People think marketing doesn’t exist in the homelands, in the villages, I used to think so too. In fact I used to think marketing is very manipulative. Persuading customers into buying products they don’t even want but thinking they needed. This shows how people’s knowledge on what marketing is can be very limited. I only knew and realised that marketing is hard work when I started working here at Firejuice last year. I realised that business owners put in a lot of effort into making sure that their product communicates exactly what it stands for, making sure they communicate the right message and connect emotionally with potential customers. Little did I know right?

Anyway, let’s talk about why my mom buys bread from the other shop. I come from a little village in Mokopane, Limpopo, where everybody knows everybody. We have 7 spaza shops, but closer to my house, we have only 3. My mom buys from this one shop, which is situated in the middle. All three shops are the same distance from our house. I once asked her why she always sent me to this shop only and not the other two. She told me that for the one on the right you have to wait longer to get service and they’ll never sell to you on credit, and for the one on the left, she just doesn’t like the owner because he was once rude to her. Hectic right? These two shops just lost a potential customer who could have been a loyal one!

See, marketing is not only about getting your product out there and selling it. It’s much more than that. It’s about building relationships, treating your customers equally and fairly, making sure the service and products are always on par. My mom stopped going to these two shops because of poor customer service.  

So what makes this one shop that my mom always buys bread from, different? What I should say first is that all these three shops sell the very same bread at the very same price. So what makes this one different? The answer is that the business owner does an amazing job of the following:

  • Having conversations with each and every customer, asking them how things are going.
  • Selling on credit to the high-paying customers, trusting that they will pay back on time as they always do.
  • Making sure he always has fresh bread available even if it means fetching it from town himself.
  • Making it his business to get to know each and every customer and treating them like they belonged. He even knows which children belongs to which family.

You’ll get surprised as to how emotional village people are. If you want to grow your business, treat them fairly and build relationships. Maybe it is the same in the big city?