Meet the MENA Effie Thought-Leadership Program's speakers.
The pandemic has turned life and business upside down, challenged plans, and tested processes. In this context, companies need to seriously raise their game to be effective and succeed. The MENA Effie Thought-Leadership Program is your chance to Rise and Shine. Two mornings of sessions that will show you how to improve your performance and impress the Effie jury.
Leading up to the event organized by Mediaquest on May 18-19, Communicate presents a series of interviews with the speakers on what effectiveness in marketing means in 2021.
Today, meet Ihab El Yaman, Co-founder and CEO at MEmob+. Ihab will lead a workshop on "How to remain efficient in a cookie-less world."
What has the pandemic changed in terms of marketing effectiveness?
The impact on trade across the economy, but also certain sectors in particular, has been substantial and restrictions imposed to handle the health emergency have forced businesses to adapt rapidly. In marketing terms, those with a robust digital infrastructure were able to redirect their resources to meet consumer demand. Consumers’ reliance on their devices, mobiles specifically, in these conditions has allowed us to actually learn and achieve more for brands. The focus has been on the lower end of the focus and we’ve seen excellent results in the last year. It is very likely that the reopening of the economy will see marketers rebalance their priorities and resources towards brand goals.
What has been a salient case of creativity and effectiveness in the last year?
Creativity was potentially harder to come by last year as marketers were more driven by effectiveness, measured by sales metrics - not that the two are mutually exclusive. Some delivered both when they focused on a higher purpose, like Etisalat.
They came to MEmob+ with a brief about a public service message during the early days of the pandemic, to explain how the virus spreads, how to protect yourself and others, and how to stay close to others despite the restrictions. With our understanding of people’s behaviors and attitudes at this unique time, we gamified the operation to satisfy the need for reassurance, entertainment, and friendliness. The campaign had a huge engagement rate, with over four million people completing the game and reaching the results page. It was a different and effective way for Etisalat to engage with consumers, dispensing valuable advice and acting as a friend.
In a crisis, who reaps the biggest rewards and why: the brave or the cautious?
While caution is understandable in difficult times, fortune favors the brave, as the saying goes. Time and again, we’ve seen that there are ample rewards in maintaining your presence and upping your creativity where everyone stays quiet. It’s often been in hard times that the most significant breakthroughs have occurred, like Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb during the Long Depression, or Motorola’s car radio in the Great Depression. United by purpose, forced to question the status quo, we’re more prepared to seize new opportunities, as long as we are willing to look and act.
What does the new normal mean to you?
While there are signs some things have shifted, like the preference for remote working or the rise of online shopping and home deliveries, a lot has remained or will stay the same. The crisis hasn’t fundamentally altered us, at this point in time at least. We’ve adapted to new conditions but largely to maintain or return to the way of life we’ve been used to. One thing is for sure though, the practice of marketing is being strained by the pressure of smaller budgets, new behaviors not recognized by existing data models, and team members working in relative isolation. Let’s hope these are temporary hurdles that won’t become permanent.
How prepared were you for the unexpected and how have you adapted to uncertainty?
As a data-driven marketing services company, we were relatively well-placed to maintain and even grow our activity last year. We are by definition agile and able to assist clients in times of ambiguity. Our business is built on data analysis, be it historic, real-time, or even predictive. We stay alert to market and tech developments to remain at the cutting edge. Our operations being spread out across several countries, we’re accustomed to remote and collaborative work methods. Hence, we’ve remained effective in supporting our business partners in their own response to the unique market conditions.
Some argue that limited budgets enhance creativity. What do you think 2021’s creative output will be like?
Let’s just say I don’t subscribe to this view. Limited budgets limit the ambition and resources to come up with and execute a creative idea! Think about it this way: you may want to reach the moon but how far will you go with, say, $200K? Just look at what we saw in 2020 - montages of stock images and clips, interchangeable feel-good messages, despite the rare exceptions of brilliance. Coming up with great ideas may cost little but executing them brilliantly at scale will require budgets.
It’s very possible that in 2021, marketers and agencies will have absorbed the shock of 2020 and worked around limitations and restrictions. Renewing with ambition and optimism, it’s good to see brands are already aiming higher.
What are the top three skills the marketer of the future will need?
To attend the MENA Effie Thought-Leadership Program, book your tailored experience now.