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"Marketing needs to continually re-invent itself if it wants to retain the 'X' Factor" - Part 2

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In Part 1 of this article on the ‘re-invention of marketing’ (published in the June 2014 issue), the first five points in a series of paradigm shifts in marketing were unpacked. The changes were considered against a backdrop of how they can serve as a way forward for the industry and for marketers themselves. In part two of this article, the next five shifts are unpacked, along with the key attributes of an ‘X Factor’ marketer.

1.    FROM MEDIA PLAN TO MEDIA OPPORTUNISM: It can’t be easy being a Media Planner or a Media Buyer, trying to get the most ‘cost-effective bang for the client’s buck’. The challenge lies in the fact that if media planning is reduced to a statistical, almost actuarial science, it can be replicated by any competent logical mind. While media planning has its place, it’s trumped every time by great media opportunism. One such example is the case of Mobile Operator Orange, which reached out to young people in Kenya while at the same time driving data sales to tie in with brand positioning. Street dance was the chosen medium of engagement:
“Street dance crews uploaded two-minute videos onto where their fans could vote for them online or by using an SMS short code. In turn Orange identified three creative territories with strong data presence and crafted each to connect to the Kenyan youth as their favourite street dance crews battled for a spot in the OBYS finale. Live texting kept the show contextual and relevant, and drew a total of 2.5 million votes for the competition throughout the duration of the campaign. There was also a dramatic increase in data sales and OBYS continues to be a dominant force in youth culture across Kenya.”


2.    FROM PRODUCTS TO PRINCIPLES: In the mass marketing, product-led era, it was sufficient to make a good product; in the positioning era it was sufficient to own a space in the consumers’ mind. Today fuelled and enabled by the social network capability of the digital era, consumers have become activists and they want to know about the company that makes the products. Corporate brand reputation must be managed and directed by marketers and Corporate Social Responsibility becomes one of the primary drivers. Businesses like SA Breweries have grasped this concept and made sure their CSI spend is not driven by a compliance mind-set that wants its BBBEE points - but instead by the true spirit of corporate social citizenship.

3.    FROM CONSUMER MONOLOGUE TO CONSUMER DIALOGUE: Marketers in the pre-digital era never really took the time to get to know their consumer and there were certainly no mechanisms in place for consumer dialogue. The digital era changed all of that and effectively removed the concept of discretion from the marketing vocabulary.  Customer service sites such as www.hellopeter.com illustrate how vocal consumers are when they are unhappy with a brand, product, and or company.  


4.    FROM CUSTOMER TO COMMUNITY: As if the transition to a consumer that talks back wasn’t enough, the digital era has facilitated the coming together of like-minded customers merging them into powerful communities. Manchester United, despite a poor season in 2013/14, has understood the power and potential of a Global Community of supporters (who all buy merchandise) and ensure that not only do they extend their footprint via closed-season tours to distant countires, but they also sign the best players from those countries to ensure that the support becomes permanent. Last year United signed Japanese superstar, Shinji Kagawa, to lock in their Japanese fan-base; this had been preceded by the signing of South Korean star, Park Ji-sung.

5.    FROM ‘WHAT FOR’ TO ‘WHAT IF’: Now that the accountants tend to dominate the corporate hierarchies and marketers aspirations have been shackled and subjected to budget constraints, it is not uncommon to experience the shrug of the shoulders when young enthusiastic marketers make suggestions which the wise, or is it wizened, marketer knows either ‘can’t work’ or ‘can’t be done within the budget’. In a world where marketing has to continually re-invent itself it is critical that the ‘what for’ mind-set is completely replaced by the inquisitive ’what if’! How else would MTN have made the decision to accept a solid 2nd place in South Africa but to ‘take Africa’ before Vodacom even realised ‘WhatsApp’. MTN simply followed the learnings of the smart shoe salesman who, when first setting foot in Africa back in the 19th century, was heard to say ‘what an amazing market. Nobody wears shoes!’

In closing, to succeed in a world of changing paradigms, the key attributes to look for when seeking the magical ‘X-Factor’ in a marketer today include:

  • Strategic decision making: Are they able to make strategic decisions, and see them through?
  • Pragmatism: Can they find the right balance between pragmatism and optimism in the ever-changing marketing landscape?
  • Creativity: Is there evidence of them being a creative thinker?
  • Adaptability:  Are they a problem solver?
  • Brand Mogul: Are they willing to be a brand entrepreneur?
  • Bold: Can they be sufficiently courageous when the moment for bravery presents itself?
  • Digital Media Skill Set: Do they understand the ever-evolving potential, and yet also the subtleties, of digital media and the social network?
  • Visionary Leadership: Can they convince you that they can become a successful visionary, and an inspirational leader?

With the dynamic way in which marketing has evolved in the past 50 years, it’s imperative for an X-Factor marketer to accept that uncertainty and change are the ‘new normal’ today. Gone are the days when consumers absorbed and rejected mass media, today they co-create, self-identify and build relationships with brands.  Marketers need to ask themselves how they will keep customers loyal.

Last modified on Monday, 11 August 2014 09:47
Koo Govender

Koo Govender

Koo Govender is the VWV Group’s first female CEO in its 30-year history. Formerly the Corporate Marketing and Communications Director at M-Net, Govender took over the reins at VWV Group in September 2013.


Koo’s combination of business and marketing acumen coupled with her experience with high profile events and stakeholder relationship management is unrivalled. At a time when VWV Group expands into new markets and launches new platforms like those offered by VWV Massive - the division that uses music and entertainment properties and platforms to achieve client brand objectives - she brings a unique perspective and has all the right credentials to lead a strong organisation like VWV Group.


Govender, who has worked at the MultiChoice Group for 22 years, developed a real sensitivity to different markets during her tenure, and has an unqualified depth of understanding when it comes to holisitic marketing and consumer market segmentation.


Govender is a passionate and proven marketer with an outstanding record of accomplishment. During her career she has won various Loeries and Promax Awards for on-air promos for the Group and was the first Chairwoman of Promax SA, the world’s premier body for promotion and marketing professionals working in electronic and broadcasting media. She has been a semi-finalist for the Most Influential Woman in 2010: Media category – CEO Magazine; Finalist for 2012 Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards – CEO Magazine; and is a regular judge for awards likes the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year and CEO Magazine Women of the Year.


A spiritual person, Govender’s life is directed by her philosophy that “life is not only about success but about significance and living your true potential”. Married and a mother of two, she has travelled extensively, has performed many motivational and guest speaker engagements on Women Empowerment and Mentorship, is a golf enthusiast and enjoys interior decorating.

Website: www.vwv.com

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