“Brand building or Advertising or whatever you call it is a total waste of resources,” he told me before adding that “… a good product sells itself.”

This kind of thinking results is responsible for loads of pressure on the salesforce when in reality there is little or no knowledge of the offering among consumers. This is sometimes the case where products have been successfully sold into the trade but consumer off-take turns out low. The truth is that every business can benefit from some hype. No doubt you may be making enough sales already but who said you cannot make more as more people become aware of your offerings?

To buttress this, permit me to share a recent discovery from a Fashion brand that happens to be our client. Prior to engaging Activationplus, this Fashion brand with following in Abuja and Kano had only engaged online marketing. In fact, they came to us to help them promote their Fashion Event and generate attendance.

We created and implemented an Event promotion campaign that focused on four activities. But here is the real gist, in the middle of the campaign and also because we built the concepts around their Fashion brand, the client reported massive increase in bespoke customer order directly traceable to our activities. Post the event, they’re now investing in promoting their Fashion brand in the traditional media.

Again, there is also an increasing temptation, these days, to only think of online and traditional media marketing each time people think of promoting their business or brand.

Just a couple of years ago, if you ask anyone “how do you build a brand?” Chances are they did give answers such as TV, radio and newspaper advertising as top response. Today, initial answers to same question will most likely highlight Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Engagement before going ahead to list the traditional advertising alternatives, if at all.

Whatever, the truth remains that your business and brand can gain tipping point exposure leading to exponential increase in revenue from other brand building tools that have being around longer. Choosing the right promotional activity from the onset can enhance your willingness toward same in the future. There are few things as disheartening as massive promotional budget lost to unproductive brand building activities. This is the reason prudence is needful. You are better advised to consult marketing professionals. By experience, they know what works and what doesn’t.

Your choice of brand building tool will depend on your budget, promotional objectives, the target market and the prevailing environmental dynamics. In Nigeria, there is no much restriction to the type of advertising you are permitted to use as the case in some European countries. The only restriction in some part of the country is likely to come from cultural, or more specifically, religious angle.

So, aside from owning an excellent online presence or using TV-radio-print ads, what other alternative brand building activities can a business owner consider? We will be exploring some of these alternatives below.

