As a Christian, am reminded that there was a time we only had two mainstream churches- the Catholics and the Protestants. The young became restless with the boredom of repeated verses and hymns. They yearned for something new and vibrant. They hated being lulled into sleep every Sunday as they recited the monotonous choral verses. The church failed to notice this and respond in good time. The alternative churches exploded. They gave the youth new music and a chance to twist and throw their bums in church. Praising the Lord became hip. I was sold.

How can you drive your market? Does the market have eyes, ears or intelligence of its own to decide which product or service it wants? Could the market have asked for iPads, smart phones, and flat screens on their own without relentless prodding from restless marketers? Henry Ford summed it thus: “If I listened to the market, I would have made a faster horse-drawn chariot and not a car.”

Apparently, the market does not know what it wants. To drive it, Marketers must lead their market.Don’t ask where the marketing is heading, ask where YOU want to take the market. Here are a few tips to drive the market.

1. Forever Improve
It is never final. The product you have at the moment is not the ultimate even though it may be doing well in the market and giving you beautiful profits. To drive your market segment, you must regularly try new version of your product. We thought colour TV was good enough until the market gave us flat screens, concave screens and lately digital TV.

2. Paradigm shift
The way we read happenings in our life depends more on the decoder that we have installed on the inside. This decoder automatically translates everything that we hear, see and feel. Examples are cultural lenses, tribal inclinations, and religious beliefs. We view the world from these tainted windows. Market drivers must endeavor to wipe clear their glasses and re-look at their products. Think about how your products are consumed, stored or discarded and ask if there is a way you can improve this. Market drivers are always ready to shift the paradigm.

3. Get out and make mistakes
Ever heard of this joke that when looking for Mr. Right, just get Mr. Left and drag the poor fellow to the right! The market will never voluntarily follow you. Those who desire to drive the market pour vast resources to drag it in their direction. Bottlers of bottled water proved that you can get the market to buy what they easily got for free.

doodle20n-2-web4. Who pays you?
As a market driver, you may have to find better and creative ways of getting your paymFacebookent without burdening the customer. For example, if you are running a newspaper, who pays for your costs? Is it advertising or subscription? Can this be shifted to someone else without hurting the product? Look at the ingenuity of Facebook, Google and Yahoo. They are offering absolutely free services and getting billions at the back. Marketers can drive the market by shifting the payment burden from the traditional payers to other subtle ways of getting paid.

5. Remove exclusivity
Another simple way to drive the market is to play around with market accessibility. Open up the once exclusive products to the commoners while erecting barriers to the common ones to make them more attractive. Jambo jet in Kenya came with a shock to the market. They told all who cared to listen that air travel is not that exclusive. You too can travel in an airplane. The fares were drastically reduced. Bamba TV is telling you that you don’t have to pay to watch TV.

6. Timing
Every product succeeds at the right time. In driving the market, you would rather be earlier than late. The new supermarkets in Kenya stole the thunder from Uchumi when they introduced the in-store stocking and merchandising where the supermarket only provided the infrastructure and let vendors stock their own counters. The timing was right. These supermarkets product range increased ten fold at no extra cost to them. We had butcheries, groceries, milk bars and coffee lounges to the delight of the customer. Up till now, Uchumi is playing catch-up and is doing badly at it. When it comes to timing, the right time was yesterday.

To drive the market, marketers must release the handbrake, engage the gear and let the marketing vehicle roll from the parking. Think of a new product, a new way and get out and make that mistake. It is the only way to drive this marketing car.

Article from African Market Media.

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