Some vibrant experiential marketing agencies in the country are fully prepared to take the bull by the horn during the period of recession. One of such agencies is Linkpoint Resources International Limited. The Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Mr. Ropo Alabi shared with MARKETINGSPACE.COM.NG some strategies that brand owners can deploy to engage consumers and how to keep their brands afloat at this period. Excerpts…
How would you advise brand owners to stay afloat at this time of recession?
First and foremost, what is recession? Recession is when prices of goods and services are going up. When the cost of living is getting higher and when the standard of living is falling. However, Brands at this time would be efficiently activated, only by professionals who are grounded in the business. The brand activation business is not for quacks anymore because it requires working smart, working hard and also reaching the consumers. Despite the recession, people would still buy and sell goods and services. Any Brand activation agency that knows its onions will excel at this period.
The strategies to use are, the quality of your service must be good, there must be consistency in service offerings, and in terms of margin, the margin may be small but you have to remain afloat in the business by managing the little profit margin you have, to ensure that the business remains profitable and sustainable. You must not compromise the quality and efficiency of your service or brand.
Consumers engagement: the consumers are the hallmark of success, they must be involved. So many engagements are put in place to tantalise the consumers i.e. tasting, footage, dancing, feeling, online and digital types and feedback.
In the industry, we have very many experiential agencies but only very few are being patronised by the brand owners, what do you think an average Nigerian brand experiential marketer should do to be engaged and retained by brand owners?
The first thing I think they should do is capacity building. A good experiential marketing agency that will survive at this period must have capacity building. What do I mean by capacity building? The fund outlay must be good to stand the test of time. Secondly, professionalism is one of the ways to remain in business. Thirdly, relationship building must also be there and the trust must also come to play. That is, it is only when you have worked over time for some reputable companies that people would believe and have that trust in your delivery. But succinctly, testimonial will be required.
For instance, if you want to give business to somebody or a company, you don’t allocate the most important aspect of the new business to a novice or a new person, else that person or agency will mess up your plans. So, brand owners want people who are experienced and trusted. They always look for those they can hold responsible if anything happens. They are not comfortable with mediocres.
What are the things that make brands stay afloat in the market especially at this period of recession?
A Brand is like a human life. It has its own lifespan. But to remain afloat, don’t leave the brand to itself, a brand needs maintenance. The maintenance in terms of promotion, support, awareness and most importantly the price dynamics.
For instance, when you talk about Omo. Omo has been in existence even before we were born. But because of the support they have been giving to Omo year in-year out that brand remains. To the extent that when new babies are born and you want to talk about detergent, you talk about Omo, even if they are buying another detergent, they still call it Omo. So, it is the support, maintenance of that brand which is very important and also the price.
That is why you find many companies now going into mass market; that is affordability. Gone are the days when you go to the market with Ten Thousand Naira and buy so many things. Now, people buy things they can use for a day or two. These are the experience you see when there is recession, when there is short supply of money; people want to get more from little. They have to go into mass market and Nigeria has huge opportunity for mass market because of the advantage of population even in the rural areas.
And of course, you must know your target audience, when you have a brand, who are you targeting? Are you targeting upper class, middle class or lower class? You must know your target audience. When you know your target audience, you will now think of where you can find them.
For instance, Peak Milk, before now, people see that brand belonging to the top class but they have come down to say we want to do mass market too. You can now see Peak Milk in different pack sizes and they are affordable. Even some pack sizes are targeted to age bracket eg. Peak 4,5,6. Brand segmentation is very key to brand professionals. Those are some of the things that come up when you are in a recessive economy.
Kindly share with us some of the measures you have put in place to ensure that your agency remains sustainable and profitable in this period of recession?
The first thing is team building. The spirit of the team must be very high because when you want to work you must work as a team. Secondly, training and re-training. Recently, we organised training for our staff taking cognisance of the recession eg. selling skills in a recession. We want mental alertness and intellectual team. Training is very important at this period.
Another measure is that the brand ambassadors that are working with you are motivated. For instance, in a year, you can bring them together and chat with them, organise workshops for them constantly. Make sure you put up an insurance scheme, such as a group insurance policy. Put incentive and welfare schemes in place. Celebrate achievers, pay their wages on time to retain loyalty.
Also, your team must be consistent as well as your labour turnover which must be at a very low ebb. You must have a very good relationship with the banks because you need money to execute the briefs and projects. You also need fast speed of delivery putting in mind cost effectiveness and efficiency.