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Cause Marketing in Nigeria

It is with great pleasure I offer up this guest post from Yinka Olaito, a specialist in brand communication, social media, and business communication in Lagos, Nigeria. Yinka is the chief communication officer of Michael Sage Company in Lagos, and a trainer, speaker and fellow blogger. I asked him to address the topic of Cause Marketing in Nigeria. (That's part of the Lagos skyline on the left).

Cause marketing is not new to any tribe (industry, nation, state, or professional association). The challenge in implementing cause marketing is how to be involved, where to be involved and when to be involved in order to create right impression and get maximum value.

Most organizations involved in cause marketing often jump into it just to feel good or because they see other companies doing it. Many get involved in causes that the top management feel good about without any strategic consideration. We’ve seen misdirected cause involvement actually hurting corporate image and perception instead of adding value to the corporate brand loyalty, patronage.

Nigeria is exploding with different cause involvement. Before the recession many banking actors were frontline gladiators in cause involvement without adequate marketing of the cause. My understanding then was that most of their cause involvements were based on ‘just feeling good or to belong.’ Today the dust has settled and many of them have stepped back.

While it may be said that not every one of them got it wrong, the few that got it right did not sustain the tempo. We believe that accounted for why they could not maximize the benefit of loyalty and patronage that should have been the aftermath of the process. When getting involved in cause marketing, there is need to understand that cause marketing is not a feeling but a marketing discipline that requires strong strategic positioning and relevant skill to get the most out of the practice.

Today, telecommunication and few oil and gas brands remain the most visible brands involved in cause involvement and marketing. Another conglomerate, Dangote, owned by Nigeria’s richest man Aliko Dangote, also seems to be engaging in cause marketing. Some have suggested that like the banks, Dangote is spending more on the marketing than on the cause itself.

Among the telecommunication brands, MTN Nigeria seems to be getting it right with its Foundation. The foundation has invested in education and health and the impacts are lasting. Strictly speaking what they’re doing isn’t cause marketing, but certainly both parties are benefitting.

Here’s how we think Nigerian companies could improve the value of cause marketing:
  • Use cause marketing to build deeper relation: this will require strategy development. Also, many brands need to consider cause investment relevance to the brand.
  • Use it to increase brand loyalty.
  • Manage cause marketing efforts with such finesse that they can generate a long lasting brand loyalty.
One positive benefit of cause involvement and marketing is in its ability to increase brand positive perception. Many brands here in Nigeria still need to learn how to best take advantage of this benefit of cause involvement and marketing.


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