Technology

Call to embrace digital transformation

PHILLIMON MHLANGA


As the deadly coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage Zimbabwe’s economy, with more and more companies finding it difficult to meet
their financial targets because of supply chain disruptions and dampened customer demand, the vast majority of interactions with customers are
likely to take place virtually.


It is unclear how long this coronavirus pandemic will last since there is no vaccine yet to combat it.


But, what is clear is that the pandemic will drastically impact most businesses for many months, probably years, meaning more and more interactions with customers will now occur on the virtual rather than in person.


It means local companies should become more digital. It’s no longer business as usual.


Given that the pandemic will not be a short-term event, Dandemutande chief executive officer Never Ncube, told a virtual launch of the
Superbrands 2020, organised by Marketers Association of Zimbabwe since 2009 that Zimbabwe companies must prepare for the long haul.


Ncube called on local companies to quickly embrace and build brands on digital platforms to increase overall business awareness, build positive perception through interactions and encourage loyalty and advocacy.
He said it was imperative for companies to build in this necessary operational resilience to survive this new reality.


Ncube said this is the new normal for brand stewards.


He added that “people will not buy from an organisation they have never heard of”.


Effective digital platforms include websites which many describe as the digital store from location, social media such as Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram or LinkedIn.

These push people to where one wants to be and meet them where they are.


Companies should also make use of online ing, influencer marketing and
content marketing where focus should be on engagement through photos and videos.


“Content marketing is like a first date. If you only talk about yourself, there won’t be a second one,” Ncube said.


Borrowing from Michelle Robertson, Ncube said: “A brand without a digital presence is like a car without tyres. It’s not going to get anywhere fast.”
He added: “Since the outbreak of Covid-19 many businesses have had to restrategise, re-calibrate and accept that the digital economy is upon us.

What has become vital for brands during this period is the need to remain
connected, to optimise digital processes, be visible on all digital platforms, online payment systems and be aware of cyber security,” Ncube said.


Brand building strategies, Ncube said, bring consumers closer to the brand and provide value for them so that they can know, feel and experience the brand.


Key components of branding for business include, the brand purpose, target audience, brand choice and brand recognition.


The purpose entails knowing why you are doing what you are doing while the target audience understands your consumers. This means figuring out their lifestyle, buying habits and their behaviours.


It is also important to deal with brand choice, meaning maintaining consistent messaging in a cohesive voice.


This will help the brand image which will become recognised on multiple channels in the same way.


“Your brand’s voice is how you want to be perceived,” Ncube said.
He added that ways, in which one engages consumers, was critical.


“Ensure that engagement is both memorable and meaningful to breed trust through brand recognition,” Ncube said.


He said what is vital for brands was to embrace e-commerce, relevant visibility, connectivity, digital internal processes and cyber security.
Companies should use employees as brand ambassadors and digital marketing should embrace the whole organisation, Ncube said.


“Employees must be encouraged to promote the brand in their social networks.


There is a need to make employees active learners.”

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