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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Columnist: Albert Amekudzi

Marketing vigilantism; a self-help tool

Recently, the issue of vigilantism has been in the Ghanaian news with many people calling for the disbandment of vigilante groups associated with political parties.

The conduct of the various vigilante groups associated with the two main political parties – the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress – has become a source of worry to many.

Many scholars have given different explanations to vigilantism with some stating that vigilantes are private citizens (Johnston, 1996; Little & Sheffield, 1983), while others maintain that vigilantism is carried out by state agents (Dumsday, 2009; Huggins, 1991).

Additionally, in literature, there are some disagreements on some elements of vigilantism such as who, what, why, when, how and against whom.

Black (1998) in his discussion of the concept of vigilantism describes it as self-help, which is a way of social control and comprises “the handling of a grievance by unilateral aggression.”

Similarly, in marketing, self-help and effective handling of marketing activities aggressively to prevent external attacks is important in building and sustaining a brand.

Just as other authors explain vigilantism to have dual character– “a law-abiding hero and a law-breaking villain” (Ayyildiz, 1995, p.147), marketing needs to have a dual character depending on the industry and its competitors. When competition is tight within an industry, marketers must also be aggressive and take defensive mechanisms to protect their brand and market share.

Strong brand

Building a strong brand needs coordinated effort, using various marketing tools including public relations.

With growing customer demands and dynamic needs, marketers need to be vigilant and deploy their vigilante skills in building, promoting and sustaining brands, products and services.

As some vigilante groups act in self-help, it is important to deploy self-help strategies in marketing. These include: identifying your niche, recognizing your core competence, sharing your knowledge as a leader, building a strong community, and being dynamic.

Identifying your niche

Every business needs to have a niche market, whose needs it can address by providing innovative solutions. This can be done effectively by knowing your interests, your talents and passion for what you do. Upon identifying these elements, it is important to effectively coordinate them and take advantage of the opportunities to make impact.

Recognizing your core competence

Organisations need to identify their skills and what they do best to build their knowledge base and build a strong reputation that can stand the test of time. Brand reputation is the hallmark of a successful business, hence the need to focus on this. Additionally, the competence of an organisation can differentiate it from competition.

Sharing your knowledge

Thought leadership is one of the most powerful tools used in projecting the brand’s competence and skills. Sharing your knowledge and skills as an expert in the industry puts your name on the lips of industry players. Also, you become a reference point for expert information for the media and other stakeholders.

Build a strong community

Building strong networks of like-minded people is very critical for marketers. It helps in sharing expert information and identifying new opportunities. Great ideas can come from other experts in the same field, thus the need to build strong relationships for future opportunities.

Be Dynamic

The business community is a dynamic one and only dynamic people can survive it over a long period. Economic policies of government can change depending on the focus of the government of the day and these are factors that are usually outside the control of the organisation. Also, technology keeps improving with new tools coming up for experts to use, hence it is important for every marketer to be dynamic to keep business going.

Furthermore, we are in an information age with a lot of information online to help avoid the mistakes of other businesses. Therefore, as marketing vigilantes, there is the need to constantly read more and wide to broaden your horizon for the benefit of the organisation.

Vigilantism in marketing

In conclusion, vigilantism in marketing is critical in remaining competitive within the industry as self-help is needed to always protect the brand and its products and services. Additionally, marketing vigilantism can help the organisation remain alert with strong antennas to fish for information in the interest of the business.

The writer is the Corporate Communications and Events Manager at Origin8, a leading Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Events company.