Saturday 21 September 2013

The Economic Implications Of SMEs Joining This Chariot


I had a dream that sometime in 2015 practically every Area boy in CMS and Ajegunle, and Empire, and Orile, and Lagos Island were walking around holding books.
Books? Area boys?
Yes, books!
They were going to and fro, looking for tutors, trying desperately to get help for improving their reading skills, and everyone around was wondering, “what the heck is going on here?”
Well, it had actually transpired that hundreds of thousands of very impressive small and medium enterprises had sprung up all over Lagos, Nigeria. So impressive that the area boys were suddenly jolted to life.
In a little more than 18 months, young men and women had fully established professional cleaning businesses, medium distance delivery services, professional electrical services, high quality auto mechanic services, sports agency services, legal services for consumer rights claims, etc, etc, etc, these youngsters had finally figured out how to solve the major problems that plagued their society and their existence; and more importantly, they had learned how to charge decent value-based premiums for their solutions.

So I also wondered, how on earth did all of this happen?
Well, it turns out it was because thousands of these young folks had suddenly started paying attention.
They had finally understood that there was no point wishing or praying that a selfish and greedy oligarchy would finally become merciful to them. They realized that there was no assurance that the kleptomaniac spirit that characterized some of their rulers will not easily be replaced by a spirit of generosity or a determination for selfless-service.
So they decided to SEARCH for their own solutions instead.
And they soon enough found their answers on the internet.

Now obviously, you are seated there, thinking to yourself that this is a very “funny dream” this man is having.
But I would beg you to read this article to the end, and I would try to make some sense out of this beautiful nightmare that I had….


I have been told that Traditional Advertising in Nigeria may sometimes command budgets of up to N900 million for just a 6-month campaign. Imagine that!
I find it quite amusing that Nigerian companies would pay that much for a service that cannot TRULY be measured for its actual success or ROI. At least not by any traditional methods anyway.
And while I will personally never undermine the impact of traditional advertising, I cannot help but conclude that these companies invest so much in it purely because of some already set ways of thinking. 

Now, Seth Godin once said “Human beings are exposed to 3500 traditional messages every day….and these are like hurricanes ripping through the market place, touching everyone in the same way, regardless of who they are and what they want.”

Allow me to translate that into simple Naija English for you:

Advertisers basically say, “we don’t know who you are, we don’t know where you are going with your life, and we have no clue what you are looking for. But we must tell you that Samsung is the best.…end of discussion!”

OK now please do not get me wrong, I think traditional advertising is indeed awesome in creating awareness about a product. But like any marketer who has understood the Procter & Gamble mental model of marketing would tell you, Stimulus is only a 3rd of the battle. And furthermore, today, more targeted research has revealed that stimulus is actually now even slightly less than a 4th of the battle. Thanks to the discovery of ZMOT that came through modern researches carried out by Google.

The truth is that technology has really dug deep into the entire foundations of the human experience. And SEARCH has become by far the most accurate way to understand a human being’s intent and to a degree, predict their goal. Being able to advertise to someone according to thier interests and goals makes much more sense, wouldn’t you agree?

Again, I am not asking for an absolute change in the paradigm here. I am not advocating for traditional advertising to be completely kicked to the curb. I am only asking that you begin to think more realistically about how people would give attention to messages they see these days, and begin to make smarter investments with your resources.
SMEs need to focus on what they actually KNOW will work, not what they think everyone already knows does.

Now, the Nigerian youth uses Google’s search engine for almost everything these days (popularly pronounced goggle in Nigeria – erroneously, sure; but we could choose to assume it’s a pun for wearing sight-enhancing eyewear. :) ). Its range of usage is so wide:
From checking for the English word for Agbalumo, to finding out the latest European football weekend scores and goal scorers.
From seeking news about the Kanye West’s new born baby, to following up on Nigerian politics. Or should I say, politricks!?

Yet I wonder if they realize that they can get so much more than those things from this goggle search? Sorry…Google.


