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What’s all the crypto hype about?

cryptocurrency - IMM Blog Image

Cryptocurrency has taken the world by storm. In South Africa alone, many have been scouring the internet, trying to understand what this “bitcoin-crypto” thing is and a quick analysis of Google trends shows this quite well. People are excited. They are intrigued. But, are there any good reasons for this reaction and is it worth all the hype surrounding it? See for yourself…

What is cryptocurrency

What is cryptocurrency?

The world of cryptocurrency, and its community by association, are notorious for its jargon, and this poses a barrier for people who are interested in getting to understand it but are relatively new to the space and idea of crypto. Key definitions (as defined by Luno.com) to keep in mind are cryptocurrency, cryptography and blockchain.

  • Cryptocurrency: A digital currency that relies on cryptography to verify its transactions.

A digital currency - IMM Blog Image

  • Cryptography: The practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties called adversaries. In the context of cryptocurrency, cryptography validates and secures transaction information.
  • Blockchain: A decentralised network that records transactions, much like a traditional ledger. These transactions can be any movement of currency, goods or secure data.

What is the Blockchain and how does it work?

The blockchain is thus the “collective” ledger of which every computer connected to the network has a copy of, and which processes, encrypts and stores all the data transactions simultaneously across every connected node (read more about that here). According to Forbes, Blockchain experts and enthusiasts, this prevents any tampering with the system and prevents cheating or stealing as the ledger is decentralised, which makes for more user oversight and transparency.

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  • Distributed Ledger: A large database that is consensually shared and synchronised across multiple sites, institutions or geographies. It allows transactions to have public “witnesses”, thereby making a cyberattack more difficult.

Distributed Ledger - IMM Blog Image

Where does crypto come from?

Satoshi Nakamoto

According to Investopedia, Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency. The first recorded cryptocurrency transaction was for a pizza purchase on the 22nd of May, 2010. However, long before this, on the 3rd of January 2009, the infamous Satoshi Nakomoto “mined” the genesis block on the Bitcoin Blockchain and the rest, as they say, is history.

Where does crypto come from

How do you trade crypto and how does it work?

Globally, the most famous and used cryptocurrency exchange has to be Binance, it being a noticed benchmark for other exchanges to emulate. A lot, if not most crypto trade goes through Binance. In South Africa, since Binance doesn’t have a straight ZAR to crypto function, companies like Luno have sprung up in order to close that gap in the market, creating a spade for new and experienced traders and enthusiasts to trade and buy cryptocurrency.

trade crypto

What has been the response?

The technology is influencing and its popularity has spread like wildfire, some comparing it to the dot com bubble of the late ’80s and 90’s, where almost everyone had some investment on the then-new internet. According to Fortune.com, countries like Cuba and El Salvador have accepted it as a legal form of trade, giving it more legitimacy, while other countries like China have cracked down on everything to do with it, not trusting it at all,  giving it some illegitimacy too.

Conclusion

Crypto was developed as a means to an end to the financial crash in 2008. Nakomoto, whether one person or a group under a pseudonym, published a paper outlining a new form of monetary exchange which, he hoped, would cut out the banks and the state entirely, and which was run and protected by the best cryptography technology available at the time. Thus, out of the ashes of one of the biggest global financial innovations in history, a new sun was about to rise, which would revolutionise the imagination of how a monetary system could work.

Whether or not crypto is worth the hype is still up for debate but what is not debatable is the numbers that are trading on the exchange – investing in crypto whether you’re in the first or second camp is highly rewarding at this point in time and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Crypto Conclusion 2

The impact of net-zero carb emissions – new goals for big tech and Silicone Valley

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In the last decade, the value of major tech companies and atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose parallel to one another, according to the International Energy Agency. The impacts of technology companies and organisations on the environment are relatively low compared with their economic, financial, and social footprints. The fact that these companies have such a significant financial impact, in addition to their considerable scientific and cultural influence, is why they should be advocating for and lobbying for governments to reverse the inevitable consequences of climate challenges.

Big tech - think ‘clean tech’; what is Silicon Valley doing

Big tech – think ‘clean tech’; what is Silicon Valley doing?

According to the Financial Times, the founder of Google’s green energy start-up, Martin Roscheisen once led a company that he envisioned would usher in a green revolution by making solar power cheaper than energy from fossil fuels. Having studied computer science with Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford, the Austrian entrepreneur had witnessed the dot-com boom and bust and believed green energy would lead to fortunes for Silicon Valley investors. By bringing green, renewable and sustainable energy options like solar or wind-powered energy to the tech city, Big Tech by itself sets a precedent to smaller and competing companies to achieve the same sort of “green” status of being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious.

