If we want our country to be included among more stable and stronger economies, we need to do a better job of training and preparing our students for the cut-throat field of marketing and sales and let them drive, rather fly.
Did you know that there are tons of software applications that work similar to youtube, facebook, whatsapp, skype, Netflix etc. And do you know that they may have better features than their above competitors (youtube, facebook, whatsapp, skype, Netflix) or at least had better features at the time they were launched. Any idea why we did not or are not using them?
Because they were not marketed properly!
Things or “brands” are popular not because they are best but because they are marketed well. Particularly since they are placed (a sub-activity of marketing) well they sell at better prices. We may produce the best products or services but if the same are not marketed successfully we may not achieve desired sales levels, not enough revenue gets generated to sustain and expand business and eventually the business would die out, or would not take off at all, and the product will end up in the junkyards. Even if the product or service is not great initially if it is marketed well, it sells well and earns enough needed to sustain business, for the necessary R&D and for improving the quality. And that is exactly how the show runs all around.
Now let’s step back and look at our country. Any native of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujrat or other cities can give us a long list of products and or services or skills that are of great quality, readily available and are very competitive. Pakistan makes world class cotton, cotton yarn, finished cotton, silk or fancy cloths, readymade garments, leather, leather products, cutlery, surgical goods, sports goods bicycles, motorbikes, pumps, valves, home appliances, utensils, food spices, jewelry etc. etc. and all at very competitive rates. But does the world know about it? And how is world supposed to know if we let them know i.e. market these?
Pakistan has a great sports goods industry. It produced champions in lots of sports. We make world’s best foot balls used at world’s most prestigious tournament i.e.. FIFA World Cup, and we do it every four years. In 2017/18 the size of only European professional football market was over 28 billion euros (US$ 27 billion) (Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/261223/european-soccer-market-total-revenue/) and what is our football export, a mere US$ 153 million (0.6%)( (Source: https://www.geo.tv/latest/201661-football-exports-up-by-1064pc). What additional support do our marketers need? With this kind of authentic acknowledgements any other country would have taken over, not captured, the football market at least in Europe, if not world over.
Pakistan produces world’s best basmati rice and Himalayan salt, but nowhere in the world are they available with its own name. Though other countries but these in bilk from Pakistan at cheap prices, package them and market them with their own names after adding value. Why can’t Pakistan do the same itself.
Surgical instruments quality of Pakistan is world known but what is our export volume?
Gujrat is famous for its high quality fan industry, Hyderabad is famous for its motorcycle industry, Faisalabad is famous for its textile industry, Karachi is famous for its leather tanneries, Leather garments and other readymade garments, Quetta is famous for its dry fruits, Lahore is famous for its home appliances, pumps, valves industries, Peshawar is famous for its Peshawari chappals, not to mention about the IT companies in Pakistan that are capable of offering modern, high tech, creative and innovative solutions to complex business challenges, similarly there are lots of other examples, but what are we doing about it? How much are we exporting?
From above examples it is evident that we are not bad in what we do but we are not doing a good job of marketing our products, services and skills. Focusing on any one of above examples and successfully marketing the same can bring in enough foreign exchange for the country that will pull other industry sectors that are lagging behind.
We may be very aggressive and innovative in everything else, but we are not equally aggressive and innovative in the most important aspect of business i.e. marketing. The writer has had exposure to businesses and stores where goods and services from various parts of the world are available. On doing a fair comparison its always sad to note that quality of actual product and services is comparable in most cases. However Pakistani products and services are actually NOT available or if available are not packaged, presented, distributed and priced well, all of which is pointing to our failures in the marketing area.
Need of the day for Pakistan is to produce more and better marketers who are not afraid of going out, exploring new markets, learning from others’ successes and build on their successes locally to exploit international markets. In the beginning they may not be able compete the top economies, top players, top quality conscious markets and/or expansive or bigger products but that does not mean that everything everywhere is top notch. There are always opportunities to explore. Further there are lots of countries around the world that have are comparable to Pakistan in economic, social and cultural situations and are comparatively open.
In addition to marketers who do market research, select the right goods and services, explore and establish markets, setup distribution channels, package and present products and services as per market needs, place products and services appropriately and set the right prices that will attract buyers we also need sales force to close the sales, manage necessary sales agreements, create and provide necessary documentation and deliver these goods and services as per agreements/contracts.
Together these sales and marketing teams can bring much needed business to exporters in Pakistan and prosperity to the country in addition to themselves.
Our universities need to:
- Update their business programs to ensure their graduates have the right skills, tools, drive, passion and resources to effectively handle our products and services locally and internationally
- Develop product and industry specific programs to prepare the students
- Develop or update, if already exist, specific courses to train the students in the common and unique requirements of local as well as international marketing
- Strengthen the school-industry partnership to use Coop/internship programs in relevant departments of the industry
- Approach the industry SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to see their marketing challenges to be used as assignment projects to students
- Hold periodic seminars at schools where industry leaders talk about their short term and long-term requirements and challenges
The above is what successful economies are doing and not that successful economies (like ours) are not doing and the results are obvious to everyone. If we want our country to be included among more stable and stronger economies, we need to do a better job of training and preparing our students for the cut-throat field of marketing and sales and let them drive, rather fly.
Hope the authorities are reading and paying attention.
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January 10, 2019
The writer is a professional marketer and engineer with good work exposure to governments, and businesses and industries in the private sector in several countries. Idea is to take the first step in adding value to anything that one gets exposed to instead of just complaining about the same.