5 ways to identify your 'grazing ground'

I’ve met many people who tell me that getting market share is difficult. They want to know how to start fighting with the big brands. But that’s where we go wrong.

Remember that the big brands have been there for years – what you should do is get inspired by them, but build something totally different.

I usually challenge the new generation to fight for a niche market, to build a community. My journey in music is the perfect example of that, and this is how I did it.

1. Self-aware

Before I started recording music, I had to weigh my priorities and be clear on what would later on transform into a career. My peers thought I was joking, but this is the 101 on how I mobilised the ‘King Kaka Kingdom’.

I had recorded my album and everything was ready, but like with any other business, I had the product but not the customer base.

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Following the same structure of building a business, they say your first market is your friends and family. But before I even presented this product to this ‘market’, I did some sampling.

I’m sure you have walked into supermarkets and found these stands that convince you to sample new products. Well, I did a version of this by calling a few friends to listen and rate my song list, and help me decide what songs should go into the album.

That gave me confidence, and the beauty of this is that it gives you the courage to market your product. Even most research firms start with just a percentage of the population and with these stats, give an overall evaluation.

2. The product

Remember there are no new inventions, just new executions. If you want to know how true this is, every time you hear of a new product, don’t they have to explain how it works by comparing it to another product? A new food delivery service, for instance, will just be an adjustment of what was there before.

So don’t be afraid to modify – even humankind is still evolving. Customers are looking for the next big innovation that’ll make their stay on earth easier.

With my music, I focused on storytelling and poetry. No other artiste at the time was doing that.

3. Dare

I remember after recording Swahili Shakespeare, everyone in studio loved it, but they were afraid to release the song because it was so different. Too often, we allow fear to make us settle for an average idea.

The moment you ask an entrepreneur why they don’t focus on their new ideas, they’ll confidently tell you the market is not ready for it, so they end up doing what everyone else is.

I remember being discouraged that the poetry piece would never get the airplay it deserved, but I dared my team and we went after an online audience willing to watch it. In the first week of release, there was an explosion of discussion on it and most stations ended up playing the song.

The market is always ready. The question is, how do you spoonfeed it?

4. The client

With my first album, I had the product but no consumers. But the saying, ‘your network is your net worth’ has never been wrong. I started calling everyone in my phonebook to let them know that I’m now a musician and had an album up for sale.

Since my music was not commercially available, I had pressed a few copies for sale. This helped me solidify the trust between the consumer and my business.

Sometimes we create attention but we don’t capitalise on it. I remember holding my first gig at Club Qatika in Westlands, and I could literally identify everyone in the audience because I sold tickets to family members and friends.

When starting out, we sometimes neglect our network, not knowing that they’re the forest fire. Eventually, if your product is good, they’ will organically spread the news about you, automatically becoming your marketing team.

5. Plan

All those lessons that we’ve been taught about what makes us successful, from respecting time to discipline and planning, will eventually get you in business. Don’t be afraid to build a niche market, for eventually it grows into a big market share.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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big brandsbuild a community.prioritiesNo new inventionsmarket niche