The Marketers' Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ), in conjunction with Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development, trained over 350 small to medium enterprises on the role of marketing at the University of Zimbabwe recently.
The training focussed on the fundamentals of the marketing mix and developing competitive strategies. According to statistics, SMEs constitute about 70% of local businesses and they are a major source of employment for those who are failing to find jobs in the "conventional industry" set-ups. People have been forced to become innovative and seek self-employment opportunities. As a result, the pool of attendants at the training was diverse from across different industries, which include manufacturing, retail, textiles, fuels, digital communication, health and energy.
Director of the Small to Medium Enterprises in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development David Nyakonda commended MAZ for their efforts in the development of SMEs. He expressed concern that although Zimbabwe had over 90% literacy rate, the skills rate stands at 34%, meaning that the country is lowly ranked in terms of skills.
He, therefore, encouraged entrepreneurs to be innovative.
"Be conscious about standards and set new rules in the marketing arena. Position yourself as the hub of new ideas and new direction," said Nyakonda.
MAZ executive secretary Gillian Rusike spoke about the importance of marketing.
"Marketing helps illuminate businesses as well as grow the clientele for the business. Without marketing, our businesses will be lifeless," said Rusike.
Emphasising that the consumer is the most important aspect in marketing and that businesses can only grow if they meet the needs of the consumer, he said: "Let's identify the needs and wants of the consumer and then offer value to them. Remember, people are buying a promise that the product is delivering."
Rusike also highlighted the "people factor" in any organisation and why it was important to hire employees who will represent the business well, adding that entrepreneurs need to be the top marketers of their organisations and aim to be presentable so that they are taken seriously, as people generally do business with people they are attracted to.
Rusike also encouraged entrepreneurs to embrace digital media as it had the power to make or break businesses.
MAZ marketing manager Enia Zimunya also presented on marketing strategies for SMEs.
"All businesses, including SMEs, should have well-informed marketing strategies for the sake of planning. A good marketing strategy helps to guide your vision, mission and business goals," she said.
Zimunya also spoke about the 4Ps of marketing which are product, pricing, place and promotion, and the different strategies that entrepreneurs can implement in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
This event would not have succeeded without the support of companies who sponsored the event who included Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited, ZB Bank, DHL Zimbabwe and Standards Association of Zimbabwe. MAZ has also partnered with tertiary institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe for the success of this initiative.
One of the major mandates of MAZ is to ensure that marketing is learned and implemented to the highest level, for the benefit of organisations and the economy at large. MAZ has seen it fit to promote the profession among SMEs as they are increasingly contributing to the growth of the economy.
These training sessions will be done in all provinces of the country and dates will be broadcast.