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CIM embarks on the role of marketing at national level

As the euphoria continued at the end of the 27-year-old war against terrorism, the ninth CIM Annual Conference ended on a high note embarking on the role of Marketing at national level, towards rebuilding the economy.

A flagship event of The Chartered Institute of Marketing Sri Lanka Region the CIM Annual Conference was held recently at the Cinnamon Grand. Organized under the patronage of Sri Lanka Telecom, the strategic partner for the seventh consecutive year, the conference spotlighted six locally and internationally acclaimed speakers who shared their knowledge and thoughts on unconventional marketing strategies to survive turbulent times.

Shiraz Latiff, welcoming the audience, said that the nation has overcome its greatest challenge and that it is time for marketers to think beyond their organisations and contribute towards rebuilding the war-torn economy and marketing Sri Lanka as a country. He said that if sheer leadership and common sense could turn-around the destiny of a country, it is not impossible that professional marketers could survive the turbulence.

The chief guest at the ceremony, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Palitha Kohona, in his address, ‘Winning the War on Terrorism - The New Dawn’ elaborated on the victory that Sri Lanka as a nation has achieved against all odds.

“One obvious victim of the conflict was our economy - and it suffered immensely during the past 27 years. It is estimated that the country lost USD 200 billion in lost opportunity.” All should join hands for the reconstruction and development of the country, he said.

Chairperson of Sri Lanka Telecom Leisha de Silva Chandrasena, highlighted the significance of Information and Communication Technology in the current context and the role of Sri Lanka Telecom.

The technical sessions commenced with a situational assessment by a moderated panel hosted by senior marketers and business leaders.

Managing Director, Eagle Insurance PLC Deepal Sooryarachchi, outlined the new opportunities and challenges that have surfaced with the liberation of the LTTE controlled areas. As the resettlement of the Internally Displaced People progresses there will be a boom in economic activities in the area.

He said that it would be interesting for marketers to find strategies to enter these new markets which could be different in terms of culture and demography. Managing Director, Fonterra Brand Lanka Ltd Achyut Reddi, said that it’s time to revisit the basics and to achieve brilliance in basics.

He emphasized on a disciplined approach towards the organisational vision and the need to strengthen its core value proposition. CEO of Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd. Suren Amarasekera, spoke of the relevance of value innovation as a competitive strategy in turbulent times.

Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka Dr. Saman Kelegama, enlightening the participants on an economist’s perspective of the current contest envisaged that Sri Lanka’s economy will recover faster than the world economy.

The economy had sustained a positive growth even during the time of war and that it is not impossible to achieve a double digit growth rate in the ensuing year, if we all get our act right.

Emeritus Prof. Michael Baker in his presentation ‘Back to Basics’ said “those who forget history are bound to repeat it.” He said that the world had experienced boom and bust many times before. He also explained how an organization could turn turbulence to its advantage with the right strategies.

Dr. Uditha Liyanage said that organizations should be flexible and adaptive to environmental changes as the relevance of deliberate strategies tend to grind down in turbulence. In his presentation, Dr. Liyanage addressed several common misconceptions of strategy - which he defined as a ‘stand’.

He said that organizational values should go hand in hand with their strategy and added that it was surprising to have found that out of 32 top companies in Sri Lanka only three companies had strategies that go in line with their values.

Prof. Amitava Chattopadyay making his presentation, ‘Marketing in Recessionary Times’ said “doom and gloom is not for everyone”. Explaining the doctrine of price sensitivity, he said that the most vulnerable sectors are the durables and semi durables.

Prof. Amitava said that it is common that most companies to cut down on their marketing and brand development during recessionary times. He encouraged the participants to continue brand building activities thereby increasing their voice share in the market which goes up as the competitors cut down on their advertising spend.

Prof. Amitava also stressed the need to use the correct vocabulary and create a link between the marketing objectives and overall organizational objectives when convincing the top management. One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the presentation by Air Vice Marshal G Y De Silva - “Military Warfare” - which enlightened the participants on the applicability of military warfare strategies in marketing. The conference also hosted panel discussions led by eminent marketers and business leaders.

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