A Product Marketing Guide (The Nigerian Version)

A Product Marketing Guide (The Nigerian Version)

If you still believe that a Good Product will market itself, it’s a sign that you have either never built a Product and had to push it to profitability, or you’re not in good terms with the marketing department of your company (you’re so pissed with them, that you feel their jobs are irrelevant, and they should all get fired). If you’ve built a Product, Business, or really anything you’ve had to sell to people, or needed people’s buy in for approval, you will agree with me that a good Product alone isn’t enough to get you to the top of the pyramid, or the top of the food chain, or whatever your definition of success is for your Product.

In fact having an awesome product shouldn’t really be your highest priority when trying to push a successful product to market. Yes I just said that, I’m a design Strategist, I believe in the principles of design, I believe in empathy, I believe in creating simple products that are easy to use and understand, I believe in designing services that add value to users, but I’m also sensible enough to know that all that isn’t what matters. Are they important?, yes, will they be key to moving your Product up the pyramid? Yes, are they all that matter when building a successful product? Apparently No.

The (seemingly) best products out there are not the best products in reality, just the Products that got marketed and pushed out the best.

Nigeria has so many good Artiste’s, but most of the songs that usually top the charts, and ride the airwaves are from Artiste’s I could swear were in the Studio SUI (Singing Under Influence).

They’re not the best at singing, they’re the best at promoting.

Between Where your Product is right now, and where you desire your Product to be in terms of Market Dominance and the likes is a very Deep ditch. The Purpose of this Playbook is to help you build a bridge from one end to the other (and to partly get a Job in the Process too).

Without Further Ado, let’s Begin.

Step 1: Understand Your Users.

I have a Quote i like so much, it goes like this;

“If you copy and paste Silicon Valley, you will undo yourself.”

Lagos, Nigeria, Africa, or wherever your Business is Located is not Silicon Valley, that is Unless you’re in Silicon Valley, then yes that is Silicon Valley. Copying a Model from another market and trying to replicate it in another market that is made up of people with different core beliefs, Values and Cultural ideologies is Synonymous with Jumping out of a Boeing 747 airliner without a Parachute and expecting that somewhere, somehow, Super Man will just Fly out of nowhere and catch you, fly you home, and even pay for your Netflix Subscription, so you can watch more DC movies and the likes. You will hit the ground so hard, you’ll be amazed.

Understanding the African Market, Especially the Nigerian Market should be a course at Stanford, or HBS, because the African Market is Obviously the next 1 Billion, and is also a very complex market to fully grasp.

Let’s use traffic for example; the way people drive in Lagos is not alarming, its downright strange. The Guy doesn’t want his Mercedes to get bashed, yet he’s driving like he’s making a Cameo for the Fast and Furious series, then if he gets hit, he parks in the Middle of the Road, and wants to create a scene of some sorts. I don’t blame him, I blame third party car insurance for agreeing to pay 200k to replace his damaged GLK’s Backlight, But I digress.

Where were we?

Yes, A good understanding of the Mindset of your target users is key to effectively market your Product, or at least not waste your money doing so.

A Little Breakdown of Certain things you should know;

Understand Pricing.

If you don’t know how to effectively target the right market and develop the right pricing models for those markets, you might as well just pack your stuff and go home, because chances are you’ll either get massively whipped and give up, or if you’re resilient enough, you’ll gain a lot of trial and error experience. Remember what Edison said? I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

You must have a very deep pocket, or an extremely patient VC partner that will allow you to fail 9,999 times before your Product finally succeeds. If you do, I’ll need his contact, and yes, I still believe 9,999 times is an exaggeration.

If you’ve ever heard that Just Price it well, people who know the value will come Statement, or maybe you’ve made it yourself, I can guess you don’t run a big operation.

The Nigerian Market is Huge, around 200 Million, the Part they don’t tell you is that the majority of that market will not buy your $1000 product because it is too expensive. If you sell a luxury Good, the Market for your Product drastically reduces to the guys living in Lekki, Ikoyi, VI, Nnewi and Maitama.

Nigerians are one of the Most Price sensitive people you will likely interact with. People will pick Product Y over Product Z because of 100 Naira.

Understanding Pricing is key to Thriving in the Nigerian Market. If you’re in the Enterprise space, then this doesn’t necessarily apply to you, unless you work Primarily with Small Businesses, then you may face one or two issues along this line.

