Each business must have products or services to offer to the market from inception. While this is necessary to start a business, positioning the product or service to the market in the most appropriate way is the only guarantee to remain in business. Every business must find strategic process that can help them the meet the needs of the market.
Africa is providing a lot of promising business opportunities despite the many challenges facing the continent. This would include all the tactical and proactive moves that can be used by both old and new players to elicit the desired response from the target market.
Some of the product marketing strategies that can be employed are discussed below:
PRODUCT INNOVATION: Innovation deals with finding new ways to recreate old products or bring new ones to the market. Innovate or die is no longer a threat it is a reality that is staring every start up in the face now. You either innovate or you become extinct even before you start. The hallmark of businesses is no longer what they bring to the market place, rather how they bring those things. The speed and rightfulness of innovation at the moment is an important recipe for success. Your products doesn’t just need to solve problems anymore, it must be innovative in doing so. How can you get it to the market a little faster? a little smaller? a little more convenient, easier to access? These and more are innovative questions that must be answered intelligently.
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VALUE CHAIN DISRUPTION: You must find your place in the value chain and disrupt it. As a startup in Africa, you must go points and miles ahead in the value chain and disrupt it either by making it shorter or by rechaining it with value. While you produce, it might equally be useful for you to create good distribution channels that can help get your product or services right to the door steps of your consumers. Or better still, you can shorten the process and time required for the product to get to the consumers. This will help put you ahead of the pack and plant you and your brand firmly in the hearts of the market.
RESEARCH TO KNOW: this has become an invaluable skill that every business must have especially startups. Use the local library and the internet to research your market and find out what the experts or saying and what fundamental changes that are taking place in your industry. In more specific cases, you can issue out questionnaires to elicit certain responses from your customers so as to know what they want and how you can best provide it for them. The place of observation cannot be ruled out. Listen to the unvoiced responses of your customers over your product and services. This can help you make adjustments even before they know or say it.
EDUCATION: schooling with MBA, MSC, BSC and P.R.O.F is no longer good enough to cause business success. Education is that which remains when you forget all you learnt in school so you must keep at it to have more to remember. As a startup, seek both conventional and non conventional ways to learn and be more educated about your market, products, business terrain and taste. To continually position your business more favourably to meet these changes, you must know enough. You can read up from the web, take an online course, attend trainings and seminars, and take a short course in a Business School or local University round you. For an entrepreneur, the place of Continuous Self Development (CSD) cannot be over emphasized.
ABANDONE: some entrepreneurs happen to be the only ones excited about their products and services. There is nothing wrong in believing in the value you bring but if the market disagrees with you on this, make a switch and offer them what they want. It should be about the “market and not the marketer”. Observe market response and respond according to their demand in your product categories. It could also be in form of pricing, packaging or promotion. Just make sure you offer the best and needful according market needs and opinion.
CHANGE THE CLICHÉ: the 4ps of marketing which stand for product, pricing, promotion and place have long become outdated. They emphasized much about the seller without considering the fact that the buyer makes being in business possible especially in the current global competitive state.
A wise start up or mature business would adopt some buyer orientated strategy in applying this ideas. Some of the improved ways to use the 4Ps include:
- Sale solution and not product. The product is all about the business but the solution is all about the buyer. Make sure your products solve the direct problem of your market. Let your market celebrate you as their solution provider.
- Consider the cost not the price. The major concern of any business that wants to be around long enough should bother on consumers’ cost of doing business because this is what really bothers them.
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Your product might be cheap in the market but if it is more expensive for the consumer to use, access, store, etc., he will always judge the product out of favour no matter the price.
- Communicate to relate not to promote. Nothing can be more annoying to a consumer than promoting out of context. Most businesses don’t care about the needs of the market, their only concern is to make sales and turn in revenue. Businesses should always be mindful of this. Hence, all promotional effort should focus on communicating to understand and relate with the needs of the market even if immediate sales is not achieved.
Be the market best friend not the best promoter. Let people know you care first before knowing what you sale.
- Offer convenience not just a place. A lot of market psychology should be considered in business choice of place and location. This includes all your contact points and every place your goods and services are to be located.
Make your location easy for the consumer to find. Make it attractive and funful. Also ensure that your goods are strategically located with efficient channels of distribution.by placing yourself in a convenient place for the client, they will always help position you properly in the market through strong and unquestionable loyalty.
Business success is all about selling the product and this can only be possible when the market is put first in the scheme of things.
To be continued…