Silicon Valley going green

Further, with Silicon Valley going green and making the move towards not just the type of energy it consumes to power this mega-village of creative geniuses, it also paves the way to show other industries in other cities how easy and viable it is to function and exist while doing whatever you can to protect the earth. Investors are flocking to green energy producers to put money behind solutions that fight climate change, ranging from battery storage to sustainable aviation fuel and lab-grown meat (read more here).

Electric cars – is it tech or automotive? Well, it’s both.

One notable and in fact, popular tech billionaire, Elon Musk’s very own Tesla is a perfect example of how tech can go green all while maintaining the very essence of convenience, luxury and relative affordability. Despite Tesla being a car, the engineering, craftsmanship and ideas behind it still fall relevant to the tech industry. The rechargeable, battery-powered car has gained a lot of traction in the United States not for what the car itself has to offer, but how efficient, easy and accessible Tesla has made power and charging points throughout the country. The multiple features and tech functions the car has to offer such as “dog mode” are all just perks, but a great part of selling Tesla was built into the sales pitch of sustainability, environmentally-friendly and it being futuristic – and that’s what Tesla has become beyond its self-driving auto-pilot function. The car itself offers all the comforts and features of ordinary cars, but still, it is arguably only through technological creativity that it could come to fruition.

Electric cars - is it tech or automotive

So what are big tech’s goals for net-zero carb emissions?

Bloomberg Green reports that out of the 10 greatest profiting companies in the country, four of those were tech companies and of those four, all have committed to reducing their emissions to net-zero by 2050. The promise of reaching net-zero targets is one thing; achieving them is quite another. Bloomberg Green also reports that it has become typical practice for companies to “buy” their carbon offsets, rendering their “sustainability” marketing strategies as simply just that – marketing strategies in an attempt to greenwash their images and align their company values to a wider audience and more conscious global citizen. Regardless, the move towards a greener future presents a great opportunity for future generations to flourish and explore this world beyond what we can today and by investing in companies, startups, ideas and people who are actively seeking to change the world, big tech can lead the way.

Silicon Valley 2

Conclusion

Big tech companies in Silicon Valley are definitely finding ways of trying to reduce their impact on the global climate crisis that has been looming over us for decades. If these companies can come together and lead the way in a greener, more sustainable earth, not only will it benefit the environment, but it will most likely boost their revenue.

 

How e-Commerce stores have started opening up physical stores and physical stores went digital

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Over the past few years, e-Commerce has picked up significantly around the world as people are opting to find more convenient and in a lot of cases, cheaper ways to shop. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of e-Commerce was exponential globally (read more about that in our blog “How Covid-19 increased consumerism despite many losing their jobs and streams of income”). The push to go digital has been great for brick and mortar stores. Snap lockdowns, social distancing rules and globally the risk factor of going out for non-essentials (and even essentials) continue to pose a risk for community health. Many stores have therefore opted to open up digital stores. Almost everything these days exists digitally and if your business isn’t shoppable online in these times, you probably aren’t going to be able to sustain it for much longer. Checkers60 were pioneers of online trade in 2019 (read more about that here), but other grocers and even pharmacies are now forced to head in the same direction.

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Why are online stores looking to open up physical stores and why are physical stores opening up online stores – The bid for hybrid shopping is here.

According to Repsly, online retail startups who often pride themselves on being nontraditional are now working to bring back established brick and mortar stores while maintaining their fresh image online and even typically launching new products online first, rather than in-store.

Similarly, Repsly also reports that physical stores have also had to start leveraging the trend of online shopping. For most retailers, their big retailers use their stores as fulfilment centers.

Thus, combining the two and creating a hybrid-like model whereby consumers can shop online, but collect in-store gives major retailers the best of both worlds. The Mr Price Group has done this exact hybrid model of order online, pick up in-store, incentivising store visits through quicker collection and free collection as opposed to longer wait periods and fees associated with delivery.

Online Shopping - IMM Blog image

This article suggests that the move for online stores to go brick-and-mortar lies within the fact that 85% of consumerism occurs physically. However, this now dated article (2019) does not consider the implications of in-store shopping in relation to COVID-19.

In spite of this, it goes on to explain that online retailers have many reasons for adding an offline presence due to the buying culture that still exists, the experience customers enjoy when visiting a store and the necessity in reaching a wider, but to an extent more targeted clientele.

In some situations, shopping in a store is also quicker (from an instant receipt of goods perspective) and more convenient (from a touch, feel, try and choose perspective) than shopping online. In addition, physical stores serve as local distribution centers for online retailers.

