Product Review Mechanism – A Fail Proof Model

Best business advic ever

There are thousands of resources on new product development online and offline. Most recommend the classic (or its variants) development process: Idea Generation, Screening, Concept Development, and Testing, Marketing Strategy Development, Business Analysis, Product Development, Market Testing, And Commercialization. And if well executed, the process is most effective. They all end at commercialization.

But because new product development is not exact science, no amount of preparation and research can predict with absolute certainty that a product will succeed in the market. Which invariably means that some products will bomb (New Coke is always a good example).

How do you know your newly launched product is bombing, why is it bombing? Can it be salvaged and how? Should it be salvaged or shelved?

In other words, you need to do a post-launch review. This is a model I developed for a client. Hope you find it useful:


The product review will be performed on two levels:

  • Performance vs. projection measurement
  • Market feedback


Performance Vs Projection

Compare actual performance with projection as regards: Volume, market share, and revenue

  • Volume: Has the product been able to meet the projected volume of sales within a stipulated time?
  • Market share: Has the product captured the projected market share?
  • Revenue: Has it met its revenue targets?


Data and information sources:

Volume: sales and accounting; Market share: external industry sources; Revenue: accounting; Product Concept Document, PCD


  • 100% +  =Surpass expectations
  • 100% = meet expectations
  • 75-99% = good
  • 50-74% = fair
  • 40-50% = poor
  • Below 40% = disastrous

Calculate the cumulative score and use score to make decision


  • 100+ score: Retain the product without changing any variable
  • 75-99%: Retain the product but make changes to some variables( as identified in the market feedback)
  • 50-74%: Major changes in both marketing and product concept if the product is to be retained
  • 40-50%: Drop except market feedback show a strong product relevance and positive market perception
  • Below 40%: Drop


Use review channels to gather feedback on:

  • Customer Satisfaction—to gauge how satisfied customers are with the product

And to know whether the product performed to its promise

  • Product Relevance—to gauge whether the product meets a need gap in the customers lives
  • Attitude—to measure customers dispositions to the product–positive or negative and to what degree
  • Product Awareness—to measure (product and its benefits) awareness level in the market

Segmentation & Targeting In Nigeria II

market segmentation

In my last post, I wrote about the need for marketers to segment the market and focus (target) their effort on the ones (segments) they can serve most effectively. A lot of people disagreed with me and accused me of expounding textbook theories that have no relevance in the Nigerian business environment.

To these marketing experts, the best strategy in an undeveloped and data-poor market like Nigeria is to market to the mass market. They cited examples to buttress this point. They also pointed out the absence of real-life example in my write-up.

This post is my response to them. And no theory

One of the most truly competitive markets in Nigeria is the FM radio industry. The competition is particularly stiff in Lagos. This was the market Brilla FM entered a few years ago. Within a year the station became the toast of listeners and advertisers.  Why this instant success? The answer is simple: Brilla FM is not just another radio station; it is a sports station targeted at sports enthusiasts!

This naturally differentiates Brilla FM from other stations and provides it with a potent USP. The implication? Well, if I am a marketer of men’s targeted products, where do you think I will advertise?

Also, into this same very saturated FM market came WAZOBIA FM two years ago and their success is even more profound than that of Brilla FM. The reason is also not farfetched. Half of Lagosians just don’t understand your Queen’s English but most, if not all speak pidgin. And the good WAZOBI FM people (God bless them) understand this. They established a pidgin-only radio station.

The result, WAZOBIA FM is arguably the most listened-to radio station in Lagos.

Anybody still in doubt about the importance of segmentation and targeting in effective marketing in Nigeria

Segmentation & Targeting In Nigeria I

market segmentation

Last April, I was at a British Council Management Express event where a marketing expert was brought to Lagos from the UK to speak on “how to thrive in an increasingly competitive business landscape”. After his lecture, the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions on any [marketing] challenge they were facing. There was this question by a lady who said she was in the business of selling packaged powdered milk. She said her problem was that despite the fact that her milk offered greater value than those of the established brands, people still don’t buy her milk.

A lot of suggestions were given to her, both by the guest speaker and the members of the audience. She was advised to:

  • Price cheaper
  • Package better
  • Employ direct marketing
  • Advertise more

Personally, I believe the prescriptions (even though given with good intentions) were all wrong. Why? Because they all ignored a fundamental requirement for marketing success—segmentation and targeting. She just can’t compete with the big brand in an undifferentiated way. The big brands have more marketing resources and they can easily out price, out advertise and out package her.

