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This report will illustrate how Jemima African Cooking emanated and the strategies behind its inception. The report will give a background of the company, its start up and source of finance, branding, networking, as well as its marketing strategy.
Before proceeding with this report, there need to be an understanding of what a small business is and Hodgetts(1982) describes a small business as an independently owned and managed business that employs less than twenty people and closely controlled by the owner manager who contributes financially to its maintenance.
Shukla(2009) defined an entrepreneur as an individual who owns a firm, business, or venture, and is responsible for its development. Entrepreneurship is the practice of starting a new business or reviving an existing business, in order to capitalize on new found opportunities
Furthermore, Shukla (2009) describes Entrepreneurship as often associated with uncertainty, particularly when it involves creating something new for which there is no existing market. Even if there is a market, it may not translate into a huge business opportunity for the entrepreneur. A major aspect in entrepreneurship is that entrepreneurs embrace opportunities irrespective of the resources they have access to.
Lastly, a conclusion will be drafted out on the extent to which the business has prospered followed by a piece of writing on my reflective learning.
These are the methods of research that were employed in order to attain the information from the owner manager of Omoba escort agency. This information was attained by means of an interview with the owner-manager of the agency. This methodology also shows the focus and structure of the report; which is to analyse the marketing strategies and techniques that were used by the owner-manager and this includes marketing theories such as SWOT analysis, branding, marketing mix, the 4 I's and so on. All these factors are considered in the study in detail. The structure will be relatively simple, fluid and free flowing.
The company Omoba Escorts agency was established in 2000 by the owner manager Miss Nkem. The Company is situated in Lagos Nigeria. This is a cash based business in which customers pay the escort before any sexual pleasures or foreplay can be derived It deals with sexual fantasies and maximum pleasure for men. The business offers a 24 hour private escort at anywhere around Lagos. The initial business started with Mrs Nkem introducing her female friend (Nnenna) to men for hourly sexual needs. Gradually, as Miss Nkem's customers increased, the need to get more girls for the escort increased with Miss Nkem bringing in more employees ranging from phone call receiver, cleaner, driver and securities. Also the need to get a registered office approved.
START UP AND FINANCING
A new business that is independent and not affiliated with other firms except in the appropriate cause of transaction can be referred to as business start up.Hall (1995)
In this report, the entrepreneur is Mrs Nkem, who started up Omoba Escort Agency to support her family and to put her younger ones through school. She was able to finance the business with little personal savings from over time and as soon as the business kicked up,the income being generated from the escort service is used to pay the girls and pay up bills.
Myers (1984) states, in addition to supply-side finance theory, in terms of demand, the Pecking Order Hypothesis (POH) also suggest that new entrepreneurs prefer to avoid raising external finances.
Branding can be described as the unique way in which a business or organisation differentiates its products, goods and services from others and deriving its own logo or design which distinguishes the organisations services. Kotler (1996).
According to Mrs Nkem(owner manager), the name Omoba Escorts Agency was derived from the Escorts Agency names being used in the United kingdom and which is not being used in Nigeria and the uniqueness and camouflage the name brings prompted her to use the name Omoba(which in her Nigerian dialect means Prince) Escort Agency.
Usually, people that run this kind of business in Nigeria do not have names and they don't run it like a business affair. This gave it a unique identity and made the business a stand out figure.
Recent interest in network studies of the organisation can be traced to Aldrich(1979) proposition that as organisations are essentially open systems which exist within and interact with a wider social environment, their behaviour is best understood by studying the network of relationships in which they are involved. Accepting this view, organisational networks can be defined as constructs which conceive of the environment in which small business exist as forming a network structure of overlapping relationships.
Aldrich (1979) defined small business network as the composite of the relationships in which small businesses are embedded which serve to link or connect small businesses to the environments in which they exist and conduct their business.
According to Sharma and Sheth (1997), small firms or organisations make use of networking to overshadow business constraints which normally they won't be able to overpower individually. This can be linked with Mrs Nkem vast growing client network which she refers to as her 'connect'. This implies that through these connections or links, her business can achieve easily the standards she set for herself and more.
Omoba Escort agency has a range of escort ladies which it positions according to its different client or customers needs thereby adopting segmentation, standardization and adaptation strategies. These mixed marketing strategies therefore suggest why the firm has different classes of escorts (products) positioned as cost leadership for the economy market and others positioned to compete in the differentiated premium market.
