It was only when I participated in the recently held 2nd Digital Marketing Summit 2017, I got to know that Sudan was awarded the First Prize at the ITU Telecom World Awards 2016 for the Most Promising Innovative Solutions with Social Impact. 23000 POS and Mobiles have been used for collection in highways used through a mobile and a printer with Bluetooth without internet connectivity. Eng. Mohamed Abd Elrahim Yassin General Manager of National Information Center and Elwaleed Bashir of Nile Center received trophies for their achievement from the Minister of Communication and Information Technology Tahani Abdallah Atia. This event was organized by Saif Lutfi of Lutfi Self Development Centre.
The 2nd Digital Marketing Summit held at Corinthia Hotel on 16-17 April had a galaxy of International Experts in Digital Marketing from Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom, Lebanon, South Africa, UAE, India and Kenya.
Kaveer Behare from South Africa who had also visited in the 1st Summit last year, presented his study of Global Perspective on Sudan. The global perspective about Sudan is positive but more resources must be spent in drawing a line between South Sudan and Sudan. People should talk more about Trade and Tourism in Sudan to get the world excited.
Internet penetration in Sudan is 27% as compared to 29% in Africa, 33% in South Africa and 80-90% in Europe & USA. Mobile penetration is higher at 72% and 35% of the population in Sudan have mobiles. 7-8% use social media in mobiles. 3 out of 7 billion people in this world use smart phones. This data was shared by Suren Govender Former MD of Accenture.
Eng. Christian Farioli who is an Italian working out of Dubai showed us in his presentation that in the last 83 seconds there have been 960646 mobile views of You Tube; 91263 photos uploaded in Instagram; 9606482 ‘Likes’ in Facebook; $11263 revenue from You Tube; $394765 made from sales of iPhones; 57638889 messages on Facebook and WhatsApp and 24016 profiles viewed on LinkedIn. Digital Marketing is the process of building and maintaining customer relationship through online activities to facilitate the exchange of ideas, products and services that satisfy the goals of both parties.
Farioli’s definition of Digital Marketing is ‘Getting Customers using only Computer and Internet’ and predicts the rise of Chief Digital Officer – soon CDO will become part of the board. CEO sets the direction, CFO provides capital and realizes benefits, CMO is the voice of the customer, HR leads the cultural change and COO embeds the changes. According to Farioli the First successful social media example is of Barrack Obama in 2008 which raised $650 million and got elected President of United States of America. Thanks to massive digital marketing campaign.
Tom Vassos, Author of the book titled ‘Destination Innovation’ came from Toronto, Canada to share that we are in the middle of a global mobile social media revolution. Successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are leveraging mobile social media marketing strategies to achieve business results. Mobile social media strategies are transforming marketing, commerce and entire business models.
Darine Sabbagh from Lebanon presented the tools to analyze and measure the Return on Effort (ROE) and Return on Investment (ROI) on social media. She also presented how to create content and build a Social Media calendar. Apart from the designation Chief Digital Officer, she gave us another title for the same job description which is Community Manager.
Tarik Shalaby a young professional from Egypt who is Online Monetization & Marketing Lead at MSN Arabia Market based at Dubai, helped us to analyze websites, improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is the art of making your website 1st in search. He also presented the last session of the two day event about ‘How to Attribute an Online Campaign to Offline (POS) Transaction’. The take home jargons were O2O which is Online to Offline and ROPO which is Research Online Purchase Offline.
She has a unique title – Chief Knowledge Officer, at Scroll UK. Rahel Anne Bailie is one of the top Content Strategists in the world. I express my gratitude to Lutfi Self Development Centre for bringing Rahel to us in Khartoum for a one day workshop as part of the series of Digital Marketing program. She told us about Content Marketing. She showed us how one can get better brand engagement through Digital Channels. Without Content there is no strategy and without a content strategy there is no Digital Strategy. We need to know how to acquire, manage, configure and publish the content so as to reach the right person at the right time during the customer journey. Content Marketing must educate, inform, find the niche, clarify, differentiate, solve problems, answer questions, provide data, entertain, tell a story, show the future and give to the customer. We knew what a Product Life-cycle and Customer Life-cycle was but we now need to understand Content Life-cycle. Business has gone omnichannel. A TV advert leads to a tablet site. A tablet site prompts profile creation with promo. Profile leads to store with coupon on mobile. Store leads to product purchase. Product package leads to social sharing and registration. Registration leads to emails and SMS with more promos. Loyalty is shared via social and personalized appeals. All these sum up to Customer Experience. When I visited the channels of Content Marketing Institute I learnt that the story of Content is the rise of the New Marketing. Thanks to Rahel for sharing her knowledge on Content Marketing.
