This week, Anzisha Fellows are in conversation with renowned marketer, brand manager and entrepreneur, Zanele Mobida, in an Expert-in-Residence session titled “Business Growth through Effective Marketing and Sales.” Expert-in-Residence sessions are hosted at African Leadership Academy as part of the Youth Entrepreneur Support Unit offerings in support of entrepreneurs. The sessions bring together youth entrepreneurs whose businesses are scaling with experts in select fields that will enable the entrepreneurs to unlock value in their businesses.
As the Resident Expert for this session, Zanele is a solid marketing expert, with a present day grasp on the space and the breadth of experience. She previously served as marketing executive for a major international investment bank. A joint winner of South Africa’s Apprentice, Zanele is also an entrepreneur, running a digital marketing strategy and implementation firm. She studied marketing at undergraduate level and entrepreneurship at Master’s level.
Many important gems for entrepreneurs emerged from the discussions. Marketing is both an art and a science that involves clear understanding of your customer, rigorous strategy for accessing that customer and creative positioning to attract that customer. Here are a few of the stand-out points that Zanele discussed with the entrepreneurs as part of the first module of sessions titled “Creating a Disruption Proof Brand.” See what takeaways there might be for you and your business.
Know your customer
It is essential for every business to know who exactly and specifically is their customer. Questions the entrepreneur and their team should answer include: Who is you ideal customer avatar? Who is your true customer and who is their influencer? Who is that one person you are selling to and what is their need? It is important to pin-point the context of the customer and how that impacts their interaction and decisions with regard to your product. For example, in family contexts, it is often children who influence brand choice in certain product categories. In this case, messaging about the product should therefore speak to children who then influence parents to buy.
Build a brand that is enchanting
Some companies that excel at brand-building convince users that what they are selling is the first to ever enable people to enjoy a particular experience in such a unique way. For example, Amazon sells consistency and ability to find almost anything. Gillette turned razors into a premium product by pairing the shaving experience with the idea of desirability.
Build a brand that is unique
You essentially want your business to be a “purple cow” as referenced in the Seth Godin book titled “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.” What is your unique offering that enables you to be a stand-out player in your space. Zanele shared many examples of purple cows, including Johnny Cupcakes which sells limited edition T-shirts in what feels like a pastry store experience. What is your purple cow? It is important to get a handle on your brand essence because we are living in a world in which people need gratification now. They evaluate their options and make a choice in an instant. Brands that get lost in the competition miss out. Just remember to be authentic even as you aim to stand out.
Link the customer in emotionally
What is the emotional tie-in between what you customer cares about and what you sell. “Getting a handle on your brand essence, the intangible core of your offering that people think about when they think about your business, is essential as a first step to creating your ‘lovemark'”, Zanele shared. A lovemark, as shared by author Kevin Robers in his book of the same title, is confluence of customer love and respect for your brand. You need to find the intangible value that your tangible product offers to your customer and present that to your customer in a compelling and lasting way.
Involve the customer in the journey
There are many choices businesses can make when choosing how to appeal to the customer. For example, some businesses such as Nike opt for celebrity association or brand ambassadors. If you are able to find an opinion-shaper who is willing to share about your product at reasonable to no cost, you may capitalize on their market sway to increase your own credibility. A more easily achievable tactic for an early stage venture is to form a tribe of supporters around your brand. For example, Geoffrey Mulei founder and CEO of Inkisha shared an example from his own venture. Inkisha has created a community of Inkies (supporters of Inkisha) who are a brand loyalists that the business leverages in marketing efforts. It is crucial to treat your tribe well and not alienate them as you are thinking about growing into new customer segments. Zanele emphasised, “If you want to grow your business, do not forget to bring your existing customers along on the journey.”
Solve problems for your customer at every touch-point
The customer user experience determines whether or not customers opt in to your service and return. It is therefore crucial to set up so that you are able to solve the customer’s pain points. Every touch point with the customer should be a decision-making touch-point that is enabled and empowered to solve the customer’s problem. When you discover one customer with a problem, think about what other customers are not on your radar but are experiencing the same pain that you hear from one customer group. Quite importantly, be consistent: “People value consistency more than they value look and feel,” was the crucial conclusion from the expert.
Communicate with the why in mind
Make sure any investment in communications from you or your business are truly valuable and can be connected to an actual number. Building awareness for your business is only valuable if it can be linked to sales and your bottom line. Think about why that reTweet matters, to you and your brand. Likes do not equal money. Does what you do link back to revenue. According to Zanele, “be tactical about the placement of your message, where, what time of day, what look, what feel. etc. so that you are reaching people at the moment when they are most likely to be influenced to make a purchase. It is also essential to be fully truthful in setting the expectations of your customers. In short – be impeccable with your word and always do what you say.
We hope you learn something from the pointers shared by our resident expert this week. Stay tuned for more insights as the week progresses.