Mr. Kehinde Lekan Salami is the Managing Director of Ideas House, a marketing and sales solutions provider that is supremely passionate about marketing promotional ideas, experiential activations and revenue growth. In this interview, the Managing Director of the company gives assessment of experiential marketing industry in Nigeria, what should be done to tackle quackery in the industry, how experiential marketers can survive the present economy. Excerpt…
How can experiential marketers survive the present economy downturn in the country?
Experiential marketers are not an island. We are a function of the environment with which we exist. The same pinch that every other person is feeling is what we are feeling and don’t forget we are a subset of what our clients are. If our clients can no longer bring in raw materials due to foreign exchange restriction and they are having difficulties in been able to take out their profit, it would affect their ability to survive and engage people like us. The entire eco system right now is in chaos. There is high uncertainty and there is serious lack of confidence in the system and the economy. We thrive as a result of the success of the brand we try to protect. By the time those brand are having issues and the cost of everything is going up it would no doubt affect us. Dollar is now over N300 to naira. Something that was N200 or N220 in the past has now increased by 50 to 60 per cent. And when this happens it affects the purchasing power of the consumer who will try and target to buy them. Is not as if their disposable income has increased with the same amount at which the product price has gone up. At the end of the day it will still come done and affect experiential marketing because the client can no longer pay for the service
How do you see experiential marketing in 2016?
I see experiential marketing this year evolving into some new spaces. I see experiential marketing playing bigger role in health sector, recreation, tourism and security enlightment. I see experiential marketing moving away from our traditional core which is more of brand marketing. Those are areas I think the right thinking experiential agency should look into. Experiential agencies should also look at digital marketing. We have over 120 million lines. We need to start doing something in terms of making the experience virtual. We must make sure that our brands are delivering the compelling experience to people on a person bases by their phones.
How do you think government can come in and assist experiential marketing in Nigeria?
Government can come in by creating an enabling environment. In this office now the generator has been switched ON for almost two weeks now.
They should also help us in making sure we have access to cheap finance. I think government should help us because this is an industry that employs up to 200,000 people. Government need to realise our contribution to the nation and assist us by making sure we have better access to finance. They need to give us an enabling environment which will help us to reduce our cost of operation. They should also help us to ammonise the tax so that we will not be doing double taxation everywhere we go.
2015 was a memorable year for Nigeria Considering the fact that it was a general election year where investors were not sure of the outcome of the election whether there will be violence or not. What is your assessment of the Experiential Marketing industry in that year?
2015 was a challenging year but at the same time brought its own opportunities. During the election period a lot of experiential agencies were able to add some values, although we did not play in that space. I know some of my colleagues who were part of it. The industry slow down just before the election and immediately after the election, I mean towards the end of the year things picked up dramatically because by then we were entering third quarter. There were a lot of pressures across the marketing function on brands that were not doing well.
2015 was Ideas House best year ever. We are quite excited and it is giving us the platform by which to be optimistic for 2016 and beyond. We felt that the election squeezed in the first and second quarter of that year, but in the third and fourth quarter of the year, we did not had any problem.
President of Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN) Dr. Rotimi Olaniyan said recently that experiential marketing industry in Nigeria worth N30billion. Going by your own assessment, has the industry been able to live up to its expectations?
Experiential marketing industry in Nigeria has lived up to its expectation. Don’t forget that before we used to have exposure, from exposure it moved to engagement and from engagement thing now moved to experience. I feel that my president is right to have said the industry worth N30 billion. This is the only aspect of marketing where you can see, touch, taste, feel and smell the brand. Experiential marketing is the only discipline in the marketing communication fold that gives you all the opportunity. So I am not surprise that it is an industry that worth N30billion and it is still growing and budget are still re-allied to give more weight to experiential marketing than ever before.
What do you think should be done to tackle the issue of quackery in the experiential marketing business?
At the association level we are putting structure and processes in place that will ensure that only those who are certified practitioners and companies can participate in pitches and experiential marketing. That process has already started and thing will become clearer as they unfold in coming months and years.
How do brand activations help unconscious consumers to become conscious?
I have already said it. It is only experiential marketing that gives you the five senses which are to see, touch, taste, feel and smell the brand. If you are unconscious consumer you are probably don’t see, you have not tasted, you have not smell, heard and touch the brand. Experiential marketing will awake your senses across the five key sensory organs to make the unconscious be conscious.
As someone who has been in the business of brand building through experiential marketing and brand activation, what is the implication of data availability on the business of marketing communication?
Data availability is key to marketing communication. Today we have over 120 million GSM subscribers in the country. There are 20 or 30 million bank account holders in Nigeria.
In the financial services sector, recreational sector, some political space and as well as telecoms, people are dropping their data. The data need to be profiled and properly segmented for marketing to start. You will also target with propositions that is peculiar and sensitive to each different audience setting. So that is where data base marketing comes into it.
There are some countries and markets that relied on database marketing. Nigeria is not their yet and I believe that is where we need to get to. The infrastructure is not available. Even when you have data they are not talking to each other. Immigration services have it own data, Nigerian Police has its own, telecoms companies have their own and the banks. There is no convergences point where these data are talking to each other and there is no data mining to know that the person who left its data with emigration has the same data with the telecoms companies. The converging point is where I think government still needs to do some works and once that the policies are out and the investment is there people will then see the real value of database marketing. When I was working with Breach Telecom in UK we were sending over a million mails every week and these mails were going out to different individual with different proposition. So we will send the guy who calls Somalia every Tuesday and spends two hours, a promotion that will allows him to do that for longer than two hours for more days in a week. We will send the lady who only calls her family on weekends in Nigeria from UK a weekend proposition that will make it more convenient and enjoyable for her to do that without stress. We have different proposition if we discover that there were some market where people were not calling during the week. So that is why real database is very important, but we have not started that in Nigeria.
Where do you want to see Ideas House in the next few years?
In the next few years personally I will like to see us not only winning account but also been recognize in terms of winning awards. Right now in the EXMAN level we are trying to start our own EXMAN award. Last year we entered into the Lorees award. 2013 we entered into the Can Lion award. We are always searching and we will keep improving along the way. I want to see us being a truly award winning agency doing great work for our clients. At the same time creating our own proposition in terms of product proposition and services.