A Greek Philosopher once said, change is the only constant thing in life. In business, these changes are experienced every day. Some of the shifts happen gradually while others are instant. Business owners have to keep an eye out so as to stay ahead of these changes or lose out to the new and emerging trends. Gone are the days when television sets used to be open at certain times of the day to get content. Nowadays one simply logs into the internet through their phones and get what they want at their pleasure.
One of the emerging markets that have resulted with this shift is the digital era. Francis Waithaka, a digital marketing and advertising consultant noted the gap created when traditional media started to lag behind the digital crusade. He has a background in Information Technology but developed a passion in the trade.
According to him, the key skill to understanding digital marketing is listening. One should take time to empathize with the clients, to understand their needs, goals, challenges as well as the target audience before offering a solution. Most digital companies promise heaven and quick return on investment while focusing on their own monetary end game but fail to listen to what the client wants. This is the reason that so many companies have applications that promise to revolutionize the lives of the clients but at the end of the day, one can only have so many apps on a device. Keeping up with passwords and security of pins as well as credit card details may prove hectic on the end of the consumer.
Relying on technology as a solution is totally misguided. Innovation is meant to understand consumer needs while technology automates it. Before offering a solution to a client, some research has to be done to understand the client and the market demand. For instance, Kenya has the highest internet speed in Africa, with majority of the traffic coming from mobile phones. If the website is not mobile friendly, then the user experience will be poor therefore making it impossible to monetize on it.
Having a vision whereby design thinking is applied goes a long way in fueling success. However, there is a serious lack of skilled labor in the market today. Programmers, copywriters, user experience designers and media buyers are hard to come by. Francis ranks the Kenyan market at a mere two out of ten on the availability of skilled people. Colleges are producing graduates in their thousands but they fall short on soft skills like discipline, time keeping, proper grooming, listening and the culture of hard work.
His criticism seems harsh but he does his part in mending this by offering training and mentoring entrants into the digital marketing arena. He hopes that together with his mentees, he will be able to build brands, gain new clients, create entrepreneurs and bring respect to an industry that seems to me flowing with the wind.