Does that mean she cannot successfully market powder milk in the Nigeria? No. But her marketing success will not come by marketing to the mass market – it will only come by her targeting and focusing on a segment of the market. For instance, she can focus on selling healthy milk to people with weight problems. By doing this she would have calved a niche for herself and captured a valuable position in the market.

The point is that you cannot connect with all customers in large, broad, or diverse markets (except your marketing budget is limitless). But you can divide such markets into groups of consumers or segments with distinct needs and wants. And experience has demonstrated that firms that specialize in meeting the needs of one group of consumers over another tend to be more profitable.

Segmentation and targeting are a two-stage process. 

 You first 

(1) determine which kinds of customers exist, then

 (2) select which ones you can serve effectively. 

Suppose you are into selling music. You could sell hip hop, Yoruba, classical, gospel or Islamic music. But you have a higher chance of market success if you focus only on say, Christian music. And the reason for this is not farfetched; it simply makes your marketing more efficient and effective. Everything, from message design, to medium of delivery, and even actual customer interaction will be greatly enhanced by effective segmentation and targeting. As Drayton Bird wrote in his book Commonsense Direct Marketing, even the worst message sent to the right people will do better than the most brilliant message sent to the wrong people.  And Gary Halbert put it even more succinctly when he said the most important advantage in marketing if you were running a hamburger joint was to have a starving crowd.

Digital Marketing In Nigeria, A Strategic Approach

digital marketing 1

In my last post, I promised that the next post will be discussing in details how to go about setting up a professional digital marketing campaign for your brand, from strategy formulation to performance evaluation. This blog post is geared towards doing just that. Even though the title says digital marketing in Nigeria, I belief this approach will work in any market.


Of late, I have been having a series of meetings with prospective clients and one of the first questions I ask at the discovery stage is: “what internet marketing strategy do you have in place”? The commonest answers are “we advertise on Facebook”, “we have employed somebody to manage our Twitter and Facebook account”, “We have banner ads on XYZ sites”…….Little wonder virtually all of these companies are reporting little or no ROI from their online marketing activities.

There are several internet marketing channels that you can utilize to market your business online but, selecting the right one(s) “depends”. Depends on what? That question can only be tackled on the strategic level . But first, let us define what a strategy is:


A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. A strategy helps you answer the question, “What are we trying to accomplish?” As can be inferred from this definition, you can see that you can not say you have a strategy if you do not have a clear objective.

Strategy is different from “tactics” which help you answer the question, “How are we going to accomplish our goal?”. A commentator on Jeremiah Owyang blog puts this most succinctly when he said:

“One helpful trick to check if you have a strategy (usually timeless) or tactic (tools/technology dependent in your hand is changing the tools and see if it still applies. For example, a timeless strategy is- “Connect with customers while in our store and increase sales.” If you this is 1901, you’d post large posters and have employees running around and talking with customers. If it is 1987, you’d have electronic boards with specials, if it is 2012 you’d have an HTML5 page or an app that helps you connect to customers and in 2015 you’d fully support Google glasses. The strategy never changed, the tactics did“. 

So, without a clear strategy, your online marketing effort is doomed to failure.   


After choosing your strategy, the next step is to review the range of channels available to you for realizing the strategic objectives. For Digital marketing, the available channels include:

Pay Per Click Advertising 

This involves bidding for placement on search engines. It is keyword-based; meaning your ad appears when relevant searches are made. E.g. Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

Display Advertising

This involves the placement of ads (banners, video, etc) on third-party websites.

Email Marketing

This is the process of collecting email addresses from people and marketing to them via email messages.

Search Engine Optimization

This is the process of earning in the free/organic results of major search engines like Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex,  etc.

Social Media Marketing

This is the process of leveraging social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc) to market to your target audience.

Affiliate Marketing

This involves incentivizing other sites to promote your products in exchange for a share of the revenue they drive.

The list above is by no means exhaustive. 


To also help you in putting the digital marketing channels in proper perspectives and have a framework for understanding the cost and benefit advantages of each channel, we will employ a POE media model  ( which is a slight modification of the POEM model).

The POE model classifies all digital marketing channels into three distinct subgroups: Paid Media, Owned Media and Earned Media.




Paid Media

Outbound Marketing

Earned Media

Inbound Marketing

Owned Media

Nurture, Retention, Advocacy

Core Elements 

Money = Traffic, no money, No traffic


Channels are optimized individually


Landing pages are distinct from main site

Cost is effort


Visibility continues when effort stops


All pages are landing pages

A person is “known”

Email address, customer file, etc.


