The 11th Annual Marketers Convention was successfully held at the Holiday Inn in Bulawayo from October 30 to November 2 in Bulawayo brought together senior marketers , industry leaders , business experts and academic experts from across the country who came together to share marketing insights and discuss issues that affect the day to day running of business.

This year’s Convention was held under the theme Engaging Strategic Marketing in a Dynamic Enviromnent-Expanding Horizons.

The Convention was unique that it was the first time it was hosted in Bulawayo and not the traditional holiday resort towns like Victoria Falls and Inyanga.

The first Speaker at the Convention was Select Research Managing director, Mr Tov Manene who presented on Engaging Consumers in Turbulent times. He said consumers adjust need and demand according to the state of the economy hence businesses must also do the same.

South African based entrepreneur and founder of Breva Beverages, Ms Gladys Mawonke shared her journey to entrepreneurship on how she founded her business with no capital and experiences.

The Convention was officially opened by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa who advised marketers to embrace the digital trends to remain relevant in today’s business environment.

“The business trends globally are changing and changing very fast. This therefore calls on you the marketers and communications professional to be at the forefront of presenting your brands. Gone are the days where long term strategies are needed but effective tactics that are swift and responsive to the changing environment,” said Hon Mutsvangwa.

She said the coming in of social media has completely revolutionize the way we communicate with our customers.

“In fact, it has become the other way where our customers are now speaking to us and we have to tailor make our products and or services to the detects of the customers. Even us as government, we take communication seriously as we need to keep abreast with technologies,” said Hon Mutsvangwa.

She discouraged the use of uncouth marketing strategies highlighting that they never last long as they fast disappear in people’s memories.

“As Government we encourage responsible communication from you as you have a very broad influence not only on people’s choices but even the world’s view. Social media is a very powerful medium which can either destroy or build brands as well as the nation.

Let’s engage in professional marketing that does not contain inflammatory language, hate speech or encourages violence in the country. As we ride on current affairs in our social media marketing lets also be wary of insensitive messages,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa commended MAZ for the great strides it has made in ensuring the uplifting of the marketing profession which has resulted in business and professional growth.

“I would like to commend the Association’s efforts to integrate business and government initiatives,” she said.

Another speaker at the Convention, Africa University lecturer, Chupikai Manuel spoke on speak on ‘the role of Marketing and PR Practitioners in National Policy Discourse’. He encouraged marketers to play an active role in policy formulation as it affected business as well.

“Marketers must be constantly be in touch with the changing policies in the country as they reflect on how they conduct business.  Marketers are the intelligentsia they should predict what course of action will the government ultimately take? Will it be new legislation or an executive order?’ said Chupikai.

He implored marketers to engage in evidence based critical thinking.

MAZ President, Danny Marandure presented on Big Data, Digital Marketing and Artificial Intelligence: Integration into Marketing Strategy. He said the world is going digital hence marketers must also be abreast with the latest technologies which they must also use in selling goods and services.

Other Speakers at the Convention were ZimTrade chief executive officer, Allan Majuru who spoke on the low hanging fruits in export trade.  He shared a lot on market intelligence emphasising that there were a lot of opportunities and products that could be marketed and sold outside Zimbabwe.

He encouraged marketers to utilize trading blocs and market

“You need to understand your markets before you start trading in foreign markets,” said Majuru.

He said Zimbabwean products have a lot of market in and out of Africa.

United Refineries CEO Busisa Moyo spoke on the Nexus of the Economy. Of note he highlighted that reforms were critical in the private sector.

“Some of our policies are archaic, we need to move in with the times. Reforms cannot be one sided,” said Moyo. 

Rob Stangroom, CEO Big Law Management Consultants presented on monetizing the digital platforms and strategies for revenue generation.

He emphasized on the importance of inter grated digital platforms and use also of email marketing.

Seasoned branding and grooming specialists, Dr Fungai Mtisi and Nontokozo Masuku together Netone CEO, Lazarus Muchenje presented a panellist session on Grooming, etiquette and personal branding.

Muchenje shared his branding story at Netone. He highlighted that when he came in, Netone was a forgotten brand and he thought…What if we brand the CEO?

“So when I came in with that hairstyle and a different sense of dressing, people began asking is he the Netone CEO and that is how we got people talking about Netone again,” he said.

“So really there is nothing wrong with a company branding its CEO”

The Convention began on a high note with a Culture Night celebrated at a local tshisanyama, the president’s dinner, the Exceptional Marketing Awards and rounded off with a trip to Matobo Hills and Chipangali.