The estimates as recent as 1st July 2016 revealed that there are 10,886,813 Internet users in Sudan. This is 26.4% of the population, which is quite high compared to many developing countries. ( Ref: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/sudan/). However, the level of e-commerce is not commensurate with the users. There are technological and social hindrances for the growth of e-commerce in Sudan. Yet interestingly, the other day I found a ‘Garage Sales’ page in social media where one can buy and sell household items and rent apartments as well. Mobile cellular subscriptions in Sudan are as high as 72.2%, which makes it favourable for mobile banking. Zain Sudan has launched the country’s first ever mobile financial service, called ‘Hassa’, in partnership with the Bank of Khartoum. The easy, instant and secure service allows Zain customers in Sudan to complete a wide range of financial transactions and operations, including money transfers, paying bills and ATM cash withdrawals without a bank account. Hassa should get the first-mover advantage and scale to greater heights with millions of users.
Mishwar is the first transportation network company in Sudan which operates with mobile Apps. To avail the service of Mishwar one has to download the App. This allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request, which the software program then automatically sends to the Mishwar driver nearest to the customer, alerting the driver to the location of the consumer. I have availed of Mishwar services at least twice. The drivers use their own personal cars. The App automatically calculates the fare and both the customer and driver get to know. Interestingly the Drivers of Mishwar have never met the promoters of the company. They have been appointed on line.They pay through their mobile. The Managers of Mishwar must implement regulations for the Mishwar drivers and their vehicles.Some of the cars are as bad as the taxis.The Drivers must get daily trip targets and customers should rate their services on line. When all these criteria are in place, we can certify Mishwar to have brought ‘Uberisation’ in Sudan.
During the holy month of Ramadan, more people are online and thus the net connectivity is poor. The connectivity should be stronger during Ramadan because advertisers are spending more money on digital commercials to catch on with Ramadan Rush. I picked up the day-wise prayer timings for the whole month as a promotional campaign for an FMCG item. A commercial video for fruit juices, very well blended with Ramadan, caught my attention which I am sharing with you. Ramadan Kareem
Fruits play a major role in life. Some are forbidden while some speak of success. Most of them are tasty. Some are discovered late in life. Like how I recently tasted the Persimmon. A native of China, the persimmon spread to Japan and Korea. Just slice it and eat the flesh. No need to peel it, as some suggest. Don’t forget to wash it with water first. It has a mixed taste of ‘Chiku’ (Sapodilla plum) and ‘Taal Sash’ ice apples of palm fruit. Persimmons contain health benefiting flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants such as catechins and gallocatechins in addition to having an important anti-tumor compound, betulinic acid. Catechins found to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents bleeding from small blood vessels) properties. Persimmons are also a very good source of vitamin-C and other vitamins and minerals.
I had seen Persimmon before in the supermarkets of Khartoum but never tried them until Zahir, my friend from Dhaka, who works with the UN in Darfur made me taste it. Thanks Zahir for introducing me to ‘Kaki’ the Japanese name for Persimmon. I need to find out whether the Persimmon in Khartoum is ‘Shi’ or ‘Kaki’, ‘Shi’ being the Chinese name.
Today I did something very thrilling. I saw him on his two wheeler riding in the street. I followed him and stopped him. He said he was on duty and on his way to deliver Pizza. I asked his name and took his picture. Not because he looked smart in his uniform wearing a helmet. Not because he was riding a scooter which was attractive and designed to advertise. But because Mohamed Osman was working on a Friday.
The first good piece of advice I received when I first landed in Sudan was to drink plenty of water. It is said that one who drinks the Nile water keeps visiting this dry hot country. Drinking straight from the tap may not be a good idea.Bottled water or ‘Mineral Water’ is a better option. There are many brands from different companies. The brand with high equity is DAL group’s ‘Safia’. I have always preferred it. But once you are loyal to a brand and one fine morning you find that the labeling design and colour has changed and there is no communication from the company as to why it has changed, it is difficult to gulp down the water. DAL group is known for their Public Relations or communication with their consumers. We need to know why the change? Apparently there are no changes in composition.
This was the first time in my life when I had the details of the Summit on an App in my mobile handset. This was the first Digital Marketing Summit in Sudan held at hotel Corinthia on 14-15 Feb’16. Hats off to my friend Saif Lutfi and his Consultancy Centre who organized the Summit. There were key note addresses, panel discussions and workshops on various aspects of Digital Marketing. The topics ranged from social media strategies, content, tactics and measurement; mobile apps and money and Internet Banking covering issues related to regulations and e-commerce.
Speakers came from all over the globe and were specialists in their respective fields.I now have understood the power of social media in business. One needs to have a well thought of social media strategy and different contents and tactics are used for different platforms, and the content is created to link between business,brands and benefits. There must have been more than 200 participants from almost every walk of life. There were Doctors, Pharmacists, Engineers, Bankers, Mobile phone service providers and all those who are involved with Digital Marketing.I have now connected with almost all the speakers on Facebook, Tweeter, LinkedIn and I also hope that this blog will be read by them.