According to the ITU/Internet World Stats, Nigeria was a clear leader among African countries with 45 million internet users at the end of 2011. That was 2 years ago. TWO YEARS AGO!!!
In tech language that is about 15 years of previous the era’s rate of human development.
But what makes this even more interesting is the fact that the larger part of Nigeria suffers from an abysmal lack of electricity supply.
So just imagine if everyone had access to even 18hours of steady electricity every day? Imagine the implications of that?

While you are at it, also imagine if everyone actually used Google search to research thoroughly about their own individual talents. Imagine if they really got a grasp of how to use the right keywords for the right ideas that they wish to investigate all over the world.

Imagine a school teacher who is researching for ideas to write a book titled “Proper Home Training”. Imagine how much more information she would find if she searched for articles on “Parenting” instead of searching “home training” on her laptop.
Imagine if we ALL used Search properly. Imagine if some of us actually stopped disdaining knowledge, as some do. If we stopped assuming that being RICH makes someone RIGHT. And even if you're someone so overly driven by the need for trappings, then you try to imagine if you also discovered that knowledge of future market behaviors could in fact make you super rich?

Now I am not asking you to stop wasting time on Facebook! Okay, in a way, I am. Hahaha!
But what I am really trying to do is to get you to see the largely untapped potential of the world wide web.
There are huge possibilities for SMEs here folks!
Let big businesses spend their hundreds of millions how they like, but SMEs need to follow me on this ride.
Now business is indeed a good thing; Shopping is cool as well. But young Nigerians need to understand how these things really work, and more importantly, how they work on the internet.

If we can gradually learn these things, then we will systematically heal ourselves from the bane of greedy old men who have invested their souls into oil blocks, and into wrangling around and politicking their wits away in Abuja. If you think e-commerce would be a great place for you, you should definitely pay attention to this argument about effective marketing to online shoppers, and try to make an effort to understand what the writer is saying:

“There is no (internet)search anywhere where people ignore the fact that there is more than one listing. There may be many searches where the first result gives them the (final)answer and they have no need for another. But that’s not shopping.”
    - By Sir Ammon Johns
a true living legend of internet marketing. Though he isn't as old as you might think.   

I will be sharing more insights from this brilliant individual and a few others in some of my future articles, but for now, let me leave you with my own final words of advice on the SME topic at hand…

SEARCH, oh Africa!
Do not continue to wallow in depression! Or seek to join those who dispense it to others.

Listen Africans! Seek answers; Seek solutions; Use the tools that have been almost freely given to you; Make use of the internet to broaden your mind.
It could help you take control of your future. And that is the time that my dream and your dreams could easily become realities.
You just need the resolve to search for the solutions to making it happen.
They’re out there! And I know even you can feel it!

Thank you for staying with me to the end.

I am Rotimi Orims, inviting you to join this chariot.

The Search Africa vision is about improving the quality of lives in Africa by inspiring our people to seek knowledge and SKILL through purposeful gathering of information and quality social engagement on the internet.
Link up with me on Google+, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn. Let’s see how we can make things work. J

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Wednesday 18 September 2013

ZMOT Conversations in Africa

Modern day shoppers have become more aware of their power of choice and are exercising it more than ever before. The African shopper is no different. Like shoppers everywhere else, Africans these days have realized how to use online tools to get that ultimate bargain, and this new awareness is sure to increase in years to come. 

The Zero Moment Of Truth (or ZMOT) is the very contrivance that can be used to keep up with this new viewpoint of the modern day shopper, as it was shaped through the conscious observation of consumer behavior as it is affected by modern day inventions.

Studies show that shoppers do a lot of online research and spend a bit more time browsing for answers before they make a purchase. Agreed, these studies were not done in Africa, as some would love to argue, but we should consider that Africa has always consistently consumed the same civil material, and followed in the same patterns as the occidental world. 

In terms of technology, academic structures, information and entertainment consumption, sports and fashion, it is clear that we have a tendency to order from the same menu as is done by our western counterpart. Only with very slight African variations if any at all. And make no mistake, this makes perfect sense as we were all first one single human race before we began to differ in appearance and our own different cultural self-stylings.

