Before I go ahead to make my case on why the year of return was for me a marketing failure, let me first congratulate all the stakeholders for the great effort put into this initiative which saw an estimated figure of 1.5 million tourists visit the motherland. Never has such a feat been achieved in the history of the country and for that I say Ayekoo! This is not in no way to rubbish what was done but to look at how we could have maximized the occasion, so then why is my claim for it being a marketing failure?
1. WEAK INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
This is a recurring error in our brand campaigns when we meet with just a few stakeholders to discuss the plan for a brand's communication (Ghana, in this case, is the brand) and almost always fail to add an internal communications plan. We are used to building campaigns for a particular target audience and once we lock down the audience in our minds, we don't open it up to anyone else, especially the people who labor daily to make the brand what it is. I believe that an effective campaign is one that is built from the inside out and not from the outside in, and for me, this is where we had it all wrong, not having a strong internal communications plan to educate and sensitize the population about the initiative and how we could play a part in it. The majority of the population were left to figure out what was happening for themselves or depend on their children, nieces, and nephews who had flown in for the experience to educate them on what was happening in their own country. Why were we put on the backburner for the year of return? Why wasn't there a plan for us to join in or play a part in this initiative? Could we have achieved a greater result had we incorporated everyone? These are a few of the questions I have when it comes to the lack of an internal communications plan.
2. WE DIDN'T BUILD A SPECIFIC PLAN
This was a Ministry of tourism, arts, and culture initiative to drive tourism in the country. There is normally a clearly spelled out customer's journey which shows the different touch maps of a customer leading to a purchase.
Right from landing at Kotoka International Airport, could there have been a brochure or plan that detailed places to visit with their pricing and every other detail needed for the tourist to create an experience right from the onset? We left this to tourists to decide where to be which brings me to my next and last point.
3. WE FAILED TRADITION.
In our tradition, when you are expecting a visitor, you at least touch up your home to make it welcoming and one key thing we do is clean. During the season I had the privilege of driving my sister and cousin who had come for holidays around the city and some of the things I saw made me cringe. The city looked unkempt during the day and at night it was just a dark country, where there were the street lights and any other light to illuminate our beautiful country. Where were the street lights when we needed them most and where were zoomlion and community cleaners? We could have really done with some tidying up during the season.
It wasn't all dooms and gloomy though, there were many more positives that there were wrongs but I believe these would have gone a long way to making the experience better. Now we move on to "Beyond the Return" and hopefully, we make as much noise internally as we make externally.