Move person to initial sale recurring revenue to advocacy



Immediate results


Highly measureable

Ease of testing

Cost effective

Higher quality visits

Helps build trust

Cost effective


Ease of targeting

Loyalty & advocacy



Display Ads


Email List Buying

Daily Deals



Natural Search (SEO)

Social Media

Referrals (Links)

Public Relations


Email, Newsletters, RSS, Autorepsonder

Lead Nurturing


Transaction Emails

Necessary Resources

Media budget

Campaign management expertise


Content Creator

Publishing Platform

Social Media expertise

PR & Blogger

Email Technology

Customer Database

Content creator

Social Monitoring tools





  • Your Company Goal: What are the top objectives of your company’s online marketing effort?
  • Brand Awareness: Your objective is to achieve greater brand visibility and increase the likelihood that consumers recognize the existence and availability of your company’s product or service.
  • Boost Sales: Your objective is to make more sales. Period.
  • Market Education: Your product and service are new (or have new features) and potential customers are yet to realize the problem they need to solve.
  • Available Resources: This could be material or human;
    – Budget: How much do you have to spend on your digital marketing activities?
    – Human and Intellectual: What personnel with what range and level of competence do you have available? This includes Development personnel, Creative personnel, Writers, etc.

Lastly, there are two other primary variables that can be added to the selection process that falls under the realm of strategic market analysis. Namely an understanding of your customers and the competitors. 

If your company has (or develops) a strong understanding of customer needs and behavior, then it will be better able to target those customers to achieve the company goals.

The Definitive Guide To Conversion Rate Optimization For Nigeria E-Commerce Sites (1)

Strategic digital marketing

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Why Most Nigeria E-businesses Fail”. A lot has changed in the Nigeria e-commerce space since then.   For one, the Nigeria ecommerce space has experienced phenomenal growth with the influx of millions of foreign capital  into the sector. 

While this has deepen the industry in terms of scale, operational sophistication, visibility etc, one rarely talked about effect of this growth is the increasing cost of customer acquisition.

Getting customers to your e-commerce site is now a whole lot more difficult now than it was two years ago. For example, I ran several Adword campaigns in 2011 for a couple of Nigeria e-commerce sitesand my average CPC was never above 30 cent – even for competitive keywords. Now you pay almost a dollar for the same keywords. 

The case with organic search is even worse. In 2011, I remember that with just a little On-Page optimization, you could easily start ranking for your target keywords (and lots of long tailed keywords). Fast forward to 2013 and SEO result is a whole lot more difficult.

Now, with the relatively high cost of getting visitors to your site, it becomes imperative for you to get the most from your site visitors. And for e-commerce sites, that means getting more of your site visitors to buy from you.

The process of getting more result from your site visitor is called Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO. 

CRO is a complex subject that cannot be covered in one blog post. So, I have created  a series of blog posts on Conversion Rate Optimization Tips For Nigeria Ecommerce Sites. 

Below are areas of e-commerce touch point optimization that if implemented, will help your Nigeria e-commerce site eliminate the core conversion roadblocks of usability, friction or anxiety factors.


The first step in optimizing your ecommerce website for conversion is to first of all break the entire user experience into unique experiences delivered at several of the touch points on your websites. Here you will be asking questions like:

  • What is the impression that a user gets when he or she arrives at your online store?
  • What kind of result do users see when they type something in your  product search box?
  • What do you say in your communication to your users when they register, reset password, subscribe or place an order?
  • What happens if a user lands on an ‘out of stock’ product page?
  • Where a user searches for a product that doesn’t exist or out of stock, what happens?
  • What does a user see if he enters an invalid email address during registration?
  • How simple is your checkout process
  • What trust building elements are on your site to reduce cart abandonment ?


1) Promote Your Top-Selling Products On Your Home Page 

Use a blend of sales report and analytical tools like Google Analytics to determine your best performing products & categories. Once these are identified, give them more visibility by promoting them in banner sliders and recommended products.

2) Offer Multiple Payment Options

This has been one of the main reasons for high shopping cart abandonment in almost all the Nigeria ecommerce store I have worked on. The answer is simple, clearly show all the different ways in which a customer can pay for an order on your site. I will strongly recommend that you have “Pay On Delivery” and, to make it the most conspicuous payment option on your site. This is especially important at this stage of ecommerce in Nigeria when most customers are still sceptical about the credibility of online shopping.

