#OB2022ThoughtLeadership: Ask your grandma, she’ll tell you

  • Five pieces of advice for MarComms Pros working through a pandemic

We all have that grandmotherly figure in our life who has lived multiple lives within her decades-long years. She’s been a secretary, a baker, a businesswoman, a teacher, or a stay-at-home mom. She’s a caregiver and a community champion. From her experiences, she dispenses excellent advice. Whether you like it or not, regardless of stature or age, big or small, she’ll tell it as it is. It may appear unlikely, but there are lessons for marcomms professionals operating in a once-in-a-century pandemic. If we would just pay attention to her advice.

  1. Go with the flow but stay ready

Life is truly about making the most of circumstances. Call it a silver lining, or name it an unfortunate advantage, but the COVID19 pandemic has leapfrogged our world. I say this not to diminish the devastation of the disease but to acknowledge our context. We’ve gone from ready to present as a society, hitherto reluctant about adopting digital lifestyles.

Now, you’ll spot us joining prayer meetings on Zoom or scrolling IG shops. Sending for items via delivery apps is business as usual. Yet, we’re more digital than we’ve ever been, having kept faith in traditional channels as radio, TV, press and outdoor remain popular. Nationwide, Ghanaians live their lives in full colour, despite the constraints of this unpredictable period.

Your grandma may have lived through the “Ghana Must Go” years when she had to uproot her comfortable life teaching in Nigeria to become an “obroni w’awu” seller back home. She’ll confess those were the worst of times but also the best of times. Observing the fashion trends upon her grudging return, she applied her exposure from living abroad and her teaching smarts to transform herself into a “fose” market queen at Kantamanto.

Similarly, there’s an opportunity for practitioners to use the pandemic silver linings to our advantage. Whether we’re selling fast-moving consumer goods or establishing a social presence for a corporate, we must understand the contexts.

Yes. Upgrade your capacity to use digital channels. Jump on the social media-heavy bandwagon but anticipate applying the same offline. Remember, people are still engaging actively off-screen so, digital must resonate in real life. Grandma would say it’s easy to get lost in the moment, but don’t let it fool you into ignoring what is important.

  1. It’s all about the story. Tell it Well

Take a cue from everyone’s kokonsa loving grandma. Like hers, one’s narrative should be memorable when it hooks target audiences. It should be clear in messaging yet captivating in its purposeful delivery. From billboards to social media campaigns, finding relevance in the minds of stakeholders as COVID19 rages has required more than an ability to create and promote.

Brand visibility has been at the intersection of marketing and public relations. Marcomms pros who get this are marrying the two strong forces to create a beautiful impact. They use marketing to push the hard sell, captivating their target audiences across suitable channels. Simultaneously, relatable storytelling keeps these very audiences hooked with PR by playing on their circles of influence and primal need to belong. Consequently, you’ll find their brands living rent-free in hearts and minds. Just like that last story Maa told you.

  1. If you don’t do it, who will?

Taking risks is never easy. She may speak boldly of scenarios when she bit the bullet, and it paid off; however, Grandma will not admit it was nerve-racking. No significant venture started without angst. It entailed someone taking an unlikely action. One may identify a chance to innovate but considering how hard it will be to convince decision-makers to agree is unappealing.

A marketer could be sitting on a great idea, but the fear of being disruptive will have them twiddling their thumbs until someone else executes it. If the fear materialises, the worst that can happen is new insights gleaned from failure (and hopefully no job losses). Read this in your grandmother’s voice – If you don’t do it, who will?

  1. The fact that someone has done it doesn’t mean you can’t

If anyone was worried about imitation, the Women’s Fellowship wouldn’t be as powerful as it is. As my grandma loved to repeat, “there’s nothing new under the sun”. Today, copying is the order of the day. But that’s not a bad thing. We’ve seen a noisy marketplace cluttered by diverse brand activities. We may feel pressure to originate in our rush to develop viral content and handle the reigning trendy brand.

However, innovation isn’t about being so outstanding. It’s about differentiating enough to stand out while being relatable to stay desirable. Feel free to piggyback or level up an already existing idea. No one knows this better than us, pros. Ask your grandma; she’ll recount how she became the Women’s Fellowship president by copying that new annual Harvest idea from her cousin’s church.

  1. Success can get into your head

Yes, you did it! Congratulations. What next? No one brings a person back to earth more than a grandma who’s just fed them a delicious meal. “Wo’ayɛ adeɛ and so what?” Even after performing highly, everyone needs a loving reminder to check their pride at the door. You may have mined insights and accomplished brand campaigns. However, you’re merely as good as your last performance. Only the fittest shall stay top-of-mind in the ever-evolving pandemic world we operate in. So, keep humble and confidently move on. Grandma would approve.

There’s never a dull moment in marketing and communications crafting outstanding brands

Especially now as we navigate these uncertain times. She won’t be there through those moments at work, but your grandma’s words will often play in the back of your head. Go with the flow but stay ready, because if you don’t do it, who will? The fact that someone has done it doesn’t mean you can’t. Remember that success can get into your head when all is said and done but stay grounded. It’s all about the story. Tell it Well! Grandma would be proud.

>>>the writer is a marketing and communications professional whose background features executing exciting work for various companies home and abroad at agencies and in-house. On the art of communication, Cynthia believes great communicators are those who think broadly, adapt swiftly, and interpret “glocally.” They know what and who is current and can tell a compelling story.

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