Strategic Marketing with Tarsicius Edem Dorpenyo: Makola market chronicles

Episode 1: Personal brand masterclass
Makola Market, a thriving commercial and cultural centre in Accra, Ghana, is located in the heart of the city. Amidst the turmoil of this dynamic marketplace, one can discover a rich trove of marketing principles reflected by the hardworking men and women who trade there.
Despite hurdles such as poor education, these traders demonstrate endurance, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit, providing significant insights for marketers around the world. I’ve decided to focus my attention on the women who make up the bulk of traders in Makola.
The most striking takeaway from the women of Makola Market is the importance of personal branding. Without traditional marketing degrees or sophisticated advertising efforts, these traders have mastered the art of creating distinctive identities for their businesses.
They build strong relationships with their customers by using colourful displays, memorable slogans, and personalised customer encounters, creating loyalty and trust. They demonstrate the transforming potential of personal branding through a variety of strategies that highlight their resourcefulness and creativity in creating distinct identities for their enterprises.
Photo credit: Natasha Sitsofe Geyevu. Makola Market
Colourful Displays
Walking through Makola Market, one cannot help but be attracted by the colourful and eye-catching decorations that adorn the stalls of the female vendors. For example, a textile vendor, Doyo, arranged her materials in a visually appealing rainbow spectrum, whereas a fruit vendor, Comfort, methodically arranged her produce to create an alluring display of colours and textures. These vibrant displays not only draw attention, but also express a sense of freshness, quality, and quantity, inviting shoppers to explore more.
Memorable slogans
Many female traders I met at Makola Market use unique slogans or catchphrases to differentiate their enterprises and make an impression on clients. For example, a spice seller, Akumaa, utilises a creative slogan: ‘Spice wo life’, which translates to “spice up your life,” while a jewellery seller, Efe, continued chanting: ‘Shine bright, ooo ei!’ Afi, a bead salesperson, pulled in young women with her cry, ‘Keep your husband at home, wear modern, sexy beads’. These slogans not only describe each vendor’s unique value offer, but they also elicit pleasant emotions and connections, such as humour, thereby increasing brand recall and loyalty.
Personalised customer interactions
In Makola Market, forging personal ties with clients is critical to business success. Women traders frequently go above and beyond to engage with customers on a personal level, making personalised recommendations, sharing anecdotes about their items, and even remembering individual preferences.
For example, a clothes shop owner, Adisa takes the time to learn about her customers’ style preferences and size requirements before curating a selection of materials to suit their interests. Such personalised interactions not only improve the purchasing experience but also foster trust and loyalty, transforming casual customers into loyal patrons.
Unique product offerings
Another aspect of personal branding at Makola Market is the emphasis on offering unique and distinctive products that set businesses apart from their competitors. For example, Afi, the beading craft woman, creates exquisite designs and patterns influenced by traditional Ghanaian motifs for each customer. By creating bespoke designs not available anywhere else, she creates a sense of exclusivity and desirability, luring clientele looking for something special and distinctive.
Consistent brand identity
Despite the diversity of businesses in Makola Market, successful women traders maintain a consistent brand identity across all touchpoints, from their stall displays to their packaging and signage. This consistency helps to reinforce brand recall and build trust with customers, ensuring that they can easily identify and connect with the business wherever they encounter it.
In essence, the women of Makola Market demonstrate that personal branding is not limited to glossy advertising campaigns or expensive marketing initiatives. Instead, it is about leveraging creativity, authenticity, and personal connections to create memorable and meaningful experiences for customers.
Through colourful displays, memorable slogans, personalised interactions, unique product offerings, and consistent brand identity, these enterprising women have mastered the art of personal branding, forging strong connections with their clientele and carving out successful businesses in the bustling marketplace of Makola.
The marketing lessons gleaned from the enterprising women of Makola Market offer valuable insights for entrepreneurs across industries and regions:
Creativity over resources
These women demonstrate that creativity and resourcefulness are more important than having abundant resources or formal education. Entrepreneurs can leverage their creativity to craft unique solutions, products, and brand identities that resonate with their target audience.
Authenticity builds trust
By embracing their authenticity and showcasing their unique personalities in their businesses, these women build trust and loyalty with their customers. Entrepreneurs can similarly focus on being genuine and transparent in their interactions, fostering stronger connections with their audience.
Understanding customer needs
The women of Makola Market excel at understanding and anticipating the needs of their customers. Entrepreneurs should prioritise market research and customer feedback to identify pain points and preferences, enabling them to tailor their products and services to better meet customer needs.
Community collaboration
Despite being competitors, the women traders often collaborate and support each other, recognising the power of community in driving collective success. Entrepreneurs can seek out opportunities for collaboration and partnerships within their industry or local community, leveraging collective resources and expertise for mutual benefit.
Persistence and resilience
Many of these women have overcome significant obstacles to establish successful businesses, demonstrating the importance of persistence and resilience in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to face challenges and setbacks along their journey, maintaining a positive mindset and persevering in pursuit of their goals.
Consistent branding
Establishing a consistent brand identity across all touchpoints is crucial for building recognition and trust with customers. Entrepreneurs should invest time and effort in developing a cohesive brand identity that reflects their values, vision, and unique selling proposition, ensuring consistency in messaging, visuals, and customer experience.
Adaptability in a changing market
Operating in a dynamic marketplace like Makola Market requires adaptability and agility. Entrepreneurs should stay attuned to market trends, consumer preferences, and industry developments, and be willing to pivot their strategies and offerings as needed to stay relevant and competitive.
The lessons learned from the women of Makola Market serve as a powerful reminder that successful entrepreneurship is not defined by resources or formal education alone, but by creativity, authenticity, understanding of customer needs, collaboration, resilience, consistency in branding, and adaptability. By embracing these principles, entrepreneurs can navigate the challenges of business ownership and unlock their full potential for success.
>>>the writer is the founder and CEO of Dorpenyo Digital, a full-service digital marketing firm that helps brands elevate their online presence. For inquiries, you can contact him via email at [email protected] or by phone at (+233) 248 426 235. You can also visit to learn more about their digital marketing services.

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