I write this article as I fly back to South Africa from Kenya with a new energy.
I have only experienced this level of energy once before, and that was back in 2006 when I started my media company, on our dining room table.
The only coincidence is the early hours of the morning. However the device I am working on has changed from a clunky HP laptop to a touch screen iPad. But the ‘fire in the belly’ is most definitely the same.
The source of this new energy is the result of an invitation that was extended to me from multinational fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, Unilever Plc.
Roughly a week earlier, an event invitation was sent with an intriguing event theme ‘#ReachABillion’. The only other information was that this invitation was from ‘Unilever’s GLT’.
GLT, I hear you ask?
Immediately my corporate acronym decoding skills kicked into overdrive, like a living-room professional scrabble player does with their letter tiles. All guesses proved to be frivolous. In fact, GLT referred to their ‘Global Leadership Team’. This team was gathering in Kenya to meet with key African media partners.
It was great to see and spend some time with them as well as with my contemporaries at Google, Facebook and Microsoft, since of the 58 countries in Africa, the top 3 most visited web and mobi sites are Google, Facebook & Yahoo.
Having spent a day with the team over lunch and individual meet and greet session, it confirmed my opinion of FMCG marketers being in a league of their own, compared with other industries. (No offence intended).
I think the difference boils down to a deep passion and curiosity for their consumers and a drive for ‘cracking’ a particular market segment and the discovering of new product offshoots and product positioning.
Their markets have unique challenges that are initially unfamiliar to these marketers as consumers themselves. In essence, they require a trait where they can clearly see through the eyes of their consumers.
Unilever and P&G are often referred to as ‘Universities for Marketers’. This is understandable, since competition breeds excellence and excellence in turn breeds excellence.
I also think FMCG marketers truly understand the essence of what is marketing, which is:
– Trying new things
– Having confidence and no fear of failure, and
– Learning quickly from their mistakes.
And this results in becoming a better marketer.
This was again confirmed to me after having the privilege of spending a day with some of the globe’s biggest and brightest marketing and media brains.
The challenge is how do you measure success and failure beyond bottom-line sales? Frankly, this is a common challenge all marketers face daily.
I believe the key lies in the ability to collect and analyse the right data in real time.
Marketers can’t operate alone; they need strong partnerships with their agencies and with their media partners. Since without an audience, even the greatest campaign will fail.
And if it does fail, you need to understand why.
This is where I believe digital data will become the golden thread that marketers will use to benchmark their marketing successes.
As the saying goes ‘You are what you measure’ but are you measuring the right things?
Green is the CEO of Apurimac Media. Follow him on Twitter @WillJNGreen
IMAGE: World Financial Review on Africa