Why The Butterfly Strategy Is Relevant For Tech Startups
Years ago, a couple attended a funeral of a friend’s father when they encountered a very peculiar situation at Owode. Let’s name this couple, FF and their friend SS.
FF went to SS’s father’s funeral to pay their final respects to the late man. FF went through a church programme to the Interment dancing and singing, as is the custom of Nigerian funerals for the elderly. At the interment, while FF listened to prayers from the church pastor, a group of cultists appeared from nowhere singing in jarring tones, a eulogy to the friend’s father, “Yeah paripa, yeah yeah yeah yeah paripa”
The couple looked at each other and immediately took to their heels in an attempt to get to their vehicle within the shortest time possible, leaving behind bellowing dust. The husband was the first to run while the wife gathered her wrapper, rolled her Buba, gathered her ‘Gele’ and shoes, and ran as fast as she could after her husband. She had no idea her husband could run that fast after twenty years of marriage.
They were not the only people running to their cars. The pastor who had been preaching had left the pulpit running for the closest vehicle to hide in, along with the majority of families who had had plans to observe the interment.
As soon as FF got to their car, SS who had been running after them to apologise for the surprise visit of cultists got to them. She said in Yoruba, “Baba didn’t tell us he was a member of a cult”. FF replied, “Yeah, yeah, yeah”, and reversed quickly out of the parking lot so they could get to their homes safely as soon as possible.
This is nonfiction. It is also a crisis that happened in the 90s. What is SS to do now? Her reputation is so negative, she did not know how to present herself to a society so aversive to cults. Imagine SS was a tech startup. What does she need right now? She needs the Butterfly strategy.
A Chinese proverb once said, “A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With One Step”. I agree with this statement, I also believe “a small butterfly flapping its wings can over time cause a huge tornado”. The Butterfly effect is a strategy where small changes and tactics can cause a ripple effect thereby having a transformative impact on a brand’s reputation and image in the long run.
Image from Food Network
Every decision a brand makes now may or may not have a positive impact in years to come. Stephen King depicted the Butterfly effect in his novel 11/22/63 where a time traveler tries to save the late United States President, John F Kennedy from his assassination only to travel back to the future (2007) to find the whole world in chaos. He rushes back to the year 1963 to stop himself from preventing the crime. Who knows, if Nigerian politicians weren’t corrupt and power blind in the 80s and 90s, the country would probably be a different place today.
Why do Tech startups need the Butterfly effect? I’ll tell you.
Tech startups are running against time to build credible products, they usually do not have a good marketing strategy and the belief generally is that traditional and online media will be the answer to whatever marketing tactics they have planned. This is why they continue to have issues with their stakeholders.
China is working on producing flying cars, Elon Musk has surpassed everyone’s expectations and is buying Bitcoins with Tesla but the Nigerian tech space has very few existing partnerships, they do not engage policymakers (in the government) enough and the populace is getting more and more concerned about privacy and cybercrime.
The ban by the Nigerian government on bank accounts transacting in cryptocurrency is a small change for startups operating on such exchanges. Most of the big players in finance were pushed to seek quick methods of communicating the impact of the ban to their consumers; Mastercard announced that the brand plans to support all transactions on crypto and Binance made the decision to build a peer-to-peer market for Nigerian crypto traders. The rush by all tech companies to communicate could have been avoided.
A tech start-up’s nightmare may as well be a government ban or a data-sharing and consumer protection crisis. And most tech startups are too silent in the media. So how are they going to manage their brand image if their target audience do not know or trust them as safe havens? You only hear about tech startups when you sign up for email updates when they make huge milestones or get seed investments from Y-Combinator, other startup accelerators, and angel investors.
As an industry, we are too distracted by the latest technology and what this or that startup is doing to get funding. Startups need to focus on what small changes may have a profound impact on the tech industry and will give them the jumpstart they need to succeed. If the small changes are effective, they can be monumental and if they fail, there’s always another chance to go to the drawing board. Now imagine if the changes were big and how the effect would be.
The world is chaotic enough and prone to sudden change. Tech startups need to get ahead of the game by using the Butterfly Effect to help them tell better brand stories. In an infinite game, the Butterfly Effect will help startups increase sales, stretch budgets on marketing for a year, improve brand image, develop a listening and evaluation process and ensure customer satisfaction.
In a 2018 article on Forbes by Scott Mills, a Communications Consultant specialising in fintech, he wrote, “Content butterflies do exist, but only if you believe in them. Understand the audiences that need to know the information, and foster a micro-campaign approach to communications.”
In 2015, Dr. Rajapol speaking at an interview with the Egade Business School reiterated the power of small changes in the global market. Based on his research, he found that “How a company can make its struggle successful is that every company has to make a unique proposition for marketing. If a company can make a unique proposition, that is a small change they can do in a marketing mix and they can really reap the higher benefits.”
Startups should have innovative marketing communication ideas if they plan to lead the Nigerian tech market to the future. Which startup has proven to disrupt the industry so far? Are you interested in using effective communication strategies for your start-up? Reach out, let’s have a chat about your brand.