The aspect of marketing that is underplayed in Kenya today is ‘values’ — why we do what we do. We spend more time thinking about the mission and how we will deliver a healthy bottom line which limits our scope to the short-term. Generation X may have been able to get along doing things that they were told were important, but Millennials insist on knowing why it is important before they lift a finger.
The values I refer to are those that define the behaviour required from us to achieve the vision and mission; it is the lubricant that allows the parts to come together smoothly and without friction in order to efficiently achieve results.
A good example of the need to understand values behind actions is on our roads. They are filled with people who know how to operate vehicles, engage gears, push pedals and cause cars to fly over speed bumps at neck-breaking speeds in densely populated neighbourhoods. In the driving schools, they skipped the class on the values of driving which stated that it is about getting from point A to point B safely and ensuring that other road users are able to do the same.
Concentrating on the values of driving safety will ensure that we all get to our destinations safer and quicker. In the same vein, understanding the ‘why’ behind our marketing initiatives will increase the probability of achieving our goals. As life gets faster because of better technology, increasing education and new borns reaching out for smartphones before they reach out for their mothers breasts, the values are probably evolving too.
I’ll highlight three important marketing communication values of our age; the first is as old as time itself, the second is modern and the third is cutting edge. The first is ‘truth’. Your message must be true to the brand and the company because outright deception and half truths will soon be found out. If you don’t believe me, ask Volkswagen. Beyond that, the life purpose of the brand has to touch the soul of the customer in some way and therefore it is necessary to know the core truths about your audience.
The second is ‘change’. People yearn for change and brands that don’t offer frequent change will certainly face changing fortunes. The old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is not relevant anymore because you’ve got to upgrade often, launch new variants to cater to customer usage shifts, or change your packaging to differentiate your brand. The early cellphone manufactures watched as Apple changed the name of the game when they launched the iPhone and became the most valuable company on earth, leaving some of them in the garbage heap of failed brands.
The third is ‘inclusive’. People today don’t just want to consume products, but they want to be part of the process of developing brands. They want to offer insights and input into the ideas as the brands evolve to cater to their wants and needs. The feedback loop is increasingly important and should be used to demonstrate to your customers that you are listening to them and that they are truly part of the brand DNA. The success of ‘Share a Coke’ campaign proved this perfectly.