Outlook for Integrated Marketing Communication Industry

February 11, 2021

Leaders of various sectoral bodies in the integrated marketing communication industry have identified strategies that could be explored by practitioners to revitalise the industry. Raheem Akingbolu reports.

Top representatives of sectoral bodies in the nation’s integrated marketing communications (IMC) industry have urged practitioners to begin deploring tools that would help their business out of the economic quagmire brought upon it by the coronavirus pandemics and other challenges, instead of resulting to self-pity.

They spoke at the virtual 2021 IMC Business Outlook organised by Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) with the theme “2021 IMC Business Outlook Navigating a World Disrupted.”

The APCON Registrar/Chief Executive, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, in his keynote address at the event, admitted that COVID-19 has disrupted the whole IMC landscape.
He pointed out that the council organised the event as a thought leadership session to proffer solutions to some of the challenges facing the industry, promising that the regulatory body would continue to look for innovative ways to support the industry.

The APCON Registrar explained that the webinar had become imperative to enable practitioners chart a new course in a disrupted world.

“The COVID 19 pandemic is a shock like no other, involving simultaneous disruption to both supply and demand in an interconnected global economy.

“The Nigeria IMC industry is not left out in the paradigm shift. We are not immune to this disruption in economic activities; hence our decision to secure the valuable time of a team of experts in IMC and advertising to review the general activities of the industry in 2020 as well as project the business outlook for 2021,” he added.

The president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Mr. Steve Babaeko expressed the belief that the ongoing sanitisation of the industry by APCON and the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Agreement), flagged off in January, would go a long way in enhancing the fortune of industry in 2021.

While urging agencies to anticipate client challenges, he advised the agencies owners to always be at alert in providing necessary solutions on time.

As a crucial step towards gaining back their momentum, the AAAN Chief, advocated cooperation among agencies. While citing the example of WPP as a global agency that has fully imbibed the culture of cooperation and expanding more globally, he pointed out that cooperation is the new competition.

Driving home his point, Babaeko was emphatic as he reeled out a mathematical formula in explaining what he termed 3Cs-Cost. According to him, for the industry to thrive in 2021; practitioners should manage cost, access credit opportunities and use it judiciously and manage their cash flow.

A former President of the Media Independent Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Dr. Ken Onyeali Ikpe, who also spoke at the event, centered his discussion on the need for marketing professionals to prepare for navigating a business world that has become disrupted. He argued that it had become imperative for practitioners to begin to thread the road never -travelled for such practitioner to remain relevant.

Ikpe, who is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Insight Redefini added that while there are different types of roads for practitioners, such as the road well- travelled, the road less- travelled, the road never- travelled, he declared that the road never- travelled remains the most viable options, for practitioners desirous of navigating the disrupted world practitioners had found themselves

He stated that the disruptions being experienced in the industry today had made it imperative for agencies and practitioners to be ‘solution’ providers to their clients.
“What I’m saying in essence is that you must be ready to provide ‘solution’, that is an answer that has a soul to your client’s problems, instead of the regular solution,” he stated.

He also stressed the need for practitioners to aspire to always think about staying relevant “If I were to deliver this lecture, some years ago, perhaps I would have been talking about how to consolidate our businesses, and other things. But what is happening today sometimes make me wonder whether we even have any business to consolidate. I think our major concern, as practitioners, should be how to stay relevant,” he added.

According to him, one of the ways to achieve that is for practitioners to make the enhancement of his product quality his utmost priority.

“As a CEO, what is the most important thing to you? I know some would say profit. But the fact remains that for you to continue to be relevant, your priority should be how to enhance your products. It is when you have a product that can stand competition that you can remain relevant,” he stated.

The former MIPAN President also believed agencies must develop a start-up mentality, to enable them cut cost and avoid unnecessary waste
He also urged agencies on the need to incentivize their skilled personnel in order to win such staff’s ‘pity’, instead of his loyalty.

“For instance, the public health crisis we are experiencing today has made majority of the staff to work from home. Interestingly, that is not without its challenge. Some of your highly skilled staff may be working for another organization without you knowing, and that is why it is better to incentivize them so that they can have pity on you,” he stated.

Country Manager, Jc Decaux Gracelake, Nigeria, Dele Odugbemi, said COVID-19 has disrupted the IMC landscape and Out-of-Home advertising (OOH) is one of the most hit, so he urged businesses to evolve in order to remain relevant while he stated that they should invest in technology for it to transform their business.
“When you are investing in technology, do so with the future in mind. When we were investing in technology then, we thought it was just for networking, and purely office use, we never envisaged a time would come so soon, when we will be using it remotely, as we doing now,” he stated.

On his own part, Tony Akiotu, Group CEO, Daar Communications explained that the broadcast industry was greatly affected as revenue declined and business survival was under threat but his organisation was able to weather the storm because of team work and trust from its stakeholders. He therefore urged businesses to work closely with their stakeholders in order to navigate a world that is disrupted.

“Besides innovating and investing more in technology, what we also did was to enter into a trust agreement with our staff, by doing that we were able to elicit their support for a salary review to make the company stay afloat,” he added.



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