B2B scales here regardless of Pricing, that is if your value proposition is meaningful of course.

Think about this; I don’t think I have ever seen a TV commercial for IVM (Innoson Motors). On the surface you may think they’re a consumer car manufacturing firm, in reality, most of their Revenues come from Businesses and Governments that need Vehicles.

It’s pretty straightforward; who wants to spend 9million to buy a Brand new IVM sedan, we aren’t even that patriotic (Most people in Germany use primarily German cars), most of the People who buy Brand New cars in Nigeria either Earn in Dollars, Loot the Treasury, are related to Dangote, loot the treasury (Sorry I’ve said this before), or have massive Business operations and the likes. The vast majority of people buy cars ranging from Tokunbo cars (Used Foreign Cars), to cars that are termed Second hand, Third hand, and cars that have changed ownership more times than Atiku has changed Political Parties (I have nothing against Atiku, he came to my Alma Mata some years back to give a Speech, wonderful guy).

The Nigerian Car Market should be a model for Vehicle Recycling Globally, in Nigeria, Cars never die, they get recycled and change ownership so many times that at certain points there are people above the legal driving age driving cars that are older than them.

If you’re targeting a more luxury market, you must understand Pricing, along with branding and perception marketing. If you don’t, people will think you’re a scam, call your Product overpriced and practically ignore it. The average Banana island Property costs around $1 Million, if you take the soil on the land, and compare it to soil from Ifako Ijaiye, I don’t think it is any different. Perception plays a key role in that market, you need to get that right.

Renting the Eko Hotel Convention center for an event will cost you anywhere between $20,000 – $30,000, around 9 Million in Naira. There’s a reason it is Located at Victoria Island, and not Ayobo, or Shasha. If Banana island were on the mainland, or in Iyana Ipaja, they would have called it Plantain Island, or Dodo Island (you get the Point).

Learn to take Advantage of Free.

In Nigeria Free is a Magic Word.

It’s almost like when you say free, people magically become attracted to you. I’m serious. Put up a Sign Board and put Free, but don’t complete it, people will walk up to you to ask you what is free, so they can take advantage of it. We use our intelligence to create free, It was a little over maybe a year ago that I learnt I’m supposed to be paying $20 monthly to use Adobe Photoshop. I’m Supposed to pay in Nigeria doesn’t mean you have to. Normally speaking, you’re Supposed to pay around $100 to update your Laptops OS to Windows 10. If you’ve ever paid $100 to update your Laptop to Windows 10, its a sign that you either have a lot of money, you’re not very sharp, or you’re a healthy mixture of both. I don’t think the Windows 10 update CD you can buy at Computer Village Ikeja will cost you more than #1,000 Naira.

Taking advantage of Free isn’t just about Giving your Product out for Free and expecting them to pay later, if you’re creating a free trial for your Product in Nigeria and expecting people to start paying Monthly for it after the free trial, just expect massive churn rates the day their free trial expires. Chances are, your customer duration will be your Free trials Duration. It’s not that your Product isn’t valuable, or meaningful, it’s really a question of affordability.

The best way to use free is to create a model that gives your Product out for free in exchange for free marketing.

Think about this; if people could use your Product for free if they could push it, or meet certain sales deadline’s (think about a refer 2 people, and get a free week or month of use model), if your Product is valuable enough, you’ll have a lot of free marketers creating value for you and working themselves out just to get “FREE”.

Step 2: Invest in Visibility.

If we don’t see you, how do we know you exist?.

In this Market, Visibility is key, that’s why people complain about things like Audio Money (People who say they have money, but no one sees the physical proof of it), and Potential (a guy who Doesn’t necessarily have money now, but may have in future). If No one sees your Product, It’s as Good as it not existing.

Some weeks back, I went to a shop to buy canned fish (Sardines), I asked the lady the price, and she told me she had a variety of Products with different prices, I asked for the cheaper one, when she gave me, I looked at the pack, and although she tried to sell it to me that it was a good Product, and that she had eaten it before, I wasn’t buying it. I promptly asked for the more expensive variant, which was the Titus Sardine brand that we all know and love.

I didn’t buy the other sardine for two reasons; one was it’s visibility was poor, I had never seen the product before in my life, that was my first time of seeing it, and I had no connection whatsoever with it, and Secondly; for goodness sake, how will you put the picture of a person in a Space Suit on a Sardine pack?, Like what does that even mean?