3) Arrange Category Structure By Popularity

The category links in the navigation should be in the ascending order of their popularity. That is the most effective arrangement. The second option is to arrange them alphabetically. 

4) Ensure Site Search Accuracy

Nothing is as frustrating to your customer as searching for a product on your site and getting totally irrelevant result. To avoid this, below are some suggestions: 

  • Implement intelligent search to cover singular, plurals, mis-spells etc. For example, a search for ‘shoe’ & ‘shoes’ should return the same results associated with shoes(s).
  • Implement Auto-Suggestion to help user search for relevant keywords. This is one of the commonest search functionality wherein as the user types his search query in the search box, suggestions are shown. This feature makes it easier for them to find the desired product more quickly.
  • Enable category search option

7) Use High-Quality Product Images

Studies after studies have shown that image is always the first thing that a visitor will notice as soon as he lands on your site.  The quality product image will help your store convert better. Another side to this is that, apart from using quality product images on your site, you should also show as many as we can – from different angles.

8) Pay Attention To Product’s Description

This is one area almost all Nigeria eCommerce sites are guilty. It is wrong to just copy and paste the manufacturer’s description on your product page. The product description is a sales copy and it should be seen in that light. 

Let your description present the product in the most appealing (functional or emotional appeal) way to your site visitor and somehow, also anticipate and address their reservations/apprehensions. A few tips:

  • Use bulleted points to make the information easier for the visitors to digest.
  • Arrange the product features in order of importance.
  • Even though I said earlier that you should write see your product description copy as a sales copy, you should not oversell.
  • users will know if our claims aren’t genuine.

9) Clearly Show The Product’s Delivery TRUE Time

One of the main complaints about Nigeria’s eCommerce sites is the failure to deliver within the promised time. While I understand the temptation to over-promise, it is much wiser to under-promise and over-deliver. This is one of the best ways to build positive word of mouth and referrals about your eCommerce site. 

Not only should you give realistic delivery time, but users should also know when they can expect to receive the product if they order. 

10) Encourage users to leave reviews

You should do this for two reasons:

  • Good product reviews add a lot of content on a product page which is very good for SEO (post-Panda and Penguin updates)
  • Positive customer reviews also make your store more credible and thus improve your conversion rate. 

11) Checkout Page

A lot of cart abandonment happens during check-out. This should not be because, for a user to get to your check-out page, it means he or she is really interested in buying. To stem this, your check out page should:

Security: Make it clear to users that your site is secure and that their privacy will never be compromised.

Transparency: There should not be any hidden charges. VAT, shipping cost, etc should be stated clearly.

-Payment Methods:  I talked about this earlier. All payment methods users can use to make payment for goods bought on your site should be clearly stated (Mobile Money, Credit Cards, Bank deposit, Pay On Delivery, etc.).

12) Simply You Information Forms

Users want the buying process to be over as soon as possible. So, anything you can do to shorten the amount of work they need to do will increase your conversion. start by removing ALL fields that are not absolutely necessary on your forms. It’s not a good idea to make them enter the same information twice.

Also, if a customer has already provided some information in an earlier step, don’t ask for it again in the next step. Automatically pre-fill the fields so that the user doesn’t have to enter them again

It is important you do not confuse your site users. One way he can be frustrated is  if he is not able to proceed because he is missing out filling some information which has not been marked as a mandatory field.  It is important you use asterisk (*) to clearly mark optional fields.

13) Create An Impressive About Page

One of the lesser know factors for conversion rate improvement of e-commerce sites is the “About Us”. A surprisingly large number of users actually go to the About page before they make a purchase from an online store. This is especially so if they are visiting the store for the first time. 

It goes without saying then that you should have a rich About Us page. A few tips on how to do this: 

  • Give a bit of information about why your company was started. Please note that this is the place to showcase your “Mission, Vision” or whatever value. Take abstraction out of it 
  • Highlight people behind your company, preferably with pictures
  • Be Authentic

14) Conspicuous Support/Contact Page

It is very important that you have a phone number prominently displayed on your home page. And, your physical office address should be featured on your site as well.  your customers must know that real people are available to help if they’re lost or confused. It is also a trust builder, especially in Nigeria where there is still apathy about online shopping. 

15) Offer A Good Return Policy

If our store’s returns policy isn’t clear, visitors might get apprehensive when buying from our store. Your returns policy should be visible, clear, and buyer-friendly so that people feel safe while shopping with you.

