By Pamela Gwanzura
The onset of the Covid 19 Pandemic has brought with it a lot of dynamism in the operations of businesses. What has been most interesting to observe are the varying trends among the different players in business. Covid 19 has been a blessing to many organisations whose profits shot up because of the emerging needs that came with the pandemic. On the other hand there are many organisations whose performance took a downturn as the pandemic set in.

A close analysis of the data provided by the authoritative national research dubbed the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (ZAMPS) shows the following general trends in the last two years:

An attempt to understand why there is such a disparity among common players that points to winners and losers in the same playing field led us to an observation that the distinguishing factor is the dilemma of promise versus delivery. So much is promised to the customer but very little is delivered by some organisations.

We are living in an age where corporates have caught up with the essence of advertising and brand positioning. As you look around you, one can confirm that each brand’s Unique Selling Point (USP) is glaring. As one looks closely it is easy to depict that the brand imaging, brand promise and messaging in most products and services are well articulated and crafted.

This gap is experienced by the customer at varied levels. For the customer to have developed an interest in the product, it is because they would have heard about it on the radio or television, social media or newspapers. The detail and promise in the messaging is what entices the customer and in some instances, there is a physical promise incorporated in the messaging such as, “If you bring your flier to any of our branches, you will get a 20% discount” Then a customer goes to one of the branches and the staff are not aware about this promised discount. The result is a disgruntled customer who will tell her many friends about her disappointment and this has a negative implication on the organisation’s sales if the word spreads widely enough.

What has been interesting to note is the way most corporates have been dynamic in the style of advertising they have embarked on with the key motive of being relevant and current to the targeted audience.
Brands have done well in terms of the leadership in the organisations being clear on what the brand is all about and what it stands for. But they have failed dismally in communicating internally to the staff on the following key issues;

Advertising has also advanced to dizzy heights and has become very apt and target specific in reaching the targeted audience or customers.
Key objectives in most cases have been met and these include, the lingering effect and the call to action that results in heightened interest in the product or service which often leads to actual purchase.

With all the good communication in place and the most attention grabbing messaging, it is important to point out that there is still a serious huge gap between the marketing team who craft the communication and the campaigns and the front line sales people who handover the final product to that walk in customer. Stories have been told of various customers walking into certain organisations after following a promise they got through a catchy advertisement, only to be deflated by the person who is supposed to be giving them a promised excellent service.

What is the mode of operation in your organisation? Are you in sync from your point of communication to your point of delivery? Is the whole organisation on board when it comes to representing the brand and all it claims to offer. My personal encounters with certain banks, certain retail outlets, certain telecommunications companies have led me to conclude that the dilemma of promise versus delivery is an urgent matter to be addressed by many organisations, big or small within the Zimbabwean market. Recognise that customers take you seriously when you make promises through articulate, aggressive advertising. It is high time you took customers seriously in return by simply delivering on your promise. Once you communicate it via adverts make sure it is activated on the ground. Ensure that all staff are advised of all external communication and developments so that they do not get surprised when customers are making reference to advertisements at the point of purchase.

Organisations need to be intentional about bridging this gap,                    perhaps    through training, if organisations are to perform at their optimum. The ball is in your court, do not make false promises to your customers, back up the promises by fulfilling them.

Pamela Gwanzura is the Chief Executive officer for ZARF. She is a seasoned marketer and communication strategist with vast experience.