SOLILOQUY: Marketing Lessons From Lagos Prostitutes- Ayeni Adekunle

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prostitutes
You never see Ashawo before’? 

‘See as e dey look like mumu sef’ 


‘E be like say e wan stop o’

Really, I couldn’t stop looking like a fool, as I looked at girl after girl, different thoughts in my head, as I waited for the traffic just by the junction to my office to move.

I rolled down my glass a bit more, took off my glasses, and winked at the black, plus-sized one. She smiled, gave what was supposed to be a seductive pose, and moved towards my car. Then I drove forward a bit, laughing. Her colleague, with whom she was discussing me earlier, got my message and moved towards me. Slim, tall and dark, the way I like my women, she ‘arranged’ her goods, laughed out loud, convinced she’d make the night’s sale…

Poor girl, I thought, as I drove off.

w-initiative

I’ve never patronized a prostitute; never had to pay for sex. But I’ve come close to doing so. And as I left the girls on Opebi road last Saturday, I remembered how, as a teenager, I learnt my first business lesson from a prostitute.

I was strolling with a group of friends one evening. As we walked past the most popular ‘motel’ in the area, we started gossiping about some prostitutes standing outside, advertising their services. In the mood for mischief, we dared ourselves to each approach them and see how it ends.

Now, in those days, real, serious prostitutes did not stand by the roadside, waiting for clients to pick them up and take them anywhere. Nope. The professional sex hawkers of the 80s and 90s hung in front of, or around their base, usually a small hotel where they’d have a tiny room on a rental basis. There they would wait for new or returning customers. A minute or two of tête-à-tête, maybe a drink or two, and they’d lead you inside their, erm, apartment.

As I left my friends and went in with the one I chose, I had my heart in my mouth. But courage, as they say, is not that your heart must not quake. It is that no one must know, even if it does. So I summoned all the bravery in the world, held her hand and tried to be funny as she led me into temptation.

We walk for what seems like forever on a long corridor, turn left, take the stairs to a dark basement to see a set of rooms. Once in, I take a minute to assess: a small TV on a stool, photos of different vixens on the wall, a very very tiny spring bed and a clothe hanger on the wall. There’s no chair, so I sit on the bed. She sits next to me, her hands just below my belt.

She’s all nice and very eager, until I speak:

‘I no get money O’. 

‘Ehn? Wetin you mean?’ 


‘Me and my friends just dey pass. I no carry money. But I fit come give you later. Na Seriki here I dey…’ 


She didn’t even let me ‘land’. 


‘Abeg come dey go. I  no dey for that one. Abeg abeg abeg…’

She practically pushed me out and shut her door, leaving me to find my way out through the dark corridors.

And there, I learnt a big marketing lesson that would prove useful many years later. Years before I heard about all the Ps of marketing, a Lagos prostitute taught me about packaging a product, about placement, about promotion and positioning. And that big one all serious businessmen need to master: No money, no service. If the product/service is truly worth it, you’ll work hard to raise the money. You’ll even borrow, if possible. And even if you’ll even consider ‘credit’, it must be to reliable, returning customers only.

Yes, I learnt that from an illiterate prostitute.

Today’s ‘ladies’ (I hope I’m permitted to call them that?) can’t be bothered about keeping apartments. Today’s ‘ladies’ are better educated; more sophisticated, and quite frankly, better marketers than some CMOs out there.

Take some time and move around, from Opebi-Allen, and Isaac John in Ikeja, to Keffi, Sanusi Fafunwa, or Law School area anytime from 7-8pm, and you’ll marvel at the expertise with which occupants of red light districts ply their trade.

First they understand their target – so they know how and where to advertise their product. They know when. Most of the girls are ugly and spent. But thanks to packaging, what you often see driving past would make you wonder if they have marketing professors on retainer. And, for an industry that’s not organized, I was shocked to find they’ve mastered the art of pricing, at least around Lagos. There’s a standard price for time duration, for rounds, for duos, trios, group sex, blow jobs and err, certain other activities that space constraints and your delicate sensibilities might not permit me to list. It’s a rule to carry your own condoms, ensure that at least a colleague sees which car you’re leaving in (not sure if they write down the vehicle registration numbers too), and agree on charges, vis a vis deliverables, before rendering service.

For a business where you have only a few hours to make a sale or you’re doomed for the ‘day’, the level of competition is also extremely high. As the girls on Opebi showed me, every friendship gives way to competition until the pitch has been won. In fact, as you’re haggling with one, it’s not unusual for her colleague to wink at you from afar, or walk closer, stick out her tongue suggestively, and turn round so you see her full offering, before attempting to walk away, hoping you’ll change your mind and toot your horn at her.

Every brand/product/service comes with a promise though. You know what to expect with each purchase/patronage. Because you’ll scarcely find anyone who’ll admit to patronizing prostitutes here, it’ll be difficult to determine whether they’re living up to expectations, or whether it’s all just s’agbe loju yoyo.

And, because society continues in hypocrisy, we’ll never be able to have the kind of data available elsewhere – what’s the percentage of young women taking up the profession? What’s the percentage of those folding up? What’s the exit rate, and what industries are they moving into? What’s the rate of their contribution to STIs and HIV/AIDS? What male demography ensures they remain in business? What’s the family, tribal, educational, religious background of the average prostitute? Are they mostly full-time practitioners or they have day jobs like you and I? What prevention method do they favour most? Condoms? Pills? Norplants? What’s the industry’s annual turnover?

It’d have been nice to have the kind of information other societies have, that helps them appropriately regulate that industry, and set the limits to what’s acceptable and what’s criminal. Most importantly, we’d be able to know exactly what’s happening there, so as to make informed government policies, as well as provide proper orientation for practitioners, their patrons, and relevant segments of society.

Perhaps we’ll also be able to know: 1. What’s the biggest threat against them? 2. What’s the biggest threat they pose to our society?

I’ll answer the first one: female undergraduates working as coded ‘runs girls’, offering bespoke, agency-style services, and having more market and profit share than certified prostitutes.

Now, you answer the second…

While you’re at that, has it ever occurred to you, that almost every business, really, runs like prostitution? Often times, isn’t the aim to sell to the highest bidder while customers/clients usually want satisfaction, returns etc?

At the end of the day, we’re all in the market place, looking for customers who’ll patronize our ‘goods’ and ‘services’; with one common guiding principle: ‘Money for hand, back for ground

Source- The Nigerian blogger

 

 

SEE ALSO:OPINION: Tinubu: Courage In The Face Of Adversity- SENATOR ROBERT BORROFICE

 

Opinion pieces of this sort published on The SHEET are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of The SHEET

 

 


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