The proliferation of technology and the rapid increase in online communities have brought about a significant transformation in the area of marketing. Customer engagement and interactions were transformed into metaverse. A metaverse is a new normal in which people can interact with digital content. Customers can engage companies and act as product co-creators. Marketing practitioners and educators need to be upskilled in developing knowledge that embraces the emerging phenomenon of metaverse. Educationists and industries need to collaborate to harness the upcoming challenges and opportunities with metaverse ecosystems.
Although metaverse is still under development, the potential to provide marketers with unique experiences is becoming a reality. Interactive brand experience, interactive platforms, creation of virtual venues, and virtual show rooms are becoming a new normal in the market. The brick-and-mortar shops are being annihilated and, in some cases, complemented as organisations try to remain competitive. This is the survival of the fittest, as companies aim to have online dominance. The whole is to improve customer loyalty and to be up-to-date with the changing consumer behaviours.
Global corporates, commonly known as “the digiratis” have since embraced the metaverse marketing strategy of digitally literate companies. Nikeland (Nike) allows customers to become involved in the development and design of their sneakers. In addition, the Roblox (Gucci) is in the branded clothing while Fortnite (Coca Cola) is in the music. The certainty of incorporating a metaverse into marketing books is not debatable. This stage is not only transformative, but also a gamechanger in marketing innovations and campaigns.
Metaverse has allowed customers to share their experiences virtually, making personalisation easier than ever before. However, it remains to be seen to been seen how these technologies transform customer engagement and experience. Companies must also understand the side effects of online engagement with customers, as issues of authenticity and transparency are emerging. Companies should invest in improving value for customers, improving customer experience, and engaging rather than manipulating them.
It is noteworthy that the metaverse is an innovation in marketing. The adoption of technology in marketing activities is critical, as marketers try to create memorable experiences with their customers through personalised products. New opportunities exist for marketing practitioners, educators, and communities in the era of the meta-verse.
Dr. Reason Masengu is a Senior Lecturer of Marketing at Middle East College, Muscat, Oman. He is passionate about teaching and research in marketing and supply chain management.
By Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga
Public relations (PR) helps an organisation connect with its audiences and create a positive reputation for the brand. An organisation may have a dedicated PR department, yet it may need to get the services of an external agency to help achieve PR goals such as gaining visibility.
I have worked with several PR agencies both in Zimbabwe and South Africa, including Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultancy, run by Sapi Bachi, Vincent Magwenya’s Conversations Africa, and Purple Room Consultancy run by the director, Thandi Chaotsane-Moticoe. Vincent is now South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson having held the same post under Jacob Zuma.
Sunshine Corporate Communications consultancy, is the start-up I launched during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are launching another start-up, Lenox Mhlanga & Associates to replace it in June to coincide with my birthday.
My experience working with PR agencies has almost been dominated by crises of expectations. The question at the top of the minds of most organisations that hire agencies is how they can make sure they get the best results, in other words, value for the money. I will share some tips and best practices to follow.
Make sure you choose the right one
All PR agencies are different, so you need to find the one that’s the right fit for your brand. You should look for an agency that has experience in your industry, understands your target audience and shares your vision and values. You should also check their portfolio, testimonials and references. Check their track record. You either go for small boutique agencies and large transnational ones that can hit you in the pocket but deliver.
Define what you want
After selecting the PR agency you want to work with after a rigorous pitch process, your work with them should start with setting accurate key performance indicators (KPIs). At your initial meeting, you need to decide what you want to accomplish. Do you intend your PR campaigns to increase sales, and brand awareness, manage reputation or engage in stakeholder relations? You should set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based objectives. This helps focus the agency’s work with laser-sharp precision.
Treat it as a partnership
A PR agency is not just a service provider; it’s a partner that can help you grow your brand. So, you should learn to trust and communicate with them openly and regularly. You should also involve them in your strategic planning and decision-making processes, and give them access to relevant personnel, information and resources. Such unfettered access, under strict parameters, of course, will contribute to the success of the partnership.
Be straightforward and provide information
A PR agency can only do its job well if it has enough information about your brand, products or services, competitors and market trends. You should be honest and transparent with them about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), as well as any challenges or issues that may arise during your campaigns. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are standard particularly where you are worried about trade secrets being leaked to competitors. You should also provide them with feedback on their work and suggestions for improvement.
A PR campaign often requires quick action and reaction to changing situations or opportunities. You should be ready to respond to any requests or queries from the PR agency promptly and efficiently, especially when deadlines are tight, such as in a crisis. It would be best if you also were flexible and adaptable to any changes or adjustments that may be needed along the way.
The pros and cons of hiring a PR agency
When making the decision to hire a PR agency, you have to consider the many benefits for the brand as well as the drawbacks. A PR agency can bring expertise, experience and creativity that you may not have in your organisation. This is so when specialist services such as in reputation management, staging events or communicating during a crisis.
You save time and money by hiring an agency to handle all aspects of a PR campaign from planning to execution. They also offer objective and fresh perspectives on your business and the market.
