Its dusk, while sitting at the topmost floor of Boulevard Palace, (Monrovia's city alleged five star hotel) and reminiscing on the just ended MSME conference organized by the Ministry of Commerce in partnership with a handful of local and international organizations (which is odd by the way), pondering on the objectives of the conference, Pondering if entrepreneurs who participated and showcased their products gained or benefited handsomely or little at all, if there questions were answered at all, if there was room for them to network, share ideas, engage industry leaders, engage government appropriately, learn from one another, collaborate with each other, see and engage more customers with their products; if they got inspired and filled with hope for a better and more improved business environment; well from feedbacks from some the attendees, one can deduce that this could be better, more should have been done and I couldn't agree more.
Some ear deafenning feedbacks, are in the neighborhood of "this conference was not properly marketed" "the PR for this event was very poor", "people did not really know about this" this is the 4th conference organized by the same organization, in the same country for the same entrepreneurs, so what went wrong? what really happened? last year recommendations to make this event really eventful and more engaging and accommodating to more entrepreneurs and guest/customers was made to the same Host, what really happened? well we can dwell in rhetorics and obscurity of excuses for and of whatever reason imaginable under the sun; or we can look at the real problem with a solution oriented mindset, because excuses are man-made.
Liberians are serial entrepreneurs, most middle class and poor families depend on petty trade, some become audacious and get organized with an office or shop; some become ambitious and register their business with the government; aside the multitude of challenges every startup & business are destined to overcome before excelling in the Liberian market, the customer drought syndrome is amongst the deadliest of them, and this syndrome thrives in businesses largely because of improper Branding & Marketing. even government programs (except those intended for propaganda) are hardly or effectively branded and Marketed to the target group or Liberian Public. for some reason business owners & entrepreneurs depend on individual referrals (word of mouth) to market their products or sell their brands; even though these trusted customers or family and friends do not understand their brand and the essence of the business, do not care if they are selling the business effectively, do not have the time to properly convert a stranger to a customer of the business.
But then again, no body can sell your business more than you, if the ministry of commerce had branded & marketed the MSME conference well, more would be accomplished, more would be benefited and most feedbacks will be more encouraging to Liberian entrepreneurs. Businesses that are experiencing this Customer Drought Syndrome must begin to understand that the syndrome is not always normal (as the Myth is), they must take ownership and properly Brand & Market their Business. if you don't Brand & Market your business or entity, you are like a guy winking at a girl in the dark. no one know what you are doing, except you. subsequently we will consider this subject diligently.
However Branding & Marketing serves as the bedrock or catalyst for Business growth, no matter the economic condition, no matter what level the business is, no matter whatever reason imaginable, every Business must continue to brand and Market their Business. if coca-cola still budgets millions of dollars for Marketing, no startup or business can afford not to brand, rebrand and market their business, solution, idea or initiative. its important to note that any Business can grow in Liberia, it is possible and feasible. as long as there are humans in Liberia, there is demand and where there is demand comes the opportunity to meet those demand. to entrepreneurs note that solutions are rewarded with cash and cash is king.
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