Open Letter to Young Entrepreneurs; More Branding,less bragging in 2014


This is the Generation Flux. The Millennials who graduated from college to meet unavailable jobs. Following the track of Steve Jobs and co, we are faced with a "Grey collar" job destiny. This piece is to encourage young entrepreneurs as we forge ahead in the harsh Corporate-Creative world.

In any corner of the world you find yourself, just look around, you are likely to see an advert. Either it is a sign board, neon sign or poster looking towards the road or staring at you. They all have something to say. Most times they are asking you to choose a product or persuade you to buy something. How strong is the voice from that advert or how depicting is the picture? Potent enough to make you opt for what they're advertising? Always put yourself in that shoe if you want to win customers to your product.

Look up , try notice the girl walking towards you in the opposite direction. Perhaps, when she gets closer she may be wearing a custom made top with inscriptions of a company or say, a brand. Is she another sign board? Just don't be surprised the day you come across a new church sign board branded by a company. Adverts are everywhere now and they run via several channels.

The world today is flooded with ad campaigns and product placements. It is a global village and everybody is marketing something whether they are conscious of it or not, including you.

However, despite huge amounts spent on ads and packaging, most businesses are not getting the proportional returns. You should be surprised to know that despite averaging over 3 billion dollars per annum on advertising, General Motors still went down with the economic crunch.

Bill Gates was quoted to have made an insightful remark about General Motors . "If GM had kept up with technology like computer industry has, we would all be driving Dollar25 cars that got 1000 MPG", he said.

"Is advertising not meant to improve and strengthen business?" you may want to ask. But adverts without putting other things in order can as well pass for noise. It is not enough to shout yourself into the market square but is it for the right reasons?

Adverts don't need noise to register in the mind of consumers. Deliver on brand promises and you will be their choice.

Sincerely, the rate of ad exposures to people is alarming, there are dozens of brand to choose from, most of which have sub-standard quality. But how do we differentiate even now that ads thrive on puffery to influence Purchase Intention (PI)? Brand promise and trust over time comes to rescue here. The promise must be conveyed in soft, modest and value- driven appeal.

The era of ad campaigns like "We are the soul and body of Entertainment", "The best pizza money can buy"

etc seems to have overstayed welcome. Now, advertising should have altruistic approach and ad messages should be essentially subliminal. People prefer soft appeals to bragging.

In fact, companies need to focus more on quality service delivery and then carve out captions from the user, client or customer experience.(i.e seeing things from the user perspective.)

As Kathy Heasley puts it: "A brand is two words : the 'Promise' you telegraph , and the 'Experience' you deliver"

Then when your company ad runs, it serves as a voice to the feelings and experience that customers have after using your products. That registers better in a customer's mind. And can help better to figure out cognitive dissonance.

Standing out without bragging pays off in all ramifications, you are not under pressure to live up to what you have claimed. In fact the radar shifts to your customers-- the ones who keep you in business. They 're patronizing you, not because they like your face or company logo but because you fulfil a need or solve a problem.

That is what your operations, ad campaigns, marketing and research should focus more on and wait for the Awards, customer base expansion and equity worth to declare you as the best.

According to Robert Kiyosaki, citing the US SEAL who gained popularity after killing Osama Bin- laden as an example, expressed the justification that the best brands, over time, have been the ones who don't make noise but rather becomes more concerned about creating more value for its customers/clients. In the end, they have success to prove their excellence.

Hear what Steve Jobs said about his company, Apple. "We do not say anything about future products. We work on them in secret, then we announce them."

When MTN first came to Nigeria, they started with "The better connection" later to "the best connection" and now it is "everywhere you go". Perhaps it took them time to realise that most people choose the network with a coverage in their area. In a town or community where MTN's network covered there were alot of MTN customers. Same for other networks too. A couple of weeks back we were in a village in Delta (ofagbe) where MTN has no coverage, the major network providers there were Airtel and Glo. My colleagues who were hitherto MTN addicts gladly queued to collect and register for a free Airtel sim card.

Thus, changing environment may as well mean changing network. You hear people hold conversations like "Glo is the only good network in my new area so I changed my line".

So when people opt for a network at the expense of the other or load credit on a particular sim rather the other, it is because of the quality of service experienced.

Perhaps that was what influenced the Network Portability project instructed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). That will sharpen the power of choice. If a network is not serving a customer well, he or she can make a switch to another service provider without losing his telephone number.

As young entrepreneurs who may not have enough resources to launch massive ads campaign and marketing promotions you can still make a difference and charm customers by concentrating on quality service delivery and then run ads on concepts depicting value-expressive and functional (ads) appeals.

Good advice, focus on Branding your product or services and every other thing would follow suit. Don't fall for the Bragging trick!

*SHOWUNMI REX holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Lagos. He's into Integrated Marketing with Kreed Communications Ltd. His interests are Business and Politics (@remirex, [email protected])