By Raheem Akingbolu
To achieve effectiveness in the delivery of its policies to the people, the federal government as well as the states and local councils have been urged to deploy the use of experiential marketing, citizen engagement and community relations.
These three marketing elements were stressed at the just concluded 3rdannual general meeting of the Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN) in Abuja, as the most effective and potent ways to engage Nigerians.
This was contained in a position paper presented at the 2016 AGM by President of the Association, Dr.Rotimi Olaniyan entitled, ‘Building Nigeria through Meaningful Experiences: The Role of Experiential Marketing in Citizen Engagement and the Marketing of government policy.”
Speaking on the role of EXMAN and the pursuance of citizen engagement and policy marketing in Nigeria, Olaniyan said that the professional body offers the opportunity for government to gain sufficient partnership from the private sector for its initiatives.
According to him, “We offer the opportunity for government to receive immediate feedback from citizens on the effects of their public policies and projects. The association has healthy relationships with most communities across the country, thanks to many years of brand activations and engagements within these communities.”
According to the EXMAN President, having this feedback is important for adjustments on these public policies and projects to be made.
Buttressing further on those elements, Olaniyan noted that there was the need for government to bring them in for effectiveness in communication policies
Olaniyan said: “In communicating government policies, the relationship between experiential marketing, citizen engagement and community relations has a number of dimensions. First of all, these concepts require the existence of people. They involve efforts and activities aimed at engaging people and they also seek to ensure positive relationships with people.”
“For experiential marketing, it is a form of marketing that requires a good strategy for it to be as effective as intended by those undertaking it. Like many marketing campaigns, there is an underlying strategy guiding it to achieve its objectives and aims”.
“Meanwhile, community relations can serve as a strategy on its own for experiential marketing. For example, in Casanare, Colombia, where it is developing oil interests, British Petroleum invests in community activities that support the business plan and contribute to the region’s development.
In 1996, the company committed $10 million to the region, setting up a loan fund for entrepreneurs, giving students technical training, supporting a center for pregnant women and nursing mothers, working on reforestation, building aqueducts and helping to create jobs outside the oil industry.
The former Director General of National Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi who was the guest speaker said it has become imperative for government to deploy this element of the marketing mix stating that the impact helps to create positive relationship with the citizen. “Experiential marketing seeks to create experiences that are pleasurable and meaningful for consumers while community relations involve activities that help establish and maintain positive relationships with people in a certain community.”
Amadi, who faulted failure of government reforms on lack of adequate communication said since 1980, Nigerian has undertook several reforms and policies but many of them ended in papers because of inadequate communications.
While emphasising on the failure of past governments, Amadi said it was unfortunate that issue of communication had always been focused on electioneering urging government to imbibe the idea of using proper communication to deploy its policies
He said: “Over the years, marketing agencies have been utilised by the government only during elections or for communication purposes. Efforts have not been so much geared to utilising these agencies to drive government policies through citizen engagement, particularly in the area of pro-poor and community relations.
According to Olaniyan, the time has come for policy designers and implementers to try something new and make use of an industry that though tested within the private sector space, is seemingly underutilised by the government and it ministries, department and agencies of government (MDAs).
A former President of the association, Kayode Olagesin, who spoke on behalf of other members urged government to tap into the capacity of the current experiential marketing agencies to leverage their policies. “Given the worth of the experiential marketing industry in Nigeria and the capacity of its key players most of whom are active members of the EXMAN, it is fair to state that the industry contributes massively to the economy of the country and so cannot be ignored much longer.”