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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