Embrace Billboard ads, Put your Product out there so much that they think it’s contesting for a Presidential election. If your Product is primarily digital, don’t ignore physical ads, but invest a lot more into digital ads with the goal being primarily to get people to see your Product, know it exists, and get it to register a mental picture in the minds of your users, not necessarily clicks. Clicks are good, but your main goal at this point isn’t necessarily clicks, but Visibility.

Step 3: Understand The Power of Community.

In Social Studies, I was taught that my brother was the son my mother and Father gave birth to either before or after me. In Nigeria we have a different definition for that term. Every member of your extended family that is in a similar age group as you is your Brother. So yes your cousin is your Brother, your nephew (If he’s old enough) is your brother, and more importantly, every male person in your village is your brother.

In Nigeria we believe strongly in community. We live in very comfortable houses in Lagos, but still choose to go “Home” to the Village during the festive seasons to meet our Brothers and the likes.

Building a Community centered approach around your Product is key to both increasing the LTV (Lifetime Value) of your Customers, and having brand advocates who both pay for your Product, and are More than willing to sell it. Awesome combination right, someone who buys your Product and is also willing to sell it to others, almost like its some MLM (Multi Level Marketing) stuff.

Everyone loves connection, whether it’s an Internet connection (Don’t you just love when the YouTube video doesn’t have to buffer for two hours before you can watch it?), Power Connection (NEPA), a relational connection, you name it. Taking advantage of this desire in people is key to properly marketing your Product.

When people feel a connection, they become slightly biased, and do things in your Favour.

I’m a funny guy (if you’ve read this far, you should know that by now), and one of my most utilized strategies when I want to negotiate, especially with Workmen, is to crack jokes (not as a standup Comedian or anything), I make the place lively, energetic and fun, so that when he tells me his price is #12000, and i only intend to pay him #3500, I already have a good foundation to lay the concrete on for negotiation. I’ve built a connection, he is more likely to listen to me.

Community is about connection. If you want to be ahead of the game, your relationship with your users must be more than just transactional. “I give you a product/service, you give me money”. It needs to be beyond that, you must learn to touch the right chords.

Oh and Building a Community isn’t about just getting a Group chat. A group chat isn’t a community, it is what it is, a Group Chat, a Chat where a Group of people chat, send themselves Messages, Promote Ponzi Schemes, and Apparently do nothing.

Understanding Community is key to thriving.

Go beyond the Basic Buying and Selling, and interact and connect with your users on a more personal note.

Step 4: Know your Target Market

Knowledge is Power, that is, the right knowledge of a Course.

Not all knowledge is meaningful, useful or valuable, like who wins BBNaija, not very meaningful knowledge if you ask me, but understanding your target market is key to selling and effectively marketing your Product.

A Lot of people think that understanding your user’s step ends at the Product design phase, that’s not true. Understanding your users doesn’t just help you design a meaningful and valuable Product, it also informs the marketing channels you employ to reach those users. Case in Point; There are people in Nigeria who own Lamborghini’s, but have you ever seen a Lamborghini advert on African Magic or MBC2?, No, because Lamborghini knows that the people who can afford to dole out at least $250,000 (approximately #80,000,000 Naira minus shipping fees and customs), to buy an entry level Huracan aren’t sitting in front of the Television every now and then watching Soap operas, they have other things they do with their time (I just gave you a hint on what to not do to buy a Lambo. You can thank me later).

In Nigeria, there are two kinds of people; those who pay for GoTV or DSTV, and those who pay for StarTimes/Free to Air, and the Likes. Understanding the right marketing channels to use to get to your users will either make or break your Product, and your Marketing Strategy.

If your Target market is Primarily Young People, it will be detrimental to not take advantage of Influencer marketing, especially through Instagram. In a Country where Fuel Prices have gone up, Electricity Prices have Gone up, NTA wants to show Premier League, and people wearing face masks are more scared of being harassed by the Police than they are of Getting The Coronavirus, when the guy who make everyone happy by saying a punchline, while running around screaming “Don’t Leave me, Don’t Leave me” recommends your Product, or even gives it a push, it will Go a long way in getting your Product to the Right people.

Step 5: Take Advantage of Cheap.

