Why I don’t advertise



I recently attended an expo in Kampala and I asked all the exhibitors on the stalls I visited questions about advertising.

It is clear that the reason one takes their business to an exposition is to be able to expand their boundaries and reach more clients. So I asked the exhibitors, other than the expo where and how else they had advertised their businesses and products. The answers I got were eyebrow raising.

Have you used media like radio, TV and newspapers and others to try and capture new audiences I asked? “Yes, we have been everywhere, everyone know us!” one answered. I could tell from her tone that she was quite irritated by the question. She mentioned a local TV station she has been hosted on for an interview and a radio station.

“Everyone know us!”

“I do not mean just an interview,” I pressed on, “have you taken adverts in the media to catch new audiences?” I have never heard about your business and brand for example, I confessed. She seemed shocked when I mentioned that I only learnt about the business prior to the expo.

This time she was really upset. She dismissively bragged about how they have been in the market for so long (10 years) that they did not need to advertise.

My classic example of advertising is Coca-cola and MTN. These two brands are without doubt big and have been across borders for donkey’s years. We could say everyone knows coca-cola or MTN, but why do they keep advertising?

I have a weak spot for confectioneries so I bought a pack from the stall before I left in peace; I was hungry after all.

I do not want my idea to be stolen.

I love Ugandan products and innovations especially those that are breaking ground in markets that have for long been dominated by foreign products – I know that is a lot of generalization but you get the idea. The next stall I walked to was had pocket-size hand and toilet sanitizers. This was really exciting for me. After scrutinizing the products and seeing some I could buy I went on with my questions about reaching more people.

The ‘proprietor’ bluntly told me that he did not want his idea to be copied. “You see when you advertise, people see your idea, copy it and some even do it better than you,” he reasoned. We have a lot of copy and paste here he added. Well his ideas are not unfounded. Our market has a lot of copy and paste bringing a flood of duplicated items.

My question is, how about you push your brand so much so Ugandans think of sanitizers, you brand if the first that pops in their minds. The fact is sooner or later, someone will own the stage. It could be one of the very clients you are selling to. If you know the ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ concept you know what I mean.

I would, but my bosses do not appreciate advertising

I went on to another stall and the gentlemen there seemed enthusiastic about the brand. However they were the ‘ground-men’ in the business and thus it was not up to them to make such decisions. They saw the need to push the brand further, however they noted that the company did not have the finances to push the brand. Or rather it was not a priority. After our chat, we exchanged contacts and made a promise to follow up on that.

In a few minutes I had learnt new and interesting reasons why some people do not see the need to advertise their brands.