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Finding a balance between volume, cost and quality

Finding a balance between volume, cost and quality 

How often have you heard the Sales Manager screaming for more high quality leads, while in the background the Financial Manager is demanding cheaper leads and higher conversions? For Digital Marketers that have bravely ventured into the world of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), it would appear that the greatest challenge of all is finding a balance between volume, cost and quality. Here’s why…

The market size is only as big as it is

Most, if not all of big businesses in SA now have an online presence with multiple search engine strategies at play. This has led to a highly competitive online environment where each has to outbid or outsmart the other in order to be the first to respond to the customer’s needs. Segmentation and targeting the right audience is key to success and each of these businesses understands exactly who their perfect customer is and where to find them. Unfortunately, the market size of these perfect customers is limited and over time online competition for this perfect customer segment becomes fiercer and more expensive. In order to maintain any forecast growth these companies are forced to find business in other online market segments outside of this highly competitive ‘perfect fit’ customer segment.

Volume comes with hidden costs

As Marketers begin to open up their narrow segmentation strategies to a wider online audience their ability to effectively manage lead quality is compromised. New segments require much more focus and attention than the ‘perfect fit’ segment. The wider Marketers cast their online net, the higher the lead volume and the lower the cost per lead. At face value this appears to be great until the real cost to the business is reviewed; additional resources to manage the higher lead volumes and lower sales conversion rates. It may just be that the expensive ‘perfect fit’ leads were actually more profitable to begin with.

It’s time to tell your bosses they can’t have it all

The reality is that it’s impossible to achieve high volume, low cost and great quality all at the same time. There will always be a trade-off.

Monkley’s Model of Opposing SEM forces illustrates the trade-off between Cost, Quality and Volume objectives for Search Engine Marketing. This model suggests that insisting on high quality and high volume at a low cost is unrealistic and that Marketing Managers have to choose one of these three objectives while carefully balancing the other two. The online market of ‘perfect fit’ customers in any industry is not limitless. The role of Marketing is to know which of these three objectives to prioritize and how much weighting to apply to each objective in order to sustain ROI objectives.

Interested in learning more about Search Engine and Content Marketing? Check out our 12 week short course here

What is the IMM Job Market

IMM Job MarketThis initiative aims to match current as well as past students (alumni) with employers who have vacancies in their organisations. As the IMM Graduate School mainly offers qualifications in marketing, business and supply chain, we would be looking at vacant positions, internships and graduate programmes in these disciplines only.



External recruiters, as well as corporates and IMM alumni and students will be able to post relevant vacancies in their respective organisations on our website, and alumni and current students can then view and apply for these positions. Once our students click on the relevant or chosen vacancy, they will be redirected to the company website where the vacancy is and then it follows the usual recruitment process.



As an IMM Graduate School alumnus or current student, it will cost you absolutely nothing to either load your CVs, or post a vacancy at your workplace. Recruiters wishing to make use of this platform to advertise vacancies, can also do so at no cost.  It is a complimentary service that we offer our stakeholders, in the spirit of ‘paying it forward’ and assisting our graduates to either find first-time employment or promotion opportunities.



Job seekers:
Register and login as a candidate. Once logged in, navigate to the ‘Candidate Panel’ page, under ‘My Resume’, fill in the required fields and click ‘update’ to finalise your Resume.

Register and login as a Employer.  Once logged in, navigate to the ‘Employer Panel’, under ‘ Post a Job’, fill in the required fields and click on ‘Preview’ then click on ‘Publish’ to finalise the Job listing.



Anyone can use this portal, so tell your colleagues, HR departments and friends about it!

It’s all about engagement

IMM Graduate School - It’s all about engagementAt IMM Graduate School we are on a mission to engage with our students. Whether you are an alumnus, current or prospective student, we want to ensure effective communication between us. Not only do we want to keep you in the know regarding news and events at the IMM, but we also want to keep you updated on marketing, supply chain and business management trends and interesting perspectives from people in the industry, as well as academic faculties here and from all over the world. With this said, we would like to introduce the IMM Blog to you, where you can find all of this and more.

The blog is a means through which the IMM Graduate School reconnects with past and present students. More over, it provides a platform to stimulate thought and discussion around some of the critical challenges and opportunities emerging from the marketing, supply chain and business industries today.

We invite you to engage on this platform by commenting on or sending in articles, links or names of people or trends that you will want to hear more about.

