Women are trailblazing, making names for themselves in organizations all over the world- taking their career goals to the next level and claiming positions they have worked very hard for.

Despite this, many top positions within organizations are still held by men.

In recent decades, there have been calls for greater gender equality while enhancing the need to close the gender wage gap, and although tremendous strides have been made in this aspect, there is still a fundamental lack of women in leadership roles.

Statistically speaking, many women leaders are missing out.

Women outnumber men at almost every educational level and are about half the workforce in most countries, but: less than 20 percent are in senior management roles and progress has been slow and stagnant in the percentages of women reaching senior, top, and director-level positions in all countries in which benchmarking studies have been conducted, Zimbabwe included.

Besides shattering the mold, some women are still struggling to truly thrive- between work-life balance and office politics, there are numerous challenges women can face in the workplace.

Studies have outlined that companies with greater gender diversity, not just within their workforce but directly among senior leaders, are significantly more profitable than those without.

How then do we get more women in influential leadership roles?

Women must advocate for themselves if they want to move up the career ladder, but to succeed, they cannot go it alone.

All successful leaders need a network of champions-mentors and sponsors!

As noted in the book, Kick Some Glass: 10 Ways Women Succeed at Work on Their Own Terms, the people around you have the ability to either support or hinder your growth towards becoming the best leader you can be.

Almost every career woman has a mentor and in some instances one may have more than two mentors depending on the skills they are horning. But what is the essence of being over mentored without garnering influential leadership roles?

By the time they reach mid-career, most leaders can name a handful of advisers — bosses, coaches, colleagues, and friends — who helped them build confidence and develop needed skills. These advisers may be mentors and/or sponsors.

Both mentors and sponsors are critical to helping aspiring women leaders gain the perspective and connections they need to take on larger roles and advance their careers.

While both mentors and sponsors guide professional development, the Centre for Creative Leadership outlines the difference between a mentor and a sponsor and their relevance to advancing women’s careers.

RoleExperienced person at any levelSenior leader in the organization
GoalProvide guidance for career choices and decisionsUse influence to help employee obtain high-visibility assignments
Who drives the relationship?Both mentee and mentor; requires mentor to be responsive to the needs of the “mentee”The sponsor, who chooses to advocate for “sponsoree,” including behind closed doors with other leaders
ActionsHelps mentee determine paths to meet specific career goalsAdvocates for sponsoree’s advancement; champions her potential

Mentors provide guidance and support, whether around a specific need or for ongoing development. They listen to their mentees’ experiences and give constructive, direct, and honest feedback. CCL research established that people who are mentored: are better prepared for promotions and have higher success rates; Stay with their organizations longer; Feel more satisfied with their jobs and careers; and Rate higher on performance measures.

Mentees have greater impact in their organizations, are perceived as being more innovative and creative, show higher resilience to setbacks, and have stronger networks.

A mentor may also be a sponsor — but not necessarily. A sponsor is a specific type of mentor who goes above and beyond giving advice.

Sponsors are advocates who actively work to advance the career of their “sponsoree,” touting their accomplishments and potential, connecting them to others in their network, and recommending them for bigger roles. A sponsor pushes their “sponsoree” to take on challenging assignments and actively advances their career progression — including in off-the-record or closed-door meetings with other leaders.

Since the people who can advocate and create opportunities for others have some level of authority in an organization, they are likely upper-level leaders — people in power. And as the statistics above noted, in most organizations, that pool of influencers is still primarily male.

So while sponsors are important for men, they are critical for women. Yet men are more likely than women to have sponsors.

Mentoring at all career stages is important, but without sponsors who take that next step to advocate on their behalf, women — are at a disadvantage.

Borrowing from the CCL eagle’s eye view of the imbalance between men and women in terms of sponsorship, there are several reasons why women are under-promoted.

Like attracts like.

Since people naturally tend to gravitate to other people who are like them, male leaders may unconsciously be inclined to mentor and champion other men.

Similarly, women may not feel comfortable asking somebody several levels up — especially someone who doesn’t look like them — for advice or sponsorship. So even with no other factors at play, more men than women are sponsored, and leadership power structures remain largely unchanged.

Unconscious bias also plays a role.

Historically, images and ideals of leadership have been associated with stereotypically masculine qualities, and so women are less likely to be perceived as “leadership material,” as compared to men.

Research shows that women face a double-bind of being seen as either competent or likable-but not both.

Research has also found that women receive fewer stretch assignments and more vague, personal, and unhelpful feedback than men-preventing them from clear information about their performance that would push them to learn, grow, and improve.

Assumptions are problematic.

