Marketing in Africa

All my business life – some 50 years – marketing has been a process, a set of recipes that are controlled by the market.

Either you define your product, you research your market, you determine a price, you design a communication investment in media, you choose your customers, you define all the benefits … and then you sell – or, if you don’t like the word “selling”, you “market”, or, you set up your stall in a place where customers come regularly and in large numbers – a market place – you put your wares on display and you sell face to face.

You go to the customer, or customers come to you. It has become so obvious, so recipe driven and so skilled that many now regard marketing as a science.

But then I learnt about the network – and everything has changed. Everyone is connected to everyone else. And they are constantly talking to each other…if I am lucky, about me and what I sell…hopefully, positively. Information is the food source of networks – starve the information flow and you starve the network.

The network is relationships. Network marketing is about using these relationships effectively and charging them with positive energy so that more and more people know who you are and what you sell best. And the investment you have to make is not in 48 sheet hoardings, clever TV campaigns or huge promotions, but in relationships.

And how do you invest in relationships, especially in Africa? You spend time talking. In Africa two horses approaching one another on a path in the mountains stop automatically – they don’t need to be reigned in for they know their riders, strangers or not, will stop to talk. You share information – you don’t sell. You build trust – you don’t build brand awareness. You create high energy experiences which create high energy relationships.

You have to be abundant – you have to understand how to pay forward. You are known by the deeds you do, how much you care.

You have to be real, authentic – you have to have a Seriti and Isithunzi – others can see you and trust you. You have to understand Africa. Networking is an art – a particularly real vibrantly alive art form, special to Africa.

Thinking about the impact of New Science, Nature and Old African Culture on our pictures of how the world works excites us. Teaching how to respond to these new possibilities is what we do best.