In­sights into the evo­lu­tion­ary mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Akachi Ngwu

The strate­gic im­por­tance of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion is to help shorten the sales cy­cle by nudg­ing cus­tomers to make pur­chase de­ci­sions.

Mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a strate­gic func­tion ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion has to un­der­take to sus­tain long-term re­la­tion­ship with its cus­tomers. Mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion, or MarCom for short, en­com­passes above-the­line (ATL) and be­low-the-line (BTL) mar­ket­ing. The ob­jec­tives of MarCom in­volves gain­ing mar­ket share and sus­tain­ing de­mand. It en­tails the use of var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools to help po­si­tion a brand.

ATL mar­ket­ing fo­cuses on the mass au­di­ence and is of­ten for the pur­pose of brand aware­ness. It in­volves us­ing tele­vi­sion, ra­dio, print, out-of-home ad­ver­tis­ing, among oth­ers. BTL mar­ket­ing es­sen­tially tar­gets in­di­vid­ual cus­tomers to drive in­di­vid­ual re­sponses and brand trust. It in­volves the use of hand­bills, stick­ers, search en­gine mar­ket­ing, so­cial me­dia, et al. Given the mul­ti­plic­ity of com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels, or­gan­i­sa­tions have to ef­fi­ciently use their re­sources by de­cid­ing where to al­lo­cate their limited mar­ket­ing bud­gets to op­ti­mise re­sults.

Var­i­ous schools of thought abound on the ef­fec­tive­ness of each medium with re­gard to brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Ad­vo­cates for the util­i­sa­tion of any par­tic­u­lar medium iden­tify met­rics such as reach, cov­er­age, lis­ten­er­ship, read­er­ship, cir­cu­la­tion, traf­fic count, traf­fic den­sity, cost-ef­fec­tive­ness, ac­ces­si­bil­ity, etc. to jus­tify their pre­ferred medium. Me­dia plan­ners and buy­ers are at the fore-front of as­cer­tain­ing the right mix of com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels. But be­fore that, mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als have to de­ter­mine com­pelling mes­sages to be de­ployed across the va­ri­ety of tra­di­tional and new me­dia chan­nels to cre­ate brand aware­ness and gen­er­ate brand eq­uity. They also have to de­fine the tar­get au­di­ence through a well thought out mar­ket seg­men­ta­tion, tar­get­ing and po­si­tion­ing (STP) strat­egy.

Pro­fes­sion­als who are in­volved in these pro­cesses have to draw from data and in­sight­ful knowl­edge of the me­dia land­scape to en­sure seam­less ex­e­cu­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of their strate­gies. Ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies are the cre­ative en­gines of the en­tire MarCom ecosys­tem. Briefs, ideas, con­cepts and copy-writ­ing are tested and han­dled by these agen­cies. Clients, who are the brand own­ers, have to sign-off on the cam­paign mes­sages and the strate­gies to be de­ployed to en­sure the in­tegrity of the cam­paigns align with their cor­po­rate ob­jec­tives.

Those who pro­vide the plan­ning and buy­ing strate­gies to op­er­a­tionalise the ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign mes­sages across var­i­ous me­dia ve­hi­cles are the in­de­pen­dent me­dia agen­cies. A sub­set of these are the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agen­cies who spe­cial­ize in op­ti­miz­ing dig­i­tal me­dia such as so­cial me­dia, on­line ad­ver­tis­ing, search en­gine op­ti­mi­sa­tion, mo­bile app ad­ver­tis­ing, etc. They help po­si­tion the brand across the var­i­ous dig­i­tal and so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

Pro­vid­ing the me­dia in­fra­struc­tures needed to com­mu­ni­cate ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign mes­sages to the tar­get au­di­ence are the me­dia own­ers. Me­dia own­ers in Nige­ria are or­ga­nized along stake­holder groups such as Broad­cast­ing Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Nige­ria (BON), News­pa­pers Pro­pri­etors As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (NPAN), and Out­door Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria, (OAAN). Of course there are other sup­port­ing in­sti­tu­tions in the mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions value chain. Some of these in­sti­tu­tions in­clude mar­ket­ing re­search agen­cies, mod­el­ling agen­cies, track­ing and com­pli­ance agen­cies, data en­abling agen­cies, etc.

The in­dus­try can­not func­tion with­out an ef­fi­cient reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment, whose most im­por­tant func­tion is con­sumer pro­tec­tion. The reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment is driven on a col­lab­o­ra­tive ba­sis among var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties across var­i­ous sec­tors of the Nige­rian econ­omy. The reg­u­la­tors in­clude the Ad­ver­tis­ing Prac­ti­tion­ers Coun­cil of Nige­ria (APCON), Na­tional Agency for Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion Con­trol (NAFDAC), Stan­dard Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Nige­ria (SON) and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Coun­cil (CPC).

