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B-Connected pioneers mobile marketing product

Tech entrepreneur Smauel Dzinotyiwei believes Zimbabwe is ready for a mobile marketing revolution. He expressed this sentiment to Techzim as he finalises the official launch of his product B-Heard. His company B-Connected has offices in Glen Lorne, Harare and is launching new mobile advertising products which Samuel believes due to their uniqueness will offer an attractive new channel for marketers. Samuel Dzinotyiwei is the founder of B-Connected, though it’s a family owned business.

Over the last month B-Connected has been conducting a trial run of the system which uses VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) to deliver the messages to customers (to which Techzim was invited to participate). The company officially launches the product on Monday the 2nd of July. Dzinotyiwei, noted that he has signed up several local VOIP service providers to ensure optimum system uptime and call quality. Dzinotyiwei says the advantage of his service is the ability of marketers to deliver voice messages direct to consumers or potential consumers at a scheduled time. So say a retailer wants to advertise certain products on special or publicise a promotion. B-Connected uploads their pre-recorded message into their call centre database, and at the scheduled time the system runs automated calls. It’s like a radio advert, so when the user picks up the phone they will hear an ad telling them that a specific product say cooking oil is on special.

Dzinotyiwei indicated that their database currently has 10,000 numbers and is being updated regularly, further saying they are working on a web registration system were individuals can submit their number to their database.

Samuel who is a qualified private pilot did his flight training in Cape Town and does regular flying at Charles Prince Airport in Harare, where he is working on obtaining a commercial pilots license. B-Connected is not his first business however, as he ran an Internet Café in Harare’s city centre, which was closed in 2011 after as he says “We found that with the introduction of mobile internet, business went down.” So rather than selling his equipment he pivoted his business model. He thought about several business ideas, including setting up an IT college but eventually decided to commit to the call centre idea.

The company’s mobile marketing product has been branded B-Heard and holds a Zimbabwe Patent. Dzinotyiwei notes that the patent is for the business process which they developed adding that one of the reasons the official launch had been held off was to allow for the patent registration to be finalised. B-Connect defines the B-Heard product “as a mobile marketing service where by we make pre-recorded voice calls to any mobile phone or land line in Zimbabwe through our call centre system. This is the same concept with bulk SMS but its just now in a better and interactive way. This is a new way of contacting customers with speed, relevance and effective response. It’s also a good service for those who cannot hear English or read as the phone call message can be sent in a Shona or Ndebele voice. There is no need for a person to be literate to be able to receive such a message.

In simple terms when a person we call from our mobile marketing call centre answers his or her mobile phone he will hear a pre-recorded voice message, this IS NOT MMS but just a phone call. Our system can make at a time 500 calls per minute with the same message being received by mobile phone users. For example lets say you want to send a product advert to your 500 clients, your 500 clients will receive the same voice message at the same time saving you time and money.”

Dzinotyiwei says B-Heard products can be used in the following scenarios, among others:

  • Product advertising (Just like a radio advert)
  • Personalised wedding or party invitations (A couple can record together a wedding invitation reminder which will be sent to their contacts e.g. “Hello this is Sam and Kudzai we kindly request the honour of your presence at our wedding day on the 11th of June. Come and lets rejoice together. For more info please call us on 0773123456 or send a call back”
  • Bill payment reminders e.g. “Dear customer, this is a reminder call from DSTV, Your DSTV account will soon be suspended as you have not paid your subscription. Thank you for the support. DSTV so much more.)”
  • Daily church prayers from the pastor (A daily morning prayer to the church members sent out. The church members hear the voice of the pastor enabling reach and touch)
  • Politicians can use it for political campaigns to send messages to voters and constituents, and
  • Event reminders

B-Connected’s Call Centre is a registered call centre with the Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe which includes other in-house call centres in Zimbabwe such as the Econet and Telecel call centres. Dzinotyiwei notes that B-Connected is the second private owned call centre in Zimbabwe and the company’s facility in Glen Lorne has 30 computers and in total Dzinotyiwei. Tell us what you think about Dzinotyiwei’s idea.

Image Credit: Samuel Dzinotyiwei

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12 thoughts on “B-Connected pioneers mobile marketing product

  1. Excellent another way to be bothered by automated spam… My number had better not be in their database, although this may seem like a good idea I am really not looking forward to this as our spam laws aren’t up to date to make sure these “Marketers” don’t abuse peoples information.

    I wonder what their subscribe and unsubscribe services are like to this “Wonderful New Marketing Service”

  2. This is certainly a good idea. the only concern i have like others is spam. is there a way to come off the database at will? This will be very important. usually products such as these gain momentum on launch and then reach a plateau before starting to drop due to this problem of spam. I however think this will be an effective tool for subscription reminders etc (because they come once in a while) more than day-to-day advertising. It’s the same way all of us are now sick of flyers “handed” to us at traffic intersections. When flyers were first “introduced” at the introduction of the multi-currency system one didn’t mind getting all the flyers there could be (for this was a “new” phenomenon is a reviving economy). with time this has become a nuisance. The same applies to Econet sms ads. If Dzinotyiwei can deal with this spam issue he has a chance with advertising. As for reminders etc there is real potential in this service.

  3. @Aurther and Raymond thank you for the comments. We do have a anti spam policy and an instant opt out option.Basically, the user must opt-in to receive communications from us. This can occur in several places including a sign-up form on our web site, through a form our customers/visitors physically fill out. Our services are only available to those responsible businesses, organizations, and entities that abide by our Anti-Spam Policy.The numbers we have in our database are from people who signed up to recieve promotions.

  4. I dunno much about patents but saying the idea and technology to make mass calls is new is not true. There are even better systems out there some open source some commercial that call people based on outcome of response to an email or sms campaign. If anyone is intrested in the open source option they can download GoAutodial, its free and does more than just call people, if you interested in the product it can ask you to press a number and connects you to a sales rep, all this for free. Stil i am puzzled why they would want to waste money on patents that can be easily blown out of the water with new techs.

    1. @muzukuru:disqus our service/product is “new to Zimbabwe” and different from Goautodial. There are so many open source softwares out there. Thank you for the comment.

      1. Indeed your product is “new” as you put it in qoutes, meaning there is a high possibility someone somewhere is using it, only that you are not aware of it. The reason why i pointed out Goautodial was to alert you and everyone else that what your software seeks to achieve has already been achieved by Goautodial.

        For those who like the functionality in your software and do not wish to reinvent the wheel like you did can download Goutodial and get the same functionality and tech support from a 20,000 plus online community available 24/7. In simple terms you have reinvented the wheel because exactly what your stated your software does, there is already an app that does that better with more coding resources than you can muster.

  5. Firstly, I would like to congratulate B-Connected for launching a great innovative product. I am sure you’ll be successful in your business. On the registered patent, I believe the case is not strong enough to stop other players from coming into the market with the same service products. Patents are generally reserved for technology designs and not business processes. In addition a Patent of such nature will certainly grab the attention of monopolies and competition regulators hence there are many questions there. I’m very baffled by how it was even possible to register it in the first place when technology on telephone-marketing has been around for decades. Never-the-less, all the best of Sam! You have a great unique selling point in this service and a head start.

  6. I think its a good idea. Am also wondering about the patent and how patentable it is. I cant say I am an expert in patent law but I do know, today its a raging debate. It is still a misunderstood subject by many. How it applies to business processes, is something I am interested in also understanding.

    If it is legitimately patentable, then am sure it will be granted.

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