Africa Still Lacks Understanding Of Experiential Marketing — Abade

Recently, an experiential summit was held in Lagos which featured notable experts cutting across various developed markets. Our reporter who witnessed the event met with the Chief Executive Officer of EXP, Africa, Carol Abade, who engaged this reporter on a number of issues relating to experiential marketing. Excerpt

What were the highlights of the presentation?

My presentation was all about Digital + Live, which is the combination and integration of online marketing and offline marketing, to form a very powerful platform to reach consumers using online social media as well as live events. We look at several examples of companies that are combining online marketing to get people to go offline to integrate with the brand, participate and, in many cases, this campaign create what we call the vital sign.

In the examples you gave, there was no African brand. Is it that they have not embraced the online experiential marketing?

The vital sign is an engagement that goes from online to offline and creates a continuous engagement. The question you are trying to ask: “Is that is Africa behind?” People ask me all the time, “is Africa behind in experiential marketing?” Not really. The African consumers are becoming very technology-focused. Marketing is becoming very engagement-driven but Africa is still very advertising-like and big brands still have large advertising budget. They haven’t yet feel comfortable moving to other parts of advertising. There are experiential marketing taking place in Africa. For me, my goal today is to bring the world to Africa. Africa is not far behind in the world. The only hurdle remaining in Africa understands the potential for experiential marketing and the comfort of walking away from advertising as a lead of the plan.

Africa is gradually accepting the model of social media and experiential marketing. African consumers over the last five years have progressed 30 years. They are digital naives and feel very comfortable more in the big cities than in the outline areas. The African consumers are getting used to social media. Using it, and digital currency from PayPal and Google Wallet to many other forms of online payment is becoming huge in Africa and in Nigeria, especially with the booming population estimated for the next 10 years and with the planned infrastructure planned over the next 10 years and the new government plans. All these forces are in place for Africa to evolve quickly over the next couple of years not only as a population super power but as a brand super power. Nigeria has got a lot of consumers to interact in new ways.

Is it possible to measure social media and experiential marketing model?

Yes it is possible. Not only can you measure social media, you can measure experiential marketing. We see things like reach, conversion, to people buying things after experiencing a Facebook programme. And on the experiential side, we see companies measuring this all day long and realising that people will buy faster and more often as a result of a live experience.

What are the parameters that would be used in judging an award for an experiential marketing fair?

We are going to roll out an experiential marketing award at the end of the year which will be an experiential marketing programme where companies will be able to enter their experiential marketing campaigns across more than a dozen categories. They can upload their case studies online, answer questions and upload their videos and photos and more than a dozen brands markers and clients will judge the campaigns online and the winner would be announced live at this event next year. It will allow the companies to finally get the attention for below-the-line experiential work they have been doing. The brand is no longer static but a living breathing organism. To hit your target, you have to know your terrain, you have to know your mark.

Experiential marketing can be used successfully to build relationships, raise awareness, increase loyalty, establish relevance, encourage interaction and product trial, create memories, stimulate positive word-of-mouth, change the mind of dissatisfied customers, create product desire, verify the target audience and increase return on marketing investment.

While you were analysing some of the issues in your presentation, you talked about clients and how they approach agencies, and working in silos. Why is this so?

Traditionally, that’s how the structure works and traditionally, marketing was really talking to different audiences in different media. You tell this audience in television in a different way and the ones in radio in a different way. So, there was no need to bring them together. But now with the way consumers are assessing brands, you academically have one audience. You tend to talk exactly the same way, whether you are television, radio or below-the-line.  And the only way we can do that is bringing all these agencies and partners together so that we create one communication platform not different plan for different medium.

It is often said that experiential marketing is more engaging than other marketing expressions. Do you agree?

On one hand, it is true but on the other hand it is not. As far as I know, experiential marketing does not stand alone. It cannot exist by itself and it requires all other marketing mix to exist. So it may lead in some cases, it may not lead in other cases. But what we are saying is that the human engagement is still a vital part of the marketing mix and that is the one-on-one platform and that is where experiential comes in.

But by itself, it cannot compete with advertising because the cost of contact if you measure it line by line will be too expensive. I can only reach a thousand people, but a TV commercial will reach one million in the same cost. It cannot stand alone. That is why the collaborative measure of working together across different media is where the direction of marketing mix needs to go.

What is your advice for participants and non-participants?

From a marketing perspective, I think marketing, as a discipline, we need to come back to the table. It should stop being seen as tactical and money-wasting department and start focusing on the core principles because ultimately, marketing is about sales and revenue. When the business objective is not different from the marketing objective, then we start taking it seriously.

From the business perspective, I really thing for marketers, we need to go back to developing core marketing skills within our business. Gone are those days when you need to be in the business for 20 years to be a marketing director. Now you can be a marketing director in three years, with no experience, not enough skill. So we see very few examples where a marketing director will become a CEO. Why? CEOs come out of finance, business operation and sales but rarely out of marketing. Why? The reason is that it is not seen as part of driving the business.