The Federal Government of Nigeria as well as States and Local Government Councils across the nation have been reminded of the effectiveness of using experiential marketing, citizen engagement and community relations to market government policies to the citizenry.
These 3 marketing elements were stressed at the just concluded 3rd annual general meeting of the Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN) in Abuja, as most effective and potent ways to engage Nigerians.
This was contained in a position paper presented at the 2016 AGM by President of the Association, Dr. Rotimi Olaniyan entitled ‘Building Nigeria through Meaningful Experiences: The Role of Experiential Marketing in Citizen Engagement and the Marketing of government policy. “
Speaking on the role of EXMAN and the pursuance of citizen engagement and policy marketing in Nigeria, Dr. Olaniyan said that EXMAN offers the opportunity for government to gain sufficient partnership from the private sector for its initiatives.
According to him “We offer the opportunity for government to receive immediate feedback from citizens on the effects of their public policies and projects. The association has healthy relationships with most communities across the country, thanks to many years of brand activations and engagements within these communities.” he added.
According the EXMAN President having this feedback is important for adjustments on these public policies and projects to be made.
In communicating government policies, the relationship between experiential marketing, citizen engagement and community relations has a number of dimensions. First of all, these concepts require the existence of people. They involve efforts and activities aimed at engaging people and they also seek to ensure positive relationships with people.
For experiential marketing, it is a form of marketing that requires a good strategy for it to be as effective as intended by those undertaking it. Like many marketing campaigns, there is an underlying strategy guiding it to achieve its objectives and aims.
Meanwhile, community relations can serve as a strategy on its own for experiential marketing. For example, in Casanare, Colombia, where it is developing oil interests, British Petroleum invests in community activities that support the business plan and contribute to the region’s development.
In 1996, the company committed $10 million to the region, setting up a loan fund for entrepreneurs, giving students technical training, supporting a center for pregnant women and nursing mothers, working on reforestation, building aqueducts and helping to create jobs outside the oil industry.
As earlier stated both concept focus on engaging people. Experiential marketing seeks to create experiences that are pleasurable and meaningful for consumers while community relations involves activities that help establish and maintain positive relationships with people in a certain community said, the former Director General, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, who was the guest speaker at the event.
Amadi, who faulted failure of government reforms on lack of adequate communication said since 1980, Nigerian has undertook several reforms and policies but many of them ended in papers because of inadequate communications.
He pointed proper communication, which he called awareness could help in marketing government policies.
Over the years, marketing agencies, have been utilized by the government only during elections or for communication purposes. Efforts have not been so much geared to utilizing these agencies to drive government policies through citizen engagement, particularly in the area of pro-poor and community relations.
According to Olaniyan, the time has come for policy designers and implementers to try something new and make use of an industry that though tested within the private sector space, is seemingly underutilized by the government and it ministries, department and agencies of government (MDAs).
Stakeholders however urged government to tap into the capacity of the current experiential marketing agencies to leverage their policies. “Given the worth of the experiential marketing industry in Nigeria and the capacity of its key players most of whom are active members of the EXMAN, it is fair to state that the industry contributes massively to the economy of the country and so cannot be ignored much longer,” Kayode Olagesin, former EXMAN President Stated.
Another high point the conference was the launch of Certified Brand Ambassador Programme and the unveiling of the Association first Newsletter. The programme, which seek to protect and reward non-staff of the agencies who form greater part of the workforce kicked off immediately after launch in Abuja.
The EXMAN’s Certified Brand Ambassadors Program (ECBAP), is an initiative designed to re-organize the operating structure of the activation industry by establishing a Central register of Field activation personnel across the country, while also offering on-line and distance learning as well as all year round group life and personal accident cover to brand ambassadors recruited by any of EXMAN’s 40 member agencies.
The initiative is being insured by Mutual Benefits Assurance.
The experiential marketing industry employs over 25,000 contract and part time field activation personnel on behalf of brands, Dr Olaniyan explains that these young people who are usually between the ages of 18 and 27 use the short term employment opportunity provided them as a stepping stone towards either funding their education or establishing an early foot hold within various vocations and careers.
The EXMAN Quarterly newsletter is designed to be the official mouth piece of EXMAN and the Experiential Industry going forward, said the President
According to him, the objective is to ensure that it helps to establish our foothold within the broader marketing industry, and project our thought leadership as active practitioners in the service of brands. The editorial slant of the newsletter will be to inform, educate and promote the practice of experiential marketing as a leading profession with the larger marketing communications industry.