By Mutiu Iyanda
Despite its primary purpose of ensuring a healthy environment and facilities for healthy living of human and materials, the recognition of the facilities management (FM) industry remains low in most developing countries. Placing the industry at the strategic position of developing and maintaining infrastructure or facilities has been a herculean task for users of FM solutions, especially government establishments.
Recent researches have shown that the issue remains due to the inability of the FM providers to appropriate proven strategies for awareness creation and maintenance. Among other consequences, the facilities management industry has been misconstrued as asset and property management in the last 5 years. Previous analysis has shown that the misconception is on the rise because of the simple description of solutions being employed by the players in the industry. Analysis indicates that the companies prefer simple description of the solutions to the classical structure, which allows categorisation of solutions based on their similar features or benefits.
Check has equally shown that FM companies in Nigeria pay little attention to the customer reviews on the Internet, most importantly, those expressed on Google Business and online communities or forums. Analysis shows that a negative connection exists between the number of reviews received by 10 FM companies between 2017 and 2018, and average ratings given by the reviewers. Specifically, analysis reveals -10.4% connectivity and 1.1% of the reviews determined the average ratings. Based on these insights, this piece offers thought leadership as an emerging strategy to bridge Nigeria’s Facilities Management sector recognition gap.
A 2019’s report reveals that thought leadership is more powerful than marketers think. It is a tool that has helped and still helping businesses and individuals to generate leads and convert them to sales. It gives the desired results when it is not seen as an avenue for the mere description of a company’s products or services. This position reminds us of the simple description of FM solutions in the country which must be overhauled by the marketing and communications personnel of the players.
Thought leadership, when used appropriately, will assist FM brands deliver perspectives beneficial to their clients and prospective ones. Companies that develop insights are most likely to solve problems on facilities analytically, proceeding through the problem using step-by-step approach.
Beyond blogging, thought leadership would be effective when the companies employ formats such as research report, videos, essay, white paper, thought piece, webinars and presentations. These formats have been used and found effective in reaching B2B and B2C categories of clients in many industries in the last 5 years.
Producing though pieces is not enough. Efforts should be made for effective dissemination and evaluation of the pieces. For the maximum value derivation from thought leadership strategy, businesses need to improve their social capital, most importantly the presence of their employees on LinkedIn. Analysis reveals less than 50% connection of followers on LinkedIn with the number of employees (past and present) of select brands.
The main implication is that it would be difficult for businesses that need FM solutions to gain insights on facilities issues through the platform. Apart from the presence, players also need to encourage their employees to engage in thought piece production and dissemination on the platform. This is important because analysis establishes low contributions in terms of articles sharing and comments on FM issues by employees.
For instance, buyers’ interest in facilities management, content and solutions has been on the increase since Q1 2019. This signifies that players in the industry need to develop content that align with their solutions and disseminate them via LinkedIn and other channels. When the dissemination is done using LinkedIn and the employees share the content with the members of their network, analysis indicates that the social capital (employees’ presence) has the capability of increasing buyers’ interest in FM solutions by 26.3%, while the current brands’ connections can ensure 38.6% interest.