How to Become an Expert in Your Customer’s Eyes

One of the founders of this website ( is a trained accountant. When we started Like Chapaa, it was very much (and still is) a for-profit venture. Along with wanting to help people, we wanted to make money with this site. Now, none of us was what you call a “computer” or “Internet”, or even “business” expert. But we believed in ourselves and we believed that we know how to do things with computers and the Internet that make business sense. The problem was how to convince people – our customers – that we really did know our stuff.

Are you faced with this problem? How do you become an expert in your customer’s eyes? How do you become the person the customer most wants to work with? How do you then increase prices 300% (which we have done) and still have customers wanting to work with you?

I mean, think about it. Would you hire a boring old accountant to do your website or even just improve it? Would you hire an accountant for anything other than accounting? That’s the kind of challenge that we faced. No one knew us as experts. Now, it didn’t matter how many times we looked in the mirror and called ourselves experts. We still were not getting any respect, let alone money in the bank. And it drove us crazy.

(For the record, I would personally not hire an accountant for anything but accounting!)

Interestingly, that is precisely why Like Chapaa was born. We thought that the easiest, fastest way to convince the world that we knew what we talked about was to start a site and write about the content of our brains. We started Like Chapaa to show the world what we knew. So yeah, we started pole pole but surely. We wrote articles. We used to get 7 visitors a day but we continued writing articles. Day after day, week after week. It was hard, extremely hard – and we had few, if any, successes right away.

Then it all changed. We suddenly started getting emails and calls. Emails and calls from people who wanted us to work on their websites, their Internet strategy, their projects, and so on. We had planned for this, but the success of our little plan shocks even us.

A lot of people struggle with marketing their business, and we did too. But we figured we could either go nuts calling people and walking the hard roads of Nairobi, or we could sit at our computers and write an article. And have a customer call. (Ooh, I did like the sound of that phone ringing). That is the power of the Internet, if you ask me.

Information is expertise – just ask any author; any consultant; any trainer. Just ask us.

The thing is, anyone can do this. You do not need any special qualifications; all you need is creativity, imagination and time. You have all three so go for it!

If you need any help you can always hire us to help you, you know?

Advertising Your Business on a Budget

While I think it’s absolutely critical that you have plenty of money to market your business, I understand that many entrepreneurs are on a tight budget, and have to be very careful with how they spend it. If you’re looking for ideas on how to market your business for free, these ideas won’t be of much help. But if you have a few shillings and are looking to get some good word out there, here are some ideas to help you:

  1. E-mail – Borderline ethical and some ISPs won’t like this but do good research and don’t send out form mail. You can e-mail potential prospects directly with a good offer and they could respond with interest about your product or service. Here is an lead generator that you can use.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – I think the payoff from attracting visitors naturally to your website is great for your business long term. My problem is that it’s just too slow to get results. But if you’re willing to bide your time, start buying some links for a payoff further down the road. Need help on this?
  3. Get a website – Nowadays, having your own website is as important as having a business card or a telephone. There is simply no reason why a small business, should not have a website. Can you do e-commerce if you are not online? No. Can potential customers who hear about you check you out later on the internet if you do not have a website? No again. Can current customers find out what your new offerings are if you lack a website? Not easily. Get one here.
  4. Partnerships – Everyone talks about partnerships but no one talks about how to do it. Here is the method we used to bring in some of our best partners. To reach out to potential partners, you’ll have to e-mail them or send them a letter, so you’ll need to implement something similar to what you would do if you were trying to reach clients directly. But what I like about this is that I think your money go much further sooner since you don’t have to worry about establishing a relationship with your new potential prospects – it’s already done for you.

Marketing Ideas that I Don’t Like
Here are some ideas that you may hear for new businesses on a budget but I don’t like them because they are way too slow to develop and you need some sort of factor that is beyond most people’s control.

  • Networking – Uggghhh. To me this is just about brown-nosing with the hopes of something giving you a break. The problem with this is that it may never develop. You’re not developing a plan with any type of numbers to back you up. You’re just going out on a whim and a prayer. Yes, it has helped some people but it does not work consistently enough for most new businesses to rely on.
  • Give Away Free Stuff – The idea of giving away stuff for free is not a bad idea in general but the problem we are trying to solve here is that we’re just trying to get people to pay attention to a new product or service. We’re just trying to get the eyeballs and this does nothing to help that. Keep it handy down the road but don’t focus on this too much when you’re getting started.

