The evolution of the internet and the emergence of digital channels have made it easier for brands to build impactful connections with their consumers at a fraction of the cost when compared to other traditional media. The presence of this poses a challenge. The challenge is that the digital space is becoming crowded with average consumer being exposed in a day to more content than he can consume in a lifetime.
It becomes imperative for brands to constantly craft unique and innovative ways to standout in a crowded ecosystem. There are myriads of ways to accomplish this; one of which is yet to be fully maximized is the creation of an exclusive social community. Yes, a platform that allows consumers to both connect and consume in one platform.
Another is taking a sales and marketing learning from one of the most iconic means of transportation in Nigeria: The Molue.
Molue is the nickname given to the huge yellow buses that at a time was the major means of transportation for many Lagosians particularly the middle class. It starts operating as early as 4am and continues till midnight. The rugged and rickety buses are legendary. And their availability has made it the King of the road. It was almost impossible to travel on major routes without coming in contact with it.
One of the striking features of a Molue is that it is large and spacious and could take up to 50 people in a single trip; you could call it the 44/99 principle as observed by Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Friendship with a stranger usually starts from recognition, an awareness of his presence, a first impression and a point of the meeting. E.g. If you regularly commute in public transport, you would notice that there’s a strong recall when the stranger you met the first time enters your bus again on a different day. Sometimes you feel confident and ready to interact with him though on a casual level.
Even merrier if it’s the opposite sex, and there was some form of eye contact the last time. I digress.
Let’s take a journey into the interesting world of a Molue, a large ecosystem where we can learn new ways to engage our consumers online. Buckle your seat belt.
In a Molue, there are two entry points manned by two conductors who are tasked with the job of getting passengers into the bus by calling out their routes.
Often times, there’s always a struggle to get in; this is because of an identified consumer need- “I need to get from point A to Point B now and if I don’t double my effort, I might spend the rest of the day here’.
Inside the Molue is an ecosystem filled with 6 types of personalities.
The Rumour-Monger: He’s in the bus to propagate fake news; this is often triggered by ignorance
The Politician: The one who always has a perspective on every political issue in the country and claims to be there when Nigeria found Oil in Oloibiri.
The Preacher: The man of God who takes a visible spot to share the good news to the people.
The Learned: He’s the one that spends the trip asking himself what the ‘hell’ he’s doing in this bus. He has a supposed educated opinion which can’t be comprehended by the majority of the passengers.
The fearful: They’re the driver’s human speedometer, should in case he starts to receive a phone call from Heaven. They are there to ensure he’s called into the order and you can see this from their occasional screams.
Then there’s the final group called the Sales Team. Their brilliance is non-nonpareil.
Note: In a Molue, everybody is everybody’s friend on matters they share a similar interest in, anything outside that, it’s a war.
Let’s do a quick dive in on the Sales Team.
We have the Sales Man or Woman; a brilliant chap who knows how to get to the hearts of his target audience. Yes, a first-class sales man who has an above average knowledge of the product he is selling to them.
They speak so well about the product that sometimes you just want to hear them speak on, even when you’re convinced that it’s a lie.
I had an encounter with one before, the salesman brought out a disposable cup from his bag (which looked like his everyday pitch kit). The cup had a green leaf on it, and he started by saying anywhere you see this green leaf, it means it is an authentic and international product. Next, he brought out the product he wanted to sell and went on praising it and showing people it had the same green leaf we had just seen. I was dazed about this act of mental trickery but most of the passengers seemed intrigued and interested.
But that’s not all about the Sales Team, the salesman always has some unidentified hyper-men positioned strategically to corroborate whatever he says.
For Example, the first hype-man goes “I bought this product before and it brought instant relief to the toothache I was feeling, it works”. Second, with a dramatic tone “True o, I have heard about this product before, my neighbor spoke to me about it, in fact, give me two”. This basically begins to arouse curiosity, coupled with the Salesman’s pitch.
Identifying this interest, the salesman goes “I have only ten left, who else is buying?”. Remember the people on the bus are more than ten, so basically, supply can’t meet demand, then another tussle starts between the passengers.
The Salesman might probably have more than ten products but he needs to stick to the script, he can sell the others in his next trip.
So let’s connect all this; in this short view, some processes took place but I’d just highlight the topline.
First is Need: as a brand it is important to know what makes your consumers tick and build around that. They would only respond favorable when they perceive that your brand understands their needs.
Second is Recognition: their needs are established but they also seek a person, place or thing that can solve it. Across the journey to fulfilling this need your brand has to be visible. With digital, you can effectively map your consumers online journey and engage them in the moment.
Third is Invitation: onboard your potential customer with a compelling call to action. It’s an important step in converting your prospective customers.
Fourth is Engagement: building trust and interactions with your consumer which has a way of shaping the way the brand is perceived.
Finally, Sales. I believe that if you can get into the minds of the consumers, getting into their pockets won’t be difficult (well except if they don’t have the money)
Advertising and marketing are swiftly evolving and I personally believe brands should invest in building a community- Niche or Mainstream because it converts the relationship from transactional to communal.