PR agencies have wide networks and relationships they can leverage. These include media outlets, influencers and other stakeholders that generate positive coverage and exposure for your brand. They also assist your organisation to manage and mitigate any negative publicity that could harm your brand’s reputation.
But, one has to be aware of the disadvantages presented by hiring an agency. Depending on the kind of services one requires, agencies can be expensive, especially if you hire a large or prestigious one. These are able to mobilise a tremendous amount of resources to deal with the tasks at hand. It’s a case of putting your money where your mouth is!
Another drawback may be that the agency may not understand your business culture, values or goals, or align with them. The intricate processes and internal politics are out of reach for the agency unless the organisation is willing to open up to outsiders. I have found that often, organisations are very cautious in this regard.
The coming in of an outsider (the agency) may cause confusion or duplication of efforts if it does not coordinate well with the business’ internal team or other external partners.
PR agencies may have other clients that compete with or clash with yours or prioritize them over yours. This is why full disclosure is necessary for the agency to avoid conflict of interest. The lure of a big account may influence an agency to mask the possibility that they are working with a competitor, but from experience, this is rare. Some PR agencies make promises they can’t fulfil, or fail to meet expectations or set standards.
Hiring a PR agency is an investment in your brand’s success, so you want to make sure that you get value for your money. The success of the partnership is guaranteed when clear expectations and deliverables are set from the start. Track them throughout the campaigns. Establish a realistic budget and timeline for the campaign, and stick to them as much as possible.
Take time to negotiate favourable terms and conditions for the contract, such as payment methods, cancellation policies or performance incentives. Evaluate the performance and outcomes of the campaign using both quantitative and qualitative metrics, such as media coverage, brand awareness, customer satisfaction or sales growth. Celebrate the successes and learn from the failures of the campaign together with the PR agency, and share feedback and recommendations for future collaboration.
In conclusion, hiring a PR agency can be a smart investment for any organization looking to build its reputation, increase brand visibility, and improve its relationships with stakeholders. Yet, it is important to choose the right agency and to establish a clear and effective working relationship to achieve the desired results. By following the steps outlined in this article, organizations can increase their chances of finding the right PR agency and making the partnership a success.
Lenox Mhlanga is a communication consultant with over 22 years of experience working with high-profile organisations such as the World Bank and blue chip clients in Zimbabwe and the region. He is available for strategic counsel, training and mentorship on mobile at +263 772 400 656 and by email: email@example.com
By Elliot Shoniwa.
According to respected Research and Business Advisory Consultancy firm Gartner (2019), Customer Experience Management (CX) “is the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy”.
CX goes beyond Customer Relationship Management (CRM) by tracking customer experiences at every touchpoint with the organisation.
Furthermore, CX seeks to understand current transactions and their connection to previous encounters and how best to make future ones memorable. Another broader definition of customer experience is given by Gupta and Vajic (2000) who state that “an experience occurs when a customer has any sensation or knowledge acquisition resulting from some level of interaction with different elements of a context created by the service provider”. In simple terms Abbott defines an experience as the transformation of products into value as perceived by the customer.
As this transformation occurs emotive responses associated with the product or service consumption occur. These emotions underline the experience that the consumer goes through which can be either positive or negative.
CX is an emerging concept that has gained a lot of prominence in many sectors though the retail sector embraced this concept much earlier than most sectors. It has been observed that the “experience” factor in this ecosystem comprises the ambience of the environment in which the service is provided, for example a restaurant.
The whole customer purchase journey involves contact with the firm or its representatives, product or service consumption and all the touch points contribute to the experience, (Berry et al., 2002, Lemon and Verhoef, 2016). Katherine & Verhoef (2016) define CEM from a strategic as well as holistic angle focusing on organisational design, measuring and monitoring the customer experience so that the whole organisation is wired for total customer satisfaction.
This approach requires customer experience management matters to be discussed in the highest levels of any organisation, which is the boardroom. The corporate vision and top management support are a strategic imperative in implementing a superior customer experience culture.
A quick re-cap:
In Part 1 of this article we laid down the fundamental issues concerning brand voice, tone and personality.
What is a brand’s voice?
Brand voice is the words and language that you use to speak with your audience, while brand personality is the human characteristics, qualities and traits you attach to your brand to make it more charismatic and engaging to your target audience.
What is brand tone?
A brand’s tone is the way you speak, it’s the attitude with which you convey your brand’s values and beliefs.
A brand’s voice or personality determines what it says, while tone of voice determines how it says it. Brand tone is the emotional chord or the emotion behind the voice. It helps a brand to connect with its audience or customers, thereby building relationships with them.
A unique brand with a strong personality that doesn’t blend in or that won’t be drowned in the tonnes of content being churned out literally every minute online is the key to visibility in the battle of brands in an overcrowded digital space.
The traits and characteristics of a brand’s personality serve as a differentiator, setting it apart from the rest, and enabling it therefore to connect on a personal or even emotional level with its customers.
How to develop your own brand voice?
Creating the most ideal or best personality for your brand is crucial in order to avoid having an assortment of voices and tones in your marketing messages across various platforms. Giving your brand a personality entails determining how you want your brand to be known and what it is you want to be known for.
