BrandArena: 'Purpose-driven Marketing, Infused With Memorable Customer Experiences Will Be A Strong Force In 2017'

Monday 2 January 2017

'Purpose-driven Marketing, Infused With Memorable Customer Experiences Will Be A Strong Force In 2017'

Anurika Azubuike, the Founder of Customer Attraction Academy, a Business Growth Academy for Entrepreneurs and Professionals, spoke with BRANDARENA on 2016 IMC industry performance in Nigeria and outlook for 2017. 
Anurika Azubuike

What's your scorecard for marketing communications industry in 2016?

As with other recent years, 2016 once again witnessed fast paced technology trends which had huge impact on the marketing communications industry as a whole. Content marketing and personalization took front seats as priority for engaging with today’s savvy customers. Video content was consumed more voraciously during the course of the year and influenced marketing strategies and media buying.

The dynamics of platforms to reach target customers changed as social media platforms allowed a more conversational style of engaging with audiences, thereby affecting social interactions. Live streaming increased in popularity and acceptance as more people got to witness things as they happened, and the barrier to broadcasting became slimmer as just anyone could broadcast and share video content on the go. Mobile continued to dominate as even more people consumed content on mobile devices than on desktop and laptop computers.

So, what lessons do you think the IMC industry should learn from year 2016?

One of the strongest lessons from 2016 is ‘Innovate or die.’ Business as usual died years ago. Unfortunately, only a small number of organizations within the industry have integrated this in their outlook and planning. Many others remain stagnant or fail to adapt to changing markets, and thereby struggle.

The industry needs to infuse other professionals into its planning and operations, such as data specialists, user experience professionals, developers, and web experts in order to grow. With the fast paced nature of digital media through technology, individuals within the traditional marketing communication industry need to update their skills, become savvier with technology, data and analytics. On the other hand, those involved with the technical side of things on the digital side need to get more creative with their ideas.

For three consecutive years, the industry earnings in Nigeria have continued to plunge. What do you think are the causes and what can be done to improve earnings?

One of these factors is macroeconomics that affects businesses in general. In economic downturns, one of the ways companies cut down spending is by slashing budgets, and marketing budgets are usually one of the first to go. By generally slashing marketing budgets, overall business within the marketing communication industry will naturally slow down. This coupled with the fact that the companies within the marketing communications industry are not shielded from what is going on at the macroeconomic level. Indeed, this is like a double edge sword.

That being said, global marketing communications trend continue to show that technology remains a driver of huge transformation in the industry, and marketing departments of today’s modern day are searching for creative, innovative ways to tap into the aspirations and wants of their target customers.

Looking at the economic challenges and slow actions of the present government to quickly bring the nation out of recession, how do you think IMC industry will fare in 2017?

Innovation is the engine of economic growth. In the midst of the current economic challenges, I think there are opportunities to explore. I believe that the IMC industry will thrive if we are able to come up with new, better, more efficient and less expensive ways of capturing attention of target customers, keeping that attention and gaining eventual buy-in and loyalty for our clients’ brands. Clients are basically looking out for who will be able to give them better and more effective results.

So managers believe traditional marketing is dead. What’s your stance on this?

Traditional marketing is not dead, as a lot of top executives and business managers of organizations claim. What the marketing communications industry requires is genuine ‘integration’ not from the organization or campaign point of view, but from a customer perspective. Creating marketing campaigns that are just part of the sales and marketing mechanism of organizations will need to change.

Players in the marketing communications industry will need to embrace the fact that the lines between a company’s branded content and mass media are blurring. The internet and social media has changed all that. What social media has brought with it, and its evolution over the years, is Community. With just a few clicks, customers can easily access media, new ideologies are created and participants can jump on the ones that appeal the most to them. A strong idea can rapidly advance and gain support and following in a matter of seconds.

Today’s customers are more drawn to real impact and something with a deeper purpose. In 2017, purpose-driven marketing, infused with memorable customer experiences, will be a strong force.

Which segment of the industry do you think we are likely to see more activities this year?

Digital is obviously going to be activity-heavy with social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, display advertising, search engine optimization, e-commerce marketing and others, that keep evolving. However, these activities cannot be viewed in isolation of an integrated approach to marketing. Hence, digital cannot be considered alone without the role of advertising, public relations, experiential, customer relationship management, events and sponsorships, and other elements of IMC. In totality, the customer, overall strategy, tactics, data, among other factors, are all interconnected around what a brand represents and its relevance to its customers.

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