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December 23, 2017

5th P - Silent Salesman - Making teaching, learning fun - Ethiopian Journey - Blog post no - 38

Packaging the Silent Salesman 
Marketing was in very rudimentary state in 2002 and it was quite obvious that here are many opportunities for upcoming entrepreneurs. The introductory stage of the market also meant that there was very little by the way of teaching aids. I told my parents and got lot of packages of FMCG products like tooth paste tubes, soap wrappers, detergent wrappers and many other packaging materials like the boxes of Kellogg from India. I used these as aids and vividly explained the students the concepts of packing and packaging.

Attractive Packaging material 
One of the Ethiopian students recently told me “Dr. Aneel you told us the difference between packing and packaging. You said packing is for protection and packaging is for marketing. You also said something that I can never forget”.

He told me that I had said “Packaging is the 5th P of marketing and it is called a silent salesman. When all the other Ps falls silent it is the humble packaging that has to facilitate the selling process. It has to lure, seduce, cajole, plead and make the customer pick up the product. Once the product is in the hands of the customer the possibility of a sale goes up. In the modern supermarkets, decisions are made in a flash of a second and in that flash, each micro second matters”.

He said that this particular lecture of mine was etched in his mind and that he tries to implement what was told. He was fascinated by the word ‘Silent Salesman”. What a paradox!

He was musing - ‘Salesman and Silent’ how can a salesman be silent? Salesmen are thought as walking talking parrots or people who keep on blabbering. But some of the best sales people that I know are excellent listeners. They talk less and listen more. When a salesman listens to a customer the chances of finding out the real need increases.

God too agrees. That is why he has given us two ears and one mouth. Talk less and listen more. Examples like these made me touch the hearts of my students’ and made me occupy a special place.

I feel that the teacher has to excite and make the student read the subject by himself. Don’t be a kindergarten teacher and try to explain everything. Excite and propel the student into a path of self-discovery.

One of my extension students (extension students are part timers who attend classes on Saturdays and Sundays) used to come late to my class. Being a stickler for punctuality, I hauled him up and demanded an explanation.

Blue Nile River 
What he told me, made me speechless. He told me that he was swimming through the Blue Nile river. He was getting delayed as the currents were too strong for him to swim. To make this easier let me explain. PEDA campus of Bahirdar University was adjacent to the Blue Nile river and this student’s house was on the other side. Coming to PEDA by land would mean a journey of more than an hour and would also cost him at least two birr (2 birr was lot of money back then in 2002). 

Trying to cross
To save time and money he was literally cutting through water! What he was doing was very dangerous not only because of fast moving currents but also due to the presence of a colony of hippopotamuses. These gentle giants are usually placid but could become violent once they are enraged and try to protect their kith and kin.

I was shocked out of my core, the hunger for knowledge and degrees were really unparalleled! It is this competitiveness that has propelled Ethiopia out of its hard time and made what it is today, the fastest growing economy in entire Africa.


  1. i fully agree Dr Anil Ramesh that packaging is the key for products