In the second part of this series, I will try to go into the advanced stuff- Split testing, design, information architecture, colour science, etc

The Best Business Advice Ever

Skyline view

There are millions upon millions of business advice. But, beyond the convoluted theories, the best business advice ever can be reduced to a few short sentences:

  • Customers are the most important people in the business- whether they come in person, write to us or telephone.
  • Customers are not dependent upon us- we depend upon them for our living.
  • Customers are not an interruption of our work- they are the purpose of it. They are doing us a favour  by giving us the opportunity to serve to serve them.
  • Customers are not people with whom to argue or match our wits. No one ever won an argument with a customer.
  • Customers are people who come to us because they need certain goods or services. It is our job to provide them in a way profitable to them and to ourselves.
  • Customers are not cold statistics- they are flesh and blood human beings, with emotions and prejudices like our own.
  • Customers are the most important people in this business- without them, there would be no business.

       Very simple set of advice but. the potency is in the simplicity


John Fenton, 101 Ways To Boost Your Performance

Complete Guide To Social Media Marketing In Nigeria

Social media marketing in Nigeria


It is doubtful if there is any serious marketing executive or business owner who has not heard of the enormous business-building opportunity presented by the advent of social media. From blogs to agencies, meeting rooms, one of the staples of marketing prescription for business promotion and building in Nigeria is social media marketing. The buzz about social media marketing in Nigeria notwithstanding, is social media marketing suitable for your business ? and if yes, how can you leverage it to achieve your business goals? 

In this post, we aim to equip you with step by step process for developing, building, and executing a purposeful and result-oriented social media marketing program for your business. The post will cover both the strategic and the tactical aspects of social media marketing.


 First, let us try and understand what the term “social media” means. Social media is media (words, photos, videos, etc.) that is spread through social interaction chiefly using individual communication networks. Popular web-based social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Instagram, etc. Unlike the traditional advertising paradigm that spreads information from one source to many, social media promotes peer-to-peer communication and gives individuals the choice to opt-in, or out, of virtual conversations. With social media, consumers of media turn into producers of media—through photo and video sharing, blog posting, or other forms of content dissemination.

So, social media marketing means actively starting conversations, pushing content, asking questions, driving traffic, and expanding visibility through social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nairaland, etc).


It is estimated that there are over ten million active social media users in Nigerian. According to Internet World Statistics, Facebook alone has 6,630,200 users in Nigeria as at Dec 31/12. In fact, according to Alexa, five of the top ten most visited websites in Nigeria are social media sites.


By implementing a thoughtful social media campaign you can:

Create Buzz

Buzz is all about riding the current wave of media—and creating buzz means adopting the latest media to promote your message. Today this means leveraging social media. Building a legitimate social media voice and developing influence within your community will create buzz for your business.

Generate Traffic

Having a well-structured social media program will increase the probability that people will pass along your message, product or website through online social networks. This opens the chance of your message being disseminated to new and diverse crowds and thereby help generate new visitors to you.

Generate Leads

It is customary that in every sector of the economy, there are people at the center of the conversation – the agenda-setters or influencers. Social media gives you the opportunity to win over your industry’s influencers by engaging and building relationships with them. Build and nurture a direct relationship with them and if you are successful in winning them over, these influencers will pitch your company and products online on your behalf in subtle and not so subtle ways. With their blessing, qualified leads will start to come your way.

Join the Conversation

A well-designed social media program will include social listening and with this, you can identify social networks where consumers are already talking about your brand and engage in the conversation to learn how your brand is perceived and accepted. And if you discover that no one is talking about your business, take this as an opportunity to research and test which channels respond best to your product or business; which will invariably help you in focusing your effort on those channels that are most effective for you

Customer relation

Whether you like it or not, your customers are already online. So, it is only logical that you are active in the same community so that you can relate with them better

Competitive Advantage

It is very likely that most of your competitors are doing a very bad job with social media ( In reality most companies are), which gives you the chance to stand out. And the flip side is that, if you avoid social media, you leave a big opening that allows your competitors to capture your audience.

Social Media Examiner recently polled 3,000 marketers to find out what benefits they are deriving from social media marketing. The table below presents their findings:


The way to marketing success starts with a plan. This means before going into tactics, it is important that you devise a strategy for your marketing. The same applies to social media marketing. All successful social media marketing programs are built on a deliberate and well-defined strategy.

The following are the strategic questions you need to answer before you get started:


What are your goals? Are you trying to build awareness for your product or brand, drive traffic to your site, attain leads, or convert leads to customers? It is even possible that you have multiple goals that are not mutually exclusive. Even so, decide which one is your primary goal. This will frame your focus and will drive all other planning decisions.