The most important thing to remember when you’re marketing on a budget is to determine what your goal is. If it’s to generate new leads, find the method that will bring you leads at the lowest cost per lead – don’t worry about branding, or creating a foundation to build on in the future. Get leads inexpensively, now.

Email Marketing

E-mail marketing is a form of direct marketing which uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience. In its broadest sense, every e-mail sent to a potential or current customer could be considered e-mail marketing. However, the term is usually used to refer to:

  • sending e-mails with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current or previous customers and to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business,
  • sending e-mails with the purpose of acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately,

(Source: Wikipedia)

Email Marketing is often ranked second only to search marketing when it comes to online marketing. If you are doing online marketing in any capacity then you need to incorporate email marketing.

This is all well and good but, sadly, in my experience I have not come across many Kenyan businesses that understand how to do email marketing the right way. Indeed many “email marketers” in Kenya are nothing more than spammers. Just last week I had a gentleman ask me, “How do you get emails of people working in large corporates?” The plan was to get those emails and then “market to them”. This is nothing but spamming.

To spam is to send unsolicited messages. They key concept of email marketing is to get permission to send emails to your audience. Spamming is wrong and illegal in some countries.

So, how do you do email marketing properly? I like to think of it as a three-step continuous process:

  1. It all begins by finding suitable email marketing software. This is software that you can use to manage your subscribers’ list(s) and which enables you to send emails on a large scale. You cannot use akina Gmail to send to more than a certain number of people at the same time. I recommend MailChimp. Websoft looks like a nice Kenyan alternative.
  2. Devise a strategy through which you will get people to give you their permission to send them emails. The most common and current way of doing this is to offer people something for free – but to get it, they need to give you their email address. Numerous internet marketers give away something like a free ebook, white paper, or report.
  3. Develop compelling, interesting and/or useful content and send it out to your subscribers. Make sure you do this very well: if need be hire a professional to do the email layout for you. Do not forget to include a call to action in your email.

As long as you keep on sending out wonderfully interesting/useful emails and keep on increasing your email subscribers, you will get results. It will not be long before you see your sales increase. Email marketing is powerful.

An emerging Kenyan variation to the above is sending your emails to the massively popular Kenyan Groups on Yahoo or Google such as Young Professionals. These groups communicate primarily by email and often include thousands of members. It is an easy way to reach a large number of people. However, some of these groups do charge for advertisements.

Whatever you do, do not spam. I keep on getting emails from sijui akina Mlalahoi or Baraza la Taifa and I have no idea how I got onto their lists. I don’t have to tell you what I think of such groups and the people behind them.

That’s it, you are ready to go and start email marketing. If you need any help, you can hire Like Chapaa to handle things for you.


There’s no doubt that Safaricom is one of the very best companies in Kenya. I’m proud that such an innovative and, simply amazing company is Kenyan! God bless all that is good in Safaricom.

Sometimes they make me wonder, though. Actually, they make me wonder a lot. Their customer care is not the worst but it is worse than most. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the term “Sufferingcom” – there’s even a Facebook group! Not to mention that many of my friends and family have “sworn” that they will vuka to another mobile phone service the minute we get mobile number portability in Kenya. (Mobile number portability allows you to move to Orange, for example, but keep your Safaricom number.) What if you could move to Zain, YU, or Orange and keep your Safaricom number, would you vuka too?

I recently won a prize (imagine that) in the ongoing Safaricom “Activate your drive” competition/promotion. I have never won any prize ever before so I was thrilled! Alas, I no longer am thrilled. Collecting the prize has turned out to be harder than I thought it should be. If I won it, why not just give it to me? It’s gone as far as someone from “marketing” being shockingly rude about this. Considering that the “Activate your drive” promotion is supposed to be marketing Safaricom, I find how Safaricom have handled me quite shocking. I suppose sometimes you get too big to care about the little guy.

Marketing is not just the adverts and other promotional gimmicks. It is how ‘customer care’ answer the phone; it is the way you speak to customers; it is the quality of your products or services; it is being honest and genuine. Marketing isn’t what you do when you want to make a sale. It is an ongoing process that starts even before you create your products.

Safaricom, you disappoint me.