Monday, 4 March 2013

Creating customers out of nothing

There is a small anecdote popular in our place about the attitude of people. The story may be popular in your area too.
A famous leather shoe manufacturer in India sent two of his business executives to one of the African countries many years ago. At that time Africa was a primitive and poor land. The two men went to Africa and made some research on selling shoes there. After two or three months’ research they returned to the company and presented separate reports. One of them reported that he found none in Africa using shoes and hence there is no scope for selling shoes there. The second one reported that he too found none using shoes there and so the land is a big market for shoes. This story speaks about the attitude of two people towards the same situation.

What would be the next step of shoe the manufacturer? That is what I want to discuss here. Let us take it that the manufacturer was a positive man and he accepted the second report and decided to open a market in Africa for his shoes. But how shall he create customers where there is no customer for his products.

How shall we create customers out of nothing? Let me note down some tactics (This is not an exclusive list.)

·      Create a need for your product.
      None in this country used shoes so far. None felt a need for it. Otherwise they would have created some kind of shoes for their daily use. Thick leaves and bark of trees were used by ancient people to create shoes for their foot. But these people did not have anything like that to cover for their foot. Necessity is the mother of invention. If there were necessity, they would have invented.
      So awareness is the first step.
      In my childhood, a company who produced a health drink visited all over the area with short films. They used to exhibit three short films. The first one was a cartoon film. It was to attract the villagers. The second and third were about their products. One spoke of the nutritional problems that villagers faced. We were never aware that we lived in acute shortage of nutrition till then. But that film sent a new light or fear into our mind that the cause of all diseases was lack of nutrition. The film ends with introducing the health drink. The third short film was a eulogy to the product. We were thoroughly convinced of the danger and the solution. Besides the film, a drink made of the product in a small cup was free for all present. After that we could not even think of living without it.

      There is another story about the introduction of cigarettes in India by the British people. I am not sure whether this is true. The white people stood at streets and crowded markets and distributed cigarettes freely to all and encouraged to smoke.

      Creating awareness about the product is the first step.
      Products that improve the comfort of living may be introduced through persuasion.
      Products related to health may be introduced through fear and urgency.
      The shoe manufacturer may use the second method.
      He has to convince the people that all or most of the diseases affected them because they walked bare foot. There is no other solution to the problem available now in this universe except to wear a shoe. If is delayed more diseases may attack them.
      The comfort and beauty of wearing a shoe may also be introduced through persuasion.
·      Present your products as the best solution.
Why should they buy your product?
People are convinced that walking bare foot is dangerous to their health. So the necessity will lead to invention. They will immediately invent a covering/shoe from whatever is available in their land.
So the next step task is to convince them that your shoes are the best solution to the problem.
Shoes cover the whole foot.
It is made with thick leather – protection from thorns and sharp stones.
Leather is flexible and never restrains movements.
Leather covering makes their foot look neat and will make it soft.

·      Relate the product to their purse.
No product that none can afford financially will be sold out. Frame your target customers. Make a study of their financial condition. Fit your product to their purse.
Remember there are many poor people in this world who die because they cannot financially afford a better treatment for their diseases. Financial poverty cannot be overcome by any business tactics.
The product must be affordable to your target customers.

·      Make it an integral part of their life.
Free samples, discounts etc. maybe tried to make them use the product.
How long should you give free samples and discounts? Until they feel that they cannot live without it.

Create your own customers out of nothing.
Successful business days are ahead.

Professor Jacob Abraham

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