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‘Summit will open new vista of marketing, advertising knowledge for brand owners’

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Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of Marketing Edge, Mr. John Ajayi

The Publisher of Marketing Edge magazine, Mr. John Ajayi, recently spoke on the upcoming National Marketing Edge Stakeholders Summit and Brand & Advertising Awards slated for July 6, in Lagos. He said stakeholders should look forward to the event for enriching marketing activities. MARGARET MWANTOK provides excerpts

What should stakeholders expect from this year’s National Marketing Summit and Awards?

As we at Marketing Edge make preparations for the sixth edition of the National Marketing Stakeholders Summit and Brand & Advertising Awards of Excellence, stakeholders in the integrated marketing communications in Nigeria should expect a superlative, eventful and enriching marketing activities like never before.

We intend to organise a very robust marketing summit that will ignite a fresh conversation in contemporary marketing issues that have become very latent in terms of marketing management and the management of marketing business.

The theme for this year’s summit, ‘Marketing Paradigms in the Age of Digitalization’ is one that is so dear to our hearts.

It is a theme that is so fundamentally germane to current market challenges and all the tasks that presently confront marketing executives or CEOs.

We have a line-up of highly cerebral industry intellectuals and gurus that have been tested and trusted to provide the right compass in charting a very robust, highly enlightened direction for players in marketing services business.

What are the highlights of this year’s award that will distinguish it from previous years?

Yes, as it is characteristic of Marketing Edge, this year’s event is planned to be great in the sense that we have the morning session, which will be specially dedicated to igniting contemporary conversation about what really troubles marketing and advertising business in Nigeria.

You will agree with me that the topic cannot be timelier than now when consumers are battling with low purchasing power and, of course, the brand owners are currently facing very stiff opposition in terms of product patronage as a result of low consumer purchasing power that has resulted advertently or inadvertently in unsold inventories.

Warehouses in most companies are full to the brim; if you go to the supermarkets, you will see that the products are there, well stocked, but the consumers are not coming. There is buyer apathy.

There is a resistance and, of course, there must be a way out of this marketing logjam. The consumers are at a crossroads because yes, they have demands but the ability to achieve demand is a challenge.

So, we will be looking at the changes that are at the root of this kind of unpalatable marketing disequilibrium in the real market out there, at this point in time when the world is already in the digital age.

Some brand owners have gone beyond the conventional media in selling their products; they have gone beyond the age of traditional media.

They have gone into the age of social media where innovativeness and aggression have been brought into pushing brand messages to ensure the right connection, to ensure a nexus between the products and the consumers.

What are the other changes that have not been fully explored, or that have not been fully understood by the manufacturers or the brand owners, or are there some marketing lapses by those entrusted with marketing management?

This forum is going to provide the platform for the rubbing of minds; it is going to provide a platform for possible solutions that can enable the brand owners have a meeting point with the consumers so that business can be more mutually rewarding, both to the brand owners and to the consumers and, at the end of the day, it becomes a win-win game.

For the first time in six years, the awards will be holding in Lagos mainland. What informed this decision and what impact will it have?

Actually, the awards initiative started in the mainland. The first edition was held at Lagos Sheraton, Ikeja, but over the years, the event grew into a brand.

It has attained its own brand equity height, which made us to take it to Lagos Island to high premium centres, but the truth is that about 70 to 80 percent of industry players and businesses reside on the mainland.

It is on the mainland that you have the largest number of advertising agencies and, of course, it is on the mainland that you have Ikeja Industrial Estate.

So, we have a large number of manufacturing companies that are headquartered on the mainland.

We reasoned within ourselves that if we are organising this event for the industry, why don’t we domicile it, once in a while within the ambit, within easy reach of the major players.

It is because of the motivation to make sure that we take the event closer to the brand owners and major industry stakeholders that informed the relocation to the mainland.

This does not pre-suppose that in the future, we cannot do it again on the island.

We want to be rotating the location for ease of preference and for ready connection and even in the years to come, we may have to take it to Abuja because it is an event that all stakeholders look forward to on a yearly basis.

What is the ideology behind the marketing summit and awards?

