How to Market your Small Business / Startup / Side Hustle in Kenya

You have drafted your business plan, polished your product or services and are raring to go. What next?

Caution! Competition is real and cutthroat, are you ready?

Small businesses especially Startups in Kenya and the world over are faced with shoestring budgets and a myriad of other challenges. The statistics in Kenya indicate that up to 70% of small businesses don’t get to see their 3rd anniversary. An even more alarming percentage doesn’t see the end of their first year. There are so many registered businesses at Sheria house but most exist as mere names. How do you escape the jaws of death?

Here comes the shocker. To be a successful small business you need to spend up to 10% of your total revenue on Marketing. Yes, that’s what I said, 10% of your revenue on Marketing efforts. This is the average amount most successful businesses spend but it is divided amongst various forms of Marketing as discussed ahead. Think about it, almost all your favourite brands or services are successful due to their marketing spend. They managed to convince you didn’t they? and some of them have your undivided loyalty. Wouldn’t you want to achieve the same success with your business?

Established firms spend a lot more for instance in 2012 Reckitt spent 1.7 billion shillings while Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya collective spend between Sh7-9 billion shillings every year. Successful Small and Medium enterprises do the same albeit correlating the spend with their income.

What is Marketing? Why should you spend on it?

What is Marketing?

Marketing is what drives business. Wikipedia defines it as the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling it. It is a critical business function for attracting customers. Marketing includes:

  • Advertising
  • Market research
  • Media planning
  • Public relations
  • Product pricing
  • Distribution
  • Customer support
  • Sales Strategy and
  • Community Involvement

Most people easily confuse Marketing and Advertising. However Advertising is only a component of Marketing, the most important and expensive one at that. Advertising is defined by the English lexicon as paid communication brought to audiences through different forms of media. The sole purpose is to inform, persuade, manipulate (I love this one) or remind its target market of its products & services. The common desired result is to drive consumer behavior that induce sale.

Why is Marketing important?

Marketing is important for three main reasons

  • To attract new customers
  • Increase the average customer spend
  • Maintain customer loyalty

How do you develop your Marketing Plan?

These are pointers to what you should consider before determining your marketing path. There are many avenues out there and without proper consideration you may throw away good money just to wink in the dark.

  1. Understand your market & competition: You have to thoroughly understand the market you wish to venture in and be an expert. Keep a constant eye on competitor activity. If possible be a step ahead.
  2. Understand your customer: Proper knowledge of the target market will put you above the rest. This involves studying their habits especially ones that are somehow related to your product. Solve the challenges they face when dealing with competing products.
  3. Pick a niche: Start with one product or service before adding more. It is better to be an expert of something than nothing. If you have various products pick one to push at a time. The product can be used as a launching pad of the rest.
  4. Develop your Marketing message: Communicate and emphasize something that makes you or your product unique, stand out from your competitors. It could be your competitors or overall industry weakness.
  5. Determine your Marketing medium: After understanding your customer you need to determine the medium they consume, where & when. See part 2 for details: Factors to consider when choosing Advertising Medium
  6. Develop your Marketing Budget: Pick the medium with the best exposure, maximum conversion rate and at the best price.

Factors to consider when choosing Advertising Medium

  1. Cost
    This is the budget your small business marketing department wishes to spend. This can be calculated by asking yourself, how much you are willing to spend per new customer? It is important to consider the amount the average customer spends on your product or services at a given time then multiply that with the years this person will be a customer. Not to mention the plenty of referral if He/ She is satisfied.
  2. Your Product / Service
    A high end product should be presented in high end, elitist media with prime slots. This will position the brand and achieve desired effect. The marketing campaign must be sophisticated.
  3. Target Market
    To reach your target audience one must do a research to ascertain their behavior, where they hang out, what they watch, read, listen to and who their peers are. If you intend to sell energy drink to the youth. You need to know where they hang or take their drinks and thus ensure your product will be available there with the right communication. If it is targeted to certain geographical locations consider using local media i.e. vernacular FM stations.
  4. Reach
    It is important to determine the number of people your medium of choice will reach. If it is print, the circulation figures including the intricacies like the most popular days of the week if it is a Daily Newspaper. If it’s Radio; the number of listeners of a specific show and the demographic. Same applies to TV.

There are various Advertising mediums available to your small business.
Depending on the advertising budget prescribed on your marketing plan you may use a combination of the medium below:

  • Social Media
  • Websites
  • Online Advertising
  • Email Advertising
  • Posters
  • Brochure / Fliers
  • Notice boards
  • Signs
  • Banners
  • Bus Shelter

All this medium should be used systematically. Your message should run over a period of time to ensure you get your market share and maintain it. The message should also be somewhat consistent. It can be tweaked but there has to be a common denominator. Most blue chip companies with a larger ad spend use another set of medium. If you have a larger budget you can consider the following:

  • TV Ads
  • Radio Ads
  • Newspaper / Magazine Ads
  • Billboards

In Kenya we have the privilege of having several Agencies, which specialize, on various forms of Marketing as stated above, Design Village as one of them. When selecting the agency you can scrutinize their Case Studies / Portfolio to gauge them against competitors. Also ensure you get value for your money in terms of actual conversions. Feel free to pay us a visit or contact us for any enquiries on Advertising in particular or Marketing as a whole.

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