He heads up the marketing team at Wonga – a South African online loan provider. And for James Williams that means managing the fintech brand’s internal marketing team as well as its partner and agency firms. He’s responsible for Wonga’s marketing strategy, as well as its brand and tactical marketing implementation. That’s for both on and off-line channels.
It’s fair to say then that Williams is a bit of a whiz when it comes to the multi-marketing campaigns across many channels and we’ve been picking his brain for what makes him – and Wonga – so successful in this field. Here’s some of his die-hard marketing beliefs:
Never forget the basics
If you’re already reading this having studied a marketing course yourself then you will no doubt be well aware of the four Ps – product, place, price and promotion. Yes, it’s one of the first things you are taught in marketing class but there’s a reason for that, says Williams. It’s because they’re fundamental to every marketing strategy and campaign. Get any one of these wrong and you’re going to be struggling. And that principle applies whether you are a small local business with a handful of loyal customers or a global brand boasting a social media following of millions.
And talking of loyalty, there is really no getting away from the fact that consumers can be fickle. They tend to just want the best deal at that particular time – especially if they are shopping online. That’s not so on the High Street though, where shopping local and supporting the community is high up on their agenda. For medium and large-sized brands to compete in this market they have to ‘up their game’ when it comes to customer service, and make sure every customer feels valued.
Getting back to the four P’s, the cost of living crisis, with most of us watching every penny we’re spending, makes getting ‘pricing’ in particular, more important than ever before.
Keep an eye on the competition
Being aware of the competition is essential but to be very successful it’s important to keep more than an eye on them. You have to know where and how their keywords are ranking in your sector and what their market share is – on a regular basis. In other words, doing well with a campaign and nudging ahead of the competition doesn’t mean you can then sit back and cruise for a bit. You know the old saying – snooze and you lose. Well, that’s exactly what happens when you become complacent. It gives the competition the opportunity to win over your customers and nudge ahead themselves.
For brands to remain at the forefront, Williams recommends noting down at least 50 keywords relevant to your sector, which don’t contain a brand. Find out which companies are ranking for these keywords and phrases and add them to your own keyword tracking software. That way you can work out your own market share. It can also help you to work out (i.e., benchmark) how well – or not – a particular marketing campaign you introduce is going.
Don’t rest on your brand reputation
Established global brands in particular may feel that they can launch in a new location or a new sector by virtue of their name and reputation. But that’s definitely not the case. Williams recommends setting up a whole new brand persona and tailoring it to that new audience. Find out how much they have to spend, what makes them tick and how they make buying decisions.
And don’t make basic mistakes either such as putting out poor translations or cultural misnomers. Marketing to South Africa Williams is already aware of the sensitivity around translations – there are already 11 different official languages there. Examples of an embarrassing brand translation include Clairol’s launch of their curling iron ‘Mist Stick,’ which translates as ‘Manure Stick’ in Germany. Meanwhile, US baby food producer Gerber should have done their homework before marketing their baby food in Ethiopia with the picture of a baby on the bottle’s front label. That’s because it’s common practice to put a picture of what is inside on the front of a jar or packet – due to the fact not many consumers can read.
There is no doubt that technology is evolving and, as it does so, global brands and small start-ups are all able to learn more about how they are performing from visitor numbers to their website and social media channels, bounce rates and conversion percentages. But digital metrics is only one side of the marketing equation (albeit an important one). Company owners and executives still need to get the fundamentals right. They have to get inside the minds of their customers, for starters. And they have to know themselves as a company inside out – what are their own strengths? What are their weaknesses?
It’s also important to remain flexible in your marketing promotions and overall strategy – after all, very few of us could have foreseen the way the pandemic was going to turn business on its head as we watched the world go into a series of lockdowns.
And finally, do you have the right people in your marketing team? As Williams himself says in the online magazine Biz Community:
“I really value the lift I get from being around energetic people and the comradery that comes with that. This applies to my personal and professional life – I think people are the most important ingredient of success.”