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Debbie Larry-Izamoje: Content Marketing Mistakes Not To Make On International Women’s Day

As a communications strategist, as an agency and as a brand, your messages should always be tailored to suit your audience. It must also be from a place of knowledge and deep understanding.



It’s crazy that as a Communications Strategist, I still cringe at the thought of ‘special days’. That’s what I call them; Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day… you name it. And no! I’m not the grinch that stole Christmas, I’m just disappointed in the marketing brouhaha that happens on such days.

So let me further explain, using the recent International Women’s Day (IWD) as a case study. That was a significant day leveraged by content marketers globally and the feedback from women on these campaigns, concepts, and creatives registered their disappointment in the campaigns done. I can’t count how many spanners, footballs, and sneakers I saw on design concepts. I mean, what do you really expect as feedback when you create a campaign around women pulling generators on IWD! It was such an eye-opener and I love that we all have consumers that are very vocal. It gives no room for lazy creatives.

Do Not Write An Article Without Any Prior Reading On The Topic

Imagine this scenario: a man goes into a shop, buys his wife a birthday card that reads ‘Happy Birthday Mum’ because he couldn’t find a card that had the word ‘wife’ and his excuse for doing this is that his wife is a woman like his mum and he loves her like he loves his mum. That’s what a lot of brands did on IWD. They created generic concepts with the hope that it will somehow fit anyone who saw it and, somehow, their lack of research would be covered by the colours on the designs. Some other brands tried to create a new meaning to something that has existed since 1911.

It’s so obvious that a lot of content marketers these days do little to no reading. It is also so obvious that campaign strategy teams do not make it a necessity for research personnel to be part of their team. It was obvious in many creatives pushed out on IWD and it was sad. How can you possibly be talking about something you have no knowledge of or a deep understanding of?

As a communications strategist, as an agency and as a brand, your messages should always be tailored to suit your audience. It must also be from a place of knowledge and deep understanding.

Do Not Push Out Creative Concepts, Just Because…

I remember about 2 years ago – a day to IWD, someone kept calling my phone at 9 pm. It was non-stop and a bit worrying, I picked this call just to be asked what ‘Press For Progress’ meant to me. I hate to keep hammering on the time, but this was 9 pm! I was also asked to send my picture as I had been chosen as one of the influential people of the year. You see, I felt honored, I had spent the year working extremely hard and I wanted people to see all the work Image Boosters was putting in. But that 30% warri side of my heritage was very confused and I felt a tad bit insulted that they had left execution on their campaign until the last minute and were putting pressure on me to help meet their deadline. Imagine my shock when I realised that some other brands leave content curation till the main day. Some women now dread this day as they believe it’s a day where brands exploit them. It is important that brands start including this in their content calendars and plans for the year.

Do Not Be Defensive When Women Speak Out Against Your Campaign Concept

I’ve been in this industry for a while, and I just decided to be extremely lowkey recently. But I’m still privileged to be in rooms with some of the most influential women, to hear their opinions about some of the things brands do that they see as unacceptable. As creatives, we can’t always get it right, but we owe it to our audience to always apologize when our designs are seen as inappropriate. It’s not the time to debate or explain what you really meant to pass across. If your message is not clear from the creative concept and its misinterpreted, please apologise and take it down with urgency.

IWD was not invented for or by brands, so if brands want to leverage on it or use it as a marketing ploy for clients, it’s important to be a little more sensitive. It’s important to understand what the day is about, what the theme is about and what this means to women globally. It’s also important that you encourage your stakeholders to actually care about these women they so desperately want to market to. I know that as creatives, we, most times, have good intentions that are misinterpreted but my question is, how much thought and work have you put behind your intention?

So yes, you want to celebrate women on International Women’s Day, but if you are not doing it right, then you are doing nothing.

Debbie Larry-Izamoje, with Certificates in Innovation and strategy from Harvard University and user innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the Founder of a fast growing digital agency in Nigeria and the group operations coordinator of Nigeria's only sports radio station, Brila Fm Twitter and Instagram: @dee_larry @imageboosters_ Email: [email protected]

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