When I was in primary school, my friends mother used to sell maize(corn on the cob) just outside the sky power club ground by the side of Archbishop Vining church at Oba Akinjobi Street GRA. I am not very familiar with that area right now but back in the day you has scores of women selling the same product each with her own stand trying to attract customers.
Each of the women did her best to sell her product. Now if you are familiar with corn on the cob, you will know it is just like buying a bale of ‘okrika’. Until you peel the corn you may not know what is contained in the bag. GRA customers wanted soft, straight from the farms corn and they only had a few seconds to decide who they’d buy from. Each trader had to be proactive: display the most attractive and follow with the right words. The words they knew the customer wanted to hear.
Jonathanians, hear this: You are in the business of selling corn. And you have to help people realise that your corn is straight from the farm fresh, soft and sweet. You have to say it like you mean it and you have to get as many people as possible who are convinced to say it with you.
You see, your fellow traders will want to throw shades at you. If you are not observant enough, they will switch the corn, rub it in the mud and make it look inedible, so you must be on the alert.
Why not concentrate on managing the perception of Goodluck Jonathan instead of wasting time arguing and quarreling over issues that will not affect the elections: like Buhari having a certificate or not and trading irreverent hashtags which only serve to indirectly promote the opposition by putting them in the front burner. If you must hit at the opposition hit at them with information that has not already been saturated in the public sphere but never make that your primary obligations.
Since 1998, the perception has been that General Buhari is a fundamentalist bigot set to islamize Nigeria. Despite that, many are beginning to see him as a beautiful bride. That alone should tell you that the debate has gone beyond that. People no longer mind that perception because President Jonathan has a ‘worse’ perception in the minds of some and they opposition are trying to make you get in the mud with them while you forget your primary obligation of selling GEJs perception.
When those women have stayed out in the sun for so long, some of their corn’ s once fresh looks dried up and shriveled. They still taste nice (those were the ones my friend’s mum gives us so I know) but no one would buy them because they don’t look good.
Dear Jonathanian, it is time to bring out fresh corn. When you repeat an information over and over, no matter how true it is, it begins to sound overemphasized and stale. You must find new ways of selling an old information. Provide updates, recast, rephrase, reproduce. That is what you ought to be doing.
Use your boots on the ground to reach out to people on the streets who have testimonials to share. Let them tell their stories in their own words. Go to the train stations, to the airports, to NYSC camps, to the seaports, to the farms, the bus stations, the schools, bring in the corn fresh, soft, sweet and be ready with the right words to appeal to the heart.
Yes, in essence, tell people: we are sorry we have not been selling right. It’s not because we have not been doing things. This is why we have been quiet: it is because we have been working. Your failure to peel the fresh corn and put it out on display is why the APC candidate can be promising to do to the power sector something that has been done. Your inability to sell right is why we are even discussing Buhari in the first place.
You need to wake up to the realization that there are 10 other traders on this line and you are all jostling for two thirds of all the customers. You must make them see why they must buy from you, why they must form an emotional attachment to you, what they stand to lose in the next four years if they do not buy your corn.
While it is good to talk about your accomplishments so far, you must never forget that people are more interested in what lies ahead. So you must focus on the what’s and how’s of the next four years.
Back in the days those women would mask the taste of the corn that isn’t straight from the farm by dipping it in salt water. You must look at the promises of the major opposition and expose it as a fraud. Show why their schemes can’t work and say what the better option is. But first you must put it the best corn to attract them, failure to do that is like a corn seller spending all her time shouting that her neighbour ‘s market is bad. The result: your customers may just want to go taste and see.
Dear Jonathanian, it is campaign season, gloves off, it is time to sell your market.