Czinkota et al (2002) suggest that segmentation entails the recognition and innovation of product variants within a market to satisfy the different tastes and needs of the market. This therefore suggests the reason why Omoba escort agency has segmented its products in Lagos State by introducing different classes of escorts known as Lepa (slim frame ladies), Orobo kekere (medium sized frame ladies) and Orobo(big size ladies) in Lagos Nigeria. Also, the concept of age was also adapted from ages 18-25, 25-32, and 32-40.
In terms of advertising, Mrs Nkem said she advertises and publicises her business by using Medias like the local adult newspaper, websites pop up, adult magazines, flyers, promotions and word of mouth. She focussed more on promotions and word of mouth. A flyer and contact number was given to every customer upon dropping. Mrs Nkem also employed an individual every quarter that goes dropping contact cards and flyers in house mailboxes, student campuses and office mailboxes. The contact cards were made handy, so could be carried out in wallets and purses for easy access. Such advertising strategies go have indeed gone in line with the theory.
WORD OF MOUTH
Arnt( 1967) defined word of mouth as verbal conversation between one person and another person or a group of people communicating, receiving and passing information via a communicator and a receiver about goods and services rendered for sale or distribution. Word of mouth is best seen as face to face spoken communication although phone conversations and text messaging are now often included in its definition. Entrepreneurial marketing relies heavily on word of mouth in developing a strong customer base through recommendations.
Furthermore, Mrs Nkem disclosed in her interview that as part of the training the escort ladies undergo, they are thought to be customer friendly, learn to chat up customers in a sexy way and thereby luring them to pay more so as to spend more hours with them, and talk about the different pleasures the clients can get. Cards with contact numbers of the agency are also handed out upon end of business transaction with the customer. These strategies go in line with the theory of word of mouth.
In developing this, the owner manager relies heavily on the marketing mix in order to determine the precise steps that need to be taken. The marketing mix consist of the firms strategies for dealing with product, price, place and promotion. The business decides what to render (service) or sell (product) and at what cost (price) and where the product or service would be rendered (place) and lastly focus on the promotion of the product. (Hodgetts and Kuratko, 2001)
Owner managers promote their businesses by offering a variety of incentives which include reduced prices and promotional offers. However, such incentives can also be used to encourage the development of networks in which business owners can operate.( Carter and Jones-Evans, 2006)
According to Mrs Nkem the owner manager, she chose Lagos for her set is because Lagos is referred to as the centre of commerce in Nigeria and Africa as a whole and her town of residence as well. Also, it is the location where she has the strongest network and customer base. Also the amount of operational cost was lower as compared to Abuja where congestion charge must be paid and other dues as well. She also spend less money on transportation as her business(office)is just at her backyard and she doesn't need to spend extra time in traffic getting to work and going back home.
Mrs Nkem also reviewed the price charged of her services equivalent in United Kingdom pound sterling from £ 90 per hour being charged by other escorts excluding transportation to £ 90 per hour with free transportation of escorts anywhere within the Lagos vicinity at the start of her business. This also brought about an increase in customers/clients numbers especially the students.
The cab driver is given an operational number which he uses to receive pick up of escorts from the client and dropping off at the next destination or office after business and information is being conveyed to him from the office with address of the pick off and drop off via his GPS.
In this line of business, the product is of utmost importance because of client's convenience in meet up location. Some clients might like the escorts delivered to them at hotel rooms, some at their homes while some at a neutral venue because of security.
Curtis and Cobham(2008) defined E-commerce as any exchange of information or business transaction that is facilitated by the use of information and communications technologies.
Although the popular perception of e-commerce is that of individuals buying goods and services over the internet, the parties involved are more likely to be small and large companies and public authorities or other not-for-profit organisations rather than home computer users. The variety of systems used to facilitate e-commerce is huge, and it is helpful to attempt to categorize them. Curtis and Cobham (2008).
