This opinion piece about crisis looming for digital marketers in Kenya is written by Altaf Jiwa – Markedu business partner in Kenya.
With 20 years of overall marketing experience and 10+ years of digital marketing experience, Altaf Jiwa is a highly experienced award-winning marketing executive and innovator. Born and bred in Nairobi, Altaf Jiwa has always been adamant about furthering his knowledge and impact. He has studied in Canada, Kenya and USA.
He is now on a mission to make digital marketing in Kenya great (again). Reach him here
These people don’t know what they are doing
If you are in the marketing profession in Kenya, you’ll often see fancy titles like ‘Digital Strategist’, ‘Digital Analyst’, ‘Social Media Expert’, ‘Digital Marketing Manager’ and the like. But the sad truth is that many of these people actually have no clue what they are doing.
Anyone can be a social media expert, just like how any of us, armed with a smartphone, can call ourselves professional photographers.
Build it and they shall come – NOT!
Once upon a time, people believed they could find unbounded riches if only their company had a website; they ended up disappointed when after spending a fortune on elaborate web projects no financial windfalls were forthcoming.
No one told them that building a site was not enough. No one told them that one must also invest in getting the right people to visit AND convince them to buy. But designers only knew how to build sites, so that was what they did.
As Maslow observed, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
It’s much the same tale nowadays with digital marketing in this country. A few resized print ads for Facebook, some vacuous Tweets, an array of colourful stock photos with the company logo plastered on it for Instagram and a plea that your product is the “bestest” in the whole wide world.
That’s the stuff awesome content is made of, right?
Boost some posts, you have your ‘impressions’ and ‘engagement’. “Look at all this top-of-mind awareness and brand equity we’re creating.” Easy peasy. “So you mean you’re not selling more product? That’s because you aren’t spending enough money” they say.
As long as organizations are none the wiser, whatever meager fare the experts serve up is good enough. “At least we have a presence on digital” senior executives will echo. There’s always that full-page ad or giant billboard for the next campaign if it doesn’t work out for your brand.
Kenya is playing catchup – now it is time to get to business
The rest of the world has moved on and we are being left far behind. Agency folk in other countries balk in shock when they hear about what we consider digital marketing.
So why are so few Kenyan brands successful at using digital marketing?
In my opinion, marketing professionals or digital agencies are simply not willing to admit that there is a serious knowledge gap or are not bothered to acquire the requisite skills.
Email marketing, data and analytics-driven strategy, astute search engine marketing, an optimized website – all things that should be cleverly crafted to generate leads which can be converted into sales in order to produce a positive Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) – are overlooked.
In Kenya, there is a serious digital marketing knowledge gap. Brands must address this issue now
It’s just too much work! “You mean you actually want SALES from your digital marketing spend? Isn’t that the job for your sales force?” they exclaim in contempt.
Recently I spent time with global (digital) marketing experts at Markedu’s Digital Marketing Masterclass in Nairobi.
They spoke about how Kenyan brands can improve their digital performance, which tactics works and how to get Return on Investment.
Digital marketing opportunity up for grabs
The knowledge chasm for digital marketers in Kenya is clear, but so is the opportunity to do dramatically better.
That’s why I was thrilled to see a room full of dedicated, professional and forward-looking Kenyans at the 2nd edition of the Digital Marketing Masterclass in Nairobi.
The good news is that there are people out there prepared to take the journey towards mastering digital marketing in Kenya.
So why do companies continue to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars on digital advertising with no tangible results?
Why will a company gladly spend millions to rebuild a website that may be their next white elephant, but not a fraction of that on the know-how to formulate and implement an informed digital strategy?
Brands tired of agency fluff – getting ready to switch or hire internally
Why, in a room full of participants (most of whom were frustrated clients getting set to flee their agencies because they’ve had enough of their ‘fluff’ and wasteful approach) were none of the people from ad agencies? I don’t know the answers to those questions.
Often heard at the digital marketing masterclass in Kenya “our agency does not take digital marketing seriously. It seems we as a brand know more than our agency.”
The one thing I do know is that times are changing. If you are not willing to move along with the times and perhaps be a step ahead, it will not matter who you are or how great your brand is, one day you may just find that someone who was paying attention is doing it better – and that day it may just be too late.
If you pay attention and listen very closely, you’ll hear it…it’s the sound of a big change coming.
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