BusinessDay

Strategic Outcomes: Key pillars sustaining agency’s resilience in rattled IMC industry

In this challenging time, this report looks at how Strategic Outcomes, among other agencies, is pushing through and the pillars keeping it strong as lessons for the industry. Daniel Obi writes

This is not the best of time for Nigeria’s marketing communication industry. Only a few of the agencies in all segments of the industry –outdoor, creative, media buying, PR, experiential and digital, can put up a true smile due to the excruciating effect of the difficult environment exacerbated by Covid -19 effects. The smiles of last 10 years have almost disappeared.

The real rate of return for many of the operators in the industry, compared to last 10 years is almost negative. Businesses are hard to come by from clients who are equally hit by harsh economy; contracts are either cancelled or renegotiated and worrisomely, payment for jobs done is delayed for months even when the agencies borrowed money at high interest rate of about 20% to execute the jobs. Agencies are simply over-stretched.

In a time like this, it takes tenacity, doggedness, resoluteness and focus to stay afloat as clients are equally discerning and only interested to identify and stick with agencies that give them results to navigate the tough times. An operator who prefers to be anonymous said “only agencies that have the ‘muscle’ are surviving this period”.

One of those agencies that has gained clients’ traction and remained firm in spite of environmental odds is Strategic Outcomes Limited, SOL, a multi-faceted agency with focus on Public Relations and creative business and which describes itself as ‘out of box thinker’. The 17 year old agency has stood tall even during this challenging time on account of its niche in performance and delivery for clients, understanding the environment and utilizing appropriate marketing communication tools as a strategic function to enhance clients’ businesses.

Driven by seasoned media communication practitioners with several years of experience, SOL is not leaving any stone unturned in generating and implementing creative business ideas rich enough to impact on client’s markets. It has demonstrated this with several clients it has worked for including MultiChoice, Lagos Internal Revenue Service, Airtel, FIRS among others.

For Jenkins Alumona, the CEO of the agency who has traversed sectors, passion to work is key and fundamental to the steadfast and growth of the agency. To him, passion determines the scale of individual or organizational progress and, most crucially, success. Talent, he admitted, is important, but not as much as passion. Where passion exists, talent will follow.

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Passion, in industrial quantities, he said, underpins the culture at Strategic Outcomes Limited (SOL), the umbrella for three Integrated Marketing Communications firms he founded in 2004. The three companies are Strategic Outcomes Limited, SOL PR and Flykite Productions.

“Work without passion is better left undone. Being passionate ignites the fire and makes us concentrate on what we love, learn more about it and persistently follow our desires and create a productive impression out of it. Being passionate helps in clarifying the most complex of clients’ challenges,” Jenkins who has worked in the media, manufacturing industries, telecom and advertising and PR agencies said.

In 17 years, the SOL Group has built a reputation for running engaging high-profile campaigns that help shift public opinion in clients’ favour and develop supportive relationships through bespoke communications support and advice to clients, based on clients’ needs and objectives. These have seen the group become a big hitter in Advertising, strategy development/execution, media management, crisis management, research, lobbying, event planning/execution, stakeholder management and political communication.

“We offer 360 degrees strategic and communications support, helping to generate media interest and communicating directly to the general public,” explains Alumona who was educated at the Anambra State University (now Enugu State University), where he bagged a first degree in Mass Communication; and University of Lagos, where he earned an M.sc in Marketing.

He is delighted that SOL’s work with the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) in the area of tax education and enlightenment has been credited with raising tax consciousness in the state and positioning the LIRS as the premier sub-national tax authority in the country. “For years, the revenue collected was grossly disproportionate to vast economic activities taking place in the state. This was largely due to low levels of tax education, a development that robbed government of much needed revenue for development and required urgent remediation, which was effectively provided by SOL via a range of initiatives. The outcome was a jump in revenue collection from a monthly average of N4billion in 2006 to a monthly average of N25billion in 2015”.

“With all humility, Strategic Outcomes deserves accolade here. In fact, only SOL can claim to sit in the middle of it. Talk about the branding, the new logo and the way people understand tax today in Lagos State is through what we did with the LIRS. Although, we do not believe we’d deserve the accolade if the client didn’t give us the opportunity. We would not even be able to claim the achievement if the client did not give us the right information that we needed,” Alumona said with barely disguised satisfaction.

At the national level, similar results have been achieved with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the government agency responsible for the administration, assessment, collection and accounting for federal taxes in Nigeria. The FIRS is desirous to encourage voluntary tax compliance as a way of lessening the country’s reliance on oil revenue, particularly in the wake of the drastic dip of oil prices on the international market since 2014. He said SOL began working on behalf of the FIRS in 2015, assisting the Service, through a series of enlightenment campaigns, to enthrone a culture of voluntary compliance. These have yielded considerable dividends, as evidenced by a leap in revenue collection from N4.57 trillion in 2015 to a record collection of N5.32 trillion in 2018.

“In the heat of recession, FIRS was able to stand and keep its revenue going and continue to improve. There were many campaigns that we designed to improve Value Added Tax (VAT). We took it to the most minimalistic level. We created specific and simple messages to drive home our point. Our messages put into consideration all manner of people that last year alone FIRS was able to rake in N5.32 trillion, which is a good result,” said Alumona.

‘Our work with MultiChoice Nigeria, the country’s dominant Pay Television service provider, has greatly improved public understanding of the industry ecosystem, positioned the company as a world-class operator, highlighted its various Corporate Social Investment initiatives and ensured a recession of adversarial public reactions to its operations.

Working for clients, the agency says it identifies client’s target audience through research, uncover their Unique Selling Proposition, sharpen their brand look and feel, ensure that all messaging is consistent and choose marketing mix appropriate for the clients’ brand.

“We are a top-tier marketing and corporate communications firm, we help companies inform, engage and persuade audiences within and outside Nigeria”, the agency said in its website.

The agency which also has competence for political communication said “we provide a vast range of expert services, including political communications, media and crisis management, monitoring and intelligence as well as reputation management”.

We provide comprehensive marketing services, creative execution, and technical implementation for global brands, and startups alike. We are marketing communications problem solvers, with a bias toward results, Alumona who is a member of the Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON), the Nigeria Institute of Marketing (NIMARK), a Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Direct Marketing and Deputy President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) said.

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