Shopping in Store - IMM Blog Image

Conclusion

For any retailer, big or small, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a number of threats to businesses. Many businesses liquidated, but also many started to spring up as people began to look for new ways to earn money. For brick and mortar stores, the cost of maintaining shops open while there were no customers buying in-store was a forceful hand to go digital. Since consumers have now primarily gone towards and are still growingly leaning towards online shopping, it is only sensible for the survival of retailers to exist online and for their product catalogues to also be present online.

Likewise, for online retailers, opening up physical stores gives way for storage capacity and can act as fulfilment centers, but also expand their customer reach for shoppers who typically prefer in-store shopping.

In conclusion, a hybrid of this model may prove to be the most effective.

Depending on the business itself, giving consumers the best of both worlds and catering to all kinds of shoppers is always better.

Online Shopping Conclusion - IMM Blog Image

Digital Marketing Tools that are expected to be trendy in 2022

Digital Marketing - IMM Blog Image

Digital Marketing trends have continued to grow over the past year, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. People have found different and new ways to optimise their time and entertain themselves and their families using online platforms and digital technology. The same can be said for businesses, small and big, who have had to utilise new tools to increase engagement, performance and overall value with their consumers. They have in many cases been forced to better use online strategies like Search Engine Optimisation in order to be found by customers in an increasingly competitive landscape – Google’s search results page.

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With SEO growing as a leading tactic in digital marketing, the SEO service market is looking to hit $19.5 billion by 2025 according to India West. Businesses without a SEO strategy will most definitely not be able to compete in the online world. According to this article, Google’s latest algorithm update allows marketing and business professionals to now have more control over search engine optimisation than ever before. The update also insists that businesses keep their websites up-to-date in order to promote good user experience – the better the experience, the higher the business ranks in search engine results. This on its own is a win for product or service providers that are looking to sell or market their offering online.

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But besides SEO, here’s what else is expected to be trendy in 2022!

1. Artificial Intelligence technology tools

Building and Decor South Africa reports that personalisation is a key factor in the buying decisions of 86% of e-commerce customers. Therefore, the rise of Artificial Intelligence tools being used to understand consumer trends, clicks and interests will continue to rise amongst Digital Marketers next year. To customise e-commerce experiences such as sending coupons or relevant re-engagement emails, e-commerce service providers are already using big data to predict consumers’ demographics and behavior. This information all comes from the technology embedded in AI. The bigger attraction for organisations is the ability to automate digital marketing processes.

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2. Chatbots and Digital Voice Assistants

Business 2 Community reports that due to the success of digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, more people have become excited about the idea of chatbots and digital assistants. It gives customers an experience that is personalised which in turn will build their brand loyalty. We forecast that as early as 2022, businesses of all sizes will have to integrate chatbots into their digital marketing strategy in order to increase customer engagement.

Chatbots and Digital Voice Assistants - IMM Blog Image

3. Augmented and Virtual Reality Marketing

A number of digital marketers are currently using Augmented Reality ads. The experience that Augmented Reality offers is life-like and more exciting than just scrolling through product images. As COVID-19 has forced millions of consumers to buy online, the e-Commerce space has taken off, hence more spending occurred during 2020-2021 (read more about that here). With more people now habitually shopping online, creating alternative realities, or bringing the feeling or experience of a store or brand to the consumers own hands, allows for greater reach and will revolutionise the way we shop. Digital Marketers will have to integrate forms of AVR into their strategies in the coming year.

Augmented and Virtual Reality Marketing - IMM Blog Image

Conclusion

There are many more tools that Digital Marketers are going to need to optimise in the

upcoming year. As we’ve all seen with the revolution of technology becoming more and more consumer-based over the past year, it’s becoming pressing that marketers start rolling with the tech and finding their place in strategising in the unknown. From Chatbots to Virtual Reality, both rely heavily on Artificial Intelligence, therefore making the three intrinsically linked. We’ve already seen how platforms such as TikTok have exploded over the past two years (read more about that here), we now need to think of innovative ways to integrate these tools onto these mega-platforms.

 

10 reasons why project management is important to organisations. (2021)

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What is project management?

Project Management can be defined as the discipline and process of managing the end-to-end activities within a project life cycle from the planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project to budgeting, resource management and the motivation of all those involved; to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality, and performance.

A basic project management lifecycle covers four stages: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Closure.

The importance of project management.

When done correctly, project management is integral for any organisation as it helps all facets of the business run smoothly. It allows team members to prioritise the work that matters, freeing them from distractions caused by tasks taking them off track. It empowers team members to deliver results that positively impact the business. It also enables employees to see how their work contributes to the company’s strategic goals.

