Thursday, 4 August 2011


It’s comical how businessmen go to any lengths to get you to move their merchandise. Take this guy Mutinda for example. He was a diligent worker at Patel’s general store. His business minded boss kept pushing him harder and harder to get things flying off the shelf. One day, the boss overheard him talking to a customer. The lady wanted black Kiwi shoe polish. Mutinda told her curtly that they did not have kiwi shoe polish and the lady walked on to the next store. Patel came up to him and told him, ’that is not how to do business Mutinda, next time customers ask for something and we don’t have it, give them alternatives; like Ric, Guinea, or Pop and Shine shoe polish for example’. So Mutinda dutifully took the advice. As if in testing, an old Indian lady walked in to ask for tissue paper which coincidentally was sold out. Mutinda politely answered, ’we don’t have toilet paper madam, but we have carbon paper, manila paper and sand paper. Which one would you like?’

To make it in business, one has to be innovative. Reading the market trends and getting a niche target is important. If things go well the benefits are worth the effort. Currently one of the most booming businesses in Kenya is funeral services. Helping the reaper in his 'life turnover' work seems quite lucrative. Those doing it have everything covered from the morgue down to six feet below. On a dark touch of humor, I sometimes wonder what the partakers in this morbid venture are viewing as a niche now that it’s quite flooded. Perhaps there is a guy who is thinking of employing people to collect ashes at crematoriums and pack them for sale as ‘instant people’ to cannibals? I wouldn’t really know…

A unique advertisement strategy is of the essence too. Business owners will wave wads of cash to all the creative and sometimes crazy people they can get to make their merchandise visible. Some personalities have been associated with varied products. The singing fellow in Nuru soap is the only guy I know who loves doing his laundry. Another fellow, Peter Marangi, is officially the face of Dura coat. He has been on the job since the days he made us stop asking Ronaldo to play football with a cabbage. And this guy loves his painting job for sure. He opened an academy for painters. Just to show how serious he is into his work, he actually made them to match to school. I bet on the day he gets a tattoo, he will ask the artist to ink a paint brush silhouette and ‘Dura Coat’ on his chest using, you bet, Dura coat. And to drive a point home he will parade his bare Dura coated chest on television and remind us to always ask the experts.

Lastly, there are slogans that consumers associate business entities with. Bus companies are notorious for these. One company started with ‘we lead others follow’. Soon however, another came up claiming that they ‘lead the leaders’. This went on for a short while until ‘the ultimate leaders’ came up. This new lot of leaders had a good time enjoying their newly acquired ‘ultimate’ position. Later on however, members of a western Kenya traveling company felt they could outdo these ‘ultimate leaders’ hands down. To prove they meant business this is what they wrote on their buses; ‘Our vision 2015: Every bus in front of you is Mafruits’. On that note let us all have a fruitful day, won't we?

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