I recall having a casual conversation with my cousin about how businesses in Pakistan that “market” themselves excessively are not very successful.
Generally speaking, this holds true for all companies in the world. Too much “marketing”of a product or service portrays that the business is “desperate” to seek the attention of its potential customers due to low sales. On the contrary, the marketing of established businesses is always moderate but effective and impactful. It is as though such businesses do not “pursue” customers. Rather, they “attract” the customers towards them.
Every business aims to maximize its revenues and minimize its expenses. “Marketing costs” are a major chunk of these expenses for many companies. When it comes to start-ups in Pakistan, spending huge amounts on promotions and advertising does not guarantee long-term returns. There are examples of street vendors (and other small businesses) around us that have made themselves a fortune without spending a penny on marketing. That said, “marketing” is important for any business and cannot be ignored. In the context of Pakistan, for new ventures, I believe the most economical and effective way to do marketing is to:
Let your offering speak for you!
In Pakistan, most of us have witnessed promotional campaigns, discounts, etc. Whereas these do yield returns to some extent, I feel it is better to invest in improving your own product or service. By spending money to improve your own offerings, you automatically establish a connection with your potential and existing customers. An excellent product or service never goes unnoticed and performs the “marketing” function of your business itself.
Let`s take any of those famous eateries all over Pakistan. Whether it is the well-known Butt Karahi of Lahore or the Student Biryani of Karachi, all of them have firmly established their “brand image” by offering delectable dishes. Over time, they became renowned for their offerings. Today, these businesses do not need any “marketing” to attract more customers. What they consistently do is innovate and improve. The success stories of such businesses should serve as an inspiration for all the emerging start-ups in Pakistan.
Let your customers speak for you!
Just as a “useful” product or service promotes your business, a “satisfied customer” plays a pivotal role in the “marketing” of what you offer. The satisfaction of such customers leads to natural “word-of-mouth marketing,” which has numerous benefits for your business. Most of your marketing is done when your “satisfied” customers recommend your product or service to your other “potential” customers. Not only is it “free,” but it is also effective because it involves your customer (and not you) persuading another “potential customer” to choose you.
Assume that there are two shops selling the same commodities at the same price in the same vicinity. This often happens in many areas of Pakistan. What determines which of these two businesses will be more successful than the other? In my opinion, a major determinant will be their dealings with their customers. A shopkeeper who is courteous, respectful, and trustworthy is more likely to establish a long-termrelationship with customers. Ultimately, this translates into greater profits for the business.
Utilize social media!
Start-ups (and other businesses) in Pakistan should make the most of social media marketing for the advertisement of their products and services. Unlike traditional means of marketing, it is not only economical but also captures the attention of a larger audience. As the usage of social media in Pakistan increases, businesses should prefer doing their “marketing” activities here. In fact, many political parties are doing their political campaigning on social media in Pakistan. Businesses, too, should take advantage of it.
Let’s assume a hypothetical scenario. You recently started your own business in Lahore or Karachi. Suppose you sell electronic appliances in a market that already has similar businesses (operating for many years). In other words, you are a newcomer competing with established businesses in the market. Social media marketing can be very beneficial in this regard for you. Not only will it rapidly increase your presence and visibility in the market, but it might also give you a competitive advantage over others who are not using social media marketing. In a short period of time, your business can capture a good market share.
In the world of business, it is always wise to “spend to earn more” in the future. These can be considered lucrative expenditures. Businesses should be treating “marketing” the same way. It should be carried out in such a way that it offers maximum gains at minimal costs. After all, appropriate strategies and tactics make any venture successful. Businesses in Pakistan (especially start-ups) should follow the same principles to achieve desirable outcomes.
“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy.” (John D. Rockefeller)