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Market yourself, no matter how big you are as a brand

By King Kaka | December 13th 2017
By King Kaka | December 13th 2017
King Kaka, an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur (photo: file)

NAIROBI, KENYA: Last week I went out for lunch with a friend. The umbrellas providing shade at the outdoor restaurant we went to were branded Coca-Cola. Right outside it was a Coca-Cola billboard. My friend asked for a Coca-Cola, and when I was about to show him a video on YouTube, a Coca-Cola ad came on.

And it hit me that the amount of marketing you put into a brand is very important for it determines its reach, which later translates into profit.

Coca-Cola is literally enjoying a monopoly in the case study that is Kenya, yet there is a Coca-Cola or Fanta mention or advert at every turn of the neck.

What does this mean and what impact does marketing have on you as an entrepreneur?

Getting started

My friend and I started arguing on what level of brand growth you should be before you start marketing.

Three months ago, I launched my new jackets, dubbed Boom Bomber jackets, under the Kaka Clothing umbrella. I set aside a budget to push the jackets, and believe me, marketing translates.

So, at what stage should one start marketing? I strongly told my friend it is now.

In 2008, I was about to launch my new album, Tales Of Kaka Sungura, and since I was not that well known, I had to put in the work.

One of the most common questions we ask as entrepreneurs is what’s ‘enough’ when it comes to a marketing budget.

In my career, I’ve learnt that marketing is possible even with Sh0. Yes, Sh0.

So when I was about to launch my album, I had no money, but I had the product, and I used Caveman Marketing 101: word of mouth. That costs nothing but is very persuasive.

I ended up launching the album to a full house, and sold more than 500 copies of it within a month. For a new artiste, that was ground-breaking and I learnt that no matter how good your product is, you still need the push, the market.

Safaricom knows very well that you will use M-Pesa or buy its data bundles, but as much as its a necessity, you’ll still see M-Pesa and data advertisements and billboards all over.

But a key point to keep in mind is that marketing can either kill or build a brand.

Let’s say you came across this fancy ad that shows this amazing hotel – since no one shows the flaws when marketing – and it’s pretty convincing. You decide to buy into the whole idea and travel and check yourself into a room and try to live the ad.

I have seen ads that are really convincing, but then the actual product kills the whole purpose of marketing it. When this happens, you get an unsatisfied customer.

What many people forget is that the customer is the most powerful marketer you could ever get. Carry out a survey for your business and you’ll find that the majority of your clients came to try your product because a friend or family member referred them to it.

So the person who goes to that hotel and notices its nothing like the ad will spread the word and spread it fast. The caveman is still relevant.

The template

Remember, there is no marketing template. We have seen the new and even slightly crazy methods big brands use to put out their products. From one-on-one encounters to Samsung doing an ad that includes iPhones just to get their sales up.

I came across this latter ad after a friend forwarded it to me, and I was so impressed that I ended up sharing it. In turn, Samsung got free marketing from me and my friend.

Let’s think up new marketing methods. I released a mixtape early this year, and keeping in mind that most products are online, I wanted to market it differently.

I announced that I would be in Nairobi’s town centre between 1pm and 4pm selling the mixtape personally.

I ended up posting photos of each and every fan that came up to me to buy a copy. The sales were so impressive that I did a countrywide ‘hawking’ tour. Dare to do new things.

Also, reward in marketing is very important, so when you visit my social media pages, for instance, there are always competitions to cheer my fans up – and in turn, I’m selling my products. It’s a win-win.

In summary, keep these truths in mind:

1.  The brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is, it’s what customers tell each other it is.

2.  The person who stops advertising to save money is like the person who stops the clock to save time.

3.  Sell the problem you solve, not the product.

4.  Running a business without marketing will kill it.

5.  Smart marketing is about help, not hype.

6.  Making promises and keeping them is powerful marketing.

7.  Marketing is no longer about the stuff you sell, but the stories you tell.

8.  Word of mouth is the best medium of all.

9.  Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.

10. Don’t build links, build relationships.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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