What the Desert can Teach About Marketing




Recently, I drove through Namibia, one of the least densely populated places on earth. I approached a village where there was a small gas station with a tiny store.

On the wall of that store, conspicuous, bright and instantly recognizable, was a Coca-Cola sign. It was the only piece of advertising I'd seen in hours.

This sign forms a small part of the wildly successful marketing of The Coca-Cola Company. Some things we can observe:
    1. Repetition is the mother of all learning: The more we see something, the more likely we will become familiar with it. Frequency of messaging in marketing is important. We should try to “cross the desk” of our target audience as often as possible. But not intrude.
    2. It matters to stand out in the cluttered world of marketing: Choose a channel where you shine. Is it social media? Events? Print? TV? Radio? The internet? Newspapers? Magazines? Public speaking? A storefront? Which combination works best for you?
    3. Powerful and memorable content is important: It helps, of course, to have an iconic trademark like The Coca-Cola Company. That takes time to develop… but what we write, how we emote and what images we use should be distinctive and impactful.
    4. Take a long-term view: Most people encountering that sign will not act on it there and then. But successful marketers know to plant images in the minds of target customers so that, when the customer is ready to purchase, their brand is “top of mind”.
    5. Anticipate customer needs: The Coca-Cola Company sells hundreds of products. No surprises that they emphasize the “refreshing” quality of their beverages in an environment where the temperature can reach 100°F (38°C)! You are less likely to fancy a Georgia coffee on a day like that!

What is your content marketing strategy? Have you thought about where and when your target customers will consume your content? And what you want them to feel?

A lot of things can work but an email newsletter is a good place to start, provided it doesn’t feel general or irrelevant. Try something and be bold. Give your target customer a surprise and they are more likely to remember you and think of you when they need your product / service. And repeat the exercise. Iconic companies build their brand over decades, not months.


Mark Ferris

Mark is an entrepreneur who has founded, built and sold a number of businesses, mostly in the information technology industry. His businesses have served major multinational companies in areas including business intelligence, process improvement and procurement across Asia, North America and Europe.

As an investor, Mark focuses on early-stage technology businesses with an interest in SaaS companies and providers of content. Mark lectures in an Executive MBA program on entrepreneurship, mentors numerous businesses and is a frequent speaker in business forums.

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