vprašanje: Could marketing, as concepts and strategies, be applicable to a country? If so, why is it not working for Nigeria? – Andy Onyejekwe
Marketing can indeed become applicable to help ameliorate the obvious problems Nigerians are grappling with, which made up major issues politicians harped on to sooth people’s frayed nerves, during last May’s (2011) electioneering campaigns – Corruption; security; poor infrastructural development; deplorable power sector; over dependence on oil revenue; almost collapsed manufacturing sector; neglect of agriculture; inadequate funding of educational, health in other key sectors; etc.
Marketing in this regard, is often referred to as “Place Marketing". I hold the view that its application, in the case of Nigeria, should come from two major angles: – (a) Projection of the government’s intensions towards national cohesion, through attitudinal change to inculcate national unity, and sense of belonging among the people (national pride); in (b) Effective utilization of any resultant general sense of nationalism [derived from (a) approach above] to positively project the country internationally for economic gains.
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The focus so far has been misplaced as the second, (b) approach, has been placed on the front burner all these years, instead of the reverse. There have been little achievements in the first approach, which ought to have constituted the platform for the application of the latter.
A few years ago, I was contacted by a major online directory I counsel periodically, to facilitate contacts with a related federal government ministry, for a partnership arrangement (applying a product I had initiated earlier) at a period when the newly appointed minister for the place was trying to re-awaken the concept of “Re-branding Nigeria”. I made it known that it would amount to a waste of my precious time, as I was quite convinced that the programme would fail to achieve the desired results – I buttressed my stand with an analogy of “placing the cart before the horse” and the Chinese proverb of “carving a rotten wood”.
Even where I have reservations about so called ‘country branding’ (leaving details maybe for another day), coming up with a programme of trying to re-brand Nigeria without first embarking on a massive programme of national orientation (at a time of mass disenchantment), to achieve expected federal government’s goals as embodied in (a), above, will amount to mere jamboree at the end. I leave you, Andy, to make out from goings-on presently, why that outfit shouldn’t continue to take my counsel seriously going by my obvious vindication. The promoters of the “Re-branding Nigeria” project, though obviously had the country’s image problems as main focus, they fail to realise that these were hinged on structural problems (not attended to) that take quite sometime to fix.
In order to make any significant headway toward s applying marketing to the country’s situation, emphasis should firstly be placed on achieving national cohesion by giving the people cause to be proud of being Nigerians, through programmes of an aspect of marketing referred to as ‘Social Marketing’, well before any international projection.
Based on the present situation in the country, the best bet is to put in place massive orientation programmes at the national level, which states can even replicate, to facilitate the development of an all encompassing national social identity, applying purely Social Marketing approaches. Z drugimi besedami,, creating an opportunity of using the power of marketing to move Nigerians and change their present ways of perceiving nationhood. Social Marketing is another tag for marketing of social causes or ideas – the creation, execution and control of programmes designed to influence social change.
Ko to pišem, I can visualize social marketing campaigns with titles like , “We Are One” with its essence being to break down barriers of prejudice between people of various ethnic, religious, cultural, and socio-economic background (these days of social intolerance); “Your Government & You” aimed at rebuilding trust through civic engagement; and more.
Andy, who says Nigerians can’t be made to come out of their present disenchantment and become objects of positive projection of this country, if appropriate steps are taken? Space here does not permit elaboration on what social marketing entails, its management process, steps for programme implementation, campaign strategy and tactics. Feel free to contact me on details.
Even at the state level, citizens can be made to adopt positive traits through effective implementation of same marketing tools. Using Imo state as an example, why shouldn’t Chief Rochas Okorocha, the governor, not capitalize on (hitting the iron on the head while it is red hot) to put in place resounding policies which stand out to be in consonance with the desires of Imo people, typified by re-orientation programmes to get an average Imo person’s way of life changed, and even evolve an ‘Imo Identity’?
As Imo state has more than 85% of its population comprised of rural based inhabitants, made up mainly of communities that serve as feeders to the three main urban centres of Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe, any orientation programme should serve mainly to alleviate the socio-economic well being of the people inhabiting these semi-urban communities; cater for the large number of unemployed, alleviate the socio-economic status of the people.
Like my ‘visualization’ for the national (federal) level above, orientation programmes for Imo state can have campaign tags like, “Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS)"– a job creation from skills acquisition programme; “ Better Land Use Programme” – a food crops and social forestry programme, also a market gardening and fruits cultivation scheme; “ Micro Enterprise Development Programme” – for the provision of financial support to small enterprises with strong potentials for growth, through provision of credit facilities and technical support; “Neighbourhood poultry and animal husbandry programme” – for individual or family establishment of commercial small scale poultry or animal rearing projects , through government assistance; and several others in the kitty.
Mister Onyejekwe, for marketing to be applicable as tool for sorting out the present Nigeria’s ‘wahala’, what I outlined above can serve as starting block for a country or place marketing here.
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