Because projects can often be extremely complex and involve various stakeholders, having a project manager lead your team and ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal is integral to project success.

The importance of project management - IMM Article Image

 

Reasons why you need project management:

1.     Clear focus and objectives

Project managers are there to take control of all this and much more. Project managers position themselves around the whole team and project so that they can execute the perfect project that consists of an efficient distribution of tasks among the team members. Breaking larger tasks into smaller chunks not only helps the team to get them done easily but also helps the project manager to monitor all of the tasks easily.

In order to perfectly execute a project, you need to ensure that your team is always focused and that your plan is flawless. When you make your team do the work of a project manager without the proper training and knowledge, you end up with improper briefs, poorly defined objectives and projects that lack focus.

2.     Realistic project planning

The importance of project planning cannot be overemphasised. Oftentimes, organisations overestimate the timeframe in which they can achieve deliverables, or underestimate the costs, or both – which leads to project failure.

A competent project manager will consider the big picture and set realistic and achievable goals, budgets, and timelines.

To set realistic goals, budgets, and timelines, the project manager will liaise with the relevant stakeholders to understand the strategic priorities and business objectives of the project. Based on their research, the project manager then outlines a project plan that balances those priorities within the constraints of time and budget. This process involves cost estimation, resource management, and risk assessment.

3.     Strategic alignment

Project management aligns projects with the overarching business strategy. It should be seen as a driver of organisational strategy. Therefore, if you are not applying project management principles to your business in order to achieve strategic goals and initiatives, you are likely not going to grow as well as an organisation that does.

As project managers oversee the planning and execution of a project, they help ensure the project’s overall goals and its subsequent tasks and milestones all align with the organisation’s strategy. Strategic alignment at every level of the project keeps each stakeholder on the same page and ensures each initiative is driving the business forward.

4.     Effective resource allocation

The biggest, most important resource project managers have at their disposal is their team members.

Project teams consist of people of different backgrounds and departments, who might have other commitments in addition to their involvement in the project. Through proper project planning however, it is possible to ensure that they are available when needed.

Similarly, other resources like the budget, tools, machinery, and more can be arranged effectively to avoid project delays during the execution of the project. Through properly allocating each resource in the beginning, it is easier to monitor the phases that are more demanding and prepare accordingly.

5.     Improved customer satisfaction

In the project management context, customer satisfaction would form part of project quality management whereby the project manager ensures that policies, objectives, and responsibilities of the project are satisfying all relevant project stakeholders.

The concept of customer satisfaction is therefore applied by project managers to generate quality products and services, in the most timeous fashion.

6.     Learning by retrospection

When managing a project, it’s important not to make the same mistakes repeatedly. Therefore, project managers use retrospectives to consider what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what should be done differently for the next project to improve overall efficiency and success.

This produces a valuable set of documentation that becomes a record of what works and what doesn’t work going forward, enabling the business to learn from their failures and their success.

7.     Risk Management

Appropriate planning means that your project is ready for potential risks that may occur. This means that you are somewhat prepared to overcome any unforeseen obstacles that may negatively impact your project.

A competent project manager will never ignore the risks, regardless of how minor their expected impact may be. Every risk deserves to be properly analysed and dealt with as soon as possible.

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8.     Continuous Oversight

Another importance of adequate project management is that it ensures a project’s progress is tracked and reported on appropriately.

Status reporting may be boring and sometimes feel unnecessary – but continuous project oversight and ensuring that a project is tracking properly against the original plan, is critical to ensuring that a project stays on track.

When proper oversight and project reporting is in place it makes it easy to see when a project is beginning to deviate from its intended course. The earlier you’re able to spot project deviation, the easier it is to correct it and get back on track.

9.     Quality control

Project members are under enormous pressure to adhere to project guidelines, deadlines, budgets, compliance standards and quality control.

Project management is important when it comes to identifying, managing, and controlling the quality of whatever project is being delivered. As it is important to deliver what was promised to the client, the project manager ensures that the quality of the deliverables remains up to the mark. It’s the duty of the project manager to deliver a quality project on time.

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10.     Leadership

A successful project always consists of incredible leadership coupled with strong direction, which can only be achieved by the help of a skilled and efficient project manager.

Leadership is always key when you want your team to be performing at their absolute best. The amount of time and energy you spend on leading your project team will always help you in the long run because it builds trust and commitment to deadlines.

How can you become a successful project manager?

Now you know how proper project management can benefit an organisation. If you feel you need to upskill yourself in project management principles, and wish to develop an understanding of the project management process, then sign up[ for the IMM’s Project Management Fundamentals online short course.

