Thursday, 19 January 2012

LESSONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR KENYAN COMPANIES

Online and web revenue is certainly growing at an astronomical rate; therefore, advertisers and marketers have little choice but to take notice. The days of mass marketing to all consumers are long gone, and marketers are now forced to think more strategically about their objectives then they have in years past. The population of Kenyans online is now larger and growing quickly due to access of internet via mobile phones. Social media plays an important role in
Advertising
Communication
Brand Awareness
Customer service
Public relations.Etc.
Just look at how the issue of Nancy Baraza gun saga at the village market blew up on social media, what about the recent miguna miguna issue with the PM without forgetting the jokes about Kisii schools on the KCPE results.
Social media is THE FUTURE.PR practitioners are in a dilemma, they just cant respond to issues on time, because people now have a forum to rant, spread gossip and share classified stuff online.
Here are lessons business executives and marketers in Kenya could learn from these fortune 500 companies on blogging.
Starbucks does a lot of things right and running My Starbucks Idea blog is one of them. It’s a perfect example of what they call crowdsourcing.
The benefits of crowdsourcing include:
  • You can explore problems inexpensively and quickly.
  • You can tap a wider audience of talent than what your business or organization has in house.
  • You can gain insights on your customers by listening to the crowd.
  • You can build your brand as the community engages in common tasks like idea creation.
Starbucks opens up the blog for members to share product ideas. Members then get to vote or comment on the idea.  As the idea gains attraction among members, it gains the attention of the company. EABL and Safaricom for example could use this too to get ideas from their consumers. Such a forum would help people share ideas; insights that could help them develop products and services that satisfy customer needs. Safaricom customer care for example is very much active on Twitter, which helps save us time from the queues in their care centres, however the forum really cant keep track of customer complaints and complaints, let alone important suggestions from customers. A corporate blog would solve this.
If you are a person who likes Coke and history, then you’ll love their blog. It’s Coca-Cola’s Conversation Blog, a blog dedicated to the history of the soda producer.
The truth this blog is its all about one thing… marketing.
Here’s how:
  • It’s about deepening the brand – in a very subtle way, with all the historical items they share, this blog shows you that not much of the Coca-cola brand has really changed
  • It’s about deepening loyalty – because Coca-cola can reach back and bring up historical documents that are over 125 years old they are communicating to their customers “you can trust us to take care of you and your children.”
  • It’s about deepening the experience – experience marketing is hot these days, so it’s natural Coca-cola would jump on that train, giving fans a taste of what the brand was like in the past. It’s truly a unique experience. Patricia mbatia, Country manager Exp Momentum definitely knows the potential of experiential marketing. Tusker, KCC, Colgate, Daily nation for example are all brands with rich history, heritage and legacy. A blog would share the brands history, achievements and developments over time. It gets even better because over time you could engage your audiences in product development, relaunches or innovation incase you need to launch a new line of products.

Set up your blog but don’t abandon Facebook or Twitter
In Kenya, most companies and people know that social media is all about being on Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Well it’s not the case.
Now, while it’s wise not to ignore the 800 million member social site, giving up your blog is a bad idea. Here why:
  • You can’t fully brand your Fan Page experience –you can customize certain aspects about your Fan Page, but you won’t have control over such things as color, logos and messages.
  • Facebook notes suck compared to blog posts – there is no comparison between the two. Besides, Facebook Notes hardly get read, right?
  • They own the content – of course you could download the content if you wanted to, but why go through the hassle when you can publish the content on your site?
  • Lack of SEO – inside Facebook it’s tough to control meta tags connected to photos, videos, updates and notes. On the other hand, you can easily optimize your blog. SEO on your blog will help you control your content’s ranking, bringing you greater visibility unlike Facebook.
Facebook is great for deepening your engagement with your readers, but it should never replace blogging.
Let me know your thoughts on this and what your company is doing about its online presence. A blog is one way of getting in touch with your key publics.
EMAIL; muthurikinyamu@gmail.com for comments, complaints and compliments.

