Thomasina R. Legend
The world has become a global stage where barriers are no longer an issue where marketing your product or service can be a restraint. Being on the international stage can be good for you as an African brand, and it's a great way to reach the diaspora. When you start your business, you start with a specific audience in mind which you have researched in-depth to market your product or services, but as you grow, it is ok to expand as your business evolves. For instance, several feminine fashion brands have grown and evolved to provide feminine pieces and created pieces for men or pieces that are gender-fluid. By doing this, they have been able to reach new markets with a strategy that has worked well for them, including breaking onto the global realms of the fashion industry.
To expand and reach customers in the diaspora, here are a few things you can do to implement a smooth transition process:
The first thing to do is research. It is essential to research the consumers you want to market to as well as your competition. Research your consumers and the precise demographic you want to or plan to serve. Not knowing your potential customers in the diaspora won't enable you to catch their attention or keep them as return customers. Before developing any marketing and promotional strategies, it's essential to do the leg work of researching your target market. How can you do this research? If you're expanding or considering marketing to customers in the diaspora, which is potentially a new market, think about the data you already have about your current customers and then think about how that translates to your potential customers. Some of this information might already be accessible to you, but if not, be open to testing on a select audience using email marketing vehicles with the lowest cost and highest return, which could ultimately yield results.
In researching your competitors, you need to find out and understand what their USP is, what makes them different, why and how they are thriving and why consumers trust them. These will help you put into perspective the things you need to do to get your business ready to penetrate the industry.
Social media and Digital Marketing
Social media is so global and universal right now that it's one of the best tools to reach a new audience in the diaspora. As a brand, you should take advantage of this! Aside from social media, create a mobile-friendly website linked to your social media platforms that are easily interactive for your new audience. Through storytelling, build a strong social media platform and presence that keeps consumers excited and loyal to your offerings and brand.
Build through collaborations and partnerships
Never underestimate the potential that collaborations and partnerships have to bring awareness and customers. Collaborations and brand partnerships are so beneficial especially reaching new generational audiences, that big brands are flocking to it, and so should you, especially if you want to market your brand to consumers in the diaspora. Don't just jump in or partner/collaborate with anyone. Research potential brands within your market that are not direct competitors but offer services/products that complement what you offer. The purpose of collaboration or partnership is to ensure that both parties benefit, not just one brand getting all the glory. Find complementary local businesses and align with them for joint marketing activities. This allows you to quickly gain and expand by tapping into an established business with a complementary clientele.
Social media has created a new type of local partner: local digital influencers. These people are local thought leaders on social media with loyal followings of online fans. They spend their days developing new content, engaging their followers, and building active communities. Their audience turns to them for industry insights, product information, and recommendations. Small and medium-sized companies are capitalising on the rise of local influencers as well, and so can you. Identify influencers in the market, read on them and familiarise yourself with their content. This gives you the necessary insight you need to know how to approach them and how they can work well as a partner with your brand and cultivate a long-lasting relationship with them that could be of mutual benefit to both parties.
Image via designer AAKS @a.a.k.s