love with your brand and what you have to offer.
These repeat customers would continue to seek you out specifically for your product and services. They would continue to come back to seek your solutions because they like the way your business caters to their exact needs.
To do this, your business has to focus on building a long term relationship with your customers.
Start by being clear on how you want your businesses’ brand to interact with your end customers. Have this in mind when you start by envisioning your end-goal of building that loyal customer base.
Know the type of relationship you want to foster with your customers and the value you want to bring to their lives.
Then build out the necessary business model and ecosystem to develop this relationship.
Focus on what makes you unique – exceptional customer service, quality products, long-term warranties, or technical support.
Depending on the stage of your business, work with business partners that can help you develop this resilient ecosystem.
Focus on long-term and continue to innovate
Stay anchored to the market.
By keeping up-to-date with the latest market trends and more importantly with the evolving needs of your customer.
You can continue to tweak your business model to create and capture more value for your new customers in Nigeria.
Follow the steps above to keep researching, unlocking unique needs, finding more efficient marketing channels, partnering with other innovative companies, developing a sales process, and most importantly building solid relationships with your customers – and everyone along the way.
This will allow you to innovate your solutions so that there will always be new and repeat customers seeking your business in Nigeria.
Remember to succeed in Nigeria, or anywhere in Africa, and capture the high-growth potential over the next decade, you have to build innovative business models with a long term commitment for growth.