Often, women have the right qualifications and personal readiness but still aren’t considered for a promotion or critical assignments. More senior leaders simply make assumptions about women’s capabilities and interests, and then make decisions for them:

These assumptions may not be conscious or spoken, but they cause women to be overlooked for roles they would be great at.

“Queen Bee Syndrome” contributes, too.

The few women who have broken through the glass ceiling often still find themselves feeling stuck because of gender bias. While many women do sponsor, promote, or support the career advancement of other women, those who do not are sometimes called “queen bees” and are considered unsupportive of other women.

The research by CCL found that when women executives advocate for diversity and to promote other women, they receive lower competency and performance ratings. Men who sponsor or promote women are not similarly penalized — and may even be rewardedfor supporting diversity.

To mitigate power and bias, both men and women in positions of power should mentor and sponsor talent — regardless of gender. With awareness of the reality of power and bias in everyday actions, leaders should check their thinking, adjust as needed, and call out bias whenever they see it.

Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists is not enough, action is needed to level the playing field.

Yes! Gender equity in the workplace should not be pegged as merely a “women’s issue” and be left to women to address. Men in leadership roles are ideally positioned to strengthen the leadership pipeline in their organizations by helping to retain and advance talented women.

Some men think they wouldn’t be good at mentoring someone who’s different from them. Others have said they’re wary of perceptions or misinterpretation of their work relationships with women.

Together, we can help create a network of champions for talented women…because when more women lead, individuals thrive — and organizations are better able to embrace the challenges of the future.

Shamiso Yikoniko is a Strategic Communications Specialist currently working for the Zimbabwe Association of Church Related Hospitals as the Technical Advocacy and Communications.

The COVID 19 pandemic’s onslaught and the virus’s negative impact on interpersonal communication prompted a slew of innovations. Gone were the days of getting into your car to get to work to sit at a desk and manage calls and emails to and from clients for hours on end. Working from home and automation became the order of the day and the importance of having sound customer retention was further amplified by the call to get as many sales to avoid financial turmoil for big and small businesses alike. As a result, people began to place a greater emphasis on lead generation and sales.

To improve sales for small businesses it is imperative to understand the link between good customer relationships and acquiring leads. The relationship between a customer and a brand is known as customer engagement. This can be done in person or by other means such as email, phone, and social media. Post-pandemic customer engagement initiatives can be implemented in a variety of ways. Conversational marketing is the most common and it employs automated customer engagement methods like live chats and chatbots.

What is Conversational Marketing?

Have you ever had a chance to interact with a corporation or organization? You’ve probably come across conversational marketing. It’s a technique of having a tailored, two-way discussion with clients in order to better understand and service their needs. Businesses utilize conversational marketing as a method to engage in real-time dialogues with their prospects and customers.

Businesses may say “hello” to prospects and have a dialogue with them right in the live chat by deploying automated chat software, commonly known as chatbots. Conversational marketing via social media and on websites provides numerous advantages, including improved lead generation and conversion rate optimization (CRO). Social media conversational marketing is also popular, with apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp leading the way.

Conversational marketing is carried out in two ways:

Businesses may use these customer engagement solutions to achieve speedier, automated customer service with minimum cost. Companies who wish to deliver scalable customer support solutions without breaking the bank will find automated chat appealing. Live chats can be more expensive, but the main benefit is that clients can speak with a real person rather than a machine.

Conversational marketing is vital since today’s customers expect immediate responses to their questions. They don’t have the time or patience to wait on the phone or for an email response any more. Companies may deliver real-time service to their clients via a marketing automation chatbot.

Conversational marketing also aims to meet clients where they spend the majority of their time. That’s why, using messaging software like Facebook Messenger or Slack, many firms have integrated conversational marketing into their social network platforms. Conversational marketing allows you to provide fast personalized customer service, which improves the customer experience while also supporting your lead generation and conversion rate optimization initiatives.

Conversational marketing’s goals are to:

Given the numerous advantages of conversational marketing, it’s only natural for a small firm to include it in its digital marketing efforts. Customers feel more happy and cared for when they may contact you at any time and at their own pace. It allows you to produce more sales from a business standpoint. Customers are hesitant to press the “Buy” button because they have reservations and implementation of conversational tools as discussed will allow them to ease their fears after getting instant responses to any queries they have about the product or service..

How small businesses can take advantage of

Conversational Marketing in Zimbabwe

With their Whatsapp-integrated bots, prominent banks and financial organizations like BancABC and Steward Bank have been using chatbots and AI to manage consumer concerns. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, should not feel left out, as a small investment can go a long way towards providing your company with the lead-generating, sales-boosting and customer-retaining chatbot it requires to improve productivity.

A recommendation for a startup or small business can be provided based on research of over 30 chatbot builders. The premise behind this list is that unless you’re a large corporation with a lot of cash on hand, it’s difficult to justify investing hundreds of thousands each month on a chatbot solution.