By completing this course, in only 6 weeks you will be provided with the required fundamentals to initiate, establish, plan and manage a project to successful completion.

You can find more information about this online short course on our website https://shortcourses.imm.ac.za/online-course/project-management-fundamentals/.

 

Trademarks and copyrights – how do they work in South Africa?

Trademarks and copyrights

Dingley Marshall Lewin, a leading Intellectual Property firm in South Africa explains that Intellectual Property protection is an integral part of insuring a business. If you are aware of what type of IP rights you own, you can address them by taking legal action.

In this case, it would be best to consult a professional. However, many business owners don’t know much about intellectual property law and how it works in South Africa?

We have broken it down for you:

Trademark Image

1. Trademark

A trademark can serve as an effective way to protect your name, logo, brand symbol, etc., so that no one else can use it. Examples are the Coca-Cola branding and Nike swoosh. Upon registration of the trademark, limited to the goods or services you sell, for example a logo, no one else may use that mark or a symbol similar to it in South Africa.

Trademark Items

CIPC (Commission for Companies and Intellectual Property) is responsible for registering South African trademarks. Trademark registrations are subject to fees for each class in which a mark is registered. If you believe someone has infringed your trademark, you can file an interdict to force them to cease doing so, order that they return the goods bearing the mark or claim damages.

 

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2. Copyright

An original piece of work can be protected with Copyright, which are exclusive rights. Among the rights provided by a copyright are the rights to reproduce, publish, broadcast, adapt and import the work.

There are several types of copyright legislation in South Africa including literature, music, broadcasts, sound recordings, artworks and computer programs which all fall under the scope of the copyright law in South Africa.

Depending on what kind of work it is, copyrights are granted for a period of between 50 and 70 years. Unlike other intellectual property rights, Copyright does not require physical registration. After meeting the requirements outlined in the Copyright Act, the creator receives this right automatically.

On the contrary, many people think you can have a copyright for a good idea. Unfortunately, there is no protection for ideas under copyright. Unless it is expressed in a tangible form such as a book or painting, a good idea is not protected.

 

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Patents

When it comes to patents, the term specifically refers to the certificate issued to the patent holder upon registration. Having a patent protects your invention from being copied, used, distributed, imported or sold without your (the patentee) permission.

The CIPC provides this registration service for a fee. Before beginning this process, you should get professional assistance from an intellectual property attorney. It is a more complicated and expensive process than registering a trademark.

Normally, patent protection lasts for a period of twenty years before it expires. If someone uses a patent without permission, the patent holder may sue them for damages by seeking an interdict and filing a lawsuit. Patent holders cannot renew a patent.

In conclusion, it is imperative that when companies, brands or individuals seek to strengthen their product or service, that they firstly be able to decipher between which form of intellectual property protection they should seek, and secondly, do so in order to protect their work.

Trademarks, copyrights and patents are the best forms of leveraging your brand’s authenticity without the possibility of infringement or duplication that can end up in you losing business to someone else.

Networking tips for job searchers

Network IMM

A networking relationship helps you develop meaningful connections that assist you with advancing your career or pursuing a project in collaboration with others. So, to network, in short, is to really build relationships with industry peers and leaders in order to grow in your field of work or study.

Job searching today relies heavily on networking. As much as 80% of jobs today are obtained through networking. Despite being intimidating, networking can prove to be extremely beneficial. While most people network online more than they do in person, not everyone really knows how to do this well.

In this blog we provide a list of tips that will help you to network both online and offline more effectively.

 

online connecting

The move from warm & cold calling to online connecting

Two well-known and age-old networking methods include “warm” or “cold” calling. When we move this activity online, we refer to it as warm” or “cold” connecting. These two terms differentiate the types of people you reach out to. “Warm” connects are those that fall into your own personal network of friends, family and colleagues. Where, “cold” connects are usually reserved for company recruiters, CEO’s or industry peers you are not yet personally familiar with.

In networking, being tactful is incredibly important and leveraging your “warm” connects are vital. Sometimes without even knowing it, your immediate network could help to open a new door to new opportunities. “Cold” connects are also encouraged, even in today’s technology driven world.

Choosing to connect with new people through LinkedIn, Facebook Groups or other digital platforms like WhatsApp Groups and Instagram are all great ways to build your business network. Many people conntect with industry peers through Twitter that have similar interests and talking points. Leveraging your social media tools is an important aspect of networking which if done correctly can easily transform “cold” connects into “warm” connects.

Online networking

Online networking is easy and free

According to VisualCV, a popular resume building tool, these tips are game-changers in online networking.