In terms of E- Commerce, Omoba escort agency clients use online internet booking to book for their escort services
Mrs Nkem said that her business operations and growth relies heavily on customer information, pick up and drop points, addresses and time must be known before a service. Through the online advertisement and website, the company has been able to get feedbacks and reviews from their clients for every escorts ever visited. From this, Mrs Nkem can derive if the customers or clients are enjoying the services rendered by the agency and if they won't mind visiting the same escort again. Through this medium, the owner manager can tell the escort that is performing well and the one that needs improvement.
Also, through this website, the company displays and advertises their online promotions to attract new members and old members to patronise more instead of using the printing of flyers or magazine adverts.
Stokes and Wilson(2006)talks about how marketing intelligence informal information gathering techniques allow them(small business) to monitor their own performance in relation to that of competitors and react quickly to competitive threats. They are also open to new ideas and opportunities through a network of personal and inter-organizational contacts. This process restarts the marketing cycle by forming the basis for further innovative adjustments to the activities of the enterprise. Stoke and Wilson (2006).
THE 4 I'S OF STRATEGIC ENTREPRENEURIAL MARKETING MIX
Successful entrepreneurial marketing consists of a circular process: innovative developments and adjustments to products and services are targeted at identified customer groups who are contacted through interactive marketing methods, while informal information gathering monitors the marketplace and evaluates new opportunities, which may, in turn, lead to further innovations. This suggests that the '4 Is' traditionally used to summarize marketing activities .Stokes and Wilson (2008).
The '4 Is' are;
Innovation; incremental adjustments to products/services and market approaches.
Identification of target markets
Interactive marketing methods
Informal information gathering through networking.
MARKETING MIX FOR VALENTINE ESCORT AGENCY
The marketing mix consists of the 7Ps which all fit together to create a consistent mix of the Product, Price, Place, promotion, Physical evidence, people & Process.
MARKET TARGETING & POSITIONING
After consideration of the segment, the focus is now on the target market of the middle class in Lagos which demonstrated that it strongly shares spending habits, despite any cultural differences. A company should target segments in which it can profitably generate the greatest customer value and sustain it over time (kotler and Armstrong 2008). Valentine escort agency market has varied from different clusters of age, income and demographics. Mostly, Valentine escort agency targets the Lagos escort market because of their lifestyle which is constantly moving and on the go.
Positioning is arranging for a product to occupy a clear, distinctive, and desirable place relative to competing products in the minds of target consumers. (Kotler and Armstrong, 2008) Valentine escort agency market positioning statement is "fantasy and sexual pleasures at its best'' and today, those same qualities drive our success". (Marketline.com, 2010).
SWOT ANALYSIS FOR VALENTINE ESCORT AGENCY
Visiting and drop off delivery
24 hour service
Varieties of options
Large and useful network
Provision of Limited service area.
Lack of online payment
Increase in number of customers through network system
Provision of wider service area
Alternative means of new escort agencies
Availability of competitors
Rising costs(fuel, rent)
Customer factor(sharing of customers with other agencies)
When asked about the competition in the escort agencies market, Mrs Nkem admitted that there are a few competitors but only one major competitor in Lagos which is Valentine escort. Valentine escorts is the biggest escort agency in the entire Lagos state and one of the top escort agencies in Nigeria. It covers the entire Lagos Island and Mainland and even stretching to the neighbouring communities of Lagos state like some parts of Ogun State.
It was on the basis of the research carried out on Valentine escorts business that Mrs Nkem started up her escort agency. She then introduced lower prices for her services to attract some of Valentine escorts customers and new customers as well.
After a long lengthy explanation, Mrs Nkem admitted that Valentine escorts remains a bigger escort provider than any other escort service provider in the state due to its large customer base and wide varieties of escorts.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
This report has investigated and critically analyzed the operation and management of Omoba Escort Agency in Lagos, Nigeria. The narration of the report has been carried out using some small business mediums such as marketing and management tools bearing in mind the start up and financing.
This report has differentiated the differences between the small business (Omoba escort agency) and a larger organisation (valentine escorts) both dealing in the same market.
Using development and research methods, Omoba escort agency should critically evaluate and analyze the problems Valentine escorts is faced with and capitalize on those problems so as to gain a good advantage over them and other major escort competitors in the escort market. The low price and promotions methods are a step in good direction.
Also, the owner manager (Mrs Nkem) should consider applying e- commerce payment online for services through a secured debit card online payment provider to guarantee customers that their online payment and booking is safe.