There are many chatbot builders on the market that cost less than $100 per month and come with a slew of useful features right out of the box, such as personalized styling and analytics. According to Moser, these are the top eight choices.

  1. ManyChat
  2. Chatfuel
  3. WotNot
  4. MobileMonkey
  5. Tidio
  6. SnatchBot
  7. SendPulse
  8. Pandorabots

The primary distinctions in which one is best for you will be determined by your budget, level of technical expertise, what you want to achieve with the bot (functionality) and the number of channels you want to integrate. Always check in with your strategic plan to see how far you can utilize conversational marketing to uplift your customer relationship management.

Brian Chikonzo is a a passionate brand analyst and holds qualifications in International Business and Management Studies specializing in Entrepreneurship and Retail Management . He is an SME Brand Design and Developer , Feb94 Enterprise Solutions

The events of the past 2 years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us just how important empathetic marketing is for businesses both large and small. The world has changed and businesses need to adapt to the new needs of their customers if they want to grow. The best way to do that is through empathy.

What is empathy marketing?

Empathy is the ability to see events and situations from another’s perspective, in other words to put yourself in their shoes. For brands, empathetic marketing is about seeing the world through the user’s point of view. It helps you place the customer at the center of your marketing strategy and work outwards. But it is important to remember that being empathetic also means being genuine.  Empathy is believable when it creates authentic connections between brands and users. You have to build trust and organic relationships throughout the customer journey.

Why is empathy important in marketing?

There are numerous reasons why empathy is important, especially in 2022 and beyond.

Emotion and connection are more necessary now than ever before. The way we live and work has changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined. “Business as usual” is a thing of the past, because a lot of emotion is being generated about the future and these emotions impact how consumers react to marketing campaigns.

The range of human emotion is massive, from positive emotions like joy, interest, and amazement, to the more negative, such as fear, anger, or sadness. Campaigns need to be geared towards evoking and connecting with these real emotions.

While brands still want to sell products and services and bring in revenue, the way they move users through the funnel has to change. And this approach needs to be from the ground up. Adapt your content marketing, re-examine the customer journey, and educate your employees about the benefits of evoking emotion across marketing channels.

How to use empathy in marketing

When the pandemic hit, brands instantly switched their gear and went from promoting their products to sharing helpful resources and motivational messages. In other words, they became more empathetic than ever before.

Many companies are successfully utilising the power of empathy to push their brands to the next level. Here 3 of the many ways to switch to an empathetic marketing mindset.

1. Understand your audience’s pain points

I earlier on mentioned the importance of walking in your audience’s shoes to get a feel for what they need right now. This is the time to update your buyer personas to reflect the new realities your customers are experiencing.

How can you do this? By understanding that customer empathy works in two ways:

•        What are the customer pain points in the real world?

•        What are the customer pain points regarding your business?

In the real world customers are facing a lot of issues including the effects of the pandemic, although it has eased off a bit. That means your audience is still dealing with uncertainty, health and other social challenges. If your brand can step in to help with these feelings, such as offering virtual classes or providing entertainment, you’ll be able to make a powerful connection with your audience. Some local brands have done a good job of understanding customers’ current pain points and created videos addressing those issues. For example online fitness classes, comedy skits, financial literacy classes and much more.

When it comes to customers’ pain points with regards to your brand, you need to do a bit more digging. Analyze your traffic and conversions each week and note the biggest movers, up and down. This is a great way to find out what aspects of your brand are attracting customers.

2. Adapt to audience needs

When you know what your audience needs from the world and from your brand, you need to adapt your business model. With so many individuals and businesses struggling due to the effects of the pandemic, you can consider scaling back your service fees, make some services free, and offer more support to customers.

Take smaller steps, like adapting how front-facing employees handle customers and remind teams how to display empathetic behavior towards customers. It’s also worth looking into your current customer service process to ensure your wording and tone are more empathetic. 

3. Support an Important Cause

Another way to empathise with your audience is by showing your support for a cause they care about. Researchers found that organisations that care about having a social impact resonate more with buyers than those that don’t.

For starters, environmental consciousness is a big thing right now as people start to gain more awareness about the current state of our planet. So its high time brands start making choices and changes that are sustainable and eco-conscious. From your packaging to your production process, look for areas where you can improve with the planet in mind.


Empathetic marketing is now a top priority for businesses. It isn’t enough to talk about your product or the benefits of buying from your brand anymore. Brands now need to connect with customers on a deeper, more empathetic level. Show your audience that you understand their needs and are ready to adapt to them.

