Brands that make the biggest impressions in new markets are those that are willing to invest strategically in top-of-the-mind ATL and BTL advertising from the word go. A brand such as Indomie almost always has proven that anything in a pack is sell-able to any part of Nigerian market once the consumers and trade are aggressively, consciously and strategically exposed to its brand carrier simultaneously. These brands are literally in our nose and mouth at every turn of the head.

Conversely, brands that have chosen the path of advertising minimalism have realized that their brands as well as sales struggle to fly in Northern States like Kano, Sokoto and Borno except they back it up with low pricing strategy that encourages trade partners to take up a push position where they are spurred on by the above average profit margin. This is more so considering the low economic disposition of the majority of the mass populace in the region. This also is truer in Northern Nigeria consumer goods market where Distributors are willing to push any product down the throat of the market irrespective of the quality and so long as such product or brand represents a bargain from trade perspective. To appreciate the depth of this market, consider that Kano and Maiduguri are feeding markets to countries such as Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

However, if you are entering as a premium and high-value brand, having a budget and plan that cover both ATL and BTL advertising is the smart thing to do. Taking responsibility for brand communication puts the producing firm in the driver’s seat when negotiating with trade partners. Premium brands, irrespective of industry, that tows the path of advertising frugality or those who rolls out their communications campaigns in a non-harmonized manner are most likely to discover they wasted even the available limited resources.

Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) that allows you to roll out the same strategic message via different channels simultaneously will help your brand grab attention of local partners and consumers by attacking their multiple senses.

A strategically thought-out IMC helps your brand achieve AUDIBILITY (radio), VIEWABILITY (billboards, TV, Print), FEELABILITY (through experiential engagement with your brand ambassadors or real product handling) TASTABILITY (actual free or partly-paid sampling), and SMELLABILITY (sweet fragrance at actual, makeshift or mobile point-of-service).

The idea is to create your communication campaign concept around the SENSORY MARKETING CUES that are relevant to your product thereby making it easier for your TARGET AUDIENCE to establish POSITIVE EMOTIONAL CONNECTION with your BRAND. Many brands make the mistake of taking reactionary marketing approach thereby wasting massive communication budget. This is so because they expend resource on one communication channel then switch to another when they fail to get expected result from the initial campaign.

Sallah festival in Kano

It is also quite important to leverage local expert advice especially considering the unique socio-religious dynamics of the region. For instance, I have seen an organization communication campaign stopped midway in Kano by the state’s Hisba Command due to the concept clearly not taking cognizance of the local values of the dominant Muslim community. Putting out this kind of wrong footing, aside been a waste of resource, is also a total put-off for prospective local partners.

Where, however, an organization with minimal budget feels financially pressed to initiate both ATL and BTL, it can focus on the later solely. Below-the-line (BTL) communication will allow you measure and track the impact of your limited promotional expense on trade or subset projects, on consumer engagements and on conversion-focused marketing activities whether offline or online. BTL in general are relatively also less expensive compared to Above-the-line promotions (ATL).


Online BTL activities will work better for services but ambitious services brands can also experience success in offline BTL as well.

The following alternatives abound in an offline Below-the-line communication activity:

  • Buy and win initiatives
  • Mall and open-market promotions
  • Memorable experiential brand engagements focusing on trade or consumers
  • Visual Merchandising contests
  • Spot or mobile branding
  • Fairs and exhibitions
  • Sponsorship
  • Consumer sales activation or incentive-based sales promotions
  • Fliers, banners and print coupons.

Ultimately, there is nothing stopping a dental service brand from engaging prospective customers on the street and offering free on-the-spot dental demonstration service to drive leads while creating awareness.

A private educational service can drive registration on the street on a mobile-boot with trained Brand Ambassadors providing one-on-one student counseling, conducting eligibility assessment and initiating applications. Anything is possible with the right budget and quality thinking.

Selling Education service on the streets

Moreover, while keeping in mind the demographic as well as psychographic and characteristics of your target market, your online BTL options may include:

  • Direct Email marketing
  • Bulk targeted SMS
  • Quality Lead-based Telemarketing
  • Cataloging, newsletter and subscription marketing
  • Soft-coupon and redemption
Argungu fishing festival in Kebbi

In the final analysis, what you do will be guided by your ambition, budget and industry peculiarities.

So, what regional events might your brand leverage when thinking of consumer engagement campaigns in Norther Nigeria?

The list below can start you off:

  • Zulu Traditional Festival (Kebbi State)
  • Argungu Fishing Festival (Kebbi State)
  • Durbar Festival in Hadejia and Malud Festival in Daura
  • Children Day
  •  Kano International Trade Fair
  • Christmas and Year End Festivity
  • Kano Gulf and Polo tourney
  • Durbar Festival  in Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Maiduguri, Sokoto and Dutse (Id-el-Fitri
    Id-el-Kabir also take place in these locations).

Do you need professional BTL or ATL marketing service partner to help your brand, call 08022763291 or write to

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