A young lady stands in a store unable to decide on which product to select from the array on the counter.Eventually, she opts for the one with the highest price tag for reasons unknown to her. To the average man; expensive is quality, even though this logic is flawed.Read More
How you handle your maiden entry into a new market will make or break the fate of your investment fortune. Do it the right way.
Your first brand reveal sets the tone for how your target audience will receive your offering. You have to adequately prepare for this, considering that a host of pre-existing competitors who already have a head-start over you might pose formidable barriers to market entry.
Leveraging professional advisory with local Intelligence on the prevailing psyche of the market helps avoid a disconnect between your perception of the essence of your product or services and customers’ actual needs. With the imperatives of intercultural communications and dynamism in world view, your own idea of business packaging could be at significant variance with local customer expectations.
If you are a foreign investor, resident partners’ local market knowledge; strategic contacts, knowledge of the business culture and the engagement capital they already have with key stakeholders and regulatory bodies are extra leverage you will find useful. Reputable consultancies also come in handy, structuring your communications and brand packaging strategies to resonate with your target audience in terms of psyche, temperament and other intercultural imperatives.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest consumer market and smart investors who transcend the country’s peculiar challenges can exploit these platforms for good return on investments. The key difference maker is the adopted strategy of entry. With the right partnerships, foreign investors avail themselves of experiential insights on geography/demographics, prevailing political climate, legalities, tariff rates, security, costs of doing business (transport, power, etc.) speed of access to justice, along with realities of institutional and natural barriers to entry.
In the Nigerian example, some critical factors that manufacturers must consider are government’s ongoing policies on the power sector, infrastructure (especially transport network) and how these increase the cost of doing business. Also on the lineup are cost of accessing business credits, efficiency statistics of the Nigerian ports with regard to length of time in goods clearance, financial reporting standards by regulatory authorities and sustainability imperatives germane to the Nigerian landscape as well as speed of access to justice. With all of that sorted, adopting the right communications strategy and branding approach also remains crucial to achieving a positive brand reveal. Since the essence of a business revolves around its customers, it is crucial that you effectively engage your target audience about what you do. Harnessing creative communications and the power of consumer psychology is strategic to business success. After all, people are the reason you are in business in the first place and one size does not fit all.
All efforts at branding, brochure developments, website information and business marketing to the target audience require innovative scripting. This is where the strategic relevance of reputable Investor Relations and PR consultancies come in. Compared to the value you stand to gain in the long-term picture, embracing such advantages in business entries remains one of the best decisions you will ever make as a new investor.
-Lanre Fashina, Research & Strategic Communications, Zenera Consulting.
Branding, Advertising and Public Relations (PR), the ‘three musketeers’ of strategic communications in business, are often taken for granted to mean one and the same thing. This view, often held especially by small-business owners or start-ups, is not the correct approach to adopt if your business or brand is to truly enjoy strong market presence and long-term relevance.
It is conceded that the three are aimed at attaining the bottom-lines of sales, increased market share, customer loyalty, brand preference and endearment. All embrace creative communications and harness the power of consumer psychology for audience engagement. However, powerful and strategic differences exist among them and an unwise business decision is the assumption that once one of these is in place, the remaining two are no longer necessary. However, best value for your investment at business positioning is achieved when the three tools are creatively deployed to complement each other in integrative ways and in the right order.
The essence of a business revolves around its customers. Hence the need to effectively engage your target audience about what you do. The process starts first with branding which creates a concrete identity of what your organisation is all about and what sets you apart from generics in your industry. To command preference and thrive above competitors on sustained basis, creating a strong brand is not negotiable. The consumer needs to know the unique value that comes with associating with your brand and these need to be properly reflected in your brand positioning. The created brand is the core substance around which subsequent work of advertisement and public relations will then revolve.
Advertisement creates continuous awareness about the product, service or company. You need to warm your brand into the consciousness of your consuming public on regular basis to maintain awareness about same. Advertisement ‘oils’ the wheel of continued brand preference and customer loyalty. Chances of competitors ‘swaying’ your audience via aggressive visibility increase when you slack off on advertisement.
Yet while branding and advertising are great, solid public reputation management is even more critical in the long-term sustainability of grounds already gained. PR is what deepens the intangible connection between a brand and the consumer. It shapes perception of not only the brand but the organisation behind it.
When you have a good brand and positive public perception about the personality behind same, it becomes much easier to retain customer loyalty and continuously win new patronage through unsolicited referrals. Your reputation does ‘’auto-marketing’’ for you and boost your brand equity. The right news, impacts and reviews about your brand need to get out and optimally reach the critical audience, while potentially unpleasant occurrences should be healthily managed.
When the public comes to associate your brand consistently with such attributes as quality, professionalism, durability, functionality, environmental health consciousness, integrity and commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), you are more likely to have strong brand equity, gain more customers and inspire potential investor confidence. While it may take years to build a formidable brand reputation, it can take a matter of only days to ruin same via poor reputation management, flawed crises handling, slack stakeholder engagement efforts and attraction of bad press. The enduring and greatest brands are built on having time-tested credibility and goodwill from the public.
Compared to the value you stand to gain in the long-term and bigger picture, an investment in good PR support for your business remains one of the best decisions for your enterprise sustainability.
–Lanre Fashina, Research & Strategic Communications, Zenera Consulting.
Reputation is everything-on personal and business levels. Management of brand image is central to the sustainability of a business in the long term and foremost agencies seek to uphold reputations to the highest standards. This article details the basic tools for successful reputation management.
