It stands to reason that the pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our normal life. However, in the case of digital, it was not necessarily disrupted, but accelerated. As a business, we had always planned to develop digital as a service, but the pandemic has brought about a huge shift in marketing budgets – almost overnight. Digital budgets have grown from less than 2% of overall marketing budgets to over 20% of the pie.
The biggest hurdle for a third world market like Zambia is finding the right skill set. In 2020, marketing consultant Alberte Touani shared a quote from Mike Berry in which he highlighted the lack of understanding of the benefits of digital marketing in small and large markets:
âDigital marketing remains a mystery for many businesses in Africa. Some think it’s all about building a website – that’s just the start. Some turn to their agency for help, only to find the same old answers: print, exterior, and television (if the budget is big enough). Others go even further by adding a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook or even boosting brand awareness through banner ads and lead generation through Google AdWords. The image of digital marketing in Africa is very fragmented at the moment, but this is quite normal at this stage of digital marketing development in any country. – Mike Berry, 2013, Digital Marketing Conference 2.0: Deploying digital marketing for a competitive advantage
Touani added that there is a lack of help or advice offered to clients by local digital agencies.
Combine the old and the new
The general assumption is that the appetite for digital media has grown exponentially. However, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether clients are willing to shift their budget from traditional media to new media that allows them to make real-time changes and track campaign performance with various KPIs. . To answer this question, customers must first fully understand their core business and their marketing goals.
In addition, it is important to understand that very few African countries have entered strict containment. As a result, only middle and upper income earners made significant lifestyle changes, i.e. working from home and shopping online. Conversely, low-income earners could not afford to stop trading or move their business to an e-commerce platform. It should be remembered that the roadside vegetable vendor and the farm worker remain desirable customers with purchasing power; they are only missing the surplus income, which means they cannot change the way they live or work. Therefore, they will most likely continue their old way of life in what is the new normal for others.
Therefore, our task as communicators is to adapt, embrace and combine new media and old media. We are in a position where the digital divide has widened in Africa as the upper and middle income earners zoomed into 2021, working flexible hours and, therefore, demanding more convenience, while the lower income population – who go to their destinations and wait for their favorite TV show because they don’t have access to streaming services – are still stuck in 2019. As marketers, our challenge is to serve both segments, in providing solutions adapted to their current situation.