Interview with Willie Crawford

IMG_1561Ahead of the 1st African Internet Business Summit taking place in in November, caught up with Willie Crawford, one of the speakers of the event, to find out a bit more about his experiences and focus at the summit.


Can we get to know a little about you? My formal education includes a degree in Business Management, with a heavy emphasis on Economics, from North Carolina State University. After college, I went into the military where I was an aircrew member for 20 years and 10 month. While in the military, I started an online business in my sparetime. I went full-time in that business when I retired from the Air Force, and have been doing it for 17 years now. I sell a variety of my own and others products, as well as help others to coordinate product launches.

Can you tell us what participants should expect to learn and benefit from you at the Africa Internet business summit? I will be teaching participants how to earn a full-time income from home as affiliate marketers, where they sell others products on a commission basis. I do very well doing that. I will also teach participants how to build a huge customer database, build a strong relationship with that database, and get those customers/subscribers to buy from them over and over again. The techniques I teach will work for online businesses, or regular “brick-and-mortar” businesses.


What do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting Internet Marketing? 1) The rise in social media, where 1 out of ever 7 people on the planet now frequent Facebook. 2) The increase in mobile marketing, where people conduct ecommerce transactions over smartphones and other mobile devices more than they do computers. 3) The increasing use of the internet by local businesses to get more customers through their doors.

What challenges can a beginner face when starting an online business what are the possible ways to overcome them? Identifying a clear market, figuring out what products and services they need, and then getting noticed by that market. Begin by deciding who your customers are. Find a cohesive group that you can identify with. Confirm that they have money and are willing to pay for your product, and then offer it to them. One of my first products was a simple cookbook that I wrote in 2000. I realized that many people who had grown up on a farm and then moved away, as I did, probably missed the recipes of their childhood. I assumed that they would want to share them with their family and friends. So, I built a simple website around just those recipes, wrote a cookbook, and 12 years later, it’s still one of my best-selling products. I also sell visitors to that site other related items.

Do you think Africa is a good place for starting an online business? Absolutely. All one needs is access to the internet, a product or service that people want, and a willingness to work hard to make people aware of the product. The internet makes it possible to have customers from all over the world, no matter where you live.

What’s your general perspective about Nigeria and your personal experience too? I think it’s one of the most progressive countries in Africa, with tremendous potential and a well educated, hard working people. I had Nigerian classmates in college but that was 31 years ago. My only other experience was discussions with Nigerian internet marketers in online discussion groups. So, not a lot of real experience.

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