3 Marketing Lessons From The Marketing Maverick DJ Sbu

Hate or like Sibusiso Aka “DJ Sbu”  Leope, he is arguably the best marketer to come out of South African townships. Recently he got into hot water for promoting his own product on air while at work  without the required permission.This is not surprising considering how DJ Sbu came into the limelight.

In his early days he  masterminded the marketing of his music by appearing as a character in a mask – Mzekezeke –  that left everyone guessing as to who was behind the mask. His approach to business can teach entrepreneurs a thing or two about marketing their products. Here are some of the marketing lessons from DJ Sbu :

1. Be Different – When DJ Sbu came into the limelight he was introduced as Mzekezeke although at the time he was not  known to be DJ Sbu. He was a Kwaito singer who was noticeable for the facial mask and strange way of rapping. Television audiences were hooked. Everyone wanted to know who was the man behind the mask and the rest is history.

DJ Sbu understood  the value of being  different that it sets you apart from the rest. This is an important lesson for marketers to understand if they are to get the attention of consumers who are bombarded by alternatives products.

2. Break rules (without killing yourself) – DJ Sbu has no respect for rules that create obstacles for creativity. He finds ways of challenging them to get his point across. His recent departure from SABC is the point in case. In an environment where there are too many regulations that are stifling the entrepreneurial spirit an entrepreneur needs to learn to break the rules without hurting themselves. One must find a balance to advance his/her cause without necessary  hurting society.

3. Don’t Wait or Ask for permission – An entrepreneur on the cover of a leading business magazine is a dream for every entrepreneur who understands the impact of the print media. DJ Sbu could have waited to qualify to be on the cover of Forbes magazine or asked for it.

He chose to place himself on the cover and circulate it on social media creating an awareness about his energy drink. Whether this is ethical or not is something we will post when we discuss ethics in business. The lesson for entrepreneurs here is that they must never get into the trap of asking for permission or waiting.

Today, DJ Sbu is the co-owner TS Records – a record label behind the success of  South Africa’s singer Zahara, founder of Mofaya energy drink and recently a member of the Cliff Central online radio platform.

If DJ Sbu had followed the textbook guidelines he would not be where he is today. As an entrepreneur, if you are to make an impact and take your product forward you need to be (1) Different, (2) Break the rules and lastly (3) stop asking for permission to make a difference in the world.