Promotions in entrepreneurial brand mix


In our previous edition we opened a new perspective in transformational branding of our entrepreneurial businesses.

Where we respond to the calls of the new century through applying branding mixes which helps in managing and strengthening our existence in perfectly competitive markets (as it has proven to be the nature of our markets in almost every sector of our global economy).

This pose a challenge to our entrepreneurs since everyone is almost selling similar products/services. Consequently it’s difficult to have ownership of a certain market share especially without considering a new mix in the branding of our SMEs. This calls for us to rethink/refocus towards novel branding mixes that cuts above the rest.

Traditionally one could win a larger market share through charging a relatively low price(s). But in this era of innovation, creativity and differentiation real brands are leading the show through not only living the promise but going beyond what the customers expects.

That is the same reason why we have engaged at this level in trying to come up and ride on our home-grown brand mix models for entrepreneurial businesses. 

We then developed the S.P.E.L.T brand mix model as an acronym for S –Software, P – Promotions, E- Engagements, L- Learning organisation and T- Transfer.

Our inaugural discussion was on the first element which is “Software.” Here we should continuously revisit and adjust these mixes for a complete entrepreneurial branding overhaul.

Of course it’s not an overnight achievement and that’s the same reason why we do not only progress but also reflect as we proceed in the same journey. In this edition we proceed with “Promotions” as another vital mix to blend in the successful and contemporary branding of our enterprises. Of course in the school of marketing we have traditional 4Ps (Price, Place, Promotion and Product) as marketing mixes which also talks this element. 

In this discussion we deepen the gauge by looking at how entrepreneurs can have their own specific mode(s) for brand promotion rather than relying on widely/generic approaches.  Also remembering that this proposed model is not a cast on stone prescription but one that can influence/complement any other to be applied for higher visibility and selling of our brand(s).

To start with marketing of our SMEs should be viewed and practiced differently. Mainly basing on the business cycle as start-ups and idea generators who are to take-off rather than a fully-fledged businesses. In the same viewpoint the tools/modes used for promotion should be specific and customised to meet the operations/interfacing/attractiveness of newly run business.

Here as SMEs who are yet to be known or growing towards fame we should focus most of our effort in building trust from our targeted markets. This helps in diverting their consumption and buying decision to our products/services.

Both offensive and defensive promotion strategies should be applied (also striking a balance).  Many of our SMEs just engage in any type of promotion either for convenience or to follow a certain bandwagon.

That’s not right in this age were promotional differentiation can turn a perfect competition to a monopoly. Those in the school of economics can agree that abnormal profits can be achieved through such differentiation.

As we continue with the discussion it should be noted that the promotional media we apply must be part of the targeted customers’ daily activities and lifestyle. It is easy to capture the hearts and minds of the customers when we engage them through what they use most as media for market exchange.

That is being at market equilibrium as led by marketing communication mechanisms that tally demand and supply. It is not only social media that can lead to extensive promotion of our offering. In some instances printed media like newspapers and magazines can do us wonders in our promotions rather than concentrating on digitalised media only. This also calls for a persistent review of brand promotion news we share in these media and responding to customers’ feedback as we continue to search for the most suitable form of media to promote our brand(s).

Promotion of SMEs should also focus more on creating and  raising awareness in various targeted markets. This is through the use of wide networked media (balancing between traditional and contemporary media). Not to specify any but to investigate the one(s) which connects with the type of our products/services and the right customer(s) as aforementioned. Here our promotion mix for awareness should aim to improve customers’ recognition and recall of our offerings. 

Our main task in this matter is content creation and framing of the promotional message that suites our orientation in relation to the needs of the markets. Remember that successful brands should be able to eliminate psychological risk in the mind of the customer. It is through such a brand promotion messaging assessment that psychological risk will be eliminated in the purchasing decision of a customer.

As we move towards closing this edition the promotional mix should be designed in a way that capture customers with a room to develop long-term customer database (for follow-ups and continuous promotion). Here we ride on what I will refer to as relation-based promotion.

Which is an advancement of the traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to one that is promotional oriented/driven. Most of our SMEs are doing promotions for a quick sell forgetting that we need to continue with the same business/customers and even grow into the future. Our promotions should provide room for such lasting and improved relationships. Those that lead to continued profits born out of effective promotional engagements.   And even capture referrals that come from both electronic and physical word of mouth by those we have satisfied as first customers.

Lastly as abovementioned there is need for promotions that attracts not only new customers but also help in developing influencers. At this level we should develop and relate with influencers in our promotions. These are critical as they even help advice our marketing efforts on the best mechanisms/mode to keep and develop for continued brand promotion success. Most of the times we leave our promotion mix to be centralised on us as business owners or department within the business. It should be known and appreciated that there is power in brand promotion that is led by influencers (these will become both advocates and ambassadors of our brand(s) promotion). I leave you to promote for a new horizon towards home-based branding mix by our entrepreneurs.

Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the head of business science at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. His doctoral research focused on business administration (destination marketing and branding major, Ukzn, SA). He is into agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871, Website

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