Pandemic was breaking physics and souls back in Apr-May-2020 in Bangladesh. Apart from being lost in an uncertain probability of being alive, people were worried about how to meet their living ends.
Many people lost their jobs, left cities, and lived a threatening life that they never had to. And, those who could survive, were struggling to pass their time productively.
Marketing Society for Leadership Proliferation (MSLP), the sole students’ organization of the Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Chittagong. It is responsible for developing the knowledge and skills sets of the students with an objective to prosper leadership in defined set areas.
A virtual case competition was arranged by MSLP for the students of the department of marketing. They gave it a crunchy name: MSLP: E-Spiders. The topic of the branding was “One Stop Service (OSS) for Farmers”.
The competition was broken into different rounds and part 02 was specifically related to breaking and branding the given business idea. Five teams were finalized for that round.
Much appreciated was the fact that MSLP took a step within the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the souls alive and run in the race. It’s really hard to keep someone stead-fast in such a situation that is beyond control, let alone be a little more productive.
And, I expected that the efforts stay as an ongoing process. MSLP has the potentiality to get more involved with the students on advisory services and go beyond the boundaries.
The opportunities are endless if we step into the world outside: starting from creating a business profile, developing the marketing plan, giving content plan, assisting in social media to everything we can think of. The possibility is huge.
Over the realization of the past few years of my life, I have seen that positivity is good but too much positivity in life destroys the potential. The point is when we say something very good/positive about others, at that moment, their effort stops, as they have been appreciated. It’s a fact.
Terence Fletcher: There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”. – Whiplash
History never made legends without frustration. I’m afraid, many would state that this approach is to be a negative one. Yes, it’s true. But without pressure, life never gives you the sweetest of its moments.
The Given Scenario and Task to the Participants
- No Girls
- NST Ninjas
- Stoic Bliss
Words to the Participants
I loved the fact that you people came up with some very great ideas while the world is going in true frustration right now in every square kilometer. Yet, always remember, after hardship, comes ease. Life will truly be different after we pass this through.
We know business is a major part of the world’s economy. If revolutions in the industry didn’t happen in the 17th century, the world would never see what it is imaging today. Even see the development that took place over the last 15-20 years. Did ever anyone think that s/he would be able to make a video call and see each other by staying thousands of miles away?
Regarding any idea you ever have in your brain, FIRST OF ALL, please brainstorm the fact whatsoever. Our main problem is we don’t brainstorm, rather we jump into the internet and secondary materials rather than utilizing our brain.
We try to integrate every business and marketing tool that comes into our brain before thinking if it will go with this concept. We are here to provide solutions to a problem, not just to answer some questions in a mere exam paper.
The second fact is, we need to dive into the real life of that particular character or businessman. For example, you are so privileged that you have technological access and opportunities but the marginal level of farmers doesn’t possess these facilities. You cannot decide this while you keep your feet on your shoes, you have to understand that they don’t even have the shoes to wear, even some of them don’t have the slippers to protect their feet.
If none of you (I mean, not a single person) is inspired to go into this smart agricultural technology, then there is no point in branding on such a field. You people are just doing it for the sake of doing it. You are not FEELING it. And, without the feel, you will never be able to satisfy your soul anywhere (and, not in any field). I’m not telling you to go to the village and do the Hal-Chash directly, but at least you can think of gardening two pieces of plants at your reading table, think of buying an aquarium, right?
Even if your passion is to write two lines of a poem every week, let the passion stay alive.
You will at least be able to find peace in life.
Case Breaking: One Stop Service (OSS) for Farmers
Points to be Noted from the Scenario:
- 19.6% contribution to GDP
- 63% of employment of the total population
- 45% is women population
- Get LESS access to the markets, resources, technology & credit of agriculture
- Can be a shop, a store, or a source – a business entity or an organization
Major Problems Associated with this Field:
- People are losing interest in farming and agriculture
- Focus on building commercial spaces in the agricultural lands
- Labor intensive, the cost of which is very high
- The very low price of the finished goods
- Several natural calamities over the years
- Focus on Industry rather than Agriculture
Lights in this Field:
- Increasing no. (not so many though) of educated and smart people are involving in this field who have the access to the markets, resources, technology & credit of agriculture (Ex: big investment for rearing cows for milk and meat, large scale gardening, etc.)
- New types of production and cultivation apart from rice and jute (Ex: new types: strawberries, dragon fruits, etc., and new methods: rooftop agriculture, hybrids, etc.)
