A few years ago, while I worked in a leading business and management consultancy firm, I became a huge fan of Management Guru – Peter Drucker. In one of his books called “Innovation & Entrepreneurship’, he articulated that the future is happening now and if you do not believe it, look around for yourself and see how many so-called traditional things are being challenged on a daily basis by new innovations.
One of these so-called traditional things being tested is the business marketing model. In a previous article on this blog, we learnt that marketing refers to everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Even the small tasks like writing thank-you letters, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee can be thought of as marketing.
So the question to ponder over then becomes, with this increasing advancement in technology, is #InYourFace marketing still going to be as effective as it used to be?
At BLEGSCOPE, we have learned/learnt to embrace innovation whether it is generated internally or is comes from an external source as long as it seeks to improve efficiency and the way we relate with our staff and clients. In our quest to improve our outreach, we stumbled upon digital marketing and as mentioned earlier by Peter Drucker, the future is indeed happening now.
Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all of your online marketing efforts. Various institutions whether commercial businesses, governments and non-profits) leverage digital channels such as Google search, social media, email, and their websites to connect with their current and prospective customers and stakeholders. Whereas in the early 2000s, marketing was clearly done and seen to be done on billboards and print media particularly in hard copy, there has been a strong shift in having a lot or marketing being done online. If you had not noticed, technology has allowed you to communicate faster and more affordably across the entire globe and this has led to a lot of shared information and lessons from different economies on how they can make strides in business.
The reality is, people spend twice as much time online as they used to 15 to 20 years ago. And while we say it a lot, the way people shop and buy really has changed, meaning offline marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be. Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means that you need to meet them where they are already spending time: on the internet.
Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media and differs from traditional marketing in that it involves the use of channels and methods that enable an organization to analyze marketing campaigns and understand what is working and what isn’t – typically in real time. Digital marketers monitor things like what is being viewed, how often and for how long, sales conversions, what content works and doesn’t work, etc. While the Internet is, perhaps, the channel most closely associated with digital marketing, others include wireless text messaging, mobile instant messaging, mobile apps, podcasts, electronic billboards, digital television and radio channels, etc.
Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Here are 5 critical things you and your CEO are expected to know in order to compete in the era of digital marketing;
The digital technologies underlying these competitive thrusts may not be new, but they are being used to new effect. Smart mobile devices make that information and computing power accessible to users around the world.
Digital capabilities increasingly will determine which companies create or lose value.
ONE> New pressure on prices as many platforms are extremely affordable
Digital technologies create near-perfect transparency, making it easy to compare prices, service levels, and product performance. This dynamic can commoditize products and services as consumers demand comparable features and simple interactions.
TWO> Communication is all the time and is borderless
Digital media is so widespread that consumers (and your competition) have access to information any time and any place they want it. Gone are the days when the messages people got about your products or services came from you and consisted of only what you wanted them to know. People want brands they can trust, companies that know them, communications that are personalized and relevant, and offers tailored to their needs and preferences.
THREE> the war for talent is ever more present
In the digital space, software replaces labour. Now the focus shifts from extremely talented specialists to having digital analytical skills. A key challenge for senior managers and business leaders will be sensitively reallocating the savings from automation to the talent needed to forge digital businesses. One local company, for example, is simultaneously planning to cut a large employee base and instead add to its digital business. Moves like these, will have significant social repercussions, elevating the opportunities and challenges associated with digital advances to a public-policy issue, not just a strategic-business one.
FOUR> Converging global supply and demand
Digital technologies know no borders, and the customer’s demand for a unified experience is raising pressure on global companies to standardize offerings. They have come to expect payment systems that work across borders, global distribution, and a uniform customer experience.
FIVE> Business models are changing at alarming speeds
Finally, digitization is creating online platforms that bring efficiency and speed to production and cross-border exchanges. Thriving e-commerce platforms allow greater and faster flows of goods and services to new markets and help smaller players participate in expanding global trade. It is now certain that in the financial eco-system, of the numerous end-to-end processes in banks (e.g. opening an account or getting a small loan), more than 65% have been fully automated; just look at MTN’s Mobile Money lending platform MoKash which has a credit evaluation process that lasts all of 4 minutes. Diagnostics are being done at the speed of light thanks to the ability to scan and store massive amounts of extensive research and customer data.
Regardless of your role/position at your organisation, it is important to keep in mind that digitization is a moving target. The emergent nature of digital forces means that harnessing them is a journey, not a destination and thus a rare opportunity to reposition your company for a new era of competition and growth.
The marketing game is changing, and it is pulling businesses along with it. From the need to automate and take a data-driven approach, to relying on consumers for brand awareness, businesses are faced with the stark choice of evolving or being disrupted. The new face of marketing is a harsh but rewarding place where only the nimble survive only and only if you continue adding value.
By Edmund Kamugisha
Edmund is the Engagement Director at BLEGSCOPE®, and has 10+ years of management consultancy experience notably in MSMEs, FMCG companies and in the service industry. You can follow him on twitter: @edmokmg