Monday, 5 October 2015

Economist Kachaje on business lessons from Prophet Bushiri

I am told his title is Major Prophet, or sometimes referred to as Major 1. He has been the talk on social media, electronic and print media.

He was recently in the country and received the level of police security that got some people scared that the prophet was stealing the show, probably being treated as a Head of State. As I write, heads have rolled in the police service and the man’s fame and popularity continues to grow.

I have some high respect for Bushiri as a businessman. He understands the fundamentals of marketing. He knows what sells and how to sell it. Think of that ‘iPad miracle’ and then the ‘walk on the air miracle’. These were excellent marketing stunts that got the media’s attention who rewarded him with nation-wide publicity without paying for it. That is what I call business genius. Sir Richard Branson, a serial global entrepreneur advises: use yourself to market your products and services and you can do it at a fraction of the cost it might have cost you through direct advertising.
Prophet Bushiri waves to worshippers
Major 1 had a very successful crusade in Mzuzu, a city with an airstrip but rarely used. There are young people living in the city who might not have seen a plane land at that airstrip until Major 1 flew in a branded aircraft bearing his name. That, alone, was enough publicity for the crusade he was about to hold. The city was talking about him and the plane he had brought ‘home’. Then there was the hiring of the Police Brass Band. No wonder thousands upon thousands flocked to Mzuzu stadium for his crusade. I am sure others went to see if he would walk on air right in front of them. Others hoped to get a closer look at a man who “owns” a jet when our state president doesn’t have one.

As I read and followed the stories about Major 1, I picked up a number of business lessons that I wish to share with you. First lesson: branding is critical for business success. In your business you must aim to create a brand. Coca Cola is a brand. Bushiri is no longer just a name, it is a strong brand. There is no denying that the prophet has created a powerful brand which is ‘selling’ very well. Anointed water branded “Prophet Bushiri” is a hot setting commodity, and so are other branded items like stickers, wrist bands, e.t.c. Your business shouldn’t just be one of the businesses in your sector. It must develop into THE brand that people will talk about and flock to.

Second lesson: the power of promotion. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, but if people don’t know about it, it will not sell. I am sure you know that there are many prophets and men of God in this nation, who might perform more complex miracles than ‘capturing’ pictures on iPad. But because we don’t know them, we are not talking about them. Major 1 is very well promoted and as a result ‘sells’ more. In your business, aim to find ways of promoting your products and services. Someone once said that having a good product but not promoting it, is like winking to a lady in the dark. She will not notice you. Find creative ways to promote your products or services without breaking the bank.

Third lesson: the power of personal selling. There was an article in Sunday Times which alleged that personal prayers were pegged at K10,000 per person. I am not sure if this was true, but the story was highly debated on social and electronic media. While reading through comments from different people, it was clear that there are people who are personally sold out on following and defending the Major Prophet no matter what accusations are heaped on him. In your business, you need people that have personally tried and benefitted from your products or services who then become your product ambassadors.
Prophet Bushiri waves to worshippers
Satisfied customers are your best sales people. Focus on giving the best service to your customers and they will become your brand ambassadors. Let there be people who will back you up and rave about your products in the market place. Have people who can willingly sell your products through word of mouth. Become Major 1 in your industry and money will follow you.

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