How to Run an Online Food Business in Nigeria: Digital Marketing 101

5 free ways you as a small food business owner can improve customers’ lives in this pandemic, while also creating brand awareness and growing your business

A screenshot from @jazmineroy_’s instagram story telling brands to create more and impact lives during this corona times.

For most of us, these are very tough times. And the tough here ranges from having an affected relative to checking yourself every hour for COVID symptoms, to confusion about what/how to cook and how to preserve the foodstuff that’s supposed to last us for the remaining parts of this lock down.

As a small food business entrepreneur, this is where you come in. It may not seem like much, but you could definitely be saving a life or several if you want to in these times. How?

I’ll tell you that soon oh but first, when all this is over, who do you think people will be buying from? The you who was a saviour in downtimes and whose name is now implanted in their minds or the you who was silent for so long only to come out crying ‘2 litres of efo available for 5k. Send a dm to order’?

Between the both versions of you mentioned above, who seems more trustworthy? Who has built a relationship with target clients? Who has shown expertise and authority?

Here are 5 free investments you can make today to better the lives of your clients, stay relevant and grow your brand.

1. Everyone’s on IG live these days, where are you?

Pick at least one day of the week to cook with your followers. Using polls, ask people to vote what they’ll like to learn how to make. List the ingredients, set a day and time and have a cook along with your followers. Give them tips, show them your secrets or tricks and forever remain the person who taught them how to make that thing.

People want connections deeper than their pockets, this is a very good way to engage and build a bond.

2. Help them create weekly food timetables.

Some people like me who are extremely indecisive will find this very useful. By doing this you’ll be saving them a lot of time and energy.

3. Share food preservation tips.

Some people like me went ahead and bought more tomatoes than we may need because of the fear of it becoming scarce. Now we have refrigerators and pantries full of foodstuff we spent hard earned monies to buy and we definitely don’t want to see them go to waste. You’re the food expert, teach us how to go about preserving these foods.

If you have tips for those who do not have stable light supply (most of us in Nigeria), better!

4. Use this time to build an email marketing strategy.

Here’s one of my favourite quotes by David Deratti a marketing consultant:

While social media is great, email marketing is greater. Why?

  • people go on social media breaks either for their mental health or religious obligations such as lent or whatever other reasons. How many people have you heard giving up checking their mails?
  • the algorithms are fucked up. One day they’re good for you, another day they’re not and your clients only just find out about what you’re selling 3 days later. That’s why you have 5K followers but an average of 700 likes in a week. Imagine. Meanwhile with email, your deliverability rates are higher. You know and see how many people received your mails, how many opened it, and how many respond to whatever action you desired of them.

In fact, according to an eMarketer study, the median email marketing ROI is 122%. That’s four times higher than any other digital marketing channel.

  • Almost everyone you know, has an email address. But how many have the many social media accounts and are active on them? See👇🏾

How can you build an effective email list?

Start by offering value. Nobody will sign up to an email list because you want to sell them something.

Really, think of it, when have you ever dropped your email because you thought you were going to be sold to?

Image sourced from Welcome Email Series Guide by ActiveCampaign

Offer them value in the form of an essential grocery shopping checklist or 2 recipes per week or even an eBook of some Nigerian or foreign recipes.

As you deliver value to all, with time when you want to start selling, you can then begin segmenting members of your list based on several things but most especially location.

If you’re a cake business available only in Lagos you don’t want to spam the inbox of your list members who live in Port Harcourt or other places you don’t deliver to.

To find out where your members reside, include this as a question in the signup form or ask them in the welcome email. More people than you’ll expect will actually reply to you.

Now if you’re really serious about growing your small food business into a national brand, email marketing is the way to go. And if you’re serious about getting email marketing done right, you need an expert who specialises in working with food brands just like yours. You need me – a content strategist & email marketing specialist for SaaS and Food brands like yours. Contact me here to get started.

Now to the very last thing you need to do:

5. Engage.

The whole point of social media is to be social (duh🙄), but a lot of small businesses like yours just care about selling.

Take a good look at your page, count how many posts are engaging and how many are telling people to come and buy. People don’t like to be sold to all the time, they however like to be entertained and connected with.

  • When people join in on your live cooking shows, encourage them to share their finished works with you and celebrate them by posting to your feed/story.
  • Share quality photos or use tiktok (it’s not just for challenges), to show people what you’re making and eating.
  • Create a brand hashtag like image below and encourage people to ask food related questions using these hashtags and always reply. Let them know you truly care about them as human beings, not just a means to credit alerts. Nobody likes to feel used.

This is how you build a community of customers and fans who will always refer/recommend you.

This isn’t the time to be ‘forceful’ with sales because just like you, your customers are trying to save the money they have (we’re all in the same economy right?). This is the time to build relationships and make people know you are worthy of their money, and not another expense. So engage.

Right now you may be closed for business but you shouldn’t be closed for growth. Use this period to up your content marketing strategy and come back stronger than before.

This too shall pass, but with all the content people are consuming right now, don’t let your business pass away too.

For a more in-depth content and email marketing strategy instantly send me an email here.

I hope you found this post helpful and will actually be implementing a thing or two from here. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to share with another business owner.

Content Strategist. Ux Writer. I love food, SaaS and sweet red wine.