I love ideas and I love innovation, especially when they become products and services. But at times it is difficult to bring ideas or innovations into the public space especially in Zimbabwe and probably around Africa. When I wrote the book the Lion and the Maasai Warrior, one of the things that was burning on my heart was the need to develop local solutions in Africa that solve local problems. In light of this I have been exploring and thinking around what would make any idea viral in Africa.
You need to SOLVE A PROBLEM:
Whenever and wherever your product/service intersects with an unmet need there is communicable satisfaction. What helps to spread any product/service is its capacity to solve a problem. When people in a community are satisfied by your idea/product they will communicate its benefits and how it is solving their needs e.g. “I took a bath and now I’m clean.” If the service/product is life changing they will encourage other people in the community and wherever they go to solve the problem the same way.
You need to deliver DELIVER QUALITY:
When your idea/product has superior quality to other alternative it has the potential to transform the market. The Viral potential of your product/service is deeply influenced by the transformation experienced within the community by a set of customers enjoy using the product and prefer it to other alternatives in the market. This subjective enjoyment is transmitted as a message that triggers demand, “I only buy this soap”.
You need to COMMUNICATE VALUE:
Lastly, News travels fast when a solution delivers real value. Every community has Swarm Intelligence and this is initiated by the right message \communicating what is best/ideal and what is right for the community. Your product needs to communicate value at three levels .
- Your product/idea aligns with moral and ethical standards within the community, Imagine trying to sell beef burgers to a community of people who believe cows are sacred. That’s why McDonald’s Indian menu has no beef or pork.
- Your product/service delivers functionality that is relevant and useful. This is deeply entrenched in the way the product is made and why it has been made in that way. How much of the product design has taken into consideration customer need? How much of the product development process has appreciated the customer’s context. Everything from packaging to the quality of raw materials affects the perceived value a product derives from the customer.
- Your product has sufficient benefits to extract a monetary returns from the community. The community intently frequents your distribution channels to access your product
The next time you walk into a supermarket just observe how some products fly off the shelf and others are like paintings in an art gallery. What you will find is the products that are viral and in demand clearly, solve a problem, deliver quality and communicate value.