Business Strategy

Who is your market?

Let me start with a simple question: “Which is the bigger market, Nigeria (200m+) or Botswana (2m+)? Answer: “It depends on what you are selling”. An experienced entrepreneur does not see the size of a market in terms of the number of people in the market, but always in terms of what you are selling! Understanding your market is crucial before you can even begin to develop your marketing strategy. Who is supposed to buy this product of yours?

The fact that x % of people say they would like to own a Mercedes Benz, does not make x percent all a market for the Mercedes brand of vehicle. A market is best understood through numbers which are based on research, including data analytics if possible, and not just a hunch.

These things seem so obvious, but you will be surprised how many entrepreneurs fail because they are trying to market and sell a product to the wrong market.

Even with what may appear to be a “mass market” product like cell phones, there is a lot of segmentation going on that doesn’t look obvious to the casual observer who thinks it’s all about “running adverts in newspapers, speaking on radio and TV”. I will talk about marketing “channels” another time.

From Day 1, long before you starting trying to sell, you must have defined your real market, not your imagined market!

__Who is the customer for that product of yours? If you are an #Innovator (more on this next week) think about the advice of Steve Jobs who I consider the greatest marketing genius of all time:

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need even before they realize it themselves”.

Do you create products FOR your customers or do you look for customers only afterwards?

There are so many factors that you have to take into consideration in deciding and learning who is your ACTUAL customer, and not the one you wish was the customer. Sometimes that customer can actually be evolving right in front of you!

There is a story told about a luxury European brand of car which sold at insanely high prices. It had been around for a long time, and everyone associated it with aspiration, quality, efficiency and the status symbol for “having arrived”.

One day a Japanese competitor launched a brand into the same market segment. The European brand management tested the Japanese brand, and found that it was better: it was beautifully made, better quality and performance!

“It is a better car, than ours,” they concluded.

“So how do we respond?” they asked the chairman.

“Let’s increase our price immediately!” he answered.

What do you think happened? (Comment below, don’t guess; think carefully about it first!)

Understand your product. Understand your customer. Understand your market. Now you can develop a marketing strategy! (Notice, I did not say understand your competitor, because that is not where you start).

In two weeks I travel to Ghana with Jack Ma, who I consider the greatest marketing genius of this generation; period! When I first heard about him, whilst on a trip to China, it was like the first time, I saw Lionel Messi with a football in a video, when he was about 10!

One day, I hope to make you so conscious of what makes a great entrepreneur that you will spot its genius like you would spot a great new soccer player. If I achieve that, Africa will have taken a huge step towards generating wealth through an entrepreneur-led model.

To be continued. . .

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