Friday, April 03, 2015

It’s a yes from me and from you?

I was born and raised in Bolebedu 27 years ago. My mother and sister raised me while my father worked in Gauteng just like most fathers in the village. Our village, Ga-Sedibeng, is not that big like other villages next to it but has in the produced good and reliable young men and women. Even though majority of careers that we were exposed to as young kids were limited to teaching and nursing, some of us vowed to pursue careers outside that spectrum (nursing and teaching are not bad career choices, they are just used as examples). Initially I had three careers in mind, acting being one of them but later realized that Public Relations will suit me better as I was talkative and good with languages. In fact, Putco Mafane ploughed that idea as I saw myself in him. He was good and often I would think of him whenever the opportunity to present answers or ideas in class came. Talk about being passionate!

After high school without a plan, I ended up at the doors of MSC College Midrand hoping to be enrolled for free. How else was I going to pay for my studies when I knew very well my mom was unemployment? I didn’t know that was the beginning of my marketing career but I knew that I wanted to study. I don’t know what the principal saw in me that day, to my surprise she offered me a bursary right there to study Public Relations. All I needed was a registration fee then I was set to go. I did enroll eventually a week after paying the registration fee required which mom and sister made possible as I had told them about the bursary. Even though they worried about money for transport and food there was no way I was going to let that opportunity pass me by. As soon as I started the course, something in me told me to aim higher. Being the resourceful person that I am, everything that had to do with marketing at the college I was there. Soon I was travelling with the college principal and lectures to school presentations in Tembisa and participating as a student advisor at a brand activation campaign for the college. That was the fun part of being a student for me.

As with everything, my student life ended meaning that I was an adult with a qualification and no job. I panicked greatly. I think being used to achieving had a lot to do with that. Job searching followed with few promises here and there, nothing concrete surfaced but I continued looking. This other day I went by the college to see my favorite lectures and a friend only to be told that someone will be opening a new MSC College campus in Benoni and they were looking into hiring a marketing administrator who can help them with marketing activities in that area. Just like that, my CV was forwarded and interview arranged. I got the job and immediately planned the way forward re marketing the college. I was unapologetic in the way I did marketing there but soon after realized that you are as good as your last marketing campaign. Trust me when I say it was not easy as I was also immature but I strived nonetheless.

After MSC College, I filled few temp assignments until I landed a job at one of the best training companies in South Africa. There I grew up and managed to get a promotion. However, I wanted more as I started realizing that I have this skill of seeing opportunities where others won’t and chasing them enthralled me big time. At that time I met a fashion designer who I did PR for, even though I did not make much from that, It fulfilled me. Radio interviews were my specialty and I never once underestimated myself. I focused and delivered.

Most companies I worked for me allowed me to strive as I never shied away from a challenge. I always knew I will start my company one day hence I made it my business to learn as much as possible in my field. By 2013, offline marketing was being neglected as more and more companies were investing most of their resources in digital marketing. Everybody knew that in order to succeed as a company you cannot ignore the wind that was digital marketing. What surprised me greatly was that digital marketing was already big if not massive at that time, a large pool of marketing managers in selected industries did not understand the whole concept at all it seemed. They knew everyone was marketing digitally but as with everything most just copied and pasted without actually taking the time to analyse their current marketing investments and where they wanted to go. If you do not know where you are, what you are doing and where you want to go as a brand, you will simply get lost. Now everyone know more or less what they are doing budgets are just sometimes making it impossible to do great things. And I will go as far as saying being lazy to come up with inexpensive ad creative ways makes it even harder to market.

I wanted to be part of that digital marketing wind, learn how it worked and where it fitted in as far as sales were concerned or lead generation for that matter. Wanting to expand my skills range, I decided to leave a secure job to take a position at a great digital agency to learn after I had completed a short programme at one of the best advertising schools in South Africa. Towards the end of last year I realized that many brands are just not willing to stand out of the cluttered market in their respective industries online and offline. Brands are just doing what everyone is doing differently but still not enough to be where they should be. You cannot afford to just follow trends, why are you marketing then if your end goal is not to make sales or build brand awareness? Other brands do well partnering with reputable bloggers for a certain structured campaign while others do well with a great brand activation campaign at a mall. What I mean is focus more on what works for you not the next brand.

Tembisa On Record was born, a fearless regional/local based agency focusing on the Eastrand was conceptualized with this in mind. Through this company clients can expect unusual marketing tactics that are just not preaching the gospel of “we know better that our competitor” but are fiercely targeted and measurable. It is not fun and games when you invest thousands even millions on a marketing campaign but will be when you ignore your regional/local clientele that you can tactically target and measure the results almost instantly. Nothing beats an intimate one on one conversation with a loyal customer and would-be customer. The feedback you get there is often challenging getting it anywhere else. Another important aspect Tembisa On Record stresses is that national marketing campaigns are great and should not be abandoned but they cannot always strive on their own, they need a strong tactical local based approach that can bring about required results in a short space of time often with less resources. Also that other brands will find that their loyal customers are based in a certain location but surprisingly still spends millions looking for new ones instead of investing on both or building from that existing one. Before you waste money, make sure you analyse every little details about who buys from you.

I generally love brands that are not afraid to take risks especially when it comes to marketing. When you are fearless, you get the best and fulfilling results. I am not saying brands should invest in every little marketing campaign under the sun but I strongly believe in that if you want to be taken seriously it starts with doing what others in your industry fear. Everyone wants to be like Nandos but few are willing to use what they have to get there without copying the marketing genius that is Nandos.
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