1. Connect Often – with or without a job

Sadly, networking is not something most people think about until they’re out of a job. It is advisable however, not to wait for unemployment before you start networking – as it takes time to build a network. The sooner you start making connections, the easier it will be for you to reach out should you need to start looking for new opportunities. A few comments on a LinkedIn or Facebook post or participation in a forum, for example, is an easy and non-intrusive way to introduce yourself to people.

2. Choose your network wisely

It’s important not to limit yourself to connecting only with people you think can help you. It is also not necessary to make powerful connections. Sometimes, connecting with people just for the sake of making friends or acquaintances is good enough. Being connected with your peers allows you to stay engaged in your profession and to feel a part of the industry.

groups and communities

3. Be active in your groups and communities

Being active in your online communities gives you a voice and means you are continuously putting yourself out there for networking opportunities. It isn’t enough to simply follow a whole lot of people and then wait for them to come to you. It is up to you to seek out connections. Find out where people in your industry gather online so you can get involved. For networking, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Slack are great platforms. They offer professionals the chance to exchange work, to share ideas, and to discuss important issues in their fields.

When COVID-19 restrictions clear

When COVID-19 restrictions clear, don’t be afraid to move your networking offline as well

TEAM Referral Network, a networking site where multi-industry people can discover each other on a single platform, suggests that networking offline can be just as effective as online networking if you’re willing to put the work in. Here are a few tips for networking offline:

1. Attend events

Attending industry-related events is a great way to meet and mingle with as many people in your field as possible, in the same place, on the same day. Developing relationships in this way becomes easier as often participants chat in groups and exchange ideas together.

Attend events

2. Always have business cards on-hand

You never know who you might meet and what opportunities will unfold. Face-to-face networking can sometimes happen in the most unsuspecting places, so always have a business card available to share your details and more importantly, always ask for one in return. This way, you show interest in them and have easier access to pop them an email or a call later on.

Always have business cards on-hand

3. Don’t be shy – you’ve got this

Making the first move and introducing yourself is bold and memorable for many people. Don’t be shy to do this. Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask about the work of others and their interests. Be attentive to who you’re speaking to and give them equal attention as to what they are giving you.

In conclusion, networking is an important aspect of building your professional connections with people, but it can also sometimes develop into greater relationships like friendships or business partnerships. So, don’t delay in getting yourself out there, whether it’s online or offline. Show them what it is you have to offer!

The importance of digital marketing for business owners

Digital Marketing IMM

Did you know that in 2021, there are around 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide? This statistic indicates how the digital landscape has boomed in recent years, and it will only continue to grow as time goes on. Your business’ digital marketing strategy is your key to unlocking a path to access these potential customers.

When a new business gets started one of the most important things they need to establish is how to reach and engage with their target market most effectively. Your product may be miles ahead of that your competitors are selling, but this won’t matter if you can’t reach the right people at the right time.

We live in a world where we use search engines, like Google, to look up anything we want and get answers within seconds. The same goes for shopping, finding local restaurants, services, and more. Therefore, if your business does not have an online presence, how will prospective customers find you?

Any businesses, including small brick-and-mortar businesses, should be taking advantage of digital marketing right now. The whole world is constantly browsing for solutions to their problems. If you want to be in a position to offer them a solution, you will need to get your business and brand online.

Here are some more reasons why digital marketing is so important for businesses today:

It is cost-effective

The pandemic has taken a toll on the finances of all businesses and no company has been left unscathed. So, cost-saving has become a top priority for all. At this time, when revenue is low and cashflow is tight, you should (where possible) be turning to digital marketing campaigns which come at a fraction of the price that traditional channels would cost you.

Digital marketing is profitable because it yields a high ROI while simultaneously increasing scope and reach of the targeted audience. This is a big plus for small and new businesses, as they are often operating with limited resources. Since campaigns are much more cost-effective to run digitally, this means a greater return on investment for businesses of any size. Another benefit is that marketing strategies and campaigns can also be tweaked regularly without a significant setback in budget.

You can run multi-channel campaigns

Digital marketing uses multiple platforms, to reach and appeal to a variety of audiences through their screens using social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and mobile marketing. Businesses are able to develop a strategy that combines these platforms and tactics in a way that can better target and attract their specific audiences.

Brand Identity

It creates a brand identity

The marketing business function used to be merely about selling your product or service. Today it is much more. Marketing allows for businesses to build their brand, and a strong brand identity is of essence to any company as you have to get your brand out there so people know who you are, what you do and where to find you. Brands today shouldn’t just be selling their product, they should also be informing potential and existing customers about their business, its values and what defines them.

