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The New Marketing: Telcos and the new normal, by Du’s Abdulwahed Juma

By Abdulwahed Juma, executive vice-president of brand and corporate communications, Du

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have, without a doubt, been disruptive to the telco sector. With the new normal seeing consumers demand more, we have responded to meet exceptional rises in demand and support our communities and businesses; an unwavering commitment that saw us step beyond our role as a traditional service provider. This required a relook at our messaging, which we realised had to be more relevant, empathetic, supportive and empowering. We looked at three core aspects:

Business continuity: Conveying that we are capable of ensuring business continuity is crucial for the customers and communities we serve as they undertook remote learning and working-

Network resilience: Reassuring everyone that the infrastructure will safeguard network resilience is equally important to provide peace of mind.

Reassuring the public: In such difficult times, it is important that the country remains optimistic, and it was essential that we relayed messages of hope and positivity.

Alongside messaging, we have learned that marketing and communications must also be more relevant, more contextual, and clearly highlight consumer benefits. Because of the unexpected acceleration of marketing into the digital era, the onus was on us to adapt immediately to retain customer service excellence and ensure these criteria were met through new communication channels. Effectively, that meant that we needed to adapt to the changing media landscape and approach both marketing and communications from a holistic and multiplatform perspective. Although the transition from print to online was already occurring, the outbreak accelerated the pace of change, altering the dynamics of marketing channels in the process. As traditional practices were suddenly no longer viable, we have utilised every available resource to deliver messaging through various alternatives, including video, email, social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), websites and content marketing – all of which will play a pivotal role in our own digital media landscape moving forward.

Agility and nimbleness are the key attributes that should drive brands that hope to see success in the current situation; attributes that should never be taken for granted. We are all aware of the degrees of uncertainty and unpredictability that have accompanied the ongoing circumstances to date. The ability to respond – and quickly – has enabled us to promptly mitigate problems, foster innovation, enjoy scalability and flexibility, and create fast, accurate messaging delivery systems to customers. With these points in mind, brands should – as we have – continuously reassess their proposition in line with the changing reality, providing guidance, support and services.

By reaching out to communities and businesses, providing unconditional support and upholding pledges to ensure services are never compromised, we have repositioned ourselves, moving away from a simple essential service. The new normal demands more from us; it is no longer the ‘customer-service’ dynamic that matters, but rather the ‘customer-caregiver’ relationship. No longer is it what we say and what we offer that defines us as a brand, but rather it is what we stand for that we will be judged on, moving forward, by the court of public opinion. This is what the new normal demands. This is what our new reality requires. And this is the new landscape we must address.