To develop brands from the scratch locally to a global stage needs a lot of skills and orientation .One of the strong advocates of this school of thought is Oladimeji Abodunrin, a resourceful brand strategist and field marketing expert. In this chat with marketingspace.com.ng, he revealed a lot about how brands, brand ambassadors and field personnel operate to optimise brand performance in the marketplace. Excerpt…
Q: Presently Nigeria’s economy is going through different challenges, what are the strategies to survive?
First and foremost I will say you minimize your over head cost. That has to do with people that have lots of staff strength, some are redundant who are not doing anything, there is no point in keeping what you don’t need. Keep exactly what you need, this might sound shroud, but I will say that keep the ones you need and do away with those you do not. You can get the rest on contract. If I have like thirty people and I have twenty accounts or I have like ten special jobs coming in and I have about ten staff, so there is no point in keeping people I don’t need and I will not continue to pay salary unnecessarily.
The second thing is, treat your staff very well, the few that you keep, treat them very well. So, you need to treat your staff very well so that they can put in extra effort in whatever they do.
Q: Globally, we have brands that are well known like Microsoft, Nokia and others, but in Nigeria we don’t have brands that are rated globally except brands like Dangote, First Bank, how do you think we can grow globally recognized brands?
It is individual mindset. There is this big fight about a particular diaper that a celebrity endorsed and they were saying one is made in Nigeria and one made somewhere. Because everyone believes that the one made in Nigeria is inferior. So, if we have that mindset, how would the local brands grow? There has to be a way to change the mindset. You go to Aba and someone manufactured a nice shoe instead of him to brand it Chukwuemeka shoe, the maker will now write ZARA shoe. Why won’t I rather go to ZARA store and buy ZARA shoe. It is our mindset, people have already assumed that once it is made in Nigeria is not original. People would rather go for foreign brands because they believe those are the original because they believed they are of better quality.
I see that it has to be an individual mindset, we should try and encourage local content and by the time people start believing in it, the better for us. There has to be more of orientation, exhibition and exposure to make people understand that good things also come out of Nigeria.
Q: Your agency has done lots of activation for different clients, what makes your agency unique from other experiential agencies?
Basically we are still growing. But the thing about us is that whatever we do, we put our best into it. I don’t sit back here in the office and say my staff should go and work for me. I go to the field with them. What makes us different is our total commitment. Like I said I go to the field and make sure the jobs are properly done. We put our everything into what we do. We don’t sit back and say it is somebody’s job.
Q: Brand Ambassadors recently do have problems because of their lifestyles, how do you think brand owners should handle this situation?
For me I think the use of brand ambassadors is extremely over-rated. I am not going to buy something because a celebrity endorsed it, people’s mindset differ. I would rather have one young boy from Ajegunle wearing my diaper. I can relate with him, I can get emotional connection. Even if you go outside of Nigeria, you find a lot of people using endorsement when something goes wrong. Because these people too are humans, they have their individual lives and sometimes because they are in the searchlight, they don’t even have any privacy. So, they have more tendencies to even misbehave. So, if opportunity comes to express themselves they do so. We human beings could over step our boundaries.
So, I could say that, make them sign contract may be as much as possible put checks on them. In Nigeria we see brand ambassadors who apologise for their misdeeds. I don’t think I heard that Tiger Woods apologised for what he did. In Nigeria, you find brand ambassadors come out to apologise for what they done wrong. We have a kind of culture in Nigeria that tells you to apologise for what you have done wrong. So, we have already got mindset that people are emulating us.