The road to becoming a successful and influential businessperson in a country such as Nigeria isn’t all crisp and effortless, at least not at the very beginning. You certainly cannot have everything all figured out at once. And, even if you do, bottlenecks and barriers are inevitable. One cannot begin to count the challenges one would face as a Nigerian entrepreneur, which are all due to the nature of the country’s economy.
Some of these hitches are minor and can easily be overcome, but there are sets of others you entrepreneurs on this side of the partition just have to endure. Truth be told, small-scale enterprises look to be and are the salvation of Nigeria’s economy, apparently ironically. Saving that which doesn’t do much to afford them hitch-free businesses is something Nigerian wannabe and newbie entrepreneurs have to accomplish. Among many others of such hindrances is the marketing.
Scarcely there are successful businesspersons in the world who did not embrace this business proposition ever initiated in human history and applied the principle that has the potential to change everything – Marketing. The need for strategic marketing approach is paramount. Startups will not be able to stand the test of time without the owners’ relevant understanding of the marketing mix in the marketplace.
Likewise, no man succeeds without administering this business-saving and margin-growing power of enterprise dosage, because this prescription goes in many ways to foster a private-driven economy of nations. Looking at the wave-making businesses all across the world, there is a myriad of lessons to learn, but the most glaring, the one that makes all the difference is marketing.
Serially, Nigerians burn the midnight oil just to brainstorm products idea that the general people will not just like, but buy, in large quantities. But after these efforts come to fruition, the multimillion-dollar question hits them like a first-world Chinese war cannon. How do these products get marketed? That, for many entrepreneurs I know, is the beginning of all their problems.
Well, Nigeria has experienced a fairly steady drive of effective marketing over the years, and it has contributed to the general socioeconomic status of the country. Public and private business environments have both had their efforts put into this approach and evidences do abound. In 2014, Friesland Company, Lagos, the producers of Peak Milk and Three Crowns, embarked on nationwide promotion to market their newly packed all-products-in-one offer to consumers in Nigeria.
Strategic marketing led them into producing yellow t-shirts with the Three Crown Crest on it and employing energetic youths to distribute these discounted products along the streets across the state. Alongside music and choreographic display, the promoters fanned out into various markets to talk to consumers about the product. A larger percentage of these consumers bought and Three Crowns recorded a higher sales margin. What saw to this masterminding becoming successful was marketing. However, not all Nigerian entrepreneurs are keenly inclined about this prospect.
Standing as one of the main issues that hinder businesses from gaining traction as it concerns marketing is the lack of knowledge. The nuances and perhaps the importance of marketing are probably not within reach of these business owners, usually due to the lack of government initiated programs to enlighten both young and middle-age on the best marketing strategies to put into their employ for better customer engagement and much satisfying turnovers. Often, these ventures may invest in this relevant literature in its chosen area, but they may find a hard time holding down the fort because these skills are neither inherent nor accurately acquired. Though a significant number of Nigerian business owners have keyed into this and took the step to garner relevant marketing knowledge, others are yet behind the trend and struggling in the background. In years to come, hopefully, with the steps the Federal and State government have been taking recently, every Nigerian entrepreneur will have this skill learned on a platter of gold.
Lack of Funds
Yet another causality of the marketing problem is the unavailability of funds. Due to the lack of finance, these businesses discontinue from perhaps already planned marketing strategies or at all not take the step that would give their business a better voice and places in the general market. Not undertaking these relevant marketing approaches equals too many shortcomings, among which poor sale is the most prominent. Most of the funds provided by the government are not evenly granted, as only a few of SMEs have the opportunity of benefiting from them. Even in the bid to secure loans from banks, either their business plans do not look convincing enough, or the collaterals are unthinkable. Some have succeeded in this regard, however, but every Nigerian entrepreneur has what it takes to walk into a financial institution and ask for NGN500, 000 to start a business. Seemingly as a result of lack of information or skill, they throw in the towel before even availing the slightest chance.
The government, with their policies and negligence, also has a role to play in hindering the success of strategic marketing in the country. Some policies even at their bill stages already have the capacity to bring about unfavorable conditions for this prospect. Business owners often report that they hardly receive support and voice from the government, actions which may otherwise turn their ventures around for the better. Yet, however, the case may be, one cannot argue the fact that the government will; not be able to reach out to all the Small Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country. What can be done that will affect the lots of them positively is creating an enabling environment for all forms of business to thrive. Due to the lack of these, business owners find it hard to pioneer for an effective marketing strategy because of lack of funds, militating nature of government policies and not-so-favorable-or-enabling environments for business.
Cost of Living
Against all the odds, some Nigerian entrepreneurs still take all necessary steps to devise marketing stunts in their capacities. But then, another problem suffices – cost/standard of living of the consumers. Most of these startups are sent home packing because of this current economic reality. Cases have been recorded where these battle-hardened entrepreneurs put in great ounces of proficiency into marketing by way of acting upon the psychological mainstay of the consumers and convincing them to buy their products. But, still, the state of Nigeria’s economy makes their efforts mostly futile, as there is hardly any money in circulation.
Consumers cannot purchase a product if there are living on a hand-to-mouth basis, and this is the bane on the thriving of startups. The question is not often “Who will buy?” but a matter of ”Will they buy?” The rich and affluent may afford these products, but they do not make up even 20 percent of the entire Nigerian population. So, successfully marketing a product in Nigeria takes more than just doing research and going out there. No one can yet pinpoint the actual criteria, or so.
Why most startups do not see the break of day in Nigeria is a question entangled with strategic marketing. Whether it’s a school, health center or department store which are usually in vogue nowadays, marketing the products and services in something Nigerian entrepreneurs hope to be better at. And, they need all the help they can, not just from the government, but from anyone.
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