He may not be very visible. He may not have been loud but his works are his trademark. Experienced and resourceful Victor Edegbe anchors MAXEDGE COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED as the Chief Innovation Officer.Brandcampaign. Com.ng had a brief session with him inside his Anthony Village, Lagos office where he made his position known on many of the issues trending in the advertising and marketing communications industry.
Businesses are moving from traditional marketing to digital marketing, how best can digital marketing build brands?
If you look at the evolution of brand building platforms, digital is another new type of platform. Because we were used to the traditional platforms such as TV, Radio and Newspaper. But today, if you look at everybody between the ages of twelve and sixty, even seventy, our grandfathers are now using mobile phones and that is where you can reach most people; a platform where you communicate with larger population .
The traditional way of planning your strategy is almost the same but it is how you put it in the other platforms that will change your strategy. If you are able to define who your target is, like doing a profile of your target, is this person a woman or man, young or old person. Once you have done that, you have done like a profiling of that person then you will know how to talk to him. Like my kids, , if I am going to send something to them I will rather not put it on TV because I am not going to talk to them. I will rather put it on their mobile phones because 24-7 they are there.
Online presence of a brand is like you are validating the authenticity of the brand. So you have to be online to be able to meet your target. Very few people watch TV these days, though people of my age still watch TV because that is how we grew up. A lot of younger people don’t watch TV. If I am going to put a TV set in my daughter’s room when she comes for holiday, she would say no, she doesn’t want to watch TV and that is the truth. If I am going to be talking to those younger people, the traditional ways are not going to work.
Within our business environment, the SMEs are everywhere but there is this issue of how to position those businesses, how do you thinkSMEs owners can push their businesses to get greater Return on Investment?
MaxEdge is one of those small companies and the cost of running business is very high. But with digital knowledge you can actually reduce the cost. The cost of running a TV ad is a lot of money for SMEs. The cost of going to the bank to get money is not easy for SMEs. But with most of digital platforms that we have now are very cheap to promote businesses.
So, in a way, digital medium has actually reduced that cost of running the SMEs with all the challenges of energy, taxes even to change the face of business is not easy. With digital platforms, cost of running logistics has been reduced. If I need to talk to a client in Apapa, I don’t need to travel to Apapa. I will just do my creative and send through online depending on my relationship with the client .
In some unusual cases, the business partner would request that we need to have a physical meeting because of some urgent challenges that we might want to discuss. Most times, I don’t have to travel there. You can use your internet, SMS, Whatsapp to communicate whatever you want to do. You can do your presentation through digital platforms now.
So, digital has actually helped to support the SMEs in a way. But it is tough running an SME because like I said earlier cost of energy, transportation even to get highly skilled hands, very difficult. Because the same skilled hands you are looking for, the bigger companies are also looking for them. Not in our industry alone but one thing that is good about our industry is that once they spend a year or two they learn quite a lot.
Someone like me who have worked with multinational agency like JWT LTC know how it works. The first thing they will tell you is to have knowledge through research. Most of these bigger agencies can actually leverage on that digital a lot better. I will give you an example, I am a bank, if anybody is searching for a new bank to talk to I can buy what is called Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing. If you type B on your system I have bought it my name comes up first and immediately you are reading through everything about my bank before you go anywhere.
What I have done is that because I have the finances I have been able to leverage on that service to quickly get my target to see what my bank is all about and the value I can also add to other businesses.
In building brands, some believe that PR builds brand and products more than advertising while some said advertising builds brands more than PR, in your own view, which one do you think build brands best?
Honestly, I think it is all about ignorance. When I started advertising we also delved into Public Relations. Every tool has its own strength depending on the challenges the brand is having. When this 360 degrees thing that has been trending, I believe that every offering that you have has its own importance. There is no one that is not important. If you have perception challenge in your brand, definitely you need a Public Relations expert to come and look at it.
There was a period when some people said that a particular beer brand was said to be giving people headache. I believe that it depends on the nature of the body of the person drinking it. If you have high blood pressure and you go and take any beer, you are going to have headache. If I consulted for a competing brand, I could do some gimmicks by telling somebody to put some news that this drink gives you headache and people would just believe.
So, if you have that kind of challenge, don’t think that advertising can solve it. That is perception management challenge. What you will do is to call a perception manager who is specialized in that area. You can actually have an agency that has Public Relations department that can handle the challenge. So, it is not about advertising against Public Relations. If you want to create awareness Public Relations cannot help you create awareness.
Just like what is happening in government now. President Mohammadu Buhari might actually be doing a lot of things but he needs experts that will help him manage that information in the media realm.
Nigeria as a nation for the past few years have experimented with some templates tried to communicate brand Nigeria, how best do you think the Nigerian government can actually communicate the brand Nigeria?
At JWT, I actually led a team to present some concepts about brand Nigeria at Aso Rock during President Goodluck Jonathan administration. I actually bought into Dora Akunyili’s concept, fantastic. But let us go back to Buhari’s first regime, we were all complaining that the guy was too hard and all that. I strongly believe that for you to create a brand of your own, first of all, you should understand the value that it will add to people’s lives. That is the content of whatever it is you are doing .
The other part is the packaging of that content. The packaging has to be attractive enough to the target audience. If I am going to be targeting the younger people, I will make it trendy, make it more youthful for them to embrace.
As a nation what is our product? What determines what Nigeria becomes is the people of Nigeria. We have to have good people before great nation. If you go through history, some of us were still very young during Buhari’s first regime. I was just starting my youth service and luckily I was part of the campaign themed ‘War Against Indiscipline’.
If you have indisciplined people like what we have right now, the nation is not going anywhere.
And if you notice when Nigerians travel abroad and immediately they step into Heathrow Airport or any of the American Airports they become disciplined people. This is what we are trying to create and whichever way they do it, for me, I don’t have any problem. What we are trying to do is to have a disciplined society. Gradually we would have become a better society if we had sustained that campaign.
For me, that was a work in progress when people were beginning to obey laws and orders. That is how a disciplined society should be. Coming back to Akunyili’s project, she also knew that without a discipline people the society or our own nation would not progress. Create good people then you have a better society. Once you have that, every other thing will follow. We don’t need to showcase our negative traits to the world. It is something that we all need to put in some efforts.
Kindly share with us your agency’s mission and vision and your projection for next five years?
That is pretty difficult even projection for the next one year. Right now we just celebrated six years on May 1. When we started, our vision was to create great Through The Line Communication works that give brands maximum edge while doing this, also creating wealth .
Our mission statement is to be most preferred idea generating organization that adds value to our clients business and also creating wealth for MaxEdge powered by youthful and very dynamic human resource staff.
Talking about the next five years, we want to be among top ten in the next five years and we are seriously working towards that. Presently we are six years and by the time we clock ten years, we would like to bring in younger people and train them to run the business.