Business women across Uganda have been encouraged to use the numerous digital tools now available to market their products and subsequently increase their productivity and profits.
The call was made during a two-day training of businesswomen in Digital Tools for Business Productivity at The Innovation Village in Gulu City. The training was organized by Refactory, a tech company established with the aim of closing the skills gap between what schools and universities teach and what employers need.
Joanita Nvannungi, the Programs Administrative Lead at Refactory, said mobile phones can be used to accomplish much more than make calls, take pictures and so on.
“Digital tools such as Google Sheets can save our records from damage by our children, who might not know their importance,” Nvannungi said.
“Besides, saving your records online means you can work from anywhere, not just from the comfort of your business space, as long as you have internet connection. The moment you embrace these digital tools, you will take your business to the next level,” she said.
Nvannungi also advised businesswomen to use the platforms such as Facebook, and Instagram to advertise their products and widen their client base.
She also pointed out that some locally made products might fetch little money from their area of production, but much more in other districts.
“If you are basket weaver, don’t think your product is just a cheap craft that should be sold only in your area. The same basket you are selling at only Shs5,000 in Gulu, is being sold at Shs 50,000 or more in Kampala.”
“Taking pictures of your products and posting on Facebook with a price tag is free advertising, which might attract a bulk order from another district. And all you have to do is put it on the bus for the client to pick,” she said.
Aside from advertising, Nvannungi advised the trainees to also start using Google Forms, an online Google app, to collect feedback from clients on how they can improve their products or service.
Joanita Nassiwa, the Communications and Marketing Lead at Refactory noted that social media marketing has grown so fast since the outbreak of COVID -19. She predicts that the trend is likely to continue, and advises women to make the most of it, lest they are outcompeted in their businesses.
“We know women are not very tech savvy, yet there are applications that are free, and can enable a business person to create a website within an hour. This training is, therefore, aimed at equipping women with the right tools to advertise whichever craft they are into,” she added.
Nassiwa said the training, which is done every quarter, has seen more than 100 women across the country equipped with skills in using digital tools to increase the productivity of their businesses.
Leveraging online for business
Nassiwa however notes that although online platforms such as blogs and Facebook have become the mainstream channels for customer interaction, they should be used correctly. She had some tips for entrepreneurs who want to leverage online platforms for marketing.
Nassiwa advised that which whichever platform one chooses to market their products, they should be consistent in posting pictures or messages to get loyal clients.
“When you choose to post once a week or month, make sure you stick to that schedule so that you create a routine with your clients. If you have a reason for not posting on the set date, inform your clients. This will make them know that you value their presence on your site,” Nassiwa said.
Nassiwa advised the prospective entrepreneurs to ensure that they are well informed about their business. For instance, the materials used for making your product.
“This means you must be ready to answer any questions that clients might ask about your product before buying. You can’t post a picture or write about a product when you know very little about it, like the material used in making them,” she said.
Balance business-personal life
She also cautioned participants not to blur the line between their business and private lives.
“A business site should be strictly for business. Don’t start posting pictures of your birthday party or the food you ate. It will confuse your clients and they will not take you seriously. If you have nothing to post about the business, don’t post at all,” she said.
Trainees were also advised to ensure that whatever they post or write on their chosen site is done professionally, and that they are selling exactly what the client is looking for.
“When posting pictures for instance, make sure it is of a standard quality that enables the client to choose the right product,” Nassiwa said.
Using Google Analytics
Finally, participants were taught to use Google analytics, a web analytics service offered by Google, to track their business online performance.
The service can be used to measure, collect, analyse and report web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. It can also be used to research the market of a product and to improve the effectiveness of a website.
“And if your blog does well in terms of traffic, you can make more money off it, as companies will come to advertise on it,” Nassiwa said.
Sharon Anena Ajura, a tailoress who attended the training, said she has been using only Facebook to post pictures of her dresses, and did not know she could use other tools to grow her business.
“Although my business is still young, I will start a blog and Instagram page to get more clients,” Ajura said.
Another participant, Naomi Odong decided to venture into agribusiness together with a group of friends.
Odong said they will plant pineapples, oranges and watermelon on a 50-acre piece of land, She hopes the knowledge acquired from the training will enable them grow their business.
“We already have clients from Kenya, who advised us to grow these fruits for them to buy. These tools will help get more market and keep track of our business,” Odong said.
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