To get started on this journey, ask yourself what type of relationship you would want to have with your customers. You ought to be able to describe your brand in at least 3-5 words.
The Awards season is upon us!
The Marketers Association of Zimbabwe -Top Brands and Marketing Excellence wards is upon us with provincial and national awards lined up in the month of September.
The awards, organised and hosted by Marketers Association of Zimbabwe were introduced in the year 2012 to encourage and celebrate excellence across the marketing process within the business spectrum.
These awards recognise organisations and people who have achieved outstanding success in their planning and implementation of marketing and related area strategies annually.
For 2023, MAZ has decentralised the Exceptional Marketing Awards (EMA) which were traditionally hosted at the Marketers Convention to Manicaland, Bulawayo and Harare.
The decentralisation of the EMA awards is meant to recognise marketing efforts by regional or provincial executives in abide to promote marketing orientation across Zimbabwe.
Manicaland province hosted their first ever, Manicaland Top Brands & Marketing Excellence Awards on the 15th of September, 2023.
The awards ceremony held at Holiday Inn Mutare were highly attended a sign that regional brands also appreciate the recognition.
The Matabeleland Top Brands Marketing Excellence Awards will be held at the ZITF Hall 2 on 22 September, 2023.
The dress code for the awards ceremony is Black tie with an African Touch.
Categories to be awarded for the provincial awards are;
1. Best Video / TV advert of the Year 2023
2. Best Radio Advert of the Year 2023
3. Best Print Advert of the Year 2023
4. Best Outdoor Advert of the Year 2023
5. Best Social Media and Digital Marketing Campaign of the Year 2023
6. Best Customer Experience of the Year 2023
7. Best Marketing Oriented SME of the Year 2023
8. Best Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year 2023
9. Best Regional Consumer Brand of the Year 2023
10. Best Regional Corporate Brand of the Year 2023
11. Regional Marketing Champion of the Year 2023
The National EMA awards would be held at the Golden Conifer in Harare on the 29th of September, 2023.
The awards would be held under the theme ‘Igniting creativity and growth for brand success.’
The National Exceptional Marketing Awards were traditionally held at the Annual Marketers Convention and the first stand-alone awards were held last year at Cresta Lodge.
For the National awards, there are 25 categories from which only one best personality, advert, and campaign will be selected as the best together with two runner ups, first and second respectively.
MAZ Executive Secretary, Gillian Rusike highlighted the importance of recognising and celebrating marketing excellence.
“The Top Brands and Marketing Excellence Awards seek to pick out the outstanding brands and executives pushing those brands countrywide.
There has been a paradigm shift in the manner in which business is done globally and so has marketing evolved in the past years. There are new focus areas for brands and we want to celebrate those brands that have managed to stand out,” said Mr Rusike.
He said the regional awards are in line with Government’s devolution agenda.
“With the government agenda on devolution, MAZ has seen it necessary to foster growth of regional brands. The time has come for brands that dominate in the regions to rise up and spearhead regional growth of the region. Further, these brands should strive not only to become household brands in their regions only, but to dominate every household in Zimbabwe, and start entering regional markets, in SADC first, and Africa as a whole,” said Mr Rusike.
Categories for the National EMA awards;
At last year’s National EMA awards, Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, deputy CEO, Stella Nkomo was adjudged as the National Marketer of the year.
The National Marketer of the year award is given to an individual who has spearheaded or implemented a financially viable campaign. The award winner should be innovative and a team player.
MAZ president, Lillian Mbayiwa was the first runner and National Foods’ Group Marketing executive, Lawrence Kutinyu was the second runner up.
In a tightly contested Best Marketing Oriented CEO/Managing Director of the year category, Varun Beverages Vijay Bahl emerged as winner with Nyaradzo’s Group, Philip Mataranyika was first runner up while Dr Nicholas Ndebele and Professor Robson Mafoti became the second runner ups respectively
The award criteria looks at the following; forward thinking, a risk taker and a person who always comes up with innovative ideas. The person must be able to motivate and inspire marketers to make sure that executions meet with objectives.
United Refineries Limited’s sales Manager Conchita Jo-Anne Vermack was named as the Sales Manager of the year. She was battling it out with Sydney Tafadzwa Chasekwa, the Sales Manager of POSB Zimbabwe and Piwai Tafuma who is the Sales Manager of The Legacy Car Rental.
This award is given to an individual who has managed to improve the company’s sales. The person must have interpersonal skills to communicate with customers.
By Patricia Murambinda
The role of public relations & communications in 2023 is to foster the authenticity that so many crave in an economy that appears to operate at surface level.
“Purpose” is a term that has been widely used in the last year when communications professionals want to advise their clients that they need to stand for something bigger than profit. 2022 marked the first step in stressing the importance of the values of brands, companies, and entrepreneurs. Brands understand that their audiences are looking behind the scenes and rightly demanding an inclusive and diverse team environment. It’s time to act.
To remain relevant in 2023, brands, companies and entrepreneurs must go beyond what is right and provide real service to humanity, society, communities, and the environment. Public relations and communication efforts will truly include all stakeholders, and the term “stakeholder” must increase its strong association with investor PR & Communications strategists in 2023 and engage with the artisans and communities the brand works with, telling their stories and how the brand impacts their lives, livelihoods and mental health. To make those stories stand out, brands will have to go above and beyond to live up to the responsibility they have only. In my work as a public and investor relations consultant, I see investors increasingly seeking out business owners who focus on community building and working toward a true change instead of putting their resources into creating presentable PDFs and campaigns designed for investors. Guess what? Reputable investors go above and beyond to support this drive. From my experience, investors make up a large part of the audience that seeks authenticity.
Relevant public relations and communication in 2023 is communicating values, and companies will need to do their homework in defining their values. We first saw an increase in value communication when the run on talent emerged. Employer branding became part of a company’s PR and Communication when simple pay checks wouldn’t get the best employees anymore. These nurturing assets must now be extended outside of talent acquisition, to the communities with which the company comes in contact, and to the environment.
The new value definition goes beyond the reference to a one-pager on a company’s website to a Corporate Social Responsibility setup. It needs to be tangible to be believable. To put it bluntly, it is not enough to point out that your company donates a portion of its profits each year, as this demonstrates not much more value other than a convenient tax benefit from donations.
When we talk about values in 2022, business owners are advised to dig deep in their hearts to find a cause they truly care for so they can commit to it
In 2023, public relations will need to provide answers about what action is being taken on climate, racial and tribal issues, and social justice. Entrepreneurs wake up! The “me, me, me” perspective is over.
In my work as a consultant, clients have still too often completely ignored the fact that they have a social responsibility, and that public interest is generated when they offer real added value to society at large. Many clients believe that their product or service alone provides the value to claim top-tier media coverage. They do not realise that the effectiveness of billboard ads is highly decreasing and, instead, business owners are demanding media publicity as their “new age” billboard ad. This approach does not lead to the desired (fast) results on the clients’ side.
Public relations and communications will be the key business development tool in 2023 for those who understand its core value. Communications (PR & Communication for short) as a discipline must aim to create an environment of transparency and build open and honest relationships. PR and Communication strategies must provide an opportunity to reflect on and improve one’s actions and grow positive impact.
No matter how big or small, old, or young your business is, there needs to be a commitment to integrate giving back into the DNA of your business. Pledge 1% is a good example; a movement that tech companies join to support each other in the mindset of giving that aligns with their values and larger business goals.
Once entrepreneurs devote their willpower to doing good, public relations will leverage that drive to reach maximum success.
Patricia Murambinda is an active member (Senior Executive and former board member) of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe. She is the General Manager – Corporate Affairs for Delta Corporation.
By Reason Masengu and Benson Ruzive
“Influencer marketing is the key to unlocking a passionate, engaged and invested audience.” – Aliza Licht
Firms that seek to promote their brands’ products or services to their followers adopt a concept called influencer marketing which is basically a type of marketing strategy that involves partnering with individuals whose following on social media or other platforms is quite significant. The aim of influencer marketing is to get the attention of as much audience as possible, increase brand awareness, and push as much sales volumes as possible. Influencer marketing takes advantage of trust that influencers have built with their followers over a long period, to leverage the influence and help brands connect with their target audience in a more authentic and meaningful way. Some of the strategies that are used include having influencers involved in sharing sponsored posts, creating sponsored content, or participating in brand campaigns.
Trend of influencer marketing in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has been taken by storm as the concept of influencer marketing has become a popular trend and is being used by many businesses to reach their target audience and increase their brand visibility. Businesses have been known to partner with influencers, who have a significant following on social media or other platforms, to promote their products or services. Influencer marketing provides businesses with an opportunity to reach a large and engaged audience, increase brand awareness, and drive sales. In Zimbabwe, social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have become popular in the promotion of the concept of influencer marketing. Businesses are partnering with popular influencers in Zimbabwe to reach a younger, tech-savvy audience. The ability of influencer marketing to reach a large and engaged audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising methods has made it popular proven to be a cost-effective and impactful marketing strategy for businesses in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, the adoption of the concept of influencer marketing is not from business challenges. For example, businesses must be cautious when selecting an influencer because their reputation can significantly impact a brand’s reputation in the event that the influencer does something that is unbecoming. Partnering with influencers who are ready to align with a brand’s values and whose followers are interested in the products or services being offered is very crucial if the concept is to be deemed successful. There is no room for failing to comply with local laws and regulations, such as the rules and regulations governing influencer marketing in Zimbabwe when influencers execute marketing campaigns.