There are also self-reg­u­la­tory bod­ies cre­ated to pro­vide their mem­bers with rel­e­vant re­sources and ca­pac­i­ties to of­fer pro­fes­sional ser­vices to their clients. The As­so­ci­a­tion of Ad­ver­tis­ing Agen­cies of Nige­ria (AAAN), Me­dia In­de­pen­dent Prac­ti­tion­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (MIPAN), Elec­tronic Me­dia Con­tent Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (EMCOAN), Ad­ver­tis­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (ADVAN), Nige­ria In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Re­la­tions (NIPR), and Na­tional In­sti­tute of Mar­ket­ing of Nige­ria (NIMN), OAAN, NPAN, and BON are some as­so­ci­a­tions of prac­ti­tion­ers that ex­ist in the in­dus­try.

With the ex­cep­tion of the elec­tronic broad­cast me­dia, all other ser­vice providers in the in­dus­try have pre­dom­i­nantly pri­vate sec­tor own­er­ships. Growth in the Nige­rian me­dia in­dus­try will con­tinue as more en­trepreneurs explore op­por­tu­ni­ties in the emerg­ing dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing sec­tor, which is poised to be the next fron­tier of ad­ver­tis­ing, thanks to the mo­bile

rev­o­lu­tion. It is ex­pected that the older gen­er­a­tion of ad­ver­tis­ing prac­ti­tion­ers will be­gin to give way to the younger gen­er­a­tion with the at­ten­dant in­no­va­tions that will bring about global best prac­tices in ser­vice de­liv­ery.

Re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the Nige­rian mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try in­clude af­fil­i­a­tion deals, ac­qui­si­tions and di­rect in­vest­ments by global mar­ket­ing com­pa­nies. Nige­ria's fast-grow­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions agency, Noah's Ark, broke the news of its af­fil­i­a­tion deal with Dentsu Aegis Network Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, a sub­sidiary of the global me­dia group that spe­cialises in me­dia, dig­i­tal and cre­ative com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This deal with Noah's Ark, as well as the ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship of Dentsu Aegis Network with Me­dia Fuse, has po­si­tioned the global me­dia com­pany firmly as a player in the lo­cal and sub-re­gional mar­kets. Publi­cis, the Paris-based global mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions network has gained a foothold in the lo­cal MarCom in­dus­try with its in­vest­ment in In­sight Group.

It is ex­pected that more of these strate­gic deals will take place across the in­dus­try. Among the ma­jor ad­van­tages are knowl­edge trans­fer and the en­hanced ca­pac­ity of Nige­ria-based me­dia com­pa­nies to be­come glob­ally com­pet­i­tive. Lend­ing his voice to these de­vel­op­ments, Nige­ria's ad­ver­tis­ing czar, Bio­dun Shobanjo, said at the last Poster Awards or­ga­nized by OAAN that out-of-home ad­ver­tis­ing prac­ti­tion­ers need to con­sider merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions as a strat­egy to their growth.

With the pro­lif­er­a­tion of tech­nol­ogy, the mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing land­scape is fast-chang­ing. The in­ter­net has in­creased com­pe­ti­tion since cus­tomers have a po­tent tool to eval­u­ate al­ter­na­tives. The strate­gic im­por­tance of ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion is to help shorten the sales cy­cle by nudg­ing cus­tomers to make pur­chase de­ci­sions. MarCom also pro­vides a plat­form for brands to en­gage with their cus­tomers.

Brands have to syn­er­gise with mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­perts to lever­age some of the trends in the in­dus­try. One of such trends is co-cre­ation. Com­pa­nies like Coca-Cola are en­gag­ing cus­tomers through co-cre­ation, to cre­ate mar­ket­ing con­tent. A lot of suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing in­no­va­tions the world over are now cus­tomer-driven. Such col­lab­o­ra­tion is ex­pected to deepen and broaden the ap­pli­ca­tion of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels in cam­paign man­age­ment.

Pro­gram­matic mar­ket­ing (PM) is also a mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing trend – which In­ter­ac­tive Ad­ver­tis­ing Bu­reau (IAB) says will soon ac­count for the largest share of dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing. IAB es­ti­mates that by 2018, pro­gram­matic spend will have grown from 28 per cent in 2013 to over 80 per cent of mar­ket­ing spend. Ac­cord­ing to Smart In­sights, "Pro­gram­matic mar­ket­ing is au­to­mated bid­ding on ad­ver­tis­ing in­ven­tory in real time, for the op­por­tu­nity to show an ad to a spe­cific cus­tomer, in a spe­cific con­text." Sim­ply put, PM is an au­to­mated process of ex­e­cut­ing ad­ver­tis­ing trans­ac­tions. Pro­gram­matic mar­ket­ing helps to drive ef­fi­cien­cies in ad­ver­tis­ing spend.

My thoughts in this piece are not pro­vided as a guide but as in­dus­try in­sights to draw at­ten­tion to the strate­gic im­por­tance of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion, fa­cil­i­tate un­der­stand­ing of the mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion process in Nige­ria as well as high­light the emerg­ing game-chang­ers.

Mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a strate­gic func­tion ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion has to un­der­take to sus­tain long-term re­la­tion­ship with its cus­tomers.

Akachi Ngwu

Nige­rian ad­ver­tis­ing czar, Bio­dun Shobanjo

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