Including empathy in marketing campaigns is more of a mindset than a technique. And to instill that way of thinking in marketing teams, you need to follow these steps:

•        Understand your audience’s current pain points

•        Adapt to their needs

•        Take an educational approach in your marketing

•        Capture everyday life in campaigns

•        Add interactive elements

•        Utilize user-generated content

Each step is vital because the changes we are seeing now will have long-lasting effects. Taking an empathetic approach can take a bit of time to get used to, but it isn’t impossible.

Patricia is a qualified ZimChartered Marketer and a member of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe. She is the Customer Experience manager for NicozDiamond Insurance and an insurance associate with over 15 years of experience from the insurance industry.

MAZ hosts 2022 Winter School
Marketers Association of Zimbabwe will be hosting its annual the
Annual Continuous Professional Development Master Class (Winter
School) offering different career development classes to members.
The Winter School is for continuous professional development for
marketing and related professionals.
This year’s Winter School will run from June 22 to 25, 2022 at the
Hwange Safari Lodge and will be facilitated by local, regional and
international business executives.
The three day Winter School will see participants attending three
classes running concurrently.
Class A is for the Marketing Practitioner Status.
The target audience for this class is qualified marketing personnel,
Public Relations Executives, Customer service personnel and Digital
Marketers. Among the topics to be covered in this class are;
Advanced Marketing Strategy in the Digital Era,the CEO opinion:
Getting the marketer into the C Suite; preparation of Digitally
integrated Marketing Plan and the Role Of Marketing In Sustainable
Product Development And Innovation
Class B is the newly introduced Sales Practitioner Status whose
target audience is sales personnel, Business development, Sales
managers and key account executives. The Sales person has not
been spared the demands of a changing landscape. Topics to be
covered include ; high Impact sales strategy in Digital World; the CEO
opinion: Getting the marketer into the C Suite, Sales Techniques to
foster lead generation and conversion in digital era and managing
Complex Decision making units in B2B Markets
Class C the Continuous Professional Development Master Class
targeted at among others senior managers, marketing managers,

Digital Managers , existing marketing practitioners, public relations
personnel, customer service personnel, product development and
research personnel, among others. Topics for this class include ;
Culture Management to foster customer centricity; the CEO opinion:
Getting the marketer into the C Suite; budgeting Techniques and
Pricing in a volatile environment; leveraging customer experience
and Customer Analytics, the Role Of Marketing In Sustainable
Product Development And Innovation, marketing automation and
Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, brand Management Across omni-
channels in the new normal; managing Digital Campaigns and
maximising customer experience through e-commerce.

Some of the confirmed speakers for r the Winter School are;
Lawrence Kupika divisional director, Retail Banking at POSB, Mr
Nkosivile Madinga head of Section-Marketing at University of Cape
Town, Mr Lawrence Kutinyu- Group Marketing Executive at National
Foods, Mr Admire-Ndumo General Manager Hyundai, Delta
marketing director-Mr Irimayi Muzorewa; Nkosana Mapuma-
General Manager Sales and Marketing PPC Zimbabwe, Emmagness
Ruzvidzo-Head of Brand & Marketing · Global Payments Inc.
Registration for the program is ongoing.
For registration contact Rose on training@mazim.co.zw or 0774 361

Marketers Association of Zimbabwe unveiled the Top 200 brands at a Breakfast meeting held under the theme ‘Brand Relevance and Dominance in the Age of the New Customer’.

The Breakfast meeting attended by over 100 marketers, brand managers and senior executives was held at the Monomotapa Hotel on Friday 13 May 2022.

The unveiling of the top 200 brands, is an annual event which culminates to the Superbrand Awards held at the end of the year.

In his welcome remarks at the Breakfast meeting, MAZ president, Professor Zororo Muranda thanked all participating brands that have partnered MAZ for the last 12 years.

“We would like to thank you all for your support and participation that has seen the Superbrand being recognised in this country as a key indicator for brand supremacy,” said Prof Muranda.

He also appreciated the Superbrand Adjudicating committee for its hard work that has ensured that the Superbrand keeps going.

“Thank you very much team, your commitment and efforts are recognised,” said Prof Muranda.

He highlighted that the past three years had seen a paradigm shift from the normal way of doing business and the brands were not spared from the rapid changes that have taken place.

“But, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you brand custodians who have stood forth and ensured that your brands pass this litmus test that began in 2010,” he said.

Guest Speaker at the event, Mr Gilbert Tsongorera, the Chief Commercial Officer for Ecocash Holdings said in the new normal, the customer had become had become ‘king’.

“There has really been a shift in the way we do marketing, and that shift will come through because initially companies used to control the narrative .We never gave the customer a chance and now we have customers now controlling the narrative, “said Mr Tsongorera.

He said the consumer has become a determinant factor in the success and growth of brands.