Social media has been instrumental in driving the concept of influencer marketing to change consumer behavior and preferences. For example, currently in Zimbabwe the use of micro-influencers has proven to be attracting the attention of a smaller but highly engaged following. The ability of micro-influencers to provide more targeted reach and a more authentic connection with the audience has amassed brands recognition and provided potential of working with micro-influencers. For example, a fashion brand might partner with a micro-influencer who specializes in fashion and lifestyle content, to promote its products to a highly engaged audience that is interested in fashion and style. Another trend in influencer marketing in Zimbabwe is the emphasis on authenticity. The quest of brands in partnering with influencer in marketing their products is that they are looking for influencers who align with their values and whose followers trust and engage with their content. It is believed that authentic influencer partnerships are more likely to generate positive results, as the audience is more likely to trust and engage with the content. Brands that are looking for the creation of long-term relationships with influencers and reach a wider audience through collaborations between multiple influencers can also pursue influencer collaborations as these are also increasingly becoming common. For example, a food and beverage brand might partner with several food bloggers to promote its products, creating a campaign that reaches a wider audience and builds brand awareness. Videos that possess rich content are becoming more popular in influencer marketing in Zimbabwe, as it offer active opportunities for brands to tell their stories and engage with their target audience in a more visual and dynamic way. Video content can be used to showcase product features, tell brand stories, and create engaging content that resonates with the audience.
Challenges of influencer marketing and provide tips for effective influencer marketing strategies.
Even though the Zimbabwean market has adopted the concept of influencer marketing and popularised this marketing strategy for brands looking to reach their target audience, some challenges have been identified. These challenges will be identified and discussed in the following discussions and provide marketers with tips for effective influencer marketing strategies. In as much as it is hard if not almost difficult to find the right business environment, so much has it been also to identify the right influencer. Sometimes it is difficult for brands find an influencer who aligns with their values and has a significant following in their target audience. A proposed solution in overcoming the challenge of finding influencers, brands should research the influencer’s audience, engagement rate, and content to ensure they are a good fit for the brand. Selection of an influencer whose followers are interested in the brand’s products or services is vital in today’s business given the levels of competition that are prevailing. This will increase the chances of the influencer’s content resonating with the target audience.
It is also a challenge to ensure the authenticity of the influencer’s content as well as making sure that content is aligned to the brand’s values and message. Brands should also ensure that the influencer’s followers trust and engage with their content. Choosing an influencer whose followers are interested in the brand’s products or services is crucial if success of the concept of influencer marketing is to be registered. Relevancy of the influencer’s content to the needs of the followers provides value. Wider audiences and building brand awareness can be achieved if brands collaborate with multiple influencers. Brands can be able to reach multiple target audiences and increase brand exposure by adopting this strategy. Nevertheless, brands should ensure that all influencers align with their values and message, and that the content is consistent across all influencer partnerships.
The future of influencer marketing in Zimbabwe
The rapid growth of the concept of influencer marketing in Zimbabwe over the past few years and the recognition by businesses on its potential as a powerful tool to reach their target audiences has been a welcome development. A growth of influencer marketing in Zimbabwe over the coming years is envisioned as businesses continue to look for innovative ways to reach and engage with their target audiences. One of the major trends that is expected to be seen in the future of influencer marketing in Zimbabwe is the continued rise of micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are individuals with smaller followings, typically between 1,000 to 100,000 followers, who have a high level of engagement with their followers. The value of these micro-influencers is starting to be recognized by businesses as they are often able to reach highly targeted audiences that are more likely to be interested in their products and services.
It is also expected that there will be an increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in influencer marketing. These technologies are expected to help businesses to identify the most effective influencer marketing strategies, as well as to monitor and evaluate the results of their campaigns. The use of AI and machine learning is expected to make it easier for businesses to automate their influencer marketing efforts, freeing up time and resources that can be used to focus on other areas of their business. Measuring the success of marketing campaigns by influencer marketing is expected to pose challenges for businesses in Zimbabwe. The rapid growth of influencer marketing is increasingly making it difficult to determine the return on investment (ROI) of these campaigns. New and innovative ways to measure the success of their influencer marketing efforts by businesses should be sought if these businesses are to continue to reap the benefits of this marketing channel.
In conclusion, the future of influencer marketing in Zimbabwe looks bright as businesses continue to recognize its potential as a powerful marketing tool. To be successful in the future, businesses must be proactive and stay on top of the latest trends, continue to be innovative and find new ways to measure the success of their campaigns. The concept of influencer marketing is one of the strategies that businesses can employ to ensure that they remain ahead of the curve and continue to reach their target audiences in a highly effective and engaging way.
Reason Masengu is a Senior Lecturer in Business Management at Middle East College in Muscat, Oman. He teaches courses such as Global Marketing, Marketing Management, and Digital Marketing strategy. He has over 7 years of teaching experience in Higher Education.
Benson is a PhD student with University of Kwa-Zulu Natal a South African university. He is currently employed by Modern College of Business Science one of the leading institutions of Higher Education in Middle East as a lecturer in the Department of Business and Economics.
By Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga
If you are a marketer and have not heard about ChatGPT, then you must be living under a rock. The game-changing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is touted as an industry disruptor, and that includes the marketing profession. It is not a surprise that tech giant Microsoft is planning to invest US$10 billion in OpenAI, the owner of ChatGPT. They can foresee the vast potential of the technology in the future of their business.
