This article was contributed to TechCabal by Noel K. Tshiani, the founder of Congo Business Network.

Noel speaks with Rudy Yaone, marketing and communication manager at Silikin Village, in this exclusive interview for TechCabal. The discussion focuses on what entrepreneurs need to know about branding, social media, and launching successful marketing campaigns.

Tell our readers about your professional background and how you became interested in marketing

The film What Women Want was a source of marketing inspiration for me as it highlights the importance of listening to and understanding the needs and desires of consumers. The main character, played by Mel Gibson, suddenly gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts, giving him a huge advantage in his work as an advertiser. With this new skill, he is able to create more effective marketing campaigns by focusing on what women really want.

After watching this film, which came out in 2000, I completed my university studies in economics and development with a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and management, focusing on consumer preferences. You are probably wondering what this has to do with marketing? Indeed, understanding the consumer allows you to have a better marketing approach and create adapted offers before attracting them to you with marketing campaigns.

I started my career in a printing company, then I worked for seven years in communication agencies as a graphic designer, following that as head of digital marketing after training at TBWA with a large portfolio of clients.

My digital experience allowed me to strengthen my understanding of consumers and their habits in order to create tailor-made offers and targeted campaigns. My career path then evolved within a telecommunications company as head of digital marketing. And today I am marketing and communication manager at Silikin Village, a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My career path has thus evolved within Orange DRC, a telecommunications company, as head of the digital marketing department and coordinator of digital communication for three years.

The film What Women Want gave me a good perspective on how to develop marketing strategies, with an emphasis on empathy and listening carefully to the needs of potential customers. Ultimately, I believe that active listening and understanding of consumer desires are key to successful marketing.

Is marketing important for startups? If so, what are the main tips you can give to entrepreneurs?

As I mentioned above, it is important to know your customers before you launch a startup. Marketing as a whole is not just about promoting existing products.

Here are some important tips for entrepreneurs looking to improve their marketing strategy:

  1. Know your target audience: It is important to know the needs, preferences, and behaviours of your target audience in order to design an effective marketing strategy.
  1. Create a compelling story: Startups need to create a compelling story that highlights their mission, vision, and uniqueness. Doing so differentiates the company from the competition and gives consumers a reason to care about the brand.
  1. Use social platforms: Startups can take advantage of social platforms to connect with their target audience. Social media are powerful tools for building lasting relationships and promoting a brand.
  1. Consider the budget: Startups must be willing to invest in marketing, but they must also be judicious about how they use their budget. It is important to find cost-effective options to achieve marketing goals.
  1. Measure results: Startups need to be able to measure the results of their marketing efforts in order to adjust their strategy as they go along. It is important to track key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of marketing campaigns.
  1. Be persistent: Finally, it is important for startups to persevere with their marketing strategy. Marketing is a long-term process that requires time and patience to produce results.

What are the key marketing trends that businesses cannot ignore this year?

There are several emerging marketing trends that businesses cannot ignore. First, digital marketing continues to grow, especially with the increased use of social media and e-commerce websites. Companies need to have a strong presence on these channels to reach a wider customer base and improve their online visibility.

In addition, consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental and social issues, which has led to an increased demand for sustainable and ethical products and services. Companies must therefore be able to respond to this demand by offering environmentally friendly options while clearly communicating their social impact.

Lastly, the use of technology for marketing automation and personalised communication with customers is also an important trend. Companies can use data and algorithms to tailor their marketing messages to the personal interests of each consumer, which can significantly increase the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.

When it comes to social media, which one should startups pay the most attention to?

I don’t have a preference for a specific social media, as it depends on the goals and target audience of each startup. Each social media platform has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of reach, engagement and the features available for launching a promotion.

It is important for startups to do a thorough analysis of their market and target audience before choosing the most suitable platforms for their needs. For example, LinkedIn may be more effective in reaching a professional audience while TikTok may be more appropriate for targeting younger people. Ultimately, the key is to understand where your target audience is and which platforms are best suited to achieve your marketing goals.

What is your definition of a brand, and what do you think incubators or accelerators need to do to help African startups to develop strong brands to attract international investors?

For me, a brand represents all the perceptions, associations, and emotions a product, service, or company evokes in consumers. This includes not only the name, logo, or colours, but also the history, values, culture, and experiences a brand offers to consumers. A strong brand is one that has succeeded in differentiating itself from its competitors, in meeting the needs and desires of its target audience, in creating an emotional connection with them and in generating trust and loyalty.

For incubators and accelerators, helping African startups to develop strong brands is essential for several reasons. First, a strong brand can increase the visibility, appeal, and credibility of startups to potential investors, customers, and partners, which can improve their chances of success. Second, a strong brand can help to strengthen the reputation and image of the African startup ecosystem as a whole, demonstrating its ability to innovate, create value and have a positive socio-economic impact.

To support African startups in developing strong brands, incubators and accelerators can take different actions. They can start by raising awareness of the importance of branding and helping entrepreneurs to define their positioning, value proposition, and brand personality. They can also encourage startups to use appropriate branding tools and techniques, such as logo creation, website design, visual content, and communication strategy. Finally, they can partner with branding experts and marketing agencies to provide more advanced consulting and implementation services tailored to the specific needs of a startup.

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox