I believe that Marketing is a misunderstood concept in Nigeria. The word Marketing has been interchanged with “Advertising” or “Sales” especially with the advent of modern Banking in Nigeria. It is not uncommon to hear people saying “please...I don’t want a Marketing job” because of the negative connotations associated with it.

The relative awareness of Marketing in recent times has been due to the activities of the Marketing Communication/Advertising agencies such as Insight, Rosabel, DDB and others. These agencies develop award-winning and naira-busting campaigns for clients such as MTN, GLO, NOKIA and Coca Cola. They seek our attention and entertain us with scintillating adverts but do all these translate to increased sales relative to the expenditure? These are the BRANDS that we have all come to know and in some cases developed a love or hate relationship with. Our TVs, Radios, Billboards, Mobile Phones, Cinemas are bombarded with messages from BRANDS trying to win our hearts and our hard-earned cash. It is no wonder then that Marketing has become synonymous with advertising. BIG Brands spend hundreds of millions in Naira to have a voice in the already crowded marketplace. It is said that an average person is exposed to between 2000-5000 messages a day. Are customers really paying attention?

What is Marketing really about? Small Business Owners usually balk at the mention of Marketing because they feel they can never afford to do the sort of Marketing (Advertising) that the BIG BRANDS do. From my discussions with Entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Business owners, I have observed that SME’s are looking for effectiveness and what will deliver results. This is probably due to the limited finances they have therefore every penny has to count.

This brings us back to the basic definition of Marketing. In simple terms, Marketing involves identifying and addressing customer needs profitably. Notice the emphasis on profitably. It is important that while businesses should focus on serving customers excellently, this should not be done at the expense of running the business in a profitable way.

As a business owner, MARKETING is too important to leave to the Consultants. Marketing is what drives your business-brings your customers to you and keeps them coming back. Most people forget that their business is not about the product or the service but about the customers they are trying to serve. Marketing is a process that starts even before the business is born by identifying the NEED and GAP in the market. This process does not stop here but continues throughout the life-cycle of a business as customers needs and wants do not remain static but constantly changing.

If you want your business to grow into a successful and profitable brand, you need to master the art of recognising people’s needs and desires and finding ways to satisfy them. Try putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, what sort of solution would you expect and how would you want it delivered. Very few of us understand Marketing because we fail to see it as a PEOPLE matter.

• Do you know and understand your customers?
• Do you actively ask and anticipate what they need?
• Do you look for ways to add value to their lives?

Marketing is about solving problems. People pay money for your product/service because it addresses a need that they have. It is about Creating Value and Building long-lasting relationships with your customers. You should focus not only on attracting customers but also on keeping them for life if possible. Think of Marketing as a courting relationship in which your mission is to WOO your customers into a life-long relationship with you. You will have to devise various strategies to get your prospect to pay attention to you in the first place by studying their likes and dislikes so that you can make an offer they cannot refuse relative to other suitors (competition). Even after the prospect has said YES, you need to constantly find innovative ways to keep the “SPARK” alive and not take the relationship for granted.

The life of your business is in your MARKETING, it should not be relegated to the background. Make a decision today to build a better business by becoming marketing-oriented. It is a mind-set and a way of life not just an activity.

Sayo Odunsi
Principal Consultant/Marketing Strategist 360Degrees Concepts ‘The SME Marketing Firm’
CEM 8 / GS Scholar
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I am Nigerian :)

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