After setting a digital advertising venture in Nairobi, Ichigo Bakari was quickly chocked by the high cost of doing business and cut-throat competition seeing him flee to Nakuru town.
Just like many other towns in Kenya, Nakuru businesses still rely on traditional forms of marketing to woo customers.
“I thought, why not try another town but with the same idea?” Mr Bakari told Money.
Although with a million shillings in savings to buy the two-by-two feet LCD screen, the money proved inadequate to import the tool.
It become more costly for him as its manufacturers required that he travels to China for training on using it.
“That was an extra cost that ate into my working capital. But looking back, I am grateful for the training I got because that is one of my trade secrets.” he says.
Setting up the business within the congested Nakuru matatu-cum-bus terminus looked like a poorly thought idea, and a number of business owners thought that the adverts may not get to their intended customers.
“Most high-end businesses did not embrace the idea of advertising in down town Nakuru at first, but the impact of the 12-hour outdoor advertising was soon realised.
“For now, I am able to pay the electricity bill and keep my office running, as well as get more referrals for work,” he says.
Although he has no background in design, he does all the technical work for his customers.
For instance, he builds the concepts and designs the graphics which will make the video.
Since the town is yet to attain a 24-hour economy, the screen is put off after 12 hours of continuous work.
Each ad runs 150 times daily. And with electricity costs running to highs of Sh20,000 and more, he is now thinking of having solar-powered screens to cut the costs.
His idea was borne out of a three-month UN sponsored trip for youth mentorship in Japan.
“While in Japan, I saw the effect of 24-hour economies in developed nations, and how they take advantage of the outdoors to inform the world of new products,” says Bakari.
He now plans to study an extra course in marketing to understand his business better. Indeed, he has learnt that unless one knows their customers well, his work may be more of guesswork.
“I did not take serious thought in marketing my products, and this became a major challenge in 2010. I had no idea on how to approach new clients, or how to maintain existing ones. But thanks to a friend, Ann, I got great assistance on how to approach potential clients,” he says.
He too plans to expand his business within the town by putting up more screens and extent the run-time to 18 hours although the nature of trade in Nakuru is that businesses close in the early hours of the evening.
However, Mr Bakari has noted a change of attitude towards the adverts, with many small and medium business owners opting for his marketing platform.
“Clients are warming up to digital advertising though a number of them come with interesting demands, such as asking to see how their adverts look like on the big screen.” He says.