 “As marketers we have been forced to co-create with customers in mind which really speaks to the value that the customer brings to us. The question is how relevant is your brand as far as the customer is concerned,” he said.

Mr Tsongorera said it was important for brands to strive for success but also to be willing to fail.

“With the advent of Covid 19 there is now less bricks and more of clicks, it’s important that we also follow the trends and embrace technology,” he said.

He added that it was compelling to have a strategy as you build your brand and have a corporate vision.

Superbrand Adjudication Committee chairperson, Mr Arza Khan highlighted that it was important for brands to be associated with Superbrand.

“It is important for Zimbabwean brands to be associated with the Superbrand process because, it has been designed to specific way that is adjudicated in a way that has not been done with most awards.

Our Superbrand process is right up there with some of the best in determining whether a brand is recognisable in the market. Being recognised is something that’s quite important and relevant and important specifically for this particular program,” said Khan.

He highlighted that the consumer remains the determinant factor in the Superbrand process.

Mr Khan led the unveiling of the Top 200 brands at the Superbrand Meeting.

MAZ Head Marketing and Operations, Mrs Enia Zimunya thanked all sponsors and partners that made the Superbrand Breakfast Meeting a success.

In closing remarks , MAZ Business Development Executive-Superbrand and Research , Mr Wesley Kasambira urged participating brands to pay research fees to ensure a flawless Superbrand countrywide research process.

The Superbrand Business Breakfast Meeting marks the first phase of the Superbrand process. As usual, before the unveiling of the shortlisted brands, the Adjudication Committee was given a chance to verify and endorse these 2022 sectorial brands in Zimbabwe.

After the unveiling of the participating brands, the next step is to take these brands back to the consumers for rating and ranking through a representative and nationwide consumer research. The survey is conducted among Zimbabwean adults aged between 15 years and 65 years. This is a quantitative research in which personal face to face interviews are conducted with the selected respondents.

Birthed in 2010, the awards celebrate brands that break new ground and go beyond excellence in service delivery and brands that are always on the mind of the consumer.

Proton was adjudged as Zimbabwe’s Superbrand for the year 2021.

A total of 13 marketers were conferred with the ZimChartered Marketer status together with 140 professionals who successfully completed the Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing on the 13th of April at the Marketers Hub.

The two programs are offered by the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, the ZimChartered Marketing certificate being the highest qualification for marketers in the country.

Present at the graduation ceremony of the two programs were MAZ Executive Secretary , Mr Gillian Rusike, MAZ president Professor Zororo Muranda as the guest of honour and MAZ Head of Academics, Mr Godfrey Dube as the guest speaker.

Giving welcome remarks, Mr Rusike began by giving the guests a short insight on how MAZ started and how they came up with the ZimChartered Status along with Mr Dube

“As soon as I wrote my vision down he was the first person whose door I knocked on and said sir let’s have an organisation for the marketing profession. He supported the idea and from there the journey began.

We started moving around companies encouraging them to join our organisation and ever since then, we have been together for almost 14 years with him and we really appreciate him,” said Mr Rusike.

 “When we started this organisation, we asked why the queen of England is the only person who knighted  people and why can’t we also charter our own marketers hence we just told ourselves we will have our own Chartered Marketers,” he said.

Mr Rusike also acknowledged the President Professor Zororo Muranda who has studied Marketing to the highest level.

MAZ Head of Academics and guest speaker, Mr Dube encouraged the ZimChartered graduates to be confident, articulate and presentable.

“It starts with the dressing and your speech. As a ZimChartered Marketer, it is all about how you present yourself, and it is not only about the academics and the degrees. It is about your appearance and how others view you as well possessing strong communication skills.

‘And with all that you will be representing the MAZ brand,” said Mr Dube.

Mr Dube said MAZ was proud to be the leader in providing career and personal development initiatives that keep Zimbabwe at par with other regional countries.

“It is our greatest aim to have more students who graduate with us as we also had our marketing practitioner status and sales practitioner status graduation early this year,” he said.

The ZimChartered program had a total of 13 graduates, four females and nine males.

Mr Dube also congratulated the Digital Marketers who successfully completed the six months program.

“And I’m proud to say that this class has 140 graduates and amongst them 7 are from Zambia,” said Mr Dube.

Professor Zororo Muranda had some encouraging words he shared with the graduates.

“Success does not come easily, you have to prepare yourself. You also have to keep learning as the world is evolving each and every day. Yesterday’s strategy may not work tomorrow so keep abreast with the latest trends in your respective fields,’ said Prof Muranda.

He said Marketers Association of Zimbabwe had gone out there to look for the best facilitators for all its programs.