Monday, 16 January 2012

MARKETING MISTAKES SMALL COMPANIES MAKE IN KENYA


Doing transactional Marketing
Transactional marketing focuses on short-term profits rather than building long-term value. Focuses on a single sale unlike building a brand using relationship marketing. The difference is simple, one retains customers, and the other one loses them. Don’t let your business run like prostitution, where the lady in question has few or no regular customers. Small business owners are in dire need of closing a sale, they need the cash, and this leads to a lot of pressure to the sales people. They will promise more to the customers but the company cannot deliver on the terms. When that happens, the customer never comes back to you, better still never refers anybody to you and to make it even worse he speaks ill of the company!
 It’s important to be profitable, but NOT when short-term profits come at the expense of the long-term value of the business and the lifetime value of the customer.
It’s important to consider the lifetime value of a customer. Repeat business is way more valuable than short-term profits. Well here’s the difference between the two;


Transaction marketing

·         Focus on a single sale
·         Short-term orientation
·         Sales to anonymous buyers
·         Limited customer commitment
·         Quality is the responsibility of production department
·         Sales person is the main interface between buyers and sellers
Relationship marketing

·         Focus on customer retention
·         Long-term orientation
·         Tracking of named buyers
·         High customer commitment
·         Quality is the responsibility of all

·         Multiple levels of relationship between buyer and seller

Bad feedback.
 Unfortunately, when it comes to business, friends and family members don’t always give the best advice. 
Small businesses owners always tend to employ their family, relatives or friends. Maybe to save on costs of hiring qualified staff. This is the biggest challenge I have faced by working in family run businesses. The CEO’S brother could be the head of sales and marketing, yet he has no clue of how things are done. What then happens is when you tend to be more brilliant, he shuts you out. Criticism of ideas is strictly prohibited; nobody listens when you have suggestions or advice. Nobody wants to be corrected. These guys keep on making poor decisions, feels threatened by you and finally office politics throw you out on flimsy grounds. I have seen a small publishing company launched with 12 employees,7 were relatives to the boss and spoke same vernacular language. The other 5 were qualified guys but couldn’t work there.8 months down the line, the company cannot afford to pay employees, run broke and is almost shutting down!

 HIRING BABOONS!
It’s a big challenge for small businesses to afford good talent however hiring totally inexperienced and uneducated people is unacceptable. For example you hire form four leavers or college students as your sales people. Offer them just product training, no sales training on Prospecting, sealing deals, handling inquiries and such then give them hard targets! They will never hit those targets. Threaten them, motivate them to work harder or call for meetings daily. They will never deliver. They just DON’T KNOW!
In Nairobi guys are desperate and take up any jobs that come up, however if you underpay qualified hires, they will never be loyal, always looking for jobs elsewhere. Offer competitive salaries to qualified people give them an achievable target, reward results with commissions and bonuses. This will lead to competition among them and finally they will work very hard for you. The truth is if you shortchange people, they always feel conned and cheated. They will gang up and hit back! A firm must have a compensation policy attractive enough to prevent people from being dissatisfied and looking elsewhere for career development opportunities.
PUBLIC RELATIONS MAY KILL YOU TOO.
The truth is PR efforts expose the business to some unwanted publics. The sugar coated and laced PR stories are good on improving your corporate image but they are read by everyone.KRA for example might get interested in your business, so if you don’t file tax returns, they’ll be on your neck. Creditors too will show up, just because you inflated your turnovers to impress, they took it serious. They will come for their money. Finally if you lied, said things you cannot handle, you will get the good word out there, but if you don’t deliver on the few clients that come your way, they will also give word out there. Finally PR efforts bring conmen, old flames, long lost relatives, fake friends and consultants willing to help! Don’t be so impressed and carried by the calls of people saying they saw you the media and forget to monitor such pitfalls.
MULTINATIONALS DEAL WITH BIG BOYS TOO!
This may sound a bit weird, but i have faced them and they just don’t give business to anyone! This is what happens. Multi national companies have a long chain of command ,this means that decisions have to be subjected to a meeting and finally one guy up there approves the order. This takes roughly three weeks to forever! They are also not that prompt with payments. They all do LPO’s and at times they don’t give a deposit up front. Picture this, you are a small business owner, you get a deal with safaricom worth 5M.You supply whatever they need and you get your 5M bucks. Sounds interesting, right? The truth is you don’t have that money to finance the order. Your bank too wont give you money because your assets and savings do not allow. Your family too may chip in but might not raise the money needed. You then run into the infamous shylocks. You do the job, deliver and wait for payment. Cheques take forever. There are maybe 3 signatories and approvals. One could be out of the country, the other one leave!!!You probably wait for another month. The shylocks will put under so much, interest rates on their loans are normally very high. The pressure they put on you is huge, they will auction your office furniture, take over your business, sell computers and other bad things. By the time you get the 5M to clear up with them, do your math, the profit shall be swallowed in the interest payments. My advice to you is to take up orders you can finance, focus on the SME sector, you land deals much easily, get paid promptly. As you grow, with enough financial muscle and capacity then get to the sharks!
DOING AS THE REST DO!
My point here is some businesses try to do what the rest of companies in that industry are doing. Well there’s a fad now, you make branded uniforms, caps and polo T shirts for staff, branded company car, print loads of fliers, do activations and such. For some small businesses these costs are huge for a company without a marketing budget.
Others even put up a quarter page ad on daily nation…Do you know how much that is on Friday? make such mistakes and all you get are inquiries and questions. Lots of going up and down meeting the ‘prospects’. The truth is, if someone got interested in an advert and gave you a call doesn’t mean that they really need the product asap! You waste so much fuel and time, sending emails, quotations and doing site surveys on people that actually didn’t want to buy your stuff.
Understand your market well, where do you get most clients from, what do they read or watch, likes or dislikes.etc. With that you can choose the most visible and appropriate medium to communicate to them.

