The government has promised Zimbabwe people change time and time again – all which have led to a big fat zero. Promises came first from Zanu-PF, then MDC, and now from the unity government – but no one has produced much for the ordinary people. I can only imagine the kind of promises that will be flying around come election time.
Some in power, have decided that the solution for Zimbabwe’s situation is to ‘re-brand’– effectively calling all this a marketing problem. I’d have to agree (and I’ll tell you why). Now to be sure, I’m no Politician (and I’d hate to be one), but I do have something to say about marketing Zimbabwe – 3 things to be precise.
- The tactics Government (both parties) is using are 99% useless.
- Sound marketing strategy can indeed turn around Zimbabwe
- The government ALREADY has enough resources, they just don’t have stories (I’ll show you why this is key)
So in their efforts to re-brand Zimbabwe, they’ve approached investors, tourism authorities, governments and so on and tried to give them a convincing and compelling message. “We’ve got great natural resources, come, let’s partner”. “We’ll behave from now on, please help us” or
“These sanctions are illegal, remove them…or else”.
Has any of these marketing approaches made a difference? Microscopic differences at best –but it’s been mostly a waste of time (and money). Not only that, but in my view, it will continue to be so. BUT that’s not to say that marketing can’t solve the problem – heck, marketing can do almost anything!
- Marketing can change the way investors see us. It can make them hungry, even desperate to invest with us, in ways that actually benefit the Zimbabwe people.
- Marketing can bring in a flood of tourists – too many to handle (South Africa is a good example of that right now)
- Marketing can sell off, all those Zimbabwe diamonds that have been mysteriously vanishing for so long.
- Marketing can turn around the Agricultural and manufacturing sectors in Zimbabwe
- Marketing can even rid us of the mass corruption we’re surrounded by
Heck – marketing can do miracles WHEN DONE RIGHT.
Do you agree with me that Zimbabwe would be a VERY different place if we accomplished the above 5 things? Of course you do. But we’d have to do the right kind of marketing to make it happen, and that’s where the problem is. The Political marketing gurus – whoever they are have got it all wrong.
Here’s how I think we should be going about branding Zimbabwe. Oh – and if you’re a business person, you’ll see how all of this applies to your business too.
Talking to investors, other governments and so on is good, but it’s not the smartest place to start (as has already been demonstrated by the wasted efforts thus far). The government completely lacks the credibility and resources to influence these people sufficiently to cause real change.
So I think the government should focus their turn around strategy on the people with the greatest capacity to make a difference… not Obama (or what’s the Chinese presidents name?), but none other than…(drum roll please)
The Zimbabwe people!
Question: What do you think would do more good, the Prime minister’s next begging trip to wherever or 10000 ordinary Zimbabweans on Facebook, Google Buzz and LinkedIn suddenly talking positively about Zimbabwe?
- Telling friends on Facebook how life in Zimbabwe is starting to look good again
- On Gmail, yahoo and Hotmail telling stories of how things are turning around
- On LinkedIn and saying how business opportunities are popping up everywhere in Zimbabwe
- Local bloggers start telling good news stories to the world about Zimbabwe.
Suspend your negativity and imagine for a sec what would happen if thousands of Zimbabweans started telling captivating positive stories all of a sudden? Think about it…
- I personally have thousands of friends and followers on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Twitter and Gmail. So do you.
- My friends and followers, have money, skills and ideas to invest. So do yours.
- Our friends and followers also have friends and followers.
Just one thousand of us could reach and influence 10 million people quite easily. It would be more effective because word of mouth always has more credibility than anything else. My friends would believe my word 100 faster than they would the presidents or the Prime ministers combined. So would yours.
Of course to do all this, one big thing has to happen first.
They (Government) need to give us good stories to tell about them and Zimbabwe.
That’s the hard part, because it would mean that instead of fighting each other, the unity government (as it’s called) would actually have to unified and then make real changes. Changes that make for good stories. They’d need to generate stories about changes we care so much about, that we enthusiastically tell the world about. That’s how word of mouth (or mouse) happens.
Now maybe you’re thinking;
How can they make changes without money?
I assure you, it’s quite possible. A good many wealthy people started off with very little resources. A nation can do the same.
For example, It doesn’t take money to
- Fire and prosecute minister who the Zimbabwe people all know is corrupt to the bone.
- Make a public full-out apology for obvious mistakes made that have hurt the people
- Reverse laws that hamper economic or social progress
- Stop fighting and unify the unity government.
- Or picture this – Some minister decides to sell one of his farms for a million dollars, and uses the money to feed a small forgotten town for 6 months. Imagine he does it without mention of his political party – his only motivation is a genuine concern for Zimbabwe’s people. Imagine two or three ministers did this?
Now perhaps only one thousand of one million hungry people would be fed by this minister’s kindness. But the impact of his actions reach far more people, through it’s story. You and I would be talking about it none stop.
See, It doesn’t have to take money to get the ball rolling. Just create good stories the people can’t ignore and make t easy to spread the word. Not just through the newspapers (that have greatly lost credibility) but by the people themselves.
After all, stories – not promises – that’s how brands are built, and it’s how Zimbabwe will be re-branded.
And of course, although most people will, YOU don’t have to wait for anyone before you create an inspiring story of your own – for your business, or for Zimbabwe.