Utilising a strong digital marketing strategy will enable users to start recognising your brand, referring your brand to other users, and start buying from you. The sooner you begin to create stronger online brand awareness, the sooner your brand becomes recognisable, and ultimately, the more sales you will get.

Helps You Connect with Your Audience

In addition to promoting products and building a strong brand identity, digital marketing also allows businesses to develop personal relationships with their customers. Engaging with your customers directly is after all key to building long-lasting relationships.

If you look at traditional marketing media like print, television or radio, the communication is one-way. What happens in the case that your potential customers have queries or concerns? This makes for a difficult and expensive task if want to implement two-way communication.

One of the greatest benefits of digital marketing is the ability it provides you with to create two-way communication between your organisation and its prospects or customers.

You provide them with a way to contact your business through whichever digital platforms and channels you choose to communicate with. If someone sees your ad/post/email and has questions, they can find your contact information and reach out to you immediately.

This helps you build a relationship with your audience. You get to know them and open the door for meaningful, real-time communication with them.

Building these relationships is as valuable to your customers as it is to your organisation. Customers today want to be valued and want to know that their business is valuable to you. They choose companies that value them as an individual.

Technology

Uses Metrics to Drive Success

Technology drives the user experience, and digital marketing not only facilitates the customer experience, but also allows us to track, monitor and analyse our conversions and engagement giving us a better understanding of our audience. The better you know your audience the easier it is to create content that speaks to them, encourages engagement and ultimately leads to conversions.

You will find that using data to identify your target audience and learn about their behaviour will save you time and money.

When using metrics, you will need to analyse the performance of your campaigns to see where there is room for improvement and whether you need to adjust your content or your strategy.

Your strongest competitors are doing it

Another reason to be focusing your marketing efforts on digital, is that all your competitors are doing it. They are already establishing themselves online and growing traffic to their site.

The beauty of digital is that it allows you to keep an eye on what your competition is doing, and how they are doing it. This will allow you to identify possible flaws in your current strategy and empowers you to perfect your strategy and be one step ahead of your competition.

Where to start?

The first step to any successful marketing plan is to develop some realistic goals and a strategy to achieve these goals.

Don’t be hesitant to test out a number of different strategies when deciding which digital marketing strategy is best for your business. Take a look at the results of each different strategy to see which methods are the most effective with your target audience, and make sure you’re getting a positive return on investment.

Some strategies can pose challenges when measuring performance, but the most important thing is to be consistent with your method of measurement. This will provide you with the most accurate insights.

How to level-up your digital marketing knowledge?

By signing up for our industry-leading social media marketing short course. This course will help you harness the power of social media, whether you’re a small business owner, a marketing manager, or an aspiring social media manager.

Through this course we aim to give you an in-depth understanding of several social media platforms, and the online marketing tools, segmentation capabilities and metrics they offer. You’ll learn how to effectively reach and communicate with your customers using social media, the importance of engagement with a brand and how-to set-up campaigns that people will be buzzing about for a long time to come.

Follow this link to learn more about this short course, or to sign up today: https://shortcourses.imm.ac.za/online-course/social-media-marketing-short-course/

The effects of social issues on the supply chain

The effects of social issues on the supply chain

While consumers might not consider it when doing a grocery run, there are many processes that go into delivering value to consumers. In 2021, the supply chains that service consumer markets involve many players and often span more than one country – if not more than one continent. The purpose of Supply Chain Management (SCM) is to improve the profitability of businesses by streamlining these processes. The supply chain has many aspects that need attention, not just the economic, technical and legal ones. The biggest of these is the growing ethical and social interest from consumers about how products are sourced, produced and delivered.

Moral Rules

Any product or process-related facets of a business that have an impact on human safety, well-being, and community development are considered to be social issues. Labor conditions, child labour, human rights, health and safety, minority empowerment (including marginalised groups), and gender are a few examples.

The Global Web Index confirms that consumer awareness around social and environmental issues is at an all-time high. NGOs and civil society are demanding ethical and accountable behaviour from corporate players and this mindset is beginning to reflect in consumer buying patterns as can be seen in the infographic below:

demanding ethical and accountable behaviour

As businesses begin to reimagine their chain of supply, the hope is (from a consumers perspective) is that this will lead to better standards of living, better working environments and guaranteed safety for workers globally which in turn should lead to a better world.

Ethical cunsumer

As companies start taking these social pressures more seriously, they should do so responsibly and with the right intentions. Consumers social expectations go further than just what stickers are placed on products and see through shallow brand promises made by those that just want to fill their pockets. What consumers want and expect from brands more than anything is long-term change and commitment.

