CMOs should keep a short list of resolutions

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” says Mike Tyson, and 2017 was that type of year where Kenyan businesses took one in the smacker. The prolonged political season forced key decision makers to keep their fingers firmly on the pause button as they awaited the outcome of the general elections which gave us a heightened feeling of de ja vu.

It is now that time of the year when we reflect on past activities and set resolutions for the next 12 months. Some have long lists, others short, and others still set the one resolution, not to set any resolutions. Business leaders tend to work with short lists, generally selecting up to 3 things that they want to change in order to improve the fortunes of their enterprise.

Some of the most mission focused people with the highest accolades hail from Silicon Valley and they remind me of some of our very own world beaters including James Mwangi of Equity Bank, Paul Kinuthia of Interconsumer Products and Suzie Wokabi of Suzie Beauty Cosmetics to name a few. Chief Marketing Officers may borrow a leaf from their play book in 2018, keeping it simple and laser-like.

First, remember why you sit behind that large mahogany desk, with an oversized marketing budget, with fine young men and women at your beck and call, and attractive perks including a monthly expense account that could take a large middle income family on an exotic holiday. Yes, you are here because of the customer — the be-all and end-all of all marketing programmes.

While you were handling Tsumani type problems last year, the company may have developed a brand focus, or maybe a channel focus, or even a process focused system to steer the ship. When that happens it is easy to take you eye off the ball and start treating customers like lifeless statistics — speaking at them, rather than with them.

Dedicate your programmes to your customers and once you have reacquainted yourself with them, through research, one-on-one conversations and social listening, keep them engaged with content created just for them. Use what you’ve recently learned about them to develop storytelling around your brands that captures their hearts and minds. Steer clear from the notion that major investments in content should be reserved for the 30 second TV spot — it can and must be reserved for online advertising too. The billions spent on media, old and new, are completely wasted if your creative is weak and fails to create a spark in your audiences.

Finally take your newly inspired customer on a journey through intelligent design. Interactive advertising aims to stimulate the senses through several touchpoints that tell specific parts of the story, and you will lose the masses into the abyss if there is a crevice on the road. In the modern age, customers don’t have to wait until the next day to contact a customer service representative or make a purchase — because the new process is online and activated at the click of a button.

Ensure that by the time you reach your customer with your creative message, the road has been paved with inspiring stories, intuitive applications and purchase incentives so that you can effectively close the sale. Thus, with customer focus, world-class creative and intelligent design, may 2018 bring you all that you desire.


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