Right from when we started Marketing Edge magazine initiative, we said to ourselves, ‘why are we going into the publication of this special publication? Why are we involved in this thankless job of brand journalism?’

But we realised that marketing and advertising reportage in Nigeria had been at a very low and infant stage in Nigerian journalism.

When we pioneered this new initiative in brand journalism, we told ourselves that what we want to do is to promote the brand idea.

Marketing Edge initiative has always been to promote the brand idea.

So in 10 years, we promoted the brand idea through regular publication of Marketing Edge as a leading national marketing magazine in Nigeria.

Thank God that we don’t have competitors except lesser alternatives; that is what we used to tell people; but the truth of the matter is that we never deceive ourselves that because we are number one, we will rest on our oars.

We are forever paranoid, guiding and jealously guarding our market leadership.

And to set us apart from the pack of competitors, we created a very robust CSR initiative in the form of Marketing Edge National Marketing Summit and Brand & Advertising Awards of Excellence.

It is like a brand extension in celebrating the brands, identifying the players, who are the brains behind the brands, which brands are market makers.

Of course, we said that it is not enough to just write stories about brands; let us appreciate the brands that are performing, and let us also appreciate and celebrate the brains.

We set up this award initiative to reward, to celebrate, to appreciate excellence in the management of brand business and the business of brand management; that is very fundamental.

Could you shed more light on your theme, ‘Marketing Paradigms in the Age of Digitalization’?

Before I go to that, let me further say that as an addition to the award initiative and the marketing summit, Marketing Edge will soon debut on TV.

We are going to have a weekly half hour programme on Television Continental (TVC) any moment from now as part of our efforts to continue to initiate, innovate, invent, re-invent for people and players involved in integrated marketing services.

‘Marketing Paradigm in the Age of Digitalization’ is a highly innovative topic that deserves a special attention and focus. It is timely and contemporarily debatable and highly conversational.

In those days, we used to have a sellers’ market; a sellers’ market used to be where the product owner comes to the market with any kind of goods, whether good or bad, good quality or low quality, and they offered them to the consumers who, of course, had very few choices.

The choices available to consumers in the age of sellers’ market were few and far between.

But, as we progress, the market, as you know, is now very dynamic. As society evolves, we have graduated to the buyers’ market.

In the age of the buyers’ market, there are a plethora of products and brands that are calling for consumers’ attention and patronage.

Name any market segment and you would see that the consumers have choices. So, the owners of the brands cannot just come and thrust on the consumer anyhow or any me-too product.

There is now a challenge for brand owners to get the right consumers’ attention to their brands.

It has become the age of competition, the age of real business, the age of real marketing and to actually achieve results, having exercised, having practicalized, having managed and experimented with different marketing approaches, marketing strategies, deploying the different elements in the mix, competition continues to grow in a very geometric way in the marketplace.

As competition grows, there comes with it a lot of dynamics; it is these dynamics that are impacting and affecting the achievement of marketing objectives of most marketing and corporate communications.

The need has actually arisen for the marketing companies, client companies to up their games in different endeavors and, of course, these changes are happening simultaneously about the time that getting the consumer out there is becoming more and more difficult.

You need to know where to track them to; you need to know their lifestyles; you need to know what determines their choices, what is their taste, then what music do they like to listen to, what language do you think they like to speak, what is the best language you can use to communicate with them, what medium, what channel, what time, etc.

Today, if you look at Nigeria, the country is a high tele-density population.

Even though we may not have achieved 100 percent tele-density, you will agree with me that more Nigerians are with mobile handsets and these gadgets, the way they are produced; they provide serious engagements for the average phone user.

And again, there are a lot of communication messages that you can achieve with less amount of money through the deployment of the social media and especially through the phones.

So, brand owners are beginning to look at different opportunities, different avenues, and different platforms to get consumer engagement.

It is engagement, this time around; it is no longer a tyrannical monologue market situation.

Brands are beginning to engage in constant dialogue, constant engagement, and constant involvement with the consumers. It is either you do that or you die! That is why this topic is very germane and timely.

It is germane in the sense that it will open new vitas of marketing and advertising knowledge for the brand owners so that at the end of the day, they can achieve their corporate profitability objectives and, of course, achieve their bottom line.


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