By Eugene Wanekeya
Drug dealers have over the years run very profitable ventures due to their uncanny ability to successfully manipulate the laws of supply and demand. I of course restrict this statement to only the ‘successful’ drug dealers and will not get into giving specifics lest I be accused of glorifying this illicit trade. All this however is meant to help me expound on my topic above which I’m about to get into.
I recently found out that the simple yet challenging recipe for running a successful drug dealing empire involves giving your potential clients a taste of your product – which has to be of superior quality to that of the competition – in order to create demand. Then getting into the painstaking task of ensuring the product is always readily available to these clients at the right price, hence pegging down supply. All the risk of being nabbed by law enforcement and serving a serious jail term notwithstanding. This bit requires a combination of ‘muscle and brain’. So what is the relevance of this analogy to modern day marketing? It can be summarised as the marketing mix – Product, Price, Place and Promotion.
Today’s market place seems to be shrinking as the numerous goods and service providers scramble for customers. You walk into any section of a supermarket or a mall and you find yourself as a customer spoilt for choice, whether it is a bar of soap you are looking for or a coffee shop. In the media – both traditional and new – audiences are constantly bombarded with thousands of competing persuasive messages. This leaves marketers facing the challenge of formulating strategies to help their products or services stand out from the crowd. A superior marketing war chest does not seem to faze the competition as some simply resort to the ‘me too’ approach to counter the resources of much larger companies.
“You simply must be the best or make yourself appear to be the best at satisfying your customers’ needs.”
Just like drug dealing, the key to a successful marketing strategy in the midst of all the competition is positioning. You simply must be the best or make yourself appear to be the best at satisfying your customers’ needs. So the question remains, how do you bring your customers to the realisation that you are the best option for them in the market? This is especially a challenge to new entrants into the industry fighting for market share with competitors who have had years to establish their dominance. The answer lies in the marketing tools you choose to get to your customers.
Many companies in Africa today – specifically Kenya – and this includes both start-ups and corporations that have been around the block for a while, are making the mistake of pouring money into internet and social media marketing because it seems to be trendy. Probably ninety per cent of the marketers taking this approach are not even in a position to outline individual customer acquisition costs as well as ROI. Their pitch is based on the fact that internet penetration in Africa has just surpassed the twenty five percentile mark and is on the rise. They however do not accurately factor in the distribution of their various consumer segments as well as their level of activity in relation to the percentage of internet penetration. The failure of any marketing strategy starts with the selection of the wrong marketing tools.
In my opinion, it would be unwise to invest in a website or in hiring a social media marketer if you as a business owner are not in a position to accurately pre-determine the value, both monetary and publicity that this investment will fetch you. Going where your customer is requires doing your homework. First, fully understand your customer and his/her needs then figure out the right tool to use in letting them know that you are the best placed to satisfy these needs.