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Friday, August 29, 2014

Longevity in business: The Aren Software way

Every business strives to cross the one year mark given as a rite of passage to success. Most businesses wind up within one or two years of inception. However, statisticians and researchers would be well-placed to give data on timeline and the specifics of business failure.

This article is a tribute to one of my most favourite bosses, a man I hold in high esteem, and one who is virtuous in his business dealings. Ndiritu Muriithi is the owner of Aren Software Ltd, a company that specializes in programming and selling off-the-shelf payroll to the East African market. I am honoured to have worked for him because he taught me the true value of entrepreneurship, dedication and acquiring a thick skin. 

The reason I choose to write about him and his business is because he has run the same business for more than 15 years now. The company has retained most of its clients from the very beginning while gaining an impressive number of new ones. But what is the secret to this man's fortitude and perseverance in business.
From years of experience as an employee and an entrepreneur I would say:

1. Specialization: We Kenyans are guilty of being doers of everything and masters at none. Aren Software Ltd had specialized in producing the payroll software and the owner has spent years fine-tuning and perfecting it to keep it up-to-date with technological changes. This focus has made it possible for clients to trust the product and thus ensured a steady flow of clients.

2. Excellent customer service: The company has invested most of its resources in retaining its most valuable existing clients. The goal of the company is to make sure the company satisfies those it has through on-line support, on-site support and telephone support. Clients sometimes do not pay for the services as the company waives the charges if the problem results from the programming of the software. This has gone a long way in entrenching the ideals of a 'customer first' approach which has gone ahead to win more clients without excessive marketing.

3. 'The employee is king': The company treats the employees with the respect they deserve which is the reason why staff turnover levels are low. The average length of service for an employee at the company is five years. In this era of staff turnover, this is pretty amazing. The employees take care of the company as it takes care of them. The owner himself lives the principles he endears to entrench in the organization by taking sides with an employee when there is a protracted dispute with a client. This helps the employee to feel valued. According to him it is easier to get a client with the right employees than to get a good employee with difficult clients.

4. Sticking it out: Even when times were hard and business was not good I do not remember going without a salary. I also do not remember being threatened to be sacked. The hallmark of a good business is sticking it out through the hard times and believing that it can and will get better. And so it is that most big businesses are always down-sizing, right-sizing and retrenching so as to retain a lean work-force and then go back and hire (the actual motive being to get staff with the skill sets required instead of training the existing staff). The one thing I have been witness to is that most staff who leave the company always come back to say thank you.

Dr Muriithi...Thank you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Starting a business? Marketing tools for the successful SME

Starting a business is no mean fit. You will probably be spending sleepless nights crafting the idea for your business and trying to make sense of all of the information and advise you receive from friends and families. Research has shown that upto 70% of business startups do not carry forward to the next year. Most businesses close down within the first year and many more in their second and third years. This is no motivation for anyone wishing to join self employment. When you imagine the comfort and perks that come with a salary, one then realizes it is better to stay put. Many other people in business will try the balancing act of working for their employers whilst running a business on the side. This is totally understandable when the person is the bread winner or requires capital for the business.

Nontheless, I am here to provide solutions not add to your problems. Now that you have gone through the onerous task of registering your business, you will then have to get clients for your products and/or services. Let's assume you operate a wholesale store (selling products is always easier than selling services because people like to see immediately what it is they are buying). You will most definitely get walk-in clients, especially if you are situated in a prime location. Your marketing strategy will probably consist of the traditional tools and techniques: Distribution of brochures, posters and/or pamphlets, advertising in the newspaper(s), giving offers for the first 50 or so clients. But what happens when you are in a crowded market, where your organization's products and services are not specialized? You have to work smarter than your competitor to clinch that ever elusive deal. Great customer service would work to your advantage as all clients like to feel that they are appreciated and they will spend their money where they are treated like a king. What happens when you are selling services? Selling services requires loads of patience. Consultancy services require years of experience, which the start-up may not have. Therefore, the business owner will rely heavily on the expertise of lecturers, friends and business partners to get business. This will boost the business' credibility in the eyes of the clients. However, the start-up consultant has at his/her disposal knowledge acquired from the classroom and this, combined with a good presentation, can be sufficient in getting business. In this digital edge, the start-up consutant enjoys the advantages that come with the Internet and the wide pool of online clientele. With a little experience, the consultant can create a online niche which he/she can market to using: email marketing -using a database of emails from friends and families or have a sign-up form on the website that clients can register for e-newsletters; Internet Marketing-using free advertising sites such as to advertise services or products; Mobile Marketing-starting with friends and families who can give referrals; Content Marketing-contributing to newspaper, magazine articles that serve the cause of the company or blogging.

To the start-up SME, the choices are in abundance and the sky is the only limit.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Merchandising in Kenya

Wikipedia describes merchandising as 'the practice which contributes to the sale of products to a retail consumer. At a retail in-store level, merchandising refers to the variety of products available for sale and the display of those products in such a way that it stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase'.

