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Just Like Saka! It’s All About Brand Perception

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Saka has ‘ported’!

Few weeks ago, we woke up to find out Saka had sold out. An excited Saka filled the front pages of our major newspapers and our TV screens, proudly confessing the now famous slogan- “I Don Port O”.  If you’re wondering who Saka is, and what this is about, let me bring you up to speed.

‘Saka’ is a Nollywood actor known for funny, silly roles especially in sitcoms. For a long while, he has been the face of ads promoting the Etisalat network in Nigeria. Recently, the NCC announced the new Numbers Portability Service, which allows users to change their mobile network providers while retaining the same phone number. Shockingly, and in a most hilarious manner, Saka was the ace up the sleeves and was used in the marketing game by a competitor in the telecoms market- MTN. He is now the face of the adverts being used to woo subscribers from other networks, to port their numbers to MTN’s network.

The marketing strategy is great. The front-page Newspaper ads and the TV commercials are intriguing and highly creative. By the next morning, we were all scrubbing our bodies in the bathroom, humming ‘I don port ooo.’ It generated a lot of buzz on social media, elicited chains of discussions on Twitter, had everyone tweeting and re-tweeting the porting gist, and talking about how it was the marketing strategy of the century.

With such excellent advertising, you would have thought the entire populace would ditch their networks for this Saka’s new network, right?  Technology writer and gadget freak- Jesse Oguns wrote an article ‘Saka don port o: The Ad Wars Start!’, and thereafter tweeted asking users if they would port to MTN with the new portability service. A higher percentage of the replies were similar to this “Good advertising, but no, I’m not porting.”

No surprises, it doesn’t work that way.

Here’s why –

Brand perception is everything.

Irrespective of the noise you make for your brand, it’s the noise the customers make that matters the most. How does the public perceive your brand? What is being said about it? Are your customers satisfied with your services? Do they love your brand? Are they happy to refer your business to their friends? Is there are more complains than praise for your product? These are the pointers to how your brand is perceived by the public.

If online and offline, all the noise being generated about your brand are complains about poor services, then no matter how great your marketing campaign is, people will not buy.  It may lure new users, but once they come on board and discover your poor services, they will flee and not return. Once bitten twice shy, they say. I wrote on twitter that “your advert can be so ‘wow’ it gets everyone talking about it, but does it get them to buy from you?”

TV commercials bring people to you doors, what keeps them inside is good service.

As at the time I wrote the first draft for this article, only the MTN adverts were running. Now, the other networks have also rolled out their TV commercials and radio jingles. But it’s the same story for most of them. Consumers are really not interested in porting. Complains about the poor services abound for most (if not all) of the other networks.

What to do: Work on your services first. Ensure your customers are pleased with your services, then deploy your marketing campaign announcing how your services have improved. Else, your campaign will generate a lot of buzz, but it will mostly be negative.

How does this relate to the small business owner?

First – Perfect Your Product & Service Delivery

Before promoting your products or services, make sure you have done all the ground work. Ensure your product is great, and your service delivery is excellent. You don’t want to promote your business today, and have customers calling on you tomorrow only to be faced with rude customer service staff, or front desk officers who don’t have adequate information about the business.

All employees should be well informed about the importance of excellent customer service. They should be trained to give the customer the best service. If you can’t afford the services of a customer service expert, conduct an in-house training yourself. Also, there should be a reward system for the employee that gives the best customer service, while those who continually give terrible customer service should not be tolerated.

Monitor Conversations about Your Brand

The advancements in technology have made it easier to get feedback from customers. No matter how small your business is, it is important that you devote time to checking out what is being said about your business. Is it mainly positive, or negative?

Social media platforms have made this very easy. Carrying out routine online searches using your business name as keyword will reveal what is being tweeted or shared about your brand.  On a regular basis, google your business name and read what the blogs, journals, social media users are saying about it.

Establish an online presence on Twitter and Facebook especially. This makes it easier for customers to reach you with complains about your business. If they don’t find you online, they will share the bad service they got with all their followers and friends, imagine the damage this can cause to your business. But if you’re available online, you can easily step in to save the situation by apologizing and promising to fix the issues. When you have resolved the issues, inform them so they know you took action on their comments.

Don’t just open a Twitter/Facebook account and go to sleep. Keep active online.  It could be just two tweets daily, to let your customers know they can easily reach you online. Keep monitoring to find out what is being said about your business. This gives you an opportunity to correct any negative perceptions about your business, and to work on customer feedback.

For small-businesses that cannot afford to pay for the services of brand ambassadors. Your ambassadors are your customers. Leverage this free service to your company’s benefit. Convert them from customers to fans for life.  Make them happy with your business, enough to share it with their friends and create the buzz that’s needed.

Advertising, especially TV commercials, can only get people in your door only once, after that, it’s up to you to keep them coming back. A great commercial cannot save a badly perceived brand. It’s not the ad, it’s the brand perception. Save your brand first, and then roll out the ads.

So, have you ‘ported’?

Like you, sales and marketing coach and consultant Bukola Olayemi has seen many businesses fail in their ultimate aim of selling their products/services. She works with small-businesses and entrepreneurs that are stuck in this low-sales maze, helping them get more customers and make bigger sales, faster than they thought possible.

Bukie Iwajomo is the chief strategist at SalesForward Consulting. She works with start-ups, personal and consumers brands helping them leverage tech to grow their businesses and build badass brands. Follow her daily marketing tips on Instagram. You can also connect with her on Facebook

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