Are artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT assets or threats to the profession? It’s not as if we have not used AI tools before. The technology has been growing in influence and impact in the areas of monitoring trends, analysing and reporting market data and in research, outreach, and content creation.
IBM defines artificial intelligence as a technology that leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition and machine vision.
The Business Insider asks of us to think of AI as a machine-powered version of a human’s. These machines can interact with humans in a way that feels natural, and just like humans, they can grasp complex concepts and extract insights from the information they’re given.
Artificial intelligence can understand, learn, interpret, and reason with far greater speed and accuracy than humans. Its ability to process large amounts of data quickly and accurately makes it the perfect tool for analysing patterns, creating predictions, and solving complex problems.
In marketing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is useful because it enables marketers to automate mundane tasks, improve customer experience, and gain valuable insights through predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms. As we have seen above, AI can help marketers increase efficiency by automating processes such as data analysis, content creation, lead generation, and customer segmentation.
Marketing teams are already using conversational AI to revolutionise customer outreach and design contextual messages delivered through chatbots. In fact, ChatGPT is a like chatbot running on steroids! Customers have simple sales queries and they appreciate prompt responses. Chatbots are the perfect tool to supplement customer service agents, delivering immediate satisfactory results no matter where the customer is situated. Customers no longer have to fill forms, rummage through cluttered inboxes and scroll through a sea of content to find customer service contacts to resolve their queries.
AI also helps marketers personalize their campaigns by leveraging real-time customer data to create highly targeted campaigns that are tailored to each individual customer’s needs. By leveraging AI technologies, marketers can gain an advantage over their competitors in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transformed the way businesses approach marketing and advertising. AI can help marketers to automate segmentation and the targeting of their audiences, personalize communications for each user, and deliver real-time insights into customer behaviour. It can automate mundane tasks, provide data-driven insights, and optimize processes to unlock maximum potential for your business.
AI also helps marketers to better understand customer needs by analysing customer sentiment. This allows them to create customized campaigns that are tailored to the individual needs of each customer. AI can automate processes such as A/B testing or optimization of campaigns for better results.
In short, AI is transforming the way businesses approach marketing and advertising by providing them with a powerful tool that can help them reach their goals faster and more efficiently. The Challenges Posed by AI to the Profession
Artificial intelligence also poses some serious challenges for the marketing profession. AI-powered marketing strategies can increase the accuracy and efficiency of campaigns, but they can also bring up ethical issues and data privacy concerns.
“Security risks of identity theft, fraud or counterfeiting increase because of innovations in Generative AI as they enable very realistic photos and images, so just think of the escalating risks of identity theft,” cautions Cindy Gordon, writing in Forbes magazine.
It is important for marketers to understand these challenges and be aware of how AI will affect their work in the future. Exploring the ethical implications of using AI in marketing, as well as addressing data privacy concerns when employing AI strategies, should be top of mind for marketers.
With AI-driven automation taking over many of the manual tasks, marketers need to prepare for a future in which AI plays a major role. This means upskilling and staying ahead of the curve in order to remain relevant in an increasingly automated world. By understanding how AI can improve efficiency and effectiveness in their campaigns, marketers ensure that they are well prepared for a future dominated by AI technology.
There are fears out there that AI will see humans being replaced by machines, or robots. Well, was the same when industrialisation brought about automation. Look at what happened; there was re-alignment as created new jobs and skill sets. After initial resistance, people embraced the changes.
For marketers to remain competitive and achieve long-term success in today’s fast changing landscape, it is vital that they become familiar with these powerful tools. As more technologies continue to emerge and become integrated into marketing practice, it is wise that professionals ride the AI revolution and not resist it. We should embrace the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming how businesses operate and achieve their goals.
Lenox Mhlanga is a consultant communications specialist and thought leader with over 22 years of experience in the field. He is an active member of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe. He has worked with The World Bank and blue chip companies, as well as, public and civic institutions in Zimbabwe and the region. Contact him for counsel and training on mobile: +263 772 400 656 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Izithembisozenkosi Ndlovu
A brand that is not humanised, remains cold and face-less!
‘Humans are predisposed to like someone when they share similar aspirations with them.’ It’s very important to communicate with your clients in a distinctive brand voice that they can easily recognise and connect with.
Every brand needs a unique tone of voice and personality!
You’ve probably heard the all so popular question ‘if your brand was human, what kind of person would it be?’
Now try to answer this question about your own brand.
If you intend to stand out in today’s over crowded digital space, it’s a must to load your brand with personality. A unique brand with a unique personality that doesn’t blend in or that won’t be drowned in the tonnes of content online is the key to brand visibility.
You will know you’ve nailed it, once your target audience is able to pick out your content without seeing your brand name, brand colours or logo attached to a piece of content.
Two brands instantly come to my mind, take Red Bull and Nando’s for instance. In my personal opinion, these brands amongst many others of course have done a sterling job in creating unique unmistakable brand personalities.
Their content could easily be recognised even in the absence of their logos or brand names in their messaging. The moment you see those cartoon characters and hear the wittiness and the humour, you know it’s got to be Red Bull.