Merchandising in Kenya is not a new concept. It has been around for quite some years. Merchandising can be considered a marketing strategy that gets goods moving faster than the conventional ways of selling. This strategy can be used in two ways:

1. In-store Merchandising:  where companies that produce consumer goods assign a sales representative to a store/supermarket to arrange and display goods/products in an appealing manner. The sale of these products and services are then monitored by the sales representative who enumerates their benefits to the prospective customer and convinces them to choose this product over another. Some of the products usually have an on-going promotion therefore the sales person entices the buyer with this offer. The sales representative also collects information regarding the product by asking clients why they would not want to buy this product as compared to another. This information is then communicated to the company which makes changes in line with customer requirements. The product or the image of the product may then be refined in response to the feedback from the prospective buyers.

2. The second type of merchandising involves out-door sales. This is whereby the merchandiser or the marketing firm acquires a product line from a client and sells the products on their behalf. How is this done? The merchandiser stocks the company's goods e.g perfumes, lotions, magazines etc. These should be Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) that are priced affordably so as to sell in large volumes in order to make a good profit. The sale of these FMCG can be done through door-to-door campaigns, walkin-ins (offices) and any other method.

And there you have it. Merchandising demystified!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Outsourcing the way to go

Everywhere you look organizations are outsourcing their business functions e.g. Accounts, Payroll, Auditing, Branding, Communications and now Marketing. Why is this so, you ask? This is because Marketing determines whether an organization will succeed or fail. Many small companies begin without a marketing department because the owner of the firm does the marketing instead. Eventually it becomes tedious and the owner hires marketers to help sell the products or services. Unfortunately, most companies do not set aside a substantial budget for the marketing department. Instead they expect the marketing department to provide the finances to run the business without initially investing in it. Hence the reason why marketers do not stay in most organizations. They are underpaid and not valued. We at Outsource Marketing Kenya take marketing seriously. We budget for every product or service that needs marketing. We take out this function from your business and run it in a professional way. Be it branding, promotional campaigns, E-mail Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Social Media and Internet Marketing, door-to-door marketing, you name it, we have it all covered. Just so you know, there's always a target matket out there for your product (s) or service (s).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Clientele

Outsource Marketing Kenya Ltd is a marketing and media firm that was registered in October 2011 and started operations in October 2012. OMK, as it is popularly referred to, deals mainly with outsourced marketing of products and services. The reasoning behind the idea for outsourced marketing was the realization that companies and individuals have products they would like to sell or acquire customers for but do not know who their customers are or where they can be found. Hence, OMK's core business, which is to find these clients on behalf of these clients. We have experienced marketers who take the hussle of finding clients out of your organization and let you focus on your core business.

We are pleased to have acquired clients for whom we market their products.  These include:

Danana Girls' Secondary School: Situated 35 kilometres from the city centre, this is one of the best schools in the country that can afford the students the space and a good environment to focus on their studies. A girl's only school, it was started by Mr. Daniel Ndonye and received its first lot of students on 6th February 2001. The school offers 8-4-4 curriculum education and has highly quaified, dedicated and experienced graduate teachers some of whom are KNEC examiners.

DS Ouma Associates: A Certified Public Accountants firm registered in Kenya and offering Annual Statutory Audits, Project Audits, Accountancy Services, Internal Audit Services, Tax Consultancy, Business Advisory in public and private sectors, Financial Systems Implementation, Risk Management Services  and Payroll management Services. Ds Ouma & Associates has experienced experts with over 7 years' experience in the fields of Income Tax, Customs, Corporate Tax, VAT, Audit and Assurance and Treasury Management. DS Ouma & Associates are also Certified Public Secretaries.

Aren Software Ltd is a software development company specializing in the development and distribution of payroll software. Aren Software products are used by clients spanning the three East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The payroll software is famed for its reliability and stability due to its many years of development. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

We meet your organization's needs

Your organization's needs:
We understand that you want to get the most returns from you products and services and you need a partner who can get the market to pay attention to your business. We say give us the job and we shall get it done! You need to focus on your core business and we can get the market at your doorstep so you don’t hustle. We reckon you have a need for the following in your organization:
*        You want increased sales of your products and services;
*        You need increased clientele and profit margins to break-even;
*        You need training for your marketing, PR and/or communications department;
*        You require your products to be well positioned in the market in order to become a household name;
*        You need branding for your products;
*        You want branding of your organizational name so as to attract a positive image and client referrals;
*        You require brand visibility on the Internet;
*        You want your business to benefit from exposure to the social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace)
*        You want to turn online visitors to your website into clients.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Organization Profile

Outsource Marketing Kenya (OMK) is a unique organization offering marketing, public relations and communications services amongst others to the small and medium-sized sector in Kenya. We strive to meet the client’s requirements by developing marketing strategies that will set your organization apart from its competitors and put your products and services at the top. We endeavour to deliver customer satisfaction that will make you come back and even recommend us.  With our knowledgeable, dedicated and driven workforce you are guaranteed Return on Investment of 6-12 months. You can therefore count on us to deliver!