Target Audience

Who do you aim to reach? Potential customers, current customers, influencers? Before you decide on social media channel or create content, it is important that you define whom you will be marketing to.

Choose your social media marketing channels

 Will your campaign be a comprehensive one focusing on multiple social media sites or will you devote your activities to one channel such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.? You need to decide on which channels will work best you. Of course, this will depend on a properly defined target audience. For instance, if your target audience are undergraduates in Nigeria universities, Twitter and Facebook will probably be more ideal for you than say LinkedIn


What type of engagement will you do? What is the crux of your message? Is it a hook, an offer, a direct product placement, or perhaps a thought leadership lure? What format will your engagement be:  blog posts, photos, graphics, and videos? Are you going to be promoting other brands or only your own? These are all things you need to decide upfront and these should tie back to the goals that you’ve got.

Define a project timeline

Does your plan cover a week, a month, or a year? This will surely affect the frequency and types of messages you plan to deliver.


After defining the goals, you need to find a metric that aligns with your goals and set an ambitious target. Metrics that you can use include: number of impressions, visits, leads, tweets, likes, retweets, etc. 

Track and Monitor

Once a campaign is up and running, determining a return on time and money invested is the obvious next step for any social media marketing effort.

It’s critical to find out just what kind of results your online efforts are having. Has traffic grown with the volume of Twitter feeds? Has the new corporate Facebook fan page expanded the conversion rate and generated leads overnight or taken two months? Social media monitoring answers these questions



  • Monitor the web for conversations about your industry, product and brand. Do so via RSS feeds, Twitter, Google Alerts, and other social media tools.
  • Join the conversation – don’t be promotional, be helpful—and earn trust.
  • Make a personal connection become a face, not just a name. Use the same name (use it always), post a good picture, be as transparent as possible, and always be honest.
  • Offer help.
  • Be Clear: Draft, edit, share internally and revise your content for the best result
  • Expand your network, including fans, followers, and subscribers. Make it easy for people to find you and to join your network.
  • Create relevant and targeted content. Create the right content based on what you are hearing, and be generous with your content and links.
  • Be patient
  • Use Imagery: You have heard that a good picture is worth a thousand words. Well, it is probably worth more on social media. Use images, videos, and illustrations to make any piece more digestible. 

The part two of this post will cover the tactical part of social media marketing in Nigeria in details.

Marketing Myopia – The Number One Corporate Strategy Failure Factor In Nigeria

African businessman training employees

It has been more than two years since I last wrote a marketing strategy post – Nigeria-telecoms-companies-and-marketing. The post generated a lot of review and was even a subject of a senior level strategy revamp in a major telecoms company in Nigeria. In this post, I will be making a case for a paradigm shift in the way we approach business/marketing strategy formulation.

First, a bit of background. The concept of marketing myopia was first postulated by Theodore Levitt of Harvard in his landmark 1960 HBR article titled Marketing Myopia. In the article, Levitt asked the now famous question, “What business are you really in?”  According to Levitt, failure to answer this question correctly always lead to business failure. And he gave the example of the American railroad:

The railroads did not stop growing because the need for passenger and freight transportation declined. That grew. The railroads are in trouble today not because that need was filled by others (cars, trucks, airplanes, and even telephones) but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business. The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was that they were railroad oriented instead of transportation oriented; they were product oriented instead of customer oriented” 

That is the main thrust of Levitt’s argument: businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products.

All industries are dynamic. The truth is, every industry was once a growth industry and the ones that are currently riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are likely already in the shadow of growth decline or will soon be. 

Let us look at the practical implication of these paradigm shift in selected Nigeria industries:


On the surface, MTN, Etisalat, Airtel, Globacom are all in the telephone business. But in reality, nothing could be more erroneous than this. If these companies are to properly answer the question “what business are we in?”, they will agree that they are in the business of enabling communication between people. The success of any of these companies depend on realizing this. Five years ago, SMS used to cost 15 Naira. Today, the average cost of SMS is 4 Naira. But the real issue is not even in the declining revenue accruing to telecoms companies from SMS, the real issue is that in the next couple of years, SMS revenue will be zero! The reason for this is not farfetched, why should I pay for SMS when I can send the same message (and actually a lot more with multimedia) via Whatapp, Snapchat, Facebook chat etc.

Even the traditional cash cow for these companies, voice, is not insulated. Skype call is free. In fact, I now make more calls on Skype than on traditional phone. While it is true that I am not currently a representation of an average Nigerian, it will not be naive to project that as smart phones and data becomes cheaper, more people will embrace internet calling; with the implication that average spend by subscriber will keep falling. 


A classic example of a company that fail to properly define its business is Nigeria Postal Service, NIPOST. NIPOST apparently thinks it’s in the letter distribution business. Wrong. (Of course, the problems of NIPOST are a legion: package disappearance, undertrained and unmotivated employees, analog operation etc). The single most significant factor responsible for NIPOST’s withering is its failure to correctly define its business.  

Were NIPOST management more strategic, they would have understood that they are in the logistics business? This simple paradigm shift would have changed the story of NIPOST. Okay, what do I mean?

While it is true that the advent of email and texting have eroded the volume of physical letter, the overlooked fact is that the same internet has dramatically increased the number of package deliveries, ala Jumia, Konga, Rytedeals and co. The extensive postal infrastructure NIPOST has all over Nigeria gives it a huge competitive advantage in package delivery. Thus putting cost and geographic spread into consideration, it would have made a lot more business sense for these e-commerce companies to work with NIPOST (every other things being equal of course).


The lesson from the above examples is that, for companies to enjoy long-term success, they should stop defining themselves by what they produced and instead reorient themselves toward customer needs

The entire company must be viewed as a customer-creating and customer-satisfying organism. Management must stop seeing itself as producing products but as providing customer-creating value satisfactions. This is the central idea that must be pushed into every nook and cranny of the organization. Failure to do this will mean the company will be merely a series of pigeonholed parts, with no consolidating sense of purpose or direction.

Properly defining your business will result in constant watchfulness for opportunities to apply your existing assets to satisfying needs and ultimately profit generation for the company. The companies that succeed long-term are the companies that expressed a new willingness to change their product to fit customers’ requests—practicing the “tell us what color you want” school of marketing.

So, for an Etisalat for example, no amount of creative marketing can increase the declining Average Revenue Per User (on voice calls) in the long term. At best, brilliant marketing can only increase its market share of a declining market. 

4 Must Have Skills In Any Effective Modern Marketing Team

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The future is not ahead of us. It has already happened. Unfortunately, it is unequally distributed among companies, industries and nations–Philip Kotler

The world is changing. To remain relevant and thriving in a time like this, you need to be abreast of the changes shaping the world around you and adapt to it.  Else, you become obsolete. 

If you are a business owner, CEO, or CMO, you need to ask yourself this important question: Does my marketing team have the requite skills to be relevant in the contemporary time. To be successful today, your marketing team needs all the traditional marketing skills and, a whole lot more. Sam Davies puts it best when he said: “To make sure the people in your marketing team can stay ahead in the modern world of marketing, they need to develop new skills, be more innovative than ever, and take complete advantage of the fact that we are living through a revolution and there are no rules”.

Below are the four must-have skills in any effective modern marketing team

  1. A Solid Understanding Of Marketing Fundamentals

The first thing your team must have is a thorough understanding of marketing fundamentals. This is so important that without it, all your marketing initiatives are doomed to failure. This is common sense right? unfortunately, it seems common sense is not common. Just last week, I was in a meeting with a prospective clients where their in-house marketing manager displayed an utter lack of understanding of marketing fundamentals. Asked to provide a summary of their marketing strategy, he kept rambling about their “rebranded logo” ” advertising on radio and newspaper!

Your marketing team must be grounded in such marketing fundamentals as the four Ps of marketing and, STP. Yes, all marketing is built on STP-Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning

  1.  An Understanding Of Human Psychology

 One essential component you need in your marketing team today is someone (or people) with a deep understanding of how and why other people think and act the way they do. It will be practically impossible to create compelling marketing communication if you don’t know why it would be compelling to your audience in the first place

Before you start jumping into all the tactical nitty-gritty of marketing, it’s really vital to understand how people operate.

  1. Storytelling Skills

Susan Gunelius of Forbes puts it best when she said “Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority”

Today’s effective marketing team must include a competent storyteller (Brand Creative Content Executive if you like). This individual will focus on increasing consumer emotional involvement in the brand through social media and content marketing stories as well as on weaving the brand storyline into offline brand experiences and marketing initiatives.

  1. Marketing Analytics Ninja

Marketing analytics comprises the processes and technologies that enable marketers to evaluate the success of their marketing initiatives by measuring performance using important business metrics, such as ROI, marketing attribution, and overall marketing effectiveness. In other words, it tells you the effectiveness of all your marketing initiatives.

