Be cre­ative


IT IS NO LONGER an earth-shud­der­ing rec­om­men­da­tion that you shouldn’t cut your mar­ket­ing bud­get dras­ti­cally when dif­fi­cult eco­nomic con­di­tions force you to turn each cent over care­fully be­fore you spend it. There’s am­ple ev­i­dence of com­pa­nies that in­creased their mar­ket­ing spend in hard times and then ex­pe­ri­enced above-av­er­age growth when the good times re­turned.

Pro­fes­sor Frikkie Herbst, mar­ket­ing ex­pert at the Uni­ver­sity of Stel­len­bosch, says he still finds many busi­nesses cut that bud­get when the econ­omy is strug­gling. “How­ever, in dif­fi­cult times mar­ket­ing must be smarter – def­i­nitely not shoved aside,” he says. Herbst says re­search pro­vid­ing re­li­able fig­ures on the re­turn from each type of mar­ket­ing in­vest­ment is ur­gently re­quired.

One of the in­ter­est­ing new mar­ket­ing trends we have re­ported on widely is word-of-mouth mar­ket­ing. For ex­am­ple, an MBA stu­dent at the Stel­len­bosch School of Busi­ness (USB), Marthi­nus van Log­geren­berg, found in re­cent re­search that word of mouth mar­ket­ing works very well in the case of the black mid­dle class and even the most well-off black women in South Africa. Ear­lier re­search by the UCT Unilever In­sti­tute of Strate­gic Mar­ket­ing found that that tar­get group spends around R120bn (40% in 2008) of the to­tal amount spent an­nu­ally by women in SA.

Van Log­geren­berg says few SA brands are cur­rently mar­keted creatively enough to un­lock that vast po­ten­tial. “They sim­ply em­ploy con­ven­tional mar­ket­ing to try to reach the huge grow­ing black mar­ket. They over­look the im­por­tance of word of mouth, which still forms a very im­por­tant part of black cul­ture.”

The suc­cess rate of word of mouth mar­ket­ing has also been con­firmed from other ar­eas: re­search by Mill­ward Brown found 80% of South Africans will rec­om­mend a prod­uct to some­one else, com­pared with the world av­er­age of 69%. On the other hand, only 14% of peo­ple be­lieve strongly in or­di­nary ad­ver­tis­ing mes­sages, ac­cord­ing to re­search by the Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view.

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