Why Nigerian Businesses Fail: Bad Communication

Why Nigerian Businesses Fail: Bad Communication

Research has shown that eight out of ten businesses fail within their first eighteen months, an alarming statistic for anyone starting an entrepreneurial adventure. Our new series, Why Nigerian Businesses Fail, is focused on reasons Nigerian business ventures collapse and what you can do to save yours from an early grave. Follow closely.

1. Bad communication

Awful business communication is a common plague in Nigeria. From business websites without a useful FAQs page and unusable customer service channels, to advertisements without a clear call to action, examples abound around us.

But how hard could it be for a business to pass useful information? Is it so difficult for a corporate entity run by adults to pull its head out of the sand, learn to speak its customers' language and reach them how, when and where they want to be reached?

No, it's not difficult. We'll tell you how to do it, quickly.

Communication begins at the foundation of your business: your unique selling proposition (the solution your business provides, what sets you apart from your competitors and what your customers get when they choose you). If you cannot define what makes your business different from everyone else selling what you are selling, you have already lost.

When you're done defining your brand and its value to customers, you must define your target market (your audience). Communicating without choosing an audience is like throwing punches in the dark: even if you hit something, who knows what it would be?

Listen, many Nigerian businesses are taking steps toward failure every day because they are wasting money on directionless marketing. Such businesses jump on a trend bandwagon just because "someone said that's what's working now." Working for who? What works for one business could be useless for yours. Do your market research and learn all you can about your target market before committing precious resources to marketing.

Side note #1: Social media does not work for every business. Know where your potential customers are, please.

Side note #2: Noisemaking is not a marketing strategy. Hiring a DJ to disturb the public peace is not a fool-proof plan to sell your product or service. Don't follow the crowd.

Ah, you have customers now and business is booming. Congratulations, but your work has just begun.

A lot of customer services issues are based on bad communication: misinformation, impoliteness and slow responses. And when customers are dissatisfied, they look elsewhere for solutions. They migrate in ones, twos and then like a flood.

Wake up and fix your customer service now:

1. Create a manual for your staff to communicate with customers. This manual will guide everything from welcoming customers to replying them on social media and elsewhere.

2. Be clear about what your business does and what it doesn't do. Half-truths are not truths.

3. Respond to customers quickly. Even if it's a response that asks the customer to hold on for a while, respond.

4. Keep your promises. Or don't make any.

We're off to a flying start in the series. Keep a lookout for the next installment. If you have a comment, a question or a tip, post it in the comments section below or send it to hello@margin.ng. We'll love, absolutely love, to hear from you.

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