The Nando’ s brand voice on the other hand doesn’t hesitate to follow trendy topics in a controversial manner, their voice is rather daring and bold with a tad-bit of humour. Their voice may even be interpreted as insulting by some. Theirs is a risky approach, which not every brand can get away with.
What is a brand’s voice?
Brand voice and personality have been used interchangeably, however, some authors go further to differentiate between the two as follows:
Brand voice is the language and words that you use to speak with your audience, while brand personality is the human characteristics, qualities and traits you attach to your brand to make it more charismatic and engaging to your target audience.
The traits and characteristics of a brand’s personality serve the purpose of differentiating a brand from the rest, enabling it to connect on a personal or even emotional level with its customers. It’s all about the visual, verbal and physical attributes of the brand. It’s the set of characteristics attributed to its brand voice.
You may be wondering, amidst all of this, where does brand tone fit in?
A brand’s tone is the way you speak, it’s the attitude with which you convey your brand’s values and beliefs.
A brand’s voice or personality determines what it says, while tone of voice determines how it says it. Brand tone is the emotional chord or the emotion behind the voice. It helps you to connect with your audience or customers, thereby building relationships with them. Tone depends on the situation at hand. It results in empathy.
In determining your brand’s tone, consider how or what you want your brand to sound like as well as the opposite- how you do not want to sound like.
It’s important to pay as much attention to how a brand sounds as much as it how looks!
Bringing everything together:
Brand voice comprises both the tone and personality of your brand. Tone and personality buttress your messaging and the language you use by developing a recognisable and clear-cut voice.
The audience comes before the tone. For example, an individual may talk to different people throughout the day. From a child at home, colleague across their desk, their boss or even a client. Their tone of voice is highly unlikely to be the same across the various audiences, the same applies with brands therefore.
A brand’s voice is determined by its buyer personas and is designed to make the brand feel familiar to them. Your brand voice reflects the values you stand for and your brand’s unique perspective as guided by your mission and value statements.
The objective behind each piece of content being communicated will determine the seriousness of the tone of voice for example. Either way your target audience should almost always be able to pick out your brand voice in any of the given scenarios.
Brands must always strive to have a consistently recognisable tone of voice, however, certain scenarios may require a slight tweak here and there without too much deviation, for example brands with multiple buyer personas may speak to each group in a language that is most suitable for them, for example Gen Z vs. Millennials or a LinkedIn profile vs. a Twitter account for the exact same company.
As you determine your brand’s voice, leave room for slight changes in your tone as your engage with your audiences on various social media platforms or online communication channels. Hence the importance of documenting a brand guideline for uniformity and consistency.
Let’s take a look at an example of brand voice guidelines by MailChimp, a popular brand in the world of marketing automation in digital marketing.
The use of certain words or vocabulary helps to set the ‘tone’ to be adopted by a brand, differentiating it from the next. It also helps to consider how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your content. In choosing a tone of voice, brands have the option of choosing to be serious, casual, playful, funny, formal or quirky just like a normal person would.
The key however, is authenticity and consistency! Bearing in mind that content and brand voice are basically inseparable!
Voice, tone and personality distinguish you from your competition and help you find a unique way to communicate with your audience through your content marketing efforts. Humanising your brand therefore helps to give it the kind of personality that will help it to standout in an over crowed digital space.
Izithembisozenkosi Ndlovu is a lecturer in the department of Marketing at the National University of Science & Technology (NUST). She has over 10 years teaching Sales & Key Account Management.
Networking, simply put means building connections with other professionals. Networking should always be beneficial to both parties. The reasons why networking is important to include a better reputation, increased visibility, a stronger support network, improved business growth, and more impactful connections.
Networking (also known as professional networking) refers to building mutually beneficial connections with other industry professionals.
Although networking has many benefits, including improved confidence and creative intellect, most people engage in networking to advance their careers.
Essentially, this is what sets networking apart from simply meeting new people – the intent to build a meaningful connection that will help both parties to speed up their career development.
You should also know that there are 3 types of professional networking:
Operational networking means developing intra-organizational relationships or, in other words, building stronger connections with your colleagues.
Personal networking defines what most people mean when they use the term ‘networking’ – meeting other industry professionals that work in different organizations with the goal of enhancing their careers.
Strategic networking essentially combines the two above-mentioned types of networking.
9 Reasons Why Networking Is Important for Your Career
Without further ado, here are the 9 reasons why networking is important for your career:
1. Builds Your Reputation
One of the main reasons why networking is important is because it helps you build a reputation.
Networking can help you establish yourself as a reliable, supportive, considerate, and knowledgeable industry professional. If you do it right, people may eventually perceive you as an industry expert.
Not to mention, building a solid reputation can help you attract more career opportunities, such as job offers and business partnerships.
So, here are two often overlooked networking tips that will help you build a strong reputation:
Listen. Active listening can help you seem engaged, respectful, and selfless. Besides, it’s very likely that people will be more willing to listen to your advice, stories, and ideas when they feel heard.
