Things to remember while developing marketing strategies for your business in Nepal

Developing marketing strategies may seem simple, but it is easy to miss the basics, yet essential components. For any startup and growth-stage company to grow and to establish its brand , exercising strong, consistent and smart marketing strategies is a must.

 Outreach Nepal, a marketing company that has been operating for 14 years now, is a team of creative business-people. The team has the experience of launching some of the most successful marketing campaigns today, and working with brand custodians for some of the largest global and domestic brands of Nepal. Ujaya Shakya, the Managing Director of Outreach Nepal, has over 18 years of experience in the field of strategic 360-degree communication, branding and social communication development. In this edition of Next Venture Corp’s blog series with the mentors of its various entrepreneurship development programs, Shakya talks about things to remember while developing marketing strategies.

 Utilize the increased media options

There were less media options to reach consumers when Outreach Nepal started out. But today, consumers are faced with a variety of media options, such as increased number of TV channels, the internet, and so on. Companies also require multiple touch-points to reach customers in more resounding manners. Since digital penetration is growing fast and the audience segmentation in terms of media consumption patterns are changing, a majority of effective campaigns today involve an integrated approach.

 Adapt with the changing market scenario

Marketing strategies have to adapt with the changes in the market scenario. Outreach Nepal itself started as a traditional advertising firm providing regular services involving creative communication and media planning & buying. But with the changing market scenario, they had to provide a wider range of marketing solutions, such as services that involves strategy planning, contemporary creative solutions, consumer activation ideas, trade marketing and visual merchandising, integrated digital ecosystem and events and PR. The amount and type of change will differ for different startups, but with the ever-evolving business sphere, the ability to adapt is a must.

You can’t be everything to everybody

When it comes to marketing strategies, Shakya’s most important philosophy is “You can’t be everything to everybody. Especially during the initial stages of business, as much as it is important to be mindful of what the market requires and what would sell, startups also have to realize that they cannot possibly please everybody. What they should be focusing on is finding their niche and operating within that territory.

 Listen to the consumer

Depending on the startup, it’s service or product and the time it starts operating, marketing strategies can differ. For example, depending on the business category you operate in, coming up with new products every now and then or sticking to fewer products can both be appropriate approaches. However, listening to your consumer, understanding their pain-points and adapting your strategies accordingly, is something that applies to all kinds of growth stage businesses and startups.

Taxation No Longer Taxing

The registration of tax and submission of returns have evolved over the years for the better. It is important to note this evolution in the economy system for startups and growth-stage businesses as they need to be informed about the tax procedures and  keep track of the changes. From training on how to pay taxes, to advising and guidance, the Inland Revenue Department (district tax office for Lalitpur) located in Pulchowk, Lalitpur, offers services to show that the tax procedures aren’t as tedious as perceived by many in Nepal. In this edition of NEXT Venture Corp’s blog, NEXT is in conversation with Lal Bahadur Khatri, Chief Tax Officer–who breaks down the basics of business and tax registration, submitting returns and payment, and offers insights on what is lacking in the system and what can be done to overcome it.

Tax Registration

Once small or medium-sized enterprises register their businesses, tax registration follows next. The procedure is not specifically separated for SMEs; all businesses follow the same procedure. The company registration office itself provides the taxpayers with a pan number, allocated to them to make tax registration easier. And after that, it only takes them ten minutes in the tax office to register. Proprietorship businesses have to come  to the tax registration office along with their business registration certificate, founders’ and proprietors’ citizenships, pan registration decision and house rent contract in order to register for tax.

After registering, it is important to ensure that a taxpayer knows well about tax obligations and responsibilities. Along with a letter specifying all these rules, taxpayers are informed about a taxpayer education program, organized by the tax office in Pulchowk, which occurs three times each Nepali month. This education program is a 2 hour-session, in which taxpayers are taught the basics of taxation and FAQs regarding the same are answered. The group of professionals who hold these sessions are a dedicated team involved in the service of tax registration. These sessions began only in the month of Mangsir last year, and have since been focused mostly on small and medium-sized enterprises. The reason for this, according to Khatri, is because the larger enterprises usually hire professional auditors, lawyers and so on for the same purpose. For SMEs however, these free sessions have proved to be fruitful, and have also saved transaction costs and third-party spendings. The organizers also take a survey regarding the basic knowledge of taxation of the participants before and after these sessions. Usually, the results prove that the participants leave with a much clearer idea of the important dates, amounts, tax concepts and so on.

In addition to this education program, the tax office makes regular friendly visits to new taxpayers and checks on whether they have completed paperwork, and whether they require any help.

Tax Returns Submission:

The tax system of Nepal has been called one of the most complicated tax filing systems in Asia Pacific. However, steps have been taken by the tax authorities to simplify the process. Every taxpayer can submit their returns through a convenient system on the internet, which has significantly reduced office visits. VAT/Excise taxes returns are submitted every month whereas the income tax every year.The challenge of verifying the returns still remains, but compared to the years gone by, the verification process has also improved. Computers with internet access and a professional to assist with the computers are readily available in Pulchowk’s office.

Tax Payment:

Tax payment is primarily done either in the counters in Pulchowk’s office, or through a banking facility. This year onwards, taxes can be paid from any branch of Everest bank. The officials are also planning to introduce an e-payment system.

Taxpayers with transactions less than 20 lakhs are known as small enterprises. These enterprises do not need to keep all books of account, but only need to know about their sales in the year and profits. Their tax returns are a page long and very simple, and their payable taxes are also in fixed rates of Rs 5000, Rs 2500, and Rs 1500 for Metropolitan cities, Municipalities and VDCs, respectively. Similarly, taxpayers (with transactions from 20 to 50 lakhs), or medium-sized enterprises, and taxpayers with transactions upto one crore have fixed tax rates that are simple to comply with.

Tax Officer Khatri suggests that SMEs avoid using auditors and other professionals who charge high fees. Instead, these entrepreneurs can make use of the education programmes and other professional help offered in the tax office itself. Many entrepreneurs regard the tax-filing process as an onerous activity that they would rather avoid. And some even think about not filing altogether. But they must understand that the filing process has now become significantly easier, and that if they fail to do the needful, they can be severely fined.