Any organisation seeking top class reputation management must embrace keen awareness as a central goal. Attention to details distinguishes the great from the good. To ensure delivery of best services, reputation management consultancies develop strategic interest in public perceptions of their clients, particularly through the aggressive monitoring of new developments. Setting up Google alerts for a brand name is a beneficial method of keeping up to date as well as assessing any negative feedback via reviews. Keeping an eye out on the most influential social media users and their inputs on specific brands is also important. Closer attention should be paid to verified Twitter users as they have the most followers consisting of existing and potential consumers. These strategies help to proactively discover problems and offer the best solutions, while also building upon perceived strengths.
Communication is key for any successful relationship. Therefore, reputation management organisations make it a priority to engage their clients on regular basis. Leading agencies ensure there is a constant flow of direct communication between staff and clients. Clients are also encouraged to communicate directly with their consumer base as this instills trust, which in turn attracts goodwill for their brand image. Customers lodging complaints using social media or the organisation’s website should be replied promptly. This in turn ensures consumers feel more appreciated and catered to. This aids brand loyalty.
Nimbleness and Proactive Action
Nimbleness is important when dealing with feedback from the public about a client’s product. For example, a reputation management agency on realising that a company has been receiving negative reviews should have flexible strategies in place to tackle the problems efficiently. Similarly, a crisis or scandal is usually avoided when both client and reputation management agencies are well poised to maintain the good image of both companies.
Negative feedback is almost inevitable and it would be unrealistic to expect none. Therefore, being proactive not only means dealing with problems but also seeing to it that these problems are prevented from occurring in the first place. It is also important to note that not all negative feedback is a problem as it can serve as an opportunity to discover weaknesses and improve upon them. The use of survey questionnaires to measure consumer satisfaction and feedbacks from the target audience will help to gauge the reception of a particular product or service. Reputation management agencies also engage in sponsoring events for positive publicity, and actively promoting their client’s brands.
Social Media Involvement
Social media is undoubtedly one of the quickest means of communicating directly with consumers. For effective reputation management, brands are advised to have a strong social media presence. These include platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube where pertinent information and videos would be uploaded on a regular basis. This method avails the opportunity of receiving direct feedback as consumers are invited to share their opinions and ideas on the brands via the comment sections.
– Idegbua Higo, Media & Communications Intern at Zenera Consulting
These have been portentous times for the Nigerian oil industry. Internal politics in the creeks of the Niger-delta as well as fluctuating events on the global scene continue to influence the black gold’s fortune. Oscillating between the island of despair and the shore of hope, how do the current sectoral dynamics augur for investors’ interests in the short term projections?
The latest waves of oil platforms bombings by militancy warlords who ascribed to themselves the dreaded name of ‘Niger Delta Avengers’ has pushed Nigeria’s oil production to a 30-year low with deficits induced by production cuts reaching as much as 600,000 barrels per day. Against this backdrop, oil majors operating in Nigeria, including Shell, Agip, ExxonMobil and Chevron have all been forced to declare force majeure this current year.
From another horizon, economic slowdowns in Europe, technological breakthroughs in the United States, wild fires in Canada as well as embargo lift on Iran’s oil from January of the current year are creating fluctuating imperatives on the Nigerian oil market, albeit sometimes with twisted kind of serendipity for other players involved. America’s recent attainment of self-reliant status in oil reserves through its use of fracking technology to recover oil from erstwhile inaccessible shale, consigned generous portions of Nigeria’s crude oil to abandonment on the high seas with no home to call its own. The U.S. was formerly the biggest consumer of Nigeria’s crude oil and its emergent self-sustenance in oil and gas therefore translated to loss of a key market for the latter. Crashes in global oil prices has been another result that arose from fracking-induced over-supply of the commodity.
While wild fires in Canada affects output from one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil, helping to push up prices marginally, slowed-down economic activities in Europe and ban-lift on Iran oil due to negotiated compromise on its stance on nuclear energy projects have respectively driven down global demands and global prices of crude oil on the international stage- realities which also naturally affect Nigeria.
But a ray of hope exists…
The ongoing slump in global oil prices is making it less profitable for the U.S. shale oil producers to continue in business the new way. Furthermore, as more U.S. refineries are better suited to refine light crude, the type Nigeria produces, building new refineries to process heavy variety of crude oil from fracking is not currently cost-effective in view of the ongoing non-competitiveness of the barrel price. The current pricing of crude has made oil recovery from shale far more expensive than importing, signaling resumed consumption of Nigeria’s light sweet crude previously floating idle on the sea for what seemed eons before.
In addition, the oil futures market signals that oil prices will rise as OPEC members are considering decision to stabilise the market through production freeze, and have scheduled an informal meeting slated for September in Algiers to deliberate on same. Even hitherto reluctant Saudi Arabia is more disposed to the suggestion now and appears willing to work with other oil producers to stabilise prices. Meanwhile refineries in the US have resumed buying foreign oil to replace the deficit in internal output, storing much of the less-expensive imported oil to sell in anticipation of a price rise in the short term future.
The forgoing, along with ongoing negotiation talks to create peace in the bomb-ravaged Niger-delta as well as promotion of marginal field development imperatives, suggest the Nigeria oil market might yet exult in some measure of positive turnaround in fortune sooner than expected despite transient depressions bequeathed on the sector.
-Lanre Fashina, Research &Strategic Communications, Zenera Consulting.
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