The event saw a number of testimonials from the ZimChartered students and Digital Marketing students appreciating their SME mentorship as well as the Marketers association of Zimbabwe for the two programs.

“The Chartered marketer was an eye opener, break through to me and I would really recommend it to anyone because as a young manager I was really frustrated by the number guys who would turn down most of my ideas but going through the Zimchartered marketer it taught me how to handle this fight. I learnt that if I can measure it, then I can manage it and justify it, I really I appreciate this thank you Mr Zindonda and Rose (MAZ training personnel),” said Steven Mhizha.

“A Digital marketing graduate, Gamuchirai Sagonda said: “When we started I remember being told to get ready for the pressure and I thought they were just telling us to prepare but as time went by I felt the heat and it really helped to be who I am today and I’m really looking forward to enrolling with the Zimchartered and become like those sitting in front. Thank you,” said Sagonda.

Codchem sponsored the graduation ceremony with gifts and a cake for the graduates and guests.

After the speeches the graduates received their certificates and had a photo shoot session.

The Zimchartered Marketer program is a prestigious status that seek to consolidate theory into practice through mentorship of a small to medium enterprise, while also imparting consultancy skills to the participants.

 The program is divided into two phases; the modules and the practical. Four modules namely New Media and Data Analytics, Change Management and Leadership Management, Advanced Strategic Marketing and Marketing Metrics & Emerging Trends. They are also required to do assignments for each module and an industrial Analysis of your current industry.

The Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing (PCDM) course is an online 6 months course where students attend 1 lesson per week. The classes are held on the Zoom platform for the duration of the program.

Marketers Association of Zimbabwe is set to unveil the 2022 top 200 Zimbabwean brands at a Breakfast meeting on Friday 13 May 2022 at the Monomotapa Hotel.

The unveiling of the top 200 brands, is an annual event that culminates to the Superbrand Awards held at the end of the year.

MAZ Executive Secretary, Mr Gillian Rusike said this year’s Superbrand Breakfast Meeting is being held under the theme ‘Brand Relevance and Dominance in the Age of the New Customer’ which is relevant to the times ever-changing business environment and customer.

“I think the times that we are operating are also putting a huge demand on the brands in order for them to transform to be able to speak to the aspirations of the customer, in order for them to speak to the expectations and to speak to the trust of the customers.

We are in a volatile environment where everything and anything is just coming by and changes are taking place therefore for brands to be sustainable they need to be part and parcel  of the customers’ life journey , they need to be solution providers,” said Mr Rusike.

He emphasised that there was really need to look at branding from a different perspective if they are to be relevant to the growth of the economy as well as impact they are making to customers.

“We need brands that are speaking to the aspirations of the customers, they need to look into the future. It’s no longer business as usual but they need to connect intricately, emotionally with the expectations of the customers,” he said.

He added: “We are in an environment where there is a lot of mistrust people are no longer trusting the person that is next to them and so is the same with the products that they are interfacing with and so we really need that transformation to take place in order for brands to be relevant to the economy”.

Mr Rusike said Mr Gilbert Tsongorera, the Chief Commercial Officer for Ecocash Holdings would be the Guest speaker at this year’s Superbrand Breakfast Meeting.

The Superbrand Business Breakfast Meeting marks the first phase of the Superbrand process. As usual, before the unveiling of the shortlisted brands, the Adjudication Committee was given a chance to verify and endorse these 2022 sectorial brands in Zimbabwe.

After the unveiling of the participating brands, the next step is to take these brands back to the consumers for rating and ranking through a representative and nationwide consumer research. The survey is conducted among Zimbabwean adults aged between 15 years and 65 years. This is a quantitative research in which personal face to face interviews are conducted with the selected respondents.

Birthed in 2010, the awards celebrate brands that break new ground and go beyond excellence in service delivery and brands that are always on the mind of the consumer. Proton was adjudged as Zimbabwe’s Superbrand for the year 2021

In commemoration of  Women’s Month, Women in Marketing (WIM), the ladies desk of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe hosted The Wellness and Fun Day at the Old Hararians Sports Club.

The event was held under the theme BREAK THE BIAS, continuing with The Donate a Pad Campaign, an initiative started by the WIM CSR pillar in 2021.

The fun filled day was characterized by wellness activities which included tug of war, balloon race, relays, dance challenge to mention but a few. To encourage a spirit of competition, participants were grouped into different teams according to their colour tags.

In the course of the event each group was challenged to fill a plastic bin with as many pads as they could buy thus leading to the event raising 1 200 in a period of 3 hours.

The Fun Day was well attended with over 100 ladies and girls as well as corporates that were exhibiting their products. These included MedOrange ,Misfort Tax,Gunhill Medical Village, Inuka ,Cancer care and Population Services Zimbabwe to mention but a few.

