Marketing Strategy in an Uncertain World

Adeel is the Brand Strategy & Planning Director at Zain Telecom, KSA. In this exclusive interview, he talks about marketing strategy and leadership in an uncertain world. In the current COVID 19 crisis, how are you engaging with customers with the appropriate messaging?  Not any different from the rest but trying to be better in […]


  • Adeel is the Brand Strategy & Planning Director at Zain Telecom, KSA. In this exclusive interview, he talks about marketing strategy and leadership in an uncertain world.

    In the current COVID 19 crisis, how are you engaging with customers with the appropriate messaging

    Not any different from the rest but trying to be better in terms of frequency of content push and the resulting engagement. 

    Routine occasion-based content push built around social etiquettes, the how-to’s of becoming an effective member of the household, information around mobile applications contributing in home productivity enhancement, relaying national updates on Covid-19, health and safety messages, special offers on data consumption and technology related Podcasts.

    How can marketers leverage social media and analytics to understand customer sentiments? 

    The key lies in effective social listening; an even more intense effort to achieve potent customer sentiment analyses. And one must also not forget the critical need for constant upgradation, refinement, and augmentation of the variable inputs and outputs that make up the engine. And of course, multi-genre content pushes around all facets of the operations and customer lifestyle, from products and services offerings to service delivery and acquisition experience.

    Also Read: Top 5 Social Media Technology Trends in 2020

    How can marketers adapt? What are the things they should & should not do?

    Just when you thought you never had the time or had the excuse of not furthering your forgotten brand values and doing real CSR, well it’s that moment now, and brands should make every effort to make the most of this opportunity. It’s time to build an empathetic brand image but at the same time to ensure not to get overwhelmed with the drive, i.e. being there just for the sake of being there and certainly not overdoing it either.

    Being always cognizant of the same ground rules, i.e. Have to be clutter-breaking with both content and offer, and NO hidden and/or in your face hard-core selling/marketing messages, but concentration should be on building the generous (rewarding) and softer (caring) side of the brand. 

    How do you see the marketing function evolving post-COVID 19? What will change?

    Nothing really different from now, but if someone’s been late to jump the band wagon or slept through the past decade of customer evolution, then it’s literally the D-day for being more all-encompassing and assume a more intense critical transformation enablement role.

    In other words, it is the time for marketers to become more socially responsible, need for a higher degree of involvement in the brand value chain (at every step of the way), and more inclusive across the board throughout Products /Services development processes.

    How should brands communicate with consumers in the current scenario? Any latest campaign that has impressed you? 

    There is no universal handbook to address this question. To be honest, it’s more subjective than anything, and it varies with each vertical.

    For a consumer goods company, Consumer Promotions (CPs) are the best way forward, supplemented with some personally attributable content that may or may not be related to the product category like e.g. employees sharing their takes and stories on how they’re making the most of the off time.

    Essentially, the makers, shapers of the brand switch to advisory roles and assume a more direct role in the lives of the consumers. 

    Whereas in a tech vertical, developing intelligent information avenues, rolling out a wide web of multifaceted collaboration programs, advanced real-time tracking and learning projects can prove to be very potent if coupled with the right CPs. 

    How can marketers leverage the power of Influencer Marketing in the current scenario? 

    This is the time for zero-artificiality, and going has to be against the norms. 

    Build and plan such that your consumers speak on your behalf, market the brand and become brand ambassadors for good, as against going with the usual suspects.

    Also Read: Using Influencers for Advertising on Social Media

    What is the biggest business lesson you have learnt from the current situation? 

    Sooner or later, you have to come true to your values and vision, i.e. The Brand Higher Purpose. 

    Marketing 3.0 is inevitable for your brand’s survival. 

    Three shifts that will disrupt your business, and what are you doing about it? 

    Disruption will be in thinking only that ultimately will drive the much-needed innovation in products and services. We’re too much into packages, bundled, off-the-shelf solutions approach, periodic time-barred offers, connectivity only mindset, rewarding new customers only philosophy, campaigns given more weightage over platforms, i.e. lacking long-term thinking and rejuvenating brands with sporadically. 

    The critical need of the hour is more collaborative connected solutions, and here I’m not just talking about IoT solutions, and notice here the missing ‘and’ between the words ‘collaborative’ and ‘connected’. 

    Moving away from just being a means-to-an-end provider whilst not undermining the importance of zero-latency connectivity, connectivity is, and will more be a given essential. Connectivity will not be a product or service anymore or more appropriately a brand per se, unless we’re willing to go above and beyond. 

    More immersive, experiential and mixed reality will be required, not as an ancillary tactical tool, rather as part of the mainstream communication and sales approach. 

    Segmentation Vs. Micro Segmentation Vs. Intelligent Personalisation; not a future evolution but a present-day reality, and this is not just for a group of individuals or an individual, but for all of them customised for different circumstances, environments, and arrangements. 

    I would also like to add a critical 4th dimension, Digital connectivity, it will be more pervasive than ever before, and therefore data security will be paramount for all mighty cloud-based digital eco-system.


    Adeel is the Brand Strategy & Planning Director at Zain Telecom, KSA. A bohemian thinker, knowledge catalyst, and a versatile intent Marketer, Adeel over the last 17+ years has engineered several innovative, transformational, and Clutter-breaking: Communication Strategies, Product/Service ideas, Revenue-streams, Experiences and Partnerships, for an array of regional and multinational organizations. Adeel is widely regarded as an exponent of building and rejuvenating brands & architectures, strategizing Digital Transformation, activating hyper-segments, crafting Omni-channel Content Strategies and creating Brand Experiential opportunities. Amongst his many achievements to date, Adeel has recently been recognized by Informa one of the top thought leaders in the Telecom space.


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