In Rwanda’s roadmap it is envisaged that on average US$200 million is needed every year as Foreign Direct Investment in order for the country to make the quantum leap into a middle income economy.
Obviously, this kind of capital will come with new forms of doing business locally.
A new culture will have to be incorporated into local boardrooms where real competition will have to be a source of headache for CEOs.
Thus one way that such new capital will infuse within the local economy is a new boardroom culture of critically looking at marketing as a channel for making proper sales efforts and by extension wealth creation for any company wishing to stay afloat.
Multi-nationals spend top dollar on advertising and all that come with it. Meaning that advertising is big business out there; in Rwanda the trend is catching up, albeit slowly.
Even local subsidiaries of Pan-African and even global concerns have not really caught on with marketing. What precisely am I talking about here? I will look at telecoms.
The entry of TIGO is meant to bring with it lots of goodies. Much as TIGO is tight lipped on how they plan to make an entry I pray that the ad agency they decide to pick on will be able to deliver the punch that is needed to level the playing field within Rwandan telecoms. Clients cannot wait to be spoilt for choice.
This is how the ad agency contracted by TIGO will be able to tilt the balance within this industry. Otherwise market conditions are the same for all the players.
The three players have embraced GSM technology by and large. So pricing and all that will be standard. For instance no one will dare overprice for fear of being chopped off by the other.
What will bring in differentiation is how each operator will craft its marketing offerings in a concerted bid to outsmart one another.
Each of the boardrooms of these telecoms companies will be on high alert always checking what the other is doing in terms of trying to outsmart or upstage the other.
In this case TIGO needs a very robust ad agency to deliver heavy migration from the other two players in order for them to be counted. Marketing will most probably deliver on this expectation.
Banking is another interesting area. Kenyan players have actually taken note that having a Rwandan presence makes economic sense. KCB made its dramatic entry.
I am being told that Diamond Trust and Equity are next. Barclays are waiting in the wings too from Europe.
These are entities that use marketing optimally to position and to reposition.
Equity will have to sweat it out with Bank Populaire in as far as clinching the tag ‘The People’s Bank’ is concerned. Marketing will be one of those ingredients I am sure Equity will rely on.
So, ad agencies, plus all those who take part in the value chain such as sales promotion agencies, will have to be considered seriously by CEOs for them to make moves and to win wars.
Once local CEOs get attuned to the proper way of doing things then marketing will surely be a very vibrant profession.
It is not enough to put a billboard in a strategic location within Kigali or to print a calendar or things like for folks to say that marketing is being done. It goes much more deeply than that.
The author is a journalist, The New Times