DON’T PROMISE WHAT YOU CAN’T DELIVER.
The truth is our small businesses do not have the capacity to handle huge contracts or some client specifications. The easiest way to go about it is to simply tell the client the truth. Put it on the quotation or on the sales agreement. Stipulate what you will deliver. However small business owners are tempted to lie to get the deal. The sad bit is you will lose the client, secondly the matter may end up in court depending on what is at stake, the payment may be delayed or never paid and don’t forget the bad publicity this brings.

NEVER COMPETE ON PRICE.
This is the worst of all, larger companies bet on value, the customer buys the value. If you do shoddy stuff and charge cheaply nobody comes back to you next time. Better still larger companies have economies of scale, buy directly from large suppliers on big discounts. So you can’t beat them there. Offer VALUE for MONEY. Simple…excite your clients, give them efficiency, excellent customer service, listen to their fears, handle their complaints promptly….furthermore your business has a few clients so you can give them time and excellent service. Your business will grow gradually and steadily through referrals.
When you compete on price you miss out on the profits, you can’t pay for costs of running the business and worse still you won’t pay your employees!

LOSING THE BEST.
Some small scale businesses tend to have very high employee turnover rates. Well this maybe affected by factors beyond the organization’s control, but I know people who have worked for companies since they were founded.
Each time you fire or lose an employee she leaves with a bit of knowledge about the firm, weaknesses and all that concerns the business.
If he/she is influential a few people too follow suit and leave. When this happens you lose clients and prospects that the employee was pursuing. What follows is, employees who left your company receiving calls and taking business away from you to companies or friends other than you. You can do something about this, to ensure you don’t lose your employees on bad terms. Because these people still can be of great use.
Did all this make sense to you? What is your feedback, what are your experiences?
Email Me at
0724215977

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The marketing of the Education Business.