Offer help. Instead of focusing on self-interest, prioritize sharing advice and tips with others. By offering your expertise and knowledge, you can build a reputation as someone who’s trustworthy and competent.
2. Makes You Noticeable
Regularly attending networking events helps to make your face known to hundreds of people. As such, increased visibility is another reason why networking is important.
Essentially, the more your network expands, the more people are aware of what you can offer and what you’re looking for. So, whether you’re a business owner or someone looking for a job, raising your profile can open doors to new business and career opportunities.
If you want people not only to notice you but also to remember you, a good piece of advice to follow is to learn other people’s names.
Oftentimes, people don’t put much effort into memorizing names – and especially so when they are meeting dozens of new people (for example in speed networking events).
Nonetheless, referring to people by their names will help your conversations seem more personal and sincere. Not to mention, calling people by their names makes them feel more important, resulting in a great first impression.
3. Strengthens Your Support Network
Without a doubt, one of the main reasons why networking is important is because it enables you to build a strong support network.
Sooner or later, most people face some kind of professional problems or general dissatisfaction with their job.
These problems can range from having to solve an issue at your work that you just can’t wrap your head around to job loss, burnout in the workplace, and everything in between.
The key to effectively tackling these rough patches in your career is to have a support network, and there’s no better way to build it than through networking.
If you’ve just got fired, for example, your connections can refer you to companies in your industry that are hiring. If you feel stuck with a task, on the other hand, there may be someone in your network that will know exactly how to help you.
One thing is for certain – no matter the challenge, it’s much easier to overcome it when other professionals have your back.
4. Promotes Business Growth
If you are self-employed, perhaps the most important reason why networking is important for you is that networking facilitates your business’ growth.
Here are the 5 main ways in which networking helps you grow your business:
5.Increases awareness. Whether you freelance or own a business, networking is an effective way to let others know about your products and services. If you’re looking to introduce your product to a larger audience, consider participating in a trade show.
6.Expands your customer base. The formula for growing your customer base is simple – the more people know about your product, the more they’re likely to buy it. In addition to that, if your customers are happy with your products or services, it’s very likely that they will recommend them to others.
7.Enables you to stay on top of trends. The business world is rapidly changing, so you may find it hard to keep up with it. Luckily, networking helps you to easily stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and innovations. If you want to learn what’s new in the industry, attending conferences and other networking events is especially useful.
8.Helps you improve your product. By connecting you with other professionals and business owners, networking allows you to learn what worked and what didn’t for them, get advice, and receive feedback. Not to mention, networking also gives you a chance to connect with industry leaders who may offer you guidance if you’re lucky.
9.Allows you to know your competitor. Networking helps you meet your competition, which is crucial to staying ahead of your competitors. For example, if your competitor introduces a new product during a networking event, it gives you an opportunity to see any potential gaps in their product that you could fill in with your product.
Nonetheless, networking can help you build connections with important people. Typically, the professionals in your network will naturally introduce you to other experienced industry professionals.
However, if your current network is small and you haven’t built any powerful connections just yet, consider attending professional conferences where you can meet industry leaders.
6 Tips to Get Good at Networking
If you want to master the art of networking, consider following these 6 fool-proof networking tips:
Connect with the right people. If you want your networking efforts to pay off, you need to be strategic. As such, instead of just anyone, connect with people that can help you achieve your professional goals. For example, if you’re looking to make a career change, focus on building connections with people that work in the industry you’re interested in.
Build mutually beneficial connections. If you want your professional network to lend you a helping hand when you need it, focus on creating connections that benefit both parties. Otherwise, the people in your network may feel as if you’re just using them for your own gain.
Maintain your network. Professional relationships are no different than personal relationships – if you don’t put in the effort, they may fail. To build solid and long-lasting relationships, make sure to keep in touch with your professional network. In most cases, writing a short networking email or sending a message on LinkedIn is more than enough.
Attend networking events. Networking events are excellent if you’re looking to expand your professional network, improve your networking skills, and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry. If there aren’t any in-person networking events around you, consider participating in webinars and other virtual networking events.
Arrive early. It’s much easier to approach people before they settle into groups, so try to show up early to networking events.
The Marketers Association of Zimbabwe together with ABC Auctions is hosting a Corporate Speed Networking event on the 16th of March 2023.
The event is a platform that helps professionals expand their business contact base and business opportunities through networking. Professionals will sit in a round robin set-up being given three minutes per pair to greet, self-introduce and exchange business cards.
The event will be a cocktail set-up and more than 300 people are expected to attend. Institutions interested in bringing members to the event, can select one of the two packages:
Invitations have been extended to different professional bodies including , Insurance Council of Zimbabwe, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, Law Society of Zimbabwe,
Institute of Personnel Management of Zimbabwe, Entrepreneurs Network of Zimbabwe and other professional associations, Zimbabwe Institute Engineering, Estate Councils of Zimbabwe, medical practitioners among others.
Approximately 300 professionals individuals are expected to attend this event. The event is also open to individuals who wish to enhance their network to participate in the networking event.
To register, please contact Rudo on +263 787 933 120 or email email@example.com.
Remember your network is your networth!