On the 15th of January, The Threads Fashion Accelerator program commenced their Eastern Cape regional classes for 2018 at the Port Elizabeth Standard Bank Provincial Office. Each class’s aim is to equip the Threads’ fashion entrepreneurs with all the necessary skills to transform their businesses into successful brands, and one of these skills pertains to their business’ online presence.
This year’s program began with a highly anticipated workshop on digital strategies and skills conducted by none other than one of Google’s own initiatives named OneAfrica .online.
This initiative began on the 1st of August 2016 with the aim of reducing the rate of unemployment among the youth in South Africa through encouraging the increase in the number of young South African entrepreneurs. The program aims to achieve this through delivering and facilitating free face-to-face digital skills sessions to the South African youth in order to improve their employability while closing the digital gap that exists in South Africa. “Google chose to conduct this initiative in South Africa in order to develop young entrepreneur’s competitive advantage as well as their access to overseas markets.” Says Tichaona Mashiri, a digital skills trainer from One.Africa .online. Therefore, it is clear that there are still major digital opportunities for not only the fashion entrepreneurs, but all South African entrepreneurs, and Google aims to help the entrepreneurs achieve them.
Currently, there is rapid growth in the use of technology in Africa. With 90 percent of African internet users making use of a mobile phone, it is evident that online marketing poses as a useful opportunity for the fashion entrepreneurs, as it allows them to market their products to a wide audience via the digital world. Recent studies show that the average mobile user looks at their mobile phone over 150 times a day, giving new meaning to the phrase “We don’t go online, we live online.”
This statement informed the digital workshop’s first major lesson of the day; the need for one’s business to have an online presence, particularly one that is accessible via a mobile phone. Over the last few decades, the typical methods used to market products have changed rapidly due to technological advancements such as the internet. Companies no longer use billboards, radio broadcasts and newspapers to market their products as they understand that there is a newer, more popular platform where they can meet their clients; the digital world. “If your business does not interact with the digital
world, it will not achieve much.” Says Mashiri. This is because in order for clients to purchase your products, they first need to become aware of them in order to develop a keen interest. And what better way to create awareness than through the utilizing the internet which now hosts over 3 billion users daily? Therefore, it is not only large companies that benefit from utilizing digital marketing, but also small businesses. E-commerce and product awareness through online business presences give even the smallest businesses the opportunity to compete with world-wide franchises.
When it comes to online marketing, the options are so vast that there is truly something to meet every entrepreneurs’ business interests. Mashiri enlightened the entrepreneurs to all the types of digital marketing options, from website creation to Facebook pages, from Google listings to review sites, and even the creation of your business’ very own mobile application! Although there are so many unique digital marketing paths to choose from, they all lead to the same goal; access to a wide-reaching audience that lives across all borders of the globe. But Mashiri warned that it takes more than simply creating a business’ online presence in order to ensure your business’ digital marketing is successful.