This is a Short Note from my LinkedIn update.
Dear African Entrepreneur,
Congratulations on the new products and services which you’re about launching. I know you have budgeted some funds for that massive online advertisement. I have a message for you: hold that money and do not waste it.
But before I share my suggestions, read this case. Procter & Gamble, the global consumer giant, noted that after a $100 million cut to online ad spending, sales was not affected. CEO David Taylor said to WSJ: “We’re not going to follow a formula of how much you spend or share of voice…We want every dollar to add value…”
Sure, there are many companies that online advertising works. But to many, it adds marginal value. It has never worked for me in my small shops. iROKOtv, run by Jason Njoku, has no online ad budget.
This is my suggestion: commit to building organic traffic to your business by delivering value (your call!). Key element of African business is still offline. Most people with money rarely spend online. Traffic is nice but also an illusion because the day you stop the ad campaigns, they disappear. Minimal conversations abound. What works in Africa is WORD OF MOUTH. You must have meatspace presence for digital success. That means you cannot be too gently. You must hustle for online space unless you want to get a paid job.
P.S.: “Word of mouth” has evolved beyond talking on phone. Today, it means demonstrating domain expertise across platforms, online and meatspace. Entrepreneurs must invest in that and build that presence. This is different from throwing money on display ads on social media when no one is watching. A nice post on Facebook that someone shares about your business is modern “word of mouth”. My point here is that you cannot rely on display ads, you need to take action and be engaged online to have results. Sure – online ads can work but most times, the value is marginal.