As your market becomes increasingly competitive,  there is no question that the collection, analysis, and extraction of insights from data is becoming probably the biggest differentiator for commercial success.

“Data can be the catalyst which, when leveraged correctly, allows a business to outperform the competition. The key is not just collection, but leverage. Size doesn’t matter insight matters”.

I am sure you now know why you need a data analytics ninja in your team.


So, the first thing for you to do is to audit your current marketing team to see if they have the requisite skills. If no, well, do the needful and if yes, congratulations. In which case, you need to make sure you have some great ways of working in place to make the most of them.

Succeeding With Digital Marketing In Nigeria

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As noted in an earlier post, Nigerian companies have started embracing digital marketing. But from interactions with senior management of some of these companies, it seems the results of their romance with digital marketing have been underwhelming to put it mildly.

This should not be the case. From years of managing marketing campaigns, first in in-house roles and then later as an agency account manager, I have seen Nigeria companies get incredibly awesome results from digital marketing. So, why are some companies succeeding with digital marketing while others are not? This post will provide some of the answers.

Back To Marketing Fundamentals
The foundation of successful digital marketing is…..well, marketing! In other words, marketing is marketing irrespective of the channel. This means that the same fundamental rules of marketing applies whether you are marketing on digital or traditional channels. And what are these fundamental marketing rules?

All marketing is built on STP—Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Philip Kotler explains this best when he said “An organization discovers different needs and groups in the marketplace, targets those it can satisfy in a superior way, and then positions its offerings so the target market recognizes the company’s distinctive offering and image”. And of course, STP is built on accurate and deep knowledge of the market.

Your digital marketing won’t succeed without a proper strategy (built on STP of course). I addressed this in an earlier post where I explained that ” Of late, I have been having series of meetings with prospective clients and one of the first questions I ask at the discovery stage is: “what internet marketing strategy do you have in place”? The commonest answers are “we advertise on Facebook”, “we have employed somebody to manage our Twitter and Facebook account”, “We have banner ads on XYZ sites”…….Little wonder virtually all of these companies are reporting little or no ROI from their online marketing activities.

There are several internet marketing channels that you can utilize to market your business online but, selecting the right one(s) “depends”. Depends on what? That question can only be tackled on the strategic level…….”

Promotion Is One Leg…So Is CRO
One major problem I think is responsible for the poor result a lot of Nigeria companies are getting from digital marketing is the fact that all their energy is being channeled towards promotion and little or nothing being done on conversion optimization.

You are obviously not advertising your brand online for the sake of making Google richer. So, you apparently have an objective you want to achieve with digital marketing. Promoting your offering to your target audience is the first step; while making the target audience take the desired action (conversion) is the ultimate goal.

After your target has seen/clicked on your message, what happens? All the traffic and brand impressions in this world does not mean anything if it does not convert. That is where conversion optimization comes in. Conversion Rate Optimization is simply the method of creating an experience for a website or landing page visitor with the goal of increasing the percentage of visitors that convert into customers.

It’s about connecting with the viewer and communicating value as quickly as possible. It also means identifying why people are not converting and of course, fixing it. Without an effective conversion optimization, you’ll end up throwing away money & get frustrated with digital marketing. Which leads to the third point:

Leverage Digital Marketing Unique Capabilities..Big Data, A/B Testing, Personilization…
This is a time when migrating away from the traditional large demographic approaches toward more granular, data-driven, highly targeted campaigns becomes a matter of survival, not a matter of choice–IBM

The main advantages of digital marketing over traditional marketing derive from the data driven nature of the former. And as it has been established in several studies, data and algorithms have a tendency to outperform human intuition in a wide variety of circumstances. Unfortunately, most of the Nigeria companies are not leveraging this unique capabilities of in their campaigns.

Today’s customers have instant access to comprehensive information on product, price, and quality comparisons from a steadily expanding range of channels. Thus, your success will depend on your ability to use insights derived from big data analytics to drive marketing decisions that will ensure you are accurately delivering the right message to the right person at the right time for the right price.

Successful digital marketing is built on analytics and experiments. The former provides data on what is happening in a business, the latter actively tests out different approaches with different consumer or employee segments and measures the difference in response.

Unfortunately, analytics and experiments are two areas where Nigeria marketers are lacking (with notable exceptions of the eCommerce folks i.e Jumia and Konga).

For your business to succeed in digital marketing, you must “get” analytics and experiment.