  1. Social Cause Marketing: I have written more about social cause marketing elsewhere. But, in a layman’s term, it involves a brand leveraging the moment by championing a solution or an end to a social challenge that is pressing (say a campaign to stop Xenophobia, for instance) or enduring (like a campaign to stop corruption in the police force). Within the community, can you identify a cause the vast majorities are passionate about? Is there a group facing injustice that needs your brand’s voice? Can you advertise donating 5% of your profit to an Orphanage or other charitable causes? A word of caution though, the consequence may be disastrous for your brand if a social cause campaign is not well thought through.
  2. Lifestyle Promotion: Can you identify an emerging way of life that can be helpful to a large number of people in the community (depending on your target market, your community could be a state, region, country or specific group of people like nursing mothers) where your business is domiciled. Let’s imagine Obesity is claiming lots of lives and leaving many children without a breadwinner to take care of them in your region and this has become a major concern for many. Imagine that this problem has everyone talking and as the owners of Drinka brand, you have data that proves that a lifestyle of jogging for 30 minutes every 7am to 7:30am can solve this problem over a 10 months period. Imagine also that your company launches a campaign that rewards people for participating in a themed program tittle “Drinka Jog for 30 at 7.” Can you see several layers of publicity off-shoot such campaign can generate for Drinka? That is the power of Lifestyle Promotion.
  3. Office or Facility Marketing: let’s say I have a lady crush who I am still trying to woo. I invite her home. However, it is pertinent that my house screams ‘excellence and ready to settle down’ prior to inviting visit. My aim is to give her an opportunity to get to know me and possibly feel more at home with me enough to put me in her list of her ‘husband material’. After the visit, I can expect my girl crush could make a statement in tandem with a Pidgin parlance that says ‘I sabi am reach home’ – meaning she knows enough about me in and out to make a decision. This explains why academic institutions organize Open Days to showcase their facility to parents and intending students. May be you have an impressive office edifice or even machineries that sets you apart. Have you considered building an invitational event around it? This will afford you the opportunity to flaunt your facility and move the guest closer to value exchange.
  4. Event Marketing: Have you considered making an event out of launching that new business or even a new line of product? This is the kind of marketing that car manufacturers have mastered. You could as well learn from them by building a massive event when introducing your next new product. The just concluded GTBank 2019 Fashion Week was some big blast. The bank is enjoyed lots of media mention as a result. Also, it is building a large and expanding circle of fashion-industry customer community.
  5. Trade Shows: the power of Trade fair was impressed on me sometime around 2012. I have seen exhibitors literally ran out of stock even at the distributors’ warehouses in the middle of a trade show. This usually happen when Fair sales make nonsense of historical sales pattern. Trade shows provide excellent platforms to boost brand awareness encourage consumer sales off-take and even establish trade relations in a town. It isn’t just about the sales as anyone with careful planning can establish far reaching investor and industry contacts. The high attendance entails huge brand exposure. You may not be aware but Kano International Trade Fair (which fortunately is ongoing as at the date of this publication) records average of around 2 million footfalls annually within two weeks each year. Lagos International Trade Fair usually has over 1,000 exhibitors with about 9% being brands from outside Nigeria seeking local partners.
  6. Display advertising: if you follow my writings, you may have noticed I am a firm advocate for merchandising which is simply the art of grabbing consumer’s attention and influencing their choices at point-of-purchase by deliberately obeying certain rules of creative product display. Given two equally known brands in a Mall within same category, the brand with more display visibility will move off the shelf faster. People buy what they see and almost consistently act in some specific way while shopping. You may read more on that in my article on how to boost sales by leveraging the power of Merchandising.
  7. Sponsorship Marketing: the secret to successfully using sponsorship as a brand building platform lies in ensuring strategic fit. This explains why brand such as Guinness and Star always line up to sponsor outdoor games that are more masculine inclined – the vast majority of sport enthusiasts love hanging outdoor with friends; they also love adventure and are mostly risk-takers. These are all characteristics that are in congruence with most beer brands identity. Strength of appeal, high exposure and repetition are also very vital to a successful use of sponsorship as a brand building tool. For a small business, the secret will lie in identifying with events, places and projects that matters to your local target market. How many times was TOTAL mentioned or got exposed to viewer around the globe when it sponsored CAF 2019 African Nations football tournament – over ten thousand brand mention in 3 weeks. Television viewership per tournament hovers around 7 billion according to CAF.  
  8. Experiential Marketing: real experiential marketing focuses on the target audience need and not on the brand. It seeks to emotionally engage the consumers and give them that ooosh-feeling while the brand stays in the background. As the name implies, a brand seeks to give the target audience an experience, delightful, fun-filled and positive emotions that will last them a lifetime. The consumer must feel a sense of ownership, some take-home, an awesome delight while actively participating for it to qualify as an experiential engagement. Imagine your favourite celebrity giving you a body massage in a breathtakingly beautiful pooltube while you watch the experience on a large screen and can take some of the pictures and video clips home. Did I hear you say ooch!!? Surely, you will remember the brand that gave you such experience. Who want an invitation to one of such events? I have 5 free tickets to give away. Wink…wink!