But please allow me to return to do a brief background to the concept:
The zero moment of truth is a marketing principle that is based upon the 3-Step Mental Model of Marketing which was introduced by Procter & Gamble sometime around 2003 or thereabouts. In that 3-step model it was found that a shopper experiences a Stimulus stage, a Shelf stage and the Experience stage. These shelf & experience stages are known as the two different moments of truth in the shopping experience with a given product. Moment of truth implying that the shopper realized he had to make a decision. However, more recently, and thanks to more effective technologies in data collection, researches carried out by Google and other participants have discovered there is a 4th and more important step in the current mental model.

Now since I had actually majored in Advertising at the University of Lagos, I would be the first to admit that while the stimulus that an individual gets from a commercial or magazine advertisement may be sufficient to leave a favorable suggestion of that product in his memory, it is ultimately not enough to ensure that he picks that same product when he gets to the store and sees the product stand next to several other competing products on the shelf. At this point several other things immediately come to play in his mind and he has to make a decision. The decision he makes would be based on several other factors (mostly psychological) that hope to justify why he is about to spend his money. The shelf automatically becomes a place where some clever form of additional advertising or promotion could seriously affect the shopper’s decision. This shelf stage is known as theFMOT, or the First Moment Of Truth.

The Second Moment Of Truth (or SMOT) is the 3rd part of the Procter & Gamble inspired mental model, and it describes the stage where the shopper (now buyer) has made his decision and has spent his money on the product. The product now needs to deliver on its promises. Now if the buyer uses the product and is satisfied with it or is delighted with it, then there is a strong likelihood that that buyer would not only be inclined to stick to that product, but he may even also opt to volunteer favorable reviews for the product. And in this wired era, that could mean sharing those reviews on his Facebook, Google+ or even blog. The problem is that such voluntary reviews could also be the opposite of favorable if the buyer felt that the product was awful. So since SMOT is powerful enough to influence the next shopper, perhaps the best way to promote your product at that stage is to make sure it is of good quality. J

Now how does ZMOT fit into all of these?
Maybe the right question should be, where!
Again, research shows that a full 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase? And again, I will insist that there is no reason why we should doubt a similar behavior increasing among Africans. In fact, I am convinced that these numbers will definitely increase (in Africa & in the US) in the near future, since the technologies and arenas to publish these reviews are themselves increasing and getting more and more popular. For example, on Facebook I am served daily with a growing list of movies to rate. And I enjoy doing this because it is so easy and it sometimes gets the attention and amusement of some of my friends on the social network.

So the 3step model has now clearly become the 4step model, and ZMOT has clearly become that place where the shopper goes before he goes to the shelf (FMOT). It is the place where they pay attention to a conversation about the product and ask their own personalized questions. It’s not just about being exposed to advertising stimulus. The zero moment of truth is that place where the most important issues are raised before the decision is made on purchasing the product. It is that place where an office manager is sitting at his desk and comparing the price of laser printers and ink cartridges before heading off to the supply store. It is that place where a student is checking out ratings and reviews while looking for a cheap hotel in Johannesburg. It is even that young girl who had gotten to the beauty shop to buy a bottle of designer perfume, but suddenly decides to take a picture of another bottle to send to her friend in Kenya to ask her what she thinks about it. She even decided to check the reviews at Frangrance.Net while she waited for her friend’s trusted opinion.

The bottom line is that additional contextual promotion carefully inserted by the producer of the product, could go a long way in influencing the decision at this stage. At this ZMOT stage, it is imperative that the smart brands join in the conversations that the shopper is paying close attention to. In some cases, the mere knowledge of the fact that you are present and listening to your potential customer is sometimes enough to nudge his decision compass. In other cases, it could present the basis for future conversations. The agility of your brand in learning how best to engage in these crucial conversations will be critical to future market domination. The dexterity of your product to conform to the true needs of its market will also depend on how well you are listening at the ZMOT. And this is sure for Africa as well.

The truth is that it is not certain just how much more this ZMOT stage will affect the future of shopping in Africa. But one thing is certain, shoppers will continue to shop digitally, and they will continue to seek reviews and pay attention to their influencers at the ZMOT. It’s up to you to decide where you want to join the conversation. At the beginning….or at the end!