‘Knowledge and theories are essential’:
Need for skilled marketers on the increase
Unlike in days gone by, in most industries marketing has been
highlighted as a vital job, especially during times of recession. In a
booming market, the role of marketing can be quite invincible, said the
Head of Marketing (Ship Repairs) Colombo Dockyard PLC, Darshana
“As I believe, marketing has been identified as an essential factor
at boardroom meetings and today it has gained value and it has been
correctly positioned not only at the Dockyard but also in most
organizations,” he said.
Here are his down-to-earth views
Q. What inspired you to select
marketing as your career?
A. Soon after I finished
my secondary studies in school I was looking for opportunities where I
could develop my professional career. One of the areas I was interested
in was marketing. I joined Dockyard as a management trainee 19 years ago
and I selected marketing as my profession to develop and expand my
knowledge and skills.
Q. Being a front-liner in the
company, what are the challenges you face in the field of marketing?
A. Unlike in the good old
days the fundamental aspects of marketing have changed. Today it is
quite challenging and it depends highly on innovation. For example, in
the good old days word of mouth was not considered as an effective
communication tool. However, today it has became the most innovative and
effective social communication method like Face book and other cyber
I am into both goods and services and here my role of marketing is
quite different and challenging.
My main intention is to provide goods and services to our end user
with the correct mix of the four Ps which is Product, Price, Place and
Promotion. Therefore, our ultimate objective is to deliver the promise
we offer customers to satisfy their needs.
Many people see Colombo as a tourist destination not as a techno
savvy city as Singapore. This adversely affects the ship-building
industry when we promote our services in the global market.
We have already geared ourselves to overcome this problem by being
flexible with our customers and understanding their requirements. We
have been flexible in marketing communication as well. We always try to
maintain international standards in our products and services.
Q. What is the impact of the current
economic crisis on your company?
A. The ship industry
always relies on local and international trade. Transportation between
countries is essential and therefore the ship-building industry plays a
huge support role to sustain local and international trade.
However, with the current economic crisis there was an adverse impact
on the ship building-industry due to the international trade collapsing.
As a result ship owners consciously looked at their ship repairing and
expanding expenses. To sustain in business profitably during a recession
period is quite challenging.
Hence, marketing has a huge role to play to find new market segments
and add value to the existing products and cater to customers’ needs at
affordable rates. By applying these strategies we can attract new
customers to our business and expand the market share. During the past
two decades the company has gone through many recession periods and so
far we have quite successfully managed to sustain in the business.
Q. In many companies we often see
that marketeers are not represented at the boardroom meetings. What is
A. Unlike in the past, in
most industries marketing has been highlighted as a vital job especially
during times of recession. In a booming market, the role of marketing
can be quite invincible.
Hence, marketing positions have been highlighted during times of
recession. As I believe, marketing has been identified today as an
essential factor in boardroom meetings. It has gained value and it has
been correctly positioned not only at the Dockyard but also in most
Q. What are the advertising
strategies that you employ in the company?
A. We mainly employ Above
The Line (ATL) advertising strategies in our business. A high value
business such as ship-building and repair is always essential to build
the brand image of the product or the service.
We use ATL advertising strategies mainly for the company’s image
building and create an awareness of the product and services of the
company. Apart from ATL, we use Below The Line (BTL) strategies as well
as exhibitions, seminars and word of mouth communication. We always
educate our employees through training programs, workshops and awareness
programs to educate them about the current economic situation around the
Q. What do you think about local
A. To sustain as a
marketeer today is not only being disciplined in marketing theories.
Knowledge and theories are essential in the field of marketing and at
the same time the practical knowledge and experience we gathered during
different economic environments is also to add value to the position of
marketing. We should always be alert to the changing trends of the
The role of marketing is now more complex and it has diversified its
responsibilities in various other positions of the company. Therefore,
to sustain as a marketeer is quite challenging and the need for skilled
marketeers increases day by day in the market.