The Population Services Zimbabwe team gave a presentation on the discomforts of menstruation cycle and how they affect a lot of women in different ways.

They also emphasized on the importance of parents teaching their girl child on menstrual health.

The Women in Marketing CSR Committee Chair, Caroline Dyirakumunda gave a short speech thanking everyone for participating and taking time to be part of such events.

“I’m really grateful to all the ladies who made it here today despite their weekend hustles and all, thank you very much. As the CSR Committee we launched this initiative last year when we donated pads to Chingwere Primary school in Mhondoro.

This year we decided why we don’t do it again but slightly different let’s include everyone and I want to thank all of you for supporting this. There are girls in the rural areas who are using leaves, random clothes and some are just walking with nothing to hold the blood so we have made this initiative to help them in the smallest ways we can,” said Dyirakumunda.

She went on to announce that the total pads donated on that day was 1200 pads which is a great achievement to the Women In Marketing who are still to decide where they will be  going this year.

The WIM team is grateful for the sponsors who made this event a success. These included Proton who sponsored the giveaways that had cake mix and cookies, T-shirts sponsored by Image Magic Corporate and caps and gym bags from Tram Graphics.

The winning teams were, Team Orange/White, who won the Overall challenge, whilst Team Purple won the Pad fill up Campaign. Everyone went away with gifts and those who won got their prizes for the challenges sponsored by Proton.

TWENTY-FOUR marketers were conferred with the MAZ Marketing Practitioner Status and eight conferred with the Sales Practitioner Status at a graduation ceremony held at the Marketing Hub on in February.

The 32 practitioners attended the 2021 Annual Continuous Professional Development (ACDP) Master Class from the 9th to the 11th of September 2021.

The Marketing Practitioner Status, (MPS) is a prestigious status, recognized by industry to authenticate one’s skills in marketing. One has to be a holder of a Marketing Degree/ or Higher Diploma from a recognized institute, with a minimum of 2 years’ experience in a marketing position.

The curriculum expands each year to suit the current marketing and industry trends, but still maintain the aim of putting marketers in a strategic competitive advantage.

The 2021 class had a successful turnout and covered some of the following topics:

1. Advanced Marketing Strategy in the Digital Era

2. View from a CEO: Expectations from the Marketing Function.

3. Measurement Metrics for Marketing Efforts

4. Preparation of Digitally Integrated Marketing Plan

5. High Impact Sales Strategy in a Digital World

6. Modernizing the Sales Process for today’s Selling Environment

7. Go to Marketing Strategies in the Digital Age

8. From Elevator pitches to compelling B to B Value Propositions

9. Preparation of High an Impact Sales Strategic Plan

The marketing practitioner program which is offered in conjunction with IMM is aimed at continuously developing the marketing career.

Guest speaker at the graduation ceremony, Marketers Association of Zimbabwe Executive Secretary, Gillian Rusike highlighted that attaining such a status is key because one is distinguishing themselves from among the rest.

“Attaining a status is also key because you are actually distinguishing yourself from among the rest. I am so excited that we are witnessing one such activity or programme today’.

“Colleagues, we are operating in extremely dynamic environment such that if you sleep or slumber you can wake up one morning without a job because the demands of a marketer or shareholder are also becoming dynamic,” said Rusike.

Rusike said the current environment required agile professionals who are abreast with current trends and demands of the consumer.

“We are now in an era where tactics are much more important than strategy. What’s important is the day to day demands. The customer and the consumer is the one that has got more power than us marketers because of the social media platforms that are now available.

If you are not agile and active, one day you wake up and your organisation is red flagged on social media, consumers are speaking all sorts of things about your brand and by the time you want to respond it’s already too late,” said Rusike.

After his speech, Gillian Rusike, conferred and handed over certificates to the Marketing and Sales Practitioners.

The Marketers did not only walk away with a lapel, tie or scarf written “Marketing Practitioner or Sales Practitioner”, but instead they have been equipped with a wealth of powerful and unparalleled decision making skills which will turn around their organisations’ fortunes.

Some often ask what comes next after achieving the MPS and SP, they can then opt to attend the Continuous Professional Development Master Class which is targeted at current Marketing Practitioners, Marketing team members, Public Relations, Sales Teams and Customer Service Teams.

By Godfrey Dube

This article seeks to contribute on the role of executive leadership in product development and brand building. Deal and Kennedy (2000) postulate that leadership is about the future, it is about change and it is about values and emotions. He further argues that a mixture of transactional and transformational skills is needed for most management and leadership roles in product development and branding, and that leadership is the centre of company activities.