How One-Stop Service (OSS) can be Integrated, and Its Associated Matters:
The very major concept of this OSS can be to INTEGRATE the associated parties of agriculture, rather than doing the business ITSELF by yourself. Because, if you want to provide all the solutions to the farmers from yourself, this will mostly be impractical in terms of the amount of investment and the years it will take to get the return. In the short run, you can do the business yourself with a very specific niche or product or service, but not an entire one-stop service solution. Think of this perspective:
- Register all or part of the farmers around the country
- Define the level of facilities they currently get
- Define the facilities available from the government and non-government sectors
- Assess the gap and work to minimize the gap by Integration and Bridging
Firstly, educating the traditional farmer with the one-stop service, even it can take up to 2-3 years in a very small particular region. In this regard, continuing the business without the expected rate of return is a big challenge. We have to keep in mind that investing in the modern/digital channels of marketing will simply be a big disaster for tying up our capital for many years ahead. You could illustrate the fact that our illiterate society grabbed the concept of Uber and Pathao, why won’t they accept this service? But I hope, you also understand the difference between earning the Hard Cash just after you put the service and waiting for it for an uncertain period. Further, educating the backward integration partners (government and non-government sectors) will also be a big challenge as always.
Secondly, supply chain management and logistic issues. You try to bridge the current facilities available from different sectors with our traditional farmers. In this case, the government will not be easy with you as you will be interrupting their services as a start-up company, and non-government sectors will not be assisting you as they will be thinking of their own profit goals. So, the main SCM activities get in trouble.
Thirdly, the capital issue. Who is going to invest in this business? A business concept without quick and sustainable return is simply a concept that can only be run by passion, not by facts and figures.
So, coming up with a unique Platform-Based Business solution with low investment and marginal level physical marketing (along with online integration) can be counted as a feasible study. The main concept of doing a platform-based business is utilizing a particular platform to harness the power of integrating the suppliers and buyers.
Few Strategic and Operational Level Implementation Considerations:
- Chairman and Member in Upazilla, Union, and Ward level can be few good influencers for inducing the local government and non-government authorities (banks and all). You can also work in collaboration with them to identify the farmers, and influencing them for your desired services. They will do it just in exchange for their exposure to society.
- Masjid Imam (and, any religious leader of such sort), high school and primary school Head Master and teachers (agricultural) can be a good medium of communication at the root level.
- Other good influencers can be renowned people in the village, nurseries, agriculture material sellers, etc. Local NGOs from where the rural people take financial support can also help in this regard, but note that they already have their own business goals. These are indirect competitors.
- Training and loan facilities are already there from the government level, you just need to educate, integrate, and act as a bridge.
- Farmers in the village are in such financial difficulties that many of them don’t have at least 10-20 Tk. In their cell phone to make a call. A very easy and free method of communication should be provided.
- Trying to think Positive and Overrating things is a problem. We ALWAYS have to think of the worst-case scenario as a businessman. You cannot think very positively in Bangladesh where farmers get only Tk. 2-3/Kg. product whereas the product is sold at Tk. 30-60/Kg in the retail market.
- Dependency on business tools is not always good. It creates overrated thoughts that are completely impractical in our market/country. Tools are there to go beyond our limits, but not to limit our thoughts.
- It’s very easy to put marketing jargon in the documents but you’ll find it hard to implement.
- Let the Financial Feasibility be FEASIBLE. Don’t make financial feasibility, where even Ananta Jalil can’t make this POSSIBLE and find it hard to implement. Keep your targets high but expectations practical. Decide on the long-term and short-term financing, how the cash flow will be managed etc.
- Keep the documentation beautiful. Be professional. And, if you don’t understand what professionalism is, try learning that as early as possible. It will give your prestige.
Lastly, keep a few words in your mind.
In this world, you are not paid to make things complicated. You are paid to make complicated things simple.
In the end, I gave team-wise feedback for each team for the things that could make this WOW!!!
The feedback was broken into three parts:
- Core Part Analysis: From the ground of Problem Identification, Strategy Selection, Value Proposition, Competitive Strategy, Financial Feasibility, Execution, Positioning, and Clarity of Submitted Files.
- Additional Checking and Improvements: From the ground of grammar, document formatting, and content sources and references, etc.
- Overall Score: In a paradigm/range of Low-Standard-High
This editorial is a revised version of the initial plot (from 08-May-2020) which was written solely for the intended participant.
Feedback by Sanjidul Anwar, A #CUMarketing Soul
Adjudicator of MSLP: E-Spiders (Part 02)