Business owners and brand promoters have been tasked on the need to tell their own stories in a way such narratives will resonate with stakeholders in the business value chain. This was the take home at the 2019 edition of Marketing Edge Summit, where practitioners and critical stakeholders in the nation’s Integrated Marketing Communication space, reviewed the industry and charted a future for marketing practice in Nigeria.
Organised by Marketing Edge Magazine, the summit, which had its thematic thrusts woven round “Storytelling as a New Paradigm Shift in Contemporary Brand Building: Convergence of Creativity and Technology,” according to the organisers, was aimed at benchmarking with the best in the industry and shaping the industry’s future.
While declaring the summit open, the Publisher/Chief Executive Officer of the marketing publication, Mr. John Ajayi, explained that the annual summit was designed to initiate new conversations, pertinent to the growth and development of the IMC sector.
He described the annual summit, now in its seventh edition, as an event, being gradually renowned for igniting industry conversations that touch stakeholders’ collective existence and relevance as an organic member of the larger national economic sphere.
“The idea behind the Marketing Edge National Marketing Stakeholders Summit was informed by our passion and search for knowledge with our pay-off line of promoting the brand idea.
“We believe we can only do this successfully if we enrich ourselves with requisite skills, competences and capabilities in the science and art of marketing. This, in all sincerity, has necessitated the need for us to continue to expand the frontiers of marketing and advertising knowledge with a view to spreading the homily on the business of brand management and the management of brand business,” he stated.
According to him, the summit also availed the organisers the opportunity to initiate new conversations, that are germane and sacrosanct to the growth and development of the integrated marketing communications sector in Nigeria.
“It is a forum where professionals, industry leaders, experts and thought-leaders, cutting across a broad spectrum of the micro and macro-economic sectors, share knowledge and insights that will provide stakeholders with requisite compass to navigate today’s competitive business environment,” the Marketing Edge boss added.
He described the theme of this year’s edition of the Summit as a reflection of the current mood in the market place; a development, he argued, necessitated the need to create a nexus and a positive engagement between brands and their target audience.
Ajayi also expressed belief that with the seller’s market era gone for good, today’s marketer -company cannot continue to lord it over the modern-day consumers.
Quoting Seth Gordon, an American author and former dot.com business executive, Ajayi noted that marketing has gone beyond selling a product, but about the stories and narratives being told about the product.
In his contribution, the Chairman of the event and Managing Partner, Market Space, George Thorpe, stressed the need for professional collaboration and consumer engagement in the industry.
He expressed the belief that without a meaningful brand engagement, it would be difficult for consumers to heartily connect with a story.
Thorpe argued that storytelling has the capacity to help brand owners achieve their growth projections, if deployed in a consumer-centric manner.
The veteran marketer, however, warned that in deploying such tale, brand owners must be careful to make consumers the hero and protagonist.
“Stories should make the consumer the hero. He should see himself in the story. The philosophy of the story, however, should also not overshadow the brand,” he said.
The keynote Speaker, Prof Chris Ogbechie, in his presentation, stressed the need for IMC practitioners to have a positive attitude, since this, he argued, remains one of the key survival ingredients at these trying economic times.
“As marketers and brand- builders, we must learn how to be positive even in the most challenging economic climate. We must learn how to genuinely tell our stories and innovate through chaos, uncertainty, insecurity and periods of rapid change. Personally, I am always positive,” he posited.
Taking the summit from a paradigm shift to futuristic immersion, the former Marketing Director of Nestle Nigeria, revealed that about 60 per cent of Nigerian consumers would be over 40 years by 2020, while charging IMC practitioners on the need to prepare and be ready to accommodate the changes that will emerge alongside their consumption behavior.
“Before the end of 2020, approximately 60 per cent of Nigerian consumers will be over 40 years. Their buying and consumption behaviour among other things will change.
“How ready are marketers and IMC practitioners to adapt to their changing needs and aspirations in order to retain their loyalty?” he asked, rhetorically.
Ogbechie, argued that story-telling remains the best way of connecting with consumers, emotionally, in the 21st century.
He noted that while many brands compete in the same space for consumers’ attention, only those whose stories resonate emotionally, with the consumers would win the loyalty of such consumers in today’s market.
“Marketing itself is a fight for the consumer’s mind. The more you get into the mind of the consumer, the greater your chances of being successful with that consumer.
“In today’s marketing world, the key issue is to create emotional brand attachment with the consumers. Brands need to create relationship and that would further create that emotional attachment between the brand and the consumers,” he added.
The Managing Director, X3M, Mr. Steve Babaeko, in his remarks, advised brands to fortify and soak up themselves in the socio-cultural milieu, past and present, to enable them tell authentic stories.
“What has happened in today’s IMC world is that storytelling is changing with every new technology. The time, therefore, has come when all we have to do is to create compelling brand stories.
“Moreover, whatever story we are telling must be rooted in socio-cultural context. A good example of socio-cultural storytelling industry is Nollywood,” he said.
Another highpoint of the day was the award proper where brands, personalities and institutions were recognized for outstanding performances and enduring legacies.
Perhaps a major take-away at the summit, for many, remains the fact that marketing has evolved. It is no longer about the marketers forcing their offerings down the consumers’ throats. There are processes and strategies for such marketers, desirous of successfully courting consumers and winning their loyalty.
Interestingly, one of such strategies is the ability of the marketer to tell a winning and compelling story that will find a place in the consumer’s heart.