THE EDUCATION BUSINESS
The Marketing of higher Education; The uniqueness of Kenyan universities.
KCPE results are just out, Pupils did their best, some schools too did well, others didn’t, and some counties too did embarrass Kenya. Kisii or is Nyamira county. They are back in the news, this time not for Onyancha, witchcraft, the criminal gangs but POOR results.
Well this isn’t what I intend to write about, Kisii people will sort out their issues, am  just interested in the marketing of the education business.
First and foremost my focus is on private primary and schools. Its good business, parents pay up to half a Million in some schools, however you have to assure parents that their lazy kids will get good grades. These schools don’t start off with the good grades; it takes time to achieve that. Kenyans found a good way of getting good results in a shorter time, why don’t you just have a class of 40 people, poach 20 bright brains from good schools, accommodate those who want to repeat but with fairly good brains. The effect of this is a school that will be the best in the district, province or even county in the KCPE exams. Parents are ever looking for good performing schools to take their kids. The same school that wasn’t known two years ago is now flocking with kids seeking admission. The owner charges higher fees, puts up better facilities, hires great teachers and the school can maintain its performance.
Look at the top school in this years KCPE from Bungoma, the school had 32 candidates,28 of them had above 400 marks. The other 4 had marks ranging between 391 to 400!what will happen to the school this January?
Higher education on its bit is a bit different, here the options are several, the courses offered are also quite many to choose from. This has lead to serious marketing campaigns and competition among players in this sector. However some colleges and universities are churning useless graduate who do not have skills. We have had several colleges being blacklisted by the commissioner of higher education.A recent case in Masinde muliro university where engineering graduates could not be registered by Engineering registry board is a case to ponder on. What will happen to these people?
I took a closer look at various universities and colleges to check what they are best in.
Nairobi university.
The school has a legacy and achievements. It still possesses article THE in its name.Am proud to be there too. Some of the country’s best doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects and accountants have been here.UON is widely respected in the corporate world.i am not bragging, But we got something! You will not see UON advertising frequently on the media for courses it offers. The facilities at the university are far stretched to accommodate more students. REASON; people know something serious happens here. If you are looking at studying medicine, engineering, commerce and sciences well look for admission here.Apart from the few rioting goons and hecklers in the university,UON remains a respected institution in academia.
DAYSTAR UNIVERSITY
The university is highly respected in journalism,media studies, communication and PR.if you are looking at doing anything in that direction..go talk to them. They offer the best. However the school too offers other courses with its main campus in Athi river,ngong rd opp city mortuary and newly opened one in Mombasa.
KEMU UNIVERSITY
Their mantra is the future is here. This is a powerful slogan however with reports that they could be churning garbage to the corporate world I beg to differ.  I have heard several complaints from several HR managers about the quality of the business graduates in this university. Their performance is wanting. This is a church run school that offers business courses, health sciences and nursing and computer science plus IT.I clearly do not know what best they are at, however the school has been expanding rapidly since it started. Recently they had wrangles with the Kathurima mugambi refusing to vacate office. When churches looked for places to invest our offering, They thought universities  would do.Education business is a cash cow for these churches. I stand to be corrected. I am not a critic but I would recommend this school. They are running adverts on TV seeking students for the January intake however is still feel they have no unique proposition or niche.Check their website here Kemu University Website
This is my favourite. The privately run school is affiliated to JKUAT. The owner is a young energetic guy. He amazes me. He is the most serious  education marketer. Zetech is on billboards, signage, TV, newspaper, fliers, matatu stickers and DEALFISH..he is doing rather well because the school has several branches in town and westlands.
However my question is what do you want to be known for? The guy offers certificate, diploma and degree courses. You offer courses in hospitality management and travel, accountancy, business courses ,IT and computer science. The list is endless. If I was to work for the zetech brand I would create a unique selling proposition for you. This is basically what you would want to be known for. There is nothing that comes to my mind when zetech is mentioned…I just know they offer EVERYTHING.
Strathmore University.
I have been here for my ACCA. The school’s corporate image and brand is higly respected in the corporate world. The ethics here makes sure they produce all rounded professionally. They are well known for decently dressed clean shaven gentlemen and ladies who dress maturely. In other words we had a dress code and fashion cops who made sure it was strictly followed. They also had a mentorship programme which really helped us. The school grabs kenya’s best brains by accepting mock results from students in national schools. The students here also come from well off schools, a third of the students drove to school, the other third were dropped and picked and for the rest of us we took a matatu or walked from our hostel. If you need anything to do with accountancy, that’s the place. Their IT school is also churning out brilliant tech brains. They also have the Strathmore business school which is a world class business school. Lecturers fly in to teach there!!I am happy I survived Strathmore.strathmore university
MOUNT KENYA UNIVERSITY
Simon gicharu started the university. It was previously known as thika institute of technology. The university is placing itself as a science and technology university. That’s awesome. The school has been expanding rapidly and it has a service charter from the president. Mr Gicharu is building MKU to be the preferred university in the Eastern Africa region. They have campuses in Rwanda and if you remember during the Kenya Uganda derby MKU had sponsored UBC to broadcast the match. It was visible in all the five EAC countries. This university is a must watch in this sector. They have attracted a sizeable large number of students and its now an option to many parents seeking higher for their sons and daughters. The founder too won a MSK warrior award for recently.www.mku.ac.ke/

INOORERO UNIVERSITY
Better known as the enterprise university, they claim to be churning graduates who create jobs, not job seekers. The unemployment problem has been a major challenge in Kenya with graduates spending as many as four years looking for jobs. They recently had a business plan competition scouting for ideas among the youth. I am really not in a position to comment on the quality of what they offer, however I just hope they are serious about churning out job seekers. If they could clearly demonstrate that in two years, Guys could flock there!
I will not dwell on writing about each and every school, but I hope you that if you want to learn hospitality management, tours, hotel cooking, food n such things Utalii college is the place. USIU is good for International relations students, finally our good famous K.U. gives us the best teachers in Kenya.
My advice to these universities is to briefly follow the marketing process.
This marketing process is influenced by some environmental factors that can be internal to organization or external to organization.
Marketing does not only involve putting up adverts in the papers and TV,PR doesn’t just involve giving free scholarships, honorary degrees to great people, documentaries on the media. A universities’ corporate image cannot be enhanced by just that. Professionals like me and others can help universities set up serious marketing campaigns and concepts.You just need to focus on what we promise the public. Focus on what you do best.Passing on Knowledge. Have a fruitful 2011.