Advertising agencies: SMEs need you

Coca Cola is one of the most recognisable brands in the world and uses advertising to remind its customers of its product

Coca Cola is one of the most recognisable brands in the world and uses advertising to remind its customers of its product

Knowledge  Mushohwe Art Zone
Twenty or so years ago, when most corporations were prospering, advertising agencies did not struggle to find clients. Big corporations had money to spare, and most used advertising only to keep reminding the general populace about a brand.

The biggest soft drinks firm did not need to run advertisements with themes grounded on the price of their products. The big brands were doing well primarily because the target populations had reasonable amounts of disposable income.

Today, just about every brand uses the unit price as the central part of their persuasion. My phone network provider reminds me daily about how much data bundles my 50 cents can buy me.

The calling and social networking rates are reduced as a way of persuading me and others to invest the much needed dollar into their company. In a country where families are now sitting down to formulate a budget for $5 or even less, companies are forced to only develop concepts that accentuate the unit price of the product.

When big brands find the going tough, it becomes clear that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would most likely find the road to success even tougher.

The depressed economy has opened doors for enterprising individuals and small groups driven by the desire to feed their families and the determination to build a viable entity.

Any form of SME needs a channel or media to advertise its product or service. Some of the small businesses that are mushrooming are back-door advertising agencies that pledge to help SMEs to advertise their wares.

But devoid of real technical competences and experiences, most of these “Museyamwa” advertising agencies simply lack the capacity to develop sound advertising concepts that have the ability to make a brand stand out.

Certainly, some of the small advertising agencies are made up of experienced graphic designers, art directors and copyrighters that have worked on big advertising campaigns.

But it is increasingly hard to tell the difference given that just about every building in the capital city’s central business district has a room or two with people claiming to be graphic designers.

Graphic designers whose technical competences are self taught may have little knowledge of principles of design. They may therefore find it hard to know the difference between a bad and a good design.

Learning to use design software such CorelDraw and the Adobe suite at home has its limitations. Additionally, specific stages of conceptual development, such as photography, copyrighting and customer service require individuals trained to execute them.

The big and established advertising agencies, given their experience, tradition and technical abilities, can be especially critical for the development of the country’s SMEs.

Unlike smaller advertising agencies, the established creative firms follow, step by step, the design process and ensure that the client gets value for money.

Most big advertising agencies carry out research on the product or service, gathering and interpreting information on everything including competitors as a way to position the brand within its wider context.

The value of big advertising companies when compared to their smaller cousins is head and shoulders above. The limiting factor for the SME/big advertising agency partnership is cost.

On average, big advertising agencies charge about $50 for every hour of their work, including the initial brainstorming sessions. They may also charge their client transport, printing and other miscellaneous costs on top of the design bill.

The client may also be billed for work outsourced by the advertising agency, such as photography, illustration and animation. Needless to say, the bill may run into several thousands of dollars.

SMEs cannot afford to pay that kind of money for advertising their wares. The big advertising companies who are no longer getting as much consultancy work as before are in prime position to help a whole industry grow.

Much like how my mobile network service works, there is need for the big advertising agencies to put in place promotions to persuade start-up companies to seek partnership with them.

Offering discounts ensures that the SMEs get quality service while the big advertising agencies find some work that is not easy to come by in this unfavourable environment.

Some of the products and services that the SMEs are offering only need to be advertised for the general public to get to know and appreciate them. There are several individuals and small companies that are developing amazing products using indigenous knowledge in fruits.

The SMEs are developing healthy substitutes to refined and genetically modified products that are flooding the local market. Yet, without proper marketing, their target market continues to consume noxious food items because the market may lack awareness.

The big advertising agencies have the capacity and ability to develop the country’s SMEs by providing creative means to market their brands. The agencies must, however, be creative with their own marketing strategies so that everyone concerned wins. The win may be small when compared with what the big advertising agencies are used to, but a win is a win!

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