Covid-19 has caused businesses in Egypt to face some glaring conclusions, the rush that many organizations have gone through, big and small, B2B or B2C, to digitalize their entire workforce and production processes has placed value now more than ever on a demand for professionals who understand digital transformation and marketing that’s based on performance and growth across digital assets and channels.
Taking a look at the Ring Road or Mehwar’s zombie billboard apocalypse that ensued after our experience with partial lockdown and Coronavirus is proof that, when the going gets tough, the bottom line is the only thing that matters, and, if you can’t prove your worth to the bottom line, you get the axe. The amount of companies that were rushing to understand Digital Marketing proficiency, convert their brick and mortar/Instagram shops to a full-fledged ecommerce store or to wrap their head around web analytics and data measurement created a tidal wave of demand in the industry.
As the Egyptian and MENA region economy grows more complex with a burgeoning startup and ecommerce scene, the demand for technical marketers is growing day by day. For years the dominance of advertising, PR and social media content production firms and agencies in Egypt has overshadowed the need for education and training in measurement-based marketing.
Academia has also lagged behind in Egypt, as marketing and communications majors have not caught up with the demands of Digital Marketing curriculums and that has also placed a considerable burden on the industry in terms of a steady supply of human capital that can keep up with the exigencies of digital. For these reasons, in the past, Digital Marketing in Egypt has been downgraded to a catch-all term for advertising, PR, and, today, Social Media.
In post-coronavirus Egypt, Digital Marketing is a discipline whose heyday has finally come. Impression-based marketing, creative chops with no measurement rationale to back it up or simply relying on awareness media buying and insanely expensive content production fees is not sustainable for companies across the board.
Ryan Holiday, a brilliant marketer by all means and author of the book that shifted many marketers’ perspective on the discipline, argues that, deep down, most people in marketing fantasize that they are premiering a blockbuster movie, a fantasy that warps the concept of marketing and the decisions made by marketers to go to market with a product or service. The remnants of this old school of thought think that they need a huge advertising budget to do anything, a premise that has no basis in the reality of the third industrial economy.
As Holiday states “these marketers want red carpets and celebrities, and most dangerously, assume that they need to get as many customers as possible in a very short window of time—and if it doesn’t work right away, they consider the whole thing a failure.”
Of course, a startup operating under resource constraints has different marketing modalities than a small business uninterested in seeking venture capital funding, different still is a medium to large company in FMCG, different still a B2B organization working in professional services, and the list goes on. A book can be written on how each organization, according to its objectives, has to have a marketing department or outsourced professionals who understand the business objectives and tie them properly to digital across all channels and analytics platforms.
Today the best marketing decision any company can make is to have a product or business that fulfills a real and compelling need for a real and defined group of people, to test all assumptions, to work with all digital channels, to measure metrics diligently and to not force things on consumers and customers without experimentation—no matter how much tweaking and refining this takes.
The “new normal” with Covid-19 in Egypt has resulted in a fundamental shift in demand for marketers who are slowly letting go of the old sensationalist ways of doing things. These marketers’ arsenal is emails, data gathering, blogs, platform APIs instead of commercials, publicity and catch-me-if-you-can flashy advertising.
The entire onus of digital marketing teams or departments today is focused on user experiences, trackable growth, throwing out all the fluff that can’t be validated through rigorous testing and experimentation. To quote Ken Aluetta of the New Yorker, the ‘mad men’ are being replaced by the ‘math men’ and it will soon be clear, in the next 5-10 years in Egypt, that the marketing team of today and tomorrow has very little to do with creative chops and everything to do with engineering, data, and experimentation.