While the average consumer may not have a full understanding of the intricacies of SCM, they certainly have their own subjective perceptions of businesses, suggests the Regent .

A Business Wire article further explains that consumers expect corporations to deliver goods and services and to deliver them against a commitment to ethical practices. Businesses who are ‘caught’ in controversy about the ethics of their operations face an inescapable reckoning across social and digital media platforms. Such controversies threaten to erode the consumer’s trust in the brand and with it their likelihood to purchase. For this reason, it is crucial that decision-making at all levels of the supply chain takes into account how best to address social issues.

At a surface level there appears to be great tension between the interests of external stakeholders who demand accountability and businesses whose goal is to improve profitability. Forbes suggests that if social issues are regularly considered in decision-making and processes in the supply chain, they can be a strength instead of a liability waiting to happen.

In conclusion, social issues should be factored into the SCM process in a way that attempts to balance the expectations of external and internal stakeholders. There are numerous ways in which this can be achieved, including through improved business reporting on corporate social responsibility (CSR), implementing codes of conduct, and collaborating with suppliers about social issues in a similar manner.

Developing a trust culture, fostering commitment, collaborating, and developing a solid foundation will be necessary for addressing social issues in the supply chain.

Vaccination Vacation – how the Maldives hopes to boost their economy through a vaccination vacation

Vaccination IMM Blog Image

The Maldives has suffered significantly due to the border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, through a loyalty programme and their vaccination-vacation concept, the country hopes to rejuvenate its tourism industry.

Maldives

The Maldives – a paradise on earth that needs no introduction. This small, picturesque country made up of several islands mainly developed for tourists, holidaymakers and famously, honeymooners, has seen a considerable dip in revenue since border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the Maldives will soon offer tourists vaccinations on arrival as part of the country’s three-pointed initiative to revitalise its struggling tourism industry.

 

Maldives Economy

An introduction to the Maldivian economy

In 2009, 42.7% of the local Maldivian population were living on less than $5.50USD a day. In a bid to restabilise the country’s economy, investments and funding by both government and private funders were introduced at a multi-level and multi-industry developments have been made to the little Islands’ in recent years, including improvements to the education and healthcare sectors.

This in turn salvaged the unemployment crisis and restabilised the local economy. Within seven years, the poverty rate decreased to 3.4% and the exquisite country now boasts a close to 100% literacy rate and a life year expectancy of more than 78 years old, according to the Borgan Project.

It is through these huge economic developments; the Maldives has attained the status of an ‘upper-middle-income’ country. With tourism accounting for 21% of the Maldives GDP in 2019 (pre-COVID), it is fair to say that the country depends on the tourism industry greatly.

However, what happens to a country like the Maldives with a pandemic and the untimely occurrence of COVID-19, global travel restrictions and the tourism industry globally shutting down is devastating to its economy.

The Maldives began experiencing the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic early on already in March 2020. After the tourism industry abruptly halted, the border was initially closed until mid-July 2020. Due to the decline in tourism in 2020, gross domestic product dropped to 28%, and the poverty rate increased to 7.2%.

 

Maldives - vacation to promote tourism

The “3 V” strategy: visit, vaccinate, vacation – How the Maldives is implementing the vaccination vacation to promote tourism

Despite the reopening of travel to the country, only some 18,000 travelers visited the country, unlike the monthly 140 000 visitors pre-COVID. According to Al-Jazeera, a leading global news agency, the Maldivian government pulled out “all the stops” to prompt travelers back into the country for tourism.

These included a quick vaccination roll out for locals, excess stocking up on hospital supplies, safeguarding tourists through the promotion of accessible healthcare and the introduction of a “point” system so that tourists gain value-for-money during their travels.

Described as a “more convenient” way of traveling to the country, the 3V strategy emphasises “visit, vaccinate, and vacation” to attract visitors, Abdulla Mausoom, Tourism Minister of the Maldives, told CNBC.

 

Maldives - Strategy

How does the strategy work?

The country has already fully vaccinated 58% of its own population and with further vaccines coming through via the COVAX system with the World Health Organisation and other donated viles from neighbouring countries like India, the Maldives hopes to be able to secure enough vaccines to fully immunise its population and then vaccinate on arrival, without quarantine any visitors.

The strategy itself is as straightforward as it sounds. To further their bid for more tourist visits, the Maldivian Department of Tourism has also announced the ‘Border Miles’ programme, established to entice tourists to visit more than once. Working on a point system, the programme will award visitors points per entry and in turn, visitors can find themselves enjoying posh holidays at a lower cost.

 

Maldives image