A CMO’s view: Involving research before campaigns makes the difference

A CMO’s view: Involving research before campaigns makes the difference

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BUA’s O’tega Ogra – Group Head, Corporate Communications shares his 12 years’ experience in marketing communication and hinted that applying research in the work, dedication, hard work and out-learning others are factors that keep marketing communication professionals ahead of the curve. Daniel Obi reports.

For O’tega Ogra, the fundamental of marketing communication is research. This is because “if you don’t know what you are doing and where you are going to, you cannot create programmes for it. If you don’t know the people you are talking to, how then do you want to talk to them?” he said while discussing with BusinessDay on a number of marketing communication issues including marketing trends and challenges in the industry.

O’tega who joined BUA Group in 2015 from Wema Bank after also a four year working experience in GTBank believed that the business of marketing communication is not growing the way it should due to under-utilisation of research in the industry.

The BUA Group Head, corporate communication is actually lending credence to experts’ belief that market research which is an important component of business strategy serves as business compass and  provides necessary information for innovation and guides organisations on expenditure and areas of focus to maintain competitiveness.

Citing his experience in GTB, O’tega narrated how involvement of research by  his team and support from the  management by providing enabling environment assisted to grow the bank’s customer base by about 500 percent.

“GTBank provided a fertile ground for me to grow. The management provided an enabling environment for us who were vision- driven. At the bank we experimented on new things and we assisted the bank move from 390,000 customers in one year to 2.9 million. We came up with a lot of initiatives that worked”.

From GTB, O’tega moved to Wema Bank in 2011, a bank considered to be at the other extreme in terms of brand perception and financials when compared with GTB. O’tega who said he always challenges himself said his move to Wema was among other things to prove that the success achieved in GTBank was not only predicated on the fact that  the bank had strong brand identity.

In a bid to push up Wema Bank brand identity, the corporate communication team in 2011 ran a campaign on Wema mobile and in one year, the revenue on that platform grew to over 667 percent with campaign spend of less than a N1m. “ I also managed the rebranding process which was the toughest project in my life. The idea was to push and refresh the brand. We were faced with challenges of either changing the name of the old bank. I am a research based person. We commissioned a research and the results were quite instructive. We found out that some of the things we wanted to change were the things that made the brand thick in people’s head. We therefore decided to retain the name but not overly changing the colour but made it exciting. We started in November 2013 and ended the project May 2015”.

After the rebranding of Wema Bank in May, O’tega joined BUA in June, 2015 after a competitive interview involving about 14 other professionals. At BUA, O’tega has brought his experience to bear on the group, foremost foods and infrastructure conglomerate with interest in real estate, cement and sugar among others.

Today, many communication managers are experiencing budget cuts by their management due to difficult operating environment which has affected firms in Nigeria.

Explaining therefore how many communication managers are carrying out their functions with present budget cuts, he said this depends on how communication managers see their role – as a cost center or as a proper management function with a global view of entire business and how it operates and how communication manager’s  function can facilitate the end goal which is profit.

“I have always seen our role as a management function. We are not just doing communication and branding activities for the sake of it. It is because every single thing you do, some measurable, some not, contributes to the bottom line at the end of the day. But many of our colleagues don’t see it that way. It is important that when you are given one kobo, to show return on it. It is left to communication managers to convince CEOs to see the value in the work they do”.

To O’tega who sees himself as youngest corporate communication director, data is king and once a communication manager  can break that data into granular levels, he/she can “maximise the  marketing spend in a way that people think you are a wizard. But you are just being smart with the data”.

On his activities in BUA, O’tega said who also sees his role as a management function, creating synergy across all departments said with his team’s efforts, he has moved BUA from being number 13 across all FMCG in terms of media exposure to number 2 in 8 months.

O’tega who read public health in the University, worked with German agency for international development, managing projects in the North East related to child and maternal health and girl education before moving away from North east because of the atrocities of Boko Haram to Lagos to join GTB in 2008 said his strength on the job is being stubborn but with capacity to add value. “You must be pushful and this comes from position of knowledge and the ability to sell idea”, he said.

On the challenge of being a communication manager, O’tega believed that a lot of people do not appreciate the value of marketing communication to the business. “Some people see it is a job anybody can do but not everybody can create campaigns that will affect the bottom-line of the organisation”.  On the way forward, he therefore advised that “as professionals, we need to come up with a set of standards to guide our profession in Nigeria as a  lot of things are done badly”, he said.

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