  9. Surprise Marketing: there are some proximity between experiential engagement and Surprise marketing and there are also lots of overlaps. Yet, in the former, the consumer may be aware of what to expect while the later takes him or her by complete surprise. Imagine you’re going shopping at the entrance of popular Balogun Market in Lagos and suddenly the ground in front of you gave way and before your very eyes the largest talking drum you have ever seen emerges from the ground branded. Spontaneously, a colourful group of musicians appears from different spots and your entire surrounding turns into one harmonious union of symphonic sounds and colours. Who remembers Crush and the Orange Men who suddenly appeared on Lagos streets in the early Nineties?
  10. Street Marketing: several type of marketing can be found here ranging from the popular flier distribution, roadshows, town-storming, multi-spot tent drop-display points, sales activation and even spot marketing by Brand Ambassadors. Street Marketing offers you a good opportunity to educate, entertain, sell or create awareness for your product.
  11. Press Releases & Publicity: brand exposure can happen when Nollywood decides to use your facility or brand in their movie shot or the media picks up major news events that had to do with your brand. Maybe artist invites a Journalist to photoshoot and possibly write an article on a major sculpture work of his on a national or international elder statesman. Newsmen are always hunting for news and you will do well to have a few of them as friends. Be warned you will hear them sometimes use terms such as LTP (Let them pay).’ This simply means a news item is too ‘promotional’ in content that you have to pay for it. When looking for news worthy items for press releases, consider looking around personal, financial, marketing, production and general development that had to do with your corporate brand. You must also strive to intentionally maintain cordial relationships with employees, shareholders, the local community, the media, government and pressure groups. How these stakeholders feel about your brand can positively or otherwise affect your market performance. Conglomerates such as Dangote and Olam have being known to lobby and influence government policies to favour their intended projects. This is a good example of the power of PR.
  12. Celebrity or Founder Marketing: The CEO of an organization can command social attention as much as any Celebrity. Firms who understand this deliberately ‘manage’ the reputation of their founder or CEO. When the leader of an organization enjoys positive social recognition, it rubs off on the corporate brand and sales. People transfer the respect they have for Aliko Dangote to Dangote Cement. Some part of the country will buy almost anything packaged provided it has Dangote brand on it. In the same vein, when a well-loved and popular female celebrity endorses a beauty product, her women followers pay attention and are highly likely to try out the endorsed product at least once. Football betting brands like BetNaija and BetKing have leveraged the social goodwill of Victor Ikpeba and Austin Okocha to the extent a very good number of their platform users believe these football star sare part owners of these brands. Among their competitors, these two betting brands enjoy distinctively high patronage. I, however, don’t advocate changing Celebrity Ambassadors regularly as you change undies.
  13. Cooptation Marketing: agricultural companies are pace-setters when it comes to coopting key stakeholders in their marketing expeditions. Village Heads and specific Crop Farmers Leaders are incorporated to champion shared cropping and rural demonstration farms. These key local influences are provided enhanced seeds; they are trained to adopt advanced modern agricultural practices and are supported throughout the farming and harvesting cycle. These coopted key persons plan and cultivate their own farmland using the Agro-company’s improved seed. Just before harvest, the brand organizes a huge event at the farm where the coopted farmer invites other famers across the area to showcase the extra-ordinary yield and performance the leader is enjoying as a result of using their brand. Manufacturers are also coopting key trade leaders in idea generation so much so that when such a product is finally launched, these key trade leaders more eager to push the product as it where their own pet brain project.
  14. Value Marketing: this type of marketing agrees with the saying that ‘a good product sells itself.’ Word-of-mouth goes into full effect when your brand truly provides high and superior value both in terms of quality and price when compared to competition. This strategy works best where there are few competitors and high affinity among key buyers. The product performance becomes the brand building tool and advertisement in itself. Put in another way, the believability of tell-tale and personal experience becomes the brand builder. Only very few product enjoy this type of marketing advantage.
  15. Buzz Marketing: when a beautiful bright-coloured pink Lincolm Navigator drove past us in the opposite direction in a one-way right lane, everybody looked. Imagine an advert with unbearded 5 female friends happily going to bar for some beer. These will get everybody’s attention, wouldn’t it? Buzz marketing will demand your brand quickly creating and profiting from counter-culture marketing activities. You don’t necessarily have to instigate it, you can latch onto it as soon as they emerge as a social trend. You are not trying to change popular culture with your campaign; you are simply standing out, going in the opposite direction. How do you feel seeing a car-crashing event with each car releasing massive smoke from its exhaust pipe while racing? And you’re like “what’s going on here?” Point of caution though, the power of counter-culture marketing fades quickly and better check the local regulations and social pulse to ensure pressure groups are not coming after you as a result. They can completely demarket your brand.

There you have it, my 15 top offline marketing activities to build your brand in 2020. Let me have your thoughts and questions on any of the above.

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