Nothing good is cheap. Nigerians don’t believe that, the belief system here is a little different; “All Good things are cheap if you know where they are sold, and when to buy them.

Be smart enough to take advantage of the Fear of Missing out Syndrome (FOMO), you know, when that $200 bag is now going for $70 for a limited time offer (there is no limited time offer, that Bag will be there till someone buys it), some people may even borrow to buy the $70 bag because they Feel it is an Undersell and/or an opportunity..

The next thing people here love more than Free is Cheap. If you want your Product to Scale fast, create the impression that your Product is way more valuable than you’re pricing it. Make the price look Cheap compared to what it can do.

So Transsion Holdings (Parent Company of Tecno, Infinix and Itel), makes smartphones that have Surprisingly ” Heavy Specs” at practically give away prices.

Transsions strategy is around using Big numbers; 64mp Camera, Quad Camera Setup (4 Cameras), 64 GB Storage with 8 GB of RAM, a 6000 maH battery for how much? Just 50, or 60k. That’s a give away price if you ask me.

Indomie (the Parent name for Noodles in Nigeria) has a Similar Strategy, their Hungry Man size and Belle Full Product divisions give the impression of Big Product at a Cheap Price. You must know how to take advantage of Cheap.

Step 6: Make Brand Building a Priority.

Your Brand is your Business, Make it a Priority, and invest in being extremely consistent at every touch point.

Due to the Pandemic, some banks have forgotten this, and have ended up creating one of the Worst Customer Experience breakdown I have ever seen. Going to the bank to make a transaction these days should be a full time job. If you’re not smart enough, don’t know someone on the inside, and God’s Grace doesn’t just follow you, those Bank security guards will use you to form RAMBO, you may end up waiting for hours to pay in what may literally be small cash, HOURS.

Brand Building is more than just having a Brand ambassador, especially when we know that after signing a Multi Million Naira contract, your Brand ambassador who we all know uses an iPhone 11 Pro, used your Smartphone only for the Advert, kept the phone back in its pack and went on to continue using his iPhone 11 Pro (May not go down too well for your Brand if you ask me).

Brand building is about building a consistent customer experience around your Various User Touch Points. That’s why Indomie is the General name for Noodles (there are people who do not know this), when I think of Cement, the first thing that comes to mind is Dangote, and Cheap Data is Synonymous with Airtel (I know some people will Argue and say Glo, but I personally think Airtel Gets this).

Brand building is key.

In this Market, affordability is also key when pushing products.

In America, when you try to sell a Product, your goal is primarily to push the right emotional strings, because even if your Prospect doesn’t have the money, the system allows them to go into debt to get it.

I recently listened to an interview where the person being interviewed said there were people in the U.S taking out Car loans to buy Lamborghini’s, Car Loans man, that’s people going into debt to afford a $300,000 car, doesn’t make any sense to me, if you want a Lambo, you should be able to buy one outright, not go into debt to fund it.

Over here if they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. Even if you pitch and sell it better than the “Sell me this Pen” guy from the Wolf of Wall Street Movie, if they can’t afford it, your pitching and selling will really just be entertainment.


In Conclusion, Some of the Steps to Successfully Market your Product include: Understanding your users, investing in Visibility, Understand the power of community, Know your Target market, take advantage of Cheap, make brand building a Priority.

The Strategies Outlined here can also be applied to Completely Digital Native companies by just tweaking a couple of things.

With this Article, I’ve been able to supply the Wood, and raw materials required to build the bridge you need to get your Product from where it is now to where it needs to be in terms of Market Dominance.

Although the raw materials have been Provided, the real job is in execution, the real job is in building the Bridge itself. If you need any assistance in Building this Bridge, I’d be more than willing to Assist.

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2 thoughts on “A Product Marketing Guide (The Nigerian Version)

  1. Great write-up.

    The Nigerian market dynamics is so simple and complex at the same time. Marketing is very essential even if you have the best product.

    Sometimes your product does not need marketing when you have large market share or you are an exclusive player e.g Cold water starch, Dangote cement, etc.

    But in all, have a great team overall who really care about their customers and solve a problem.

    1. Even if you have a large market share, you still need marketing to keep that Market share. Think of how Jik used to be the general name for Bleaching Products, till Hypo came and Disrupted them.
      You can’t rest on your oars, one of the things I love about Indomie, You just can’t rest on your oars, you gotta keep going out there and staying out there.


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