Following my last post on the 5 lessons Islamic Marketing can learn from Islamic Finance, today’s end of the 5th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference – Asia Summit has stirred a thought-provoking question:
If the global financial crisis of 2008 has caused the world to jump and take notice of Islamic Finance as a possible solution over speculative and over-complicated finance, what then could be a possible trigger, an impetus for Islamic Marketing to be given a similar kick start to expand and scale beyond its current pace? What could be that push, that opportunity Islamic Marketing is looking for?
Has that opportunity already presented itself, and are we too late?
Here are two events which I have identified that make good candidates for Islamic Marketing’s own “crisis”, and why Islamic Marketing should capitalize on these to scale and develop, seriously:
1. Growth of Islamic Finance itself: What seems absent in most Islamic Finance discussions is the role marketing plays in its growth. Here, we are not just talking about promotions, but areas such as product innovation, differentiation, branding, and the end communications to the target sector. If Islamic Marketing can be defined as the marketing of Islamic products and services to both Muslims and non-Muslims, then talking about Islamic Marketing within Islamic Finance contexts makes sense. The success of Islamic Finance itself should be seen as a celebration of a success in Islamic Marketing. And the challenges that Islamic Finance faces in innovating itself with new instruments that are faithful to the shariah, as well as the need to penetrate the market further, are areas in which Islamic Marketing can contribute. The dichotomy appears to be a phenomenon only in the mind, hampering much potential synergy.
2. Terrorism: In the last decade, the image of Islam has been perverted by extreme ideology. We have seen the terrorist videos and what those in them are capable of doing. And we have also heard the counter arguments from Muslims who denounce such acts. Here, I feel it’s time Islamic Marketing step up to the plate to correct the image of Islam, and reposition the brand to where it actually should be. Anyone who is in the business of branding and marketing and who is passionate about Islam should step up and be as effective in communications as the terrorists with their videos of fame which unfortunately get air time in mainstream. For Muslims, this is a fardhu kifayah or a communal obligation, and for Muslim marketers, a fardhu ain or an individual duty to act. Who else to better correct perceptions than skilled marketers who know what brand Islam should actually stand for? Islamic Marketers are the soldiers of the hearts and minds to fight terrorism.
With that, our crises has arrived. Time to roll up our sleeves and the 4Ps.