There is a huge movement around the world to end pollution, poverty and corruption just to name a few. But one of the biggest goals out there for the general public is how to eliminate germs and deadly bacteria from just about anywhere from our food, homes and also ourselves. Doctors and personalities in the medical field have always stressed the importance of keeping good hygiene whether it’s our teeth or our hands. One area however, isn’t stressed enough and those are the areas where we utilize to relieve ourselves in the bathrooms.
Dr Safiya Ojo, a General Practitioner recommends the use of water for cleansing rather than toilet paper after defecation.
“it is better to wash with water than use toilet paper after defecation because water washes completely without a trace, whereas toilet paper might not wash completely or properly. “The paper particles can attach to the surroundings of the anus which can bring discomfort, while water washes off everything, leaving you clean and fresh.’’ ~Dr. Safiya Ojo, Nov 30, 2015
Rafik Motala who founded Istinja Bidet in 2009, found a solution to help North Americans with the growing problem of bad hygiene and increase in illnesses due to it. On a trip to New York, Rafik went into a washroom and stumbled upon a contraption that actually did most of the work for you in the cleaning process after completing ‘your business’. It was device attached to a water source and affixed to the toilet seat that would dispel fresh water for instant cleaning. Thoroughly impressed by this, he set out to look for this device and stumbled upon the manufacturing company. As he ordered a few of them, not just for himself, but for friends and family, the company struck up a deal for him to get into the business as well. He ordered five samples and when they arrived, he listed them online on various buy and sell websites and within hours, all of the bidets were sold! That gave him the idea to do this regularly and from that Istinja Bidet was launched.
Istinja is an Arabic term that means cleaning away whatever has been passed from the private areas with water, or toilet paper or both.
Rafik and his team in the initial stages used word of mouth and ended up using traditional means to market this unique and unusual product. But as the years went on, he noticed that the trend for using social media in all aspects of doing business such as marketing, supply chain and customer engagement would prove to be very valuable. Not conforming to this growing trend would impact his company negatively and end up affecting sales and reputation.
The biggest challenge for Rafik and Istinja Bidets was how to convince the general public that just sitting on the toilet or standing at the urinal, maybe using a few squares of toilet paper and getting up and go wasn’t the ideal method of hygiene in lavatory use? A practice that has now been long accepted in mainstream society. Istinja Bidet products utilize fresh water and jet technology to get into the nether regions of a person while on the toilet to give the gold standard of cleanliness and hygiene. Persuading the public that this is a product that they require in their homes and places of work was not just the only challenge, but coordinating the supply chain workflow and ensuring that the individuals on the team are assigned pertinent tasks and responsibilities that are carried through were also on the agenda in the social media canvas of the company.
Rafik Motala who founded Istinja Bidets needed some strategies to not only market his product to the general public, but also need to ensure communication within the internal departments of his business was continuous to ensure the workflow was moving smoothly. In the beginning, Istinja employed traditional means of marketing. Word-of-mouth was at the forefront of creating awareness of their product and posting online at various product sharing websites such as Craigslist and Kijiji created a buzz and as a result, an abundance of sales. When sales were steadily rising, more aggressive means of marketing were implemented such as putting up booths at large trade shows and other events that possessed a live shopping experience for attendants. This way, Rafik and his team could display and present their products and show people how to use them – not in a literal sense of course – which allowed for first hand customer engagement.
When the trade shows ended, Istinja put up their Facebook page, Youtube videos showing do-it-yourself installation techniques and a website with a plethora of information about all of their products and their immense benefits. To ensure all partners in the organization were assigned tasks and that deliverables were being met, various online chat groups were established such as the popular Whatsapp. This allowed continuous flow of information to go to each group member and to give updates of tasks that were assigned and to share ideas if anything innovative came onto the market. Furthermore, the supply chain management aspect of the company also implemented the use of email and Whatsapp to keep track of pending orders and if any questions or concerns arose from Istinja or the manufacturers themselves.
At the marketing end of things, Rafik was adamant that this product was a huge benefit to everyone and used various tools in getting the word out such as Google Ad words, Facebook ads and Search Engine Optimization techniques. Rafik did find that SEO was challenging because “finding that reputable organization that would give you the appropriate results was either time consuming or expensive”. He did, however find a local solution by employing the services of Wisdek and they have given him the results he needed and that was ensuring he was always on the first page of any Google search when it comes to lavatory hygiene.
Istinja also had to convince a huge population of people that the conventional methods of using toilets and the mere use of urinals was detrimental to one’s health. With that, on their website, they outlined very important benefits to both men and women that could lead to serious illnesses and life altering changes.
Customer service was another focal point of the business and as positive testimonials were pouring in, they were readily posted online to show their audience that their products were in fact, changing lives. At the same time, negative feedback and also occur and because of the open communication channels between Rafik and the manufacturers are readily available to make amends quickly and thoroughly.
With a lot of trial and error when it comes to social media, Rafik feels that his organization could do more in all aspects of his enterprise. From the actual marketing end of it, to the customer engagement, to the supply chain aspect, social media methods at his company have come to a standstill and with it sales. His product line is fairly extensive and he has been a pioneer somewhat in introducing such a product to not just the Canadian market, but also the North American market. However, as sales in the beginning were rapidly increasing, he and his team have been stagnant on social media and therefore, noticed a decline or a plateau in sales forecasts. With that, other players have entered the market and are getting far more headway in the awareness and importance of this type of product. He mentions that “in order for a company to progress and reach higher levels, dedicated resources must be established in social media” and this holds true today as organizations are establishing a serious footing in the social media world with their onlines posts, employee engagement and interactivity with customers.
Lessons for Others
Rafik Motala – founder of Istinja Bidets – paints a very real picture when organizations do not conform to the social media prowess of the competition. Not just himself, but the team needs to ensure that more frequent than not, some form of social media is being utilized so that people are made aware of the benefits of a particular product. On top of that, knowing where the customers are, what they need and the methods in which to get the product from point A to point B are paramount in the health of any organization. Rafik goes on to add that allocating resources, even if they are outside resources, to handle the social media aspects of all steps in a company’s workflow should be high on any agenda as competitors will always pursue to be ahead, and if social media isn’t part of the plan, then begin to notice a decline in sales, market share and in turn, relevance in the industry.
Industry: Toilets, Bidets, Hygiene
Name of Organization Contact: Rafik Motala, Co-Owner
Authored by: Safi Habib
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.