Expectations for 2019 and review 2018 marketing and customer service

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Prof Robert Ebo Hinson
Prof Robert Ebo Hinson

Marketing is an important business process where you inform, attract and convince people that your products or services are of value to them.

Without Marketing, many businesses would fail to exist.

You could have the most amazing product or service, but if no one knows it exists or understands the value, you won’t make a single sale.
In the next couple of weeks, many corporate organisations and businesses will be held up in hotels and retreat centres to review 2018 and strategise for 2019.

What will the companies be talking about at their strategy sessions at this time of the year?

 What are the common trends that will be running through the strategies of companies for 2019?
It is for these reasons that the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio talk programme on Joy FM, has started a new series titled ‘Expectations for 2019 and review 2018’.

This week’s edition was on marketing and customer service.

The show, which is hosted by Rev. Albert Ocran had a Lecturer and Training Consultant, Ms Petra Aba Asamoah, and a Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Professor Robert Ebo Hinson, take listeners through how the marketing and customer service space had been in 2018 and expectations for 2019.

Prof. Hinson said 2018 had been challenging from the consumer’s spend standpoint.

“One thing I have heard from a lot of practitioners and my executive master’s students is that, across the industries, consumer spend seems to have gone down a bit and this has caused entry level brands and in-traffic brands to gain traction,” he stated.

“This is because if you have little to spend, you typically will spend on products that will give you the most utility,” he added.

Growing appreciation for marketing

He said despite the challenges, there seem to be a growing recognition of marketing in almost all the sectors of the economy.

“If you take the not-for-profit sectors, you have churches that have grown from one branch to ten branches and growing exponentially all across the world. So even for NGO entities, they seem to be applying strategic marketing principles to go global,” he said.

“In the public sector, there seems to be a growing recognition of the application of marketing and service principles in order to grow.

For the first time in its 70 years’ history, the University of Ghana launched a marketing and communication policy.

If something as old as the University of Ghana can come to the realisation that marketing and communication matters, then it means we are on to a good thing,” he explained.

He said there was a growing appreciation for marketing principles to meet strategic goals.

Private sector struggling

For multinational companies, he said, cost had gone up remarkably due to the foreign exchange challenges which had made it difficult for them to plan for marketing and communication spend.

“Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), for instance, are in a severe price war and they are giving discounts which are making their margins slimmer.

 Some of the smaller companies are also going out of business,” he stated.

“There is a general squeeze so people are resorting to all sorts of practices to penetrate and stay alive,” he added.

Finding innovative ways

For her part, Ms Petra Aba Asamoah said if customers were not spending as much then there must be a push from marketing practitioners to find more innovative ways to continue to market and put their brands out there.

She said the general feeling and feedback was that budgets had been cut, and marketing practitioners didn’t have as much money to do what they would have wanted to do fully this year.

“Unfortunately, one of the things that gets cut when the budget is tight is marketing, so the responsibility is on marketers to find out how they can continue to run their marketing activities with lesser funds,” she stated.

“This is where innovation comes in. Marketers must use the most effective and efficient marketing tools to engage customers and ensure that their brands are still out there and get the results that they want,” she added.

She said that had been the biggest challenge for marketers this year.

How to deliver on your targets

Explaining how marketers could achieve their targets despite a tight budget, she said: “You first need to clarify what the challenge is, where exactly we have opportunities.”

“That is when we can start having a conversation around using alternatives and various activities,” she said.

“One thing I have noticed is an interesting trend in the inclusion of a lot of digital marketing strategies, so instead of just traditional advertising that is most times very expensive, quite a number of companies have moved into using digital platforms that are cost-effective,” she added.

She said whatever the challenge, the best benefit could be squeezed out to get results. — GB