Product development

The development of products to be sold to potential and existing customers improves the growth vector of the company in the existing market where existing products are declining. In contrast to competing companies, new products or offerings may be created to replace existing ones to raise market share. Alkier, Milojica and Roblek (2015) point out that in the case of product development, the business will attempt to increase profitability and growth by introducing new products targeted at the existing customer base. This involves the creation and development of new products.

Strategies for product development enable companies to reinvent and look at new ways of extending their current products’ life cycle. This growth strategy involves the production and alteration of stock goods in order to make them preferential and thereby increase market activity (Butler, 2006). It seeks to expand products and make use of common trademarks, and provides businesses with growth by creating new products for established markets to solve the problems of consumers. Carson et al. (2001) asserts that firms have to give those solutions and be aware of their underlying needs, wants and demands of customers, which will consequently gives you an opportunity to develop new solutions for existing customers. Lufthans (2012) points out that there is a significant correlation between the development of new products and the growth of companies.

Role of executive leadership on corporate branding

Brands need to provide a meaningful reason for consumers to buy the products. These value-related reasons might refer to values such as trustworthiness, integrity, aesthetics, heritage, authenticity, accountability, sustainability or social and environmental responsibility and financial solidity. Executive leadership should have a clear focus and effective communication of these values which might not only contribute to avert the pressures but give the company even a differential and competitive advantage. For organisations to be successful in the competitive environment they should develop corporate brand orientated leaders with its core task of creating a corporate culture to authentically reflect the core values of the brand

Executive leaders should ensure that a corporate brand identifies, differentiate and position the organization, based on a single and unified message, the entire product offering in the minds of all the organization’s stakeholders to build trust in the entire organization. Its source for originality, uniqueness and individuality is the organization’s heritage and the values and beliefs that the corporation and all its stakeholders hold in common. Corporate branding intends to attract and remind stakeholders of why they belong to or should join the community of values.

Corporate branding enables an organization to more economically and emotionally differentiate their products, increase communication effectiveness and respond to social trends.

Brand oriented leadership

Brand-oriented leadership is the catalyst to brand building behaviour in terms of influencing employees’ brand-related behaviours effectively. The leadership culture of the organization plays a very important role in brand building. For corporate brands to be successful, employees should also be empowered to live brand values themselves. Such leadership results in an increase of brand commitment by strengthening employees’ identification with the organization. Organisational transformation will occur when employees have accepted the corporate brand values as their own.

Executive leadership as organisational leaders should be brand oriented. Intangible assets such as corporate and executive leadership reputation and credibility, and customer relationships affect customer satisfaction and loyalty. Some organisations have lost customers and suppliers due to the bad reputation of some executive leaders. Many company managers have recognized the significance of these factors in attempting to attract and retain customers in long-term relationships. Executive leadership and corporate reputation, leadership, relationships and communication are inseparably related because they contribute to executive leadership ability to direct and responsibly control desired outcomes. Customer satisfaction and corporate credibility play important roles when creating good relationships and maintaining customer loyalty to a company as well as public faith.

The executive leadership’s image and a corporation’s reputation both play significant roles in determining a company’s success in building relationships with various publics, which is why media coverage of any executive leadership or corporate activity is considered important and has the potential to alter the relationship-building process.

Negative publicity about companies and their products can influence other aspects of their operations, such as human resources or reputation, as well as the markets that sell the company products. Negative information is considered to exercise greater influence than positive information does, unfavourably affecting a company’s image. The negative impact of such coverage makes marketing communications a critical issue.

CEO and brand reputation

The CEO is an important component of credibility that is influential in persuading consumers to patronize the organisation. Thus, the CEO’s corporate credibility is one important aspect of a corporation’s reputation. Fombrun finds that companies with positive reputations are in a better position to change consumers’ attitudes than are those with negative reputations, and that a company’s perceived credibility is closely related to its sales record. There is an association between a CEO’s positive reputation and the success of a company. Reputation is credited with playing a major role in generating market capitalization for a company and many argue that it should be treated as its most important long-term asset. Managers and leaders, although both are important, are profoundly different. To manage means to bring about outcomes, to accomplish something, to take charge of or responsibility for, to supervise transactions. Leading involves influencing people to modify their behaviour by providing direction, charting a course, stimulating action or altering opinion. Leaders can shape and elevate the motives and goals of followers.

Effective leadership should be closely related to successful organizational outcomes and that successful organizations focus on leadership factors and understand the need to provide employees with the necessary skills, networking opportunities and training to prepare them to address economic challenges. Furthermore, it can be assumed that a strong and capable leader will contribute in a very positive way to the future configuration of an organization.

Mr Dube is the pioneer, past president and current Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe. He is the Head – Marketing and Business Development at the Standards Association of Zimbabwe. He is a PHD candidate and a holder of a Master of Science in Governance and Leadership degree among other qualifications.