Advertising is crucial to creating meaningful relationships between brands and consumers, with a relevant strategy important if a brand is to properly establish itself. Advertising in Africa is still behind the rest of the world, mostly superficial and unlikely to foster a lasting bond. But by remembering a few important rules, businesses can create the kind of relationships that mean customers return to their products again and again. Tom Jackson takes us through seven of the main pointers associated with advertising.

Be creative

Creativity is essential in the formulation of any brands advertising strategy. While simple sales promotions and billboards raise initial awareness of a brand, a company wishing to establish itself and win fans and brand ambassadors must creatively develop an emotional linkage between them and their customers. People are subjected to around 3,000 marketing messages a day, so adverts must stand out.

“We believe that being more meaningful is connected to business success,” says Kate Cox, MPG Media Contacts’ head of strategy in the UK. “Being open, transparent and honest is a key driver to greater brand equity. The basics – like high quality and good service – are important. But it’s the nuances that can drive differences.”

Be transformative

Brands are easier built around a movement that improves the lives of their customers and progresses their society. A global study by MPG and Havas Media has shown that more “meaningful” brands lead to greater business success. A meaningful brand is one that people perceive as contributing to quality of life and wellbeing, essentially making them happier.

“We believe that it is likely that the next generation of brands will flourish in emerging economies – they can, from the onset, create the context that promotes the growth of meaningful brands,” says Sara de Dios, Global Head of Meaningful Brands at Havas Africa. “Companies and brands operating in emerging economies can become active in transforming their roles; they are creating new lifestyles for millions of people and their communities while contributing to the overall progress of their societies. This will continue in the future with a growing middle class emerging within these markets.”

Focus on the benefits

According to Kariba Moko of Kenyan brand development firm Nick Creations, advertisements should not be about promoting the features of a company’s product or service but the specific benefits of those features. For example, if you wanted to advertise a floor cleaner, rather than detailing the chemicals in the solution, promote what that cleaner can do – make floors shine, smell great and look totally clean.

Be credible

Credibility is crucial, and multiple methods should be used to prove this, one being customer testimonials. Another is sharing a flaw in your product or service. Sharing a negative makes what you have to say more believable. “The hardest thing in this country is to make people patriotic, look at how much the government is trying to spend to make people patriotic to their country, and it becomes even more complicated especially if you tell people something and they later come to realise that once they try it the results are completely different. You need to keep it real and honest,” says Moko.

Understand the consumer and their needs

Advertisements need to go beyond functional benefits and focus on emotion and intangible benefits, aspects of a campaign that can establish a brand in the customer’s mind and build loyalty. Where the company chooses to advertise is important here, be it television, radio or online. The company needs to think about where the consumer is and decide what the relevant touchpoints are. Getting this right, picking the relevant medium and touching on customer emotions is the best way to create a buzz around a brand and initiate conversations about it. The difficulty is in maintaining the loyalty, as the brand must constantly keep up the image that the customer fell in love with.

Be consistent

Those in the sector say that in order to really build your brand you need to be consistent in your marketing campaigns. Consistency and repetition create a focused brand image and ingrain the required message into the minds of consumers. Creatively presenting audiences with material that they are likely to remember and reference on a regular basis is the trick, which can be done by appealing to various senses. The most obvious way of being remembered by an audience is through a catchy jingle, though there are others.

Listen and respond

According to Jeff Atkins, an advertising and PR guru, satisfying a customer’s questions and concerns through advertising is a matter of listening and responding. The best way of responding to a customer is directly, and since a business can’t be expected to do this literally in all cases their best option is to simply incorporate what they learn from their customers into their product or service and then to market the change of direction. Current customers will notice the change immediately, but the idea is that the information spreads by word of mouth advertising the product for you, because a business that can respond in a direct way to a customer’s questions and concerns is rare.


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