We have five sections on this blog.

  1. Thought Leadership: We are living in an engaging, integrated world. Information is all around us, waiting for us to channel a new, innovate way of doing things. Here you will find articles and infographics from all around the world to inspire innovation and entrepreneurship.
  2. Academic: this section will include articles from the Academic faculty at IMM, relevant to their fields of expertise. It will include Marketing, Branding, Digital Marketing, Global Marketing, Logistics, Supply Chain management, Finances- you name it.
  3. IMM News: At IMM, there is always something happening, about to happen or something that has happened and we want to share it all with you. Here you will find past and upcoming events, photos and current campaigns or promotions.
  4. Community: Let’s connect. We are proud of our students and where their journeys have led them. In this section we would love to share your stories, so any interesting story, article or idea is welcome.
  5. Careers: This is an exciting section and we welcome participation. Interesting tips about job-hunting, interviews, CV building, etc. will be included here. Our new “IMM Job Market” will also be found here. We aim to connect our students and graduates with their future employers, and vice versa. Current students as well as graduates will be able to upload their CVs and companies can share their job vacancies, internships or graduate programme opportunities. Together with such a platform, we do our part to grow our industry and assist the youth to find employment.

We are very excited to launch our blog. Be on the lookout for more information about this initiative in a follow up mail. Let us know what you think and happy reading.

Ethics in Business

Ethics in Business

Moral or ethical problems can and do arise in a business environment. Ethical behaviour and corporate social responsibility should be common practice in any business. Here we provide seven principles of ethics that can be applied as a starting point to ethics in business.

These seven principles of ethics in business include:

  • Be Just – in other words, be fair.
  • Do the right thing – your actions should not be driven by self-interest.
  • Do no harm – everything you do should be beneficial to those around you and for the organisation and community, not harmful!
  • Be accountable – accept responsibility for you actions.
  • Keep your promises – which also translates to being responsible.
  • Respect your customer – they have their own unique personality, opinions, values and beliefs. Respect these.
  • Be truthful – 100% of the time.

Ready to take the survey?

“The African Public Relations Association (APRA) will be hosting the 31st APRA Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from Monday, 13 May to Friday, 17 May. The focus of the conference will be on Africa and how storytelling can help change the continent’s narrative as well as how ethics and reputation influence this narrative.

APRA, in partnership with research agency Reputation Matters, is once again investigating the importance of ethics and reputation across the continent.

“The research survey focuses on ethics and reputation on three different levels, which will help determine how these two critical factors influence storytelling and, ultimately, the narrative of Africa. We invite top-level business management and PR professionals to participate in the online survey,” says APRA president, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya.

APRA and Reputation Matters conducted a similar survey in 2018 where respondents indicated that the greatest driver of ethics on an individual level is upbringing, and 70% agreed that all employees are responsible for driving ethics in an organisation.

According to the survey, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gift of the Givers, and Botswana received high praise as ethical entities. Notably, about a third of respondents indicated that they (personally) and their organisations have been compromised on an ethical level in the past 12 months. However, almost all of them indicated that their governments have been ethically compromised.

This year’s study will be compared to last year’s findings. The survey aims to provide a good baseline of how Africa is seen and the driving forces behind individual, business, and government decisions.

“Your response to this study is critical to measuring the importance of ethics and reputation in Africa and providing a comparison between countries. The survey results will be announced at the APRA Conference,” concludes Regine le Roux, managing director of Reputation Matters.” (research.net,2019)

Individuals can participate in the online survey here.

Marketing Fridays with Christinah Mazibuko

Marketing Fridays with Christinah Mazibuko – Marketing Manager at MTV
Topic: Insight driven marketing across multiple industries
Hosted at: The Business Exchange in Rosebank. Click here for event video

“Whatever you put on digital media, becomes your reputation”

Kenya’s retail sector diversifying amid a changing market

Kenya’s retail sector is diversifying with the entry of new players and international brands into the market. This is despite the retail sector growing at a “lethargic rate” compared to economic growth in the East African hub in 2018.

The retail sector has been impacted by increases in taxes and government regulations following the drawn-out elections of 2017, despite the Kenyan economy growing at a fast rate. GDP is expected to grow by 5.9% for 2018 overall, on the back of improved weather conditions and a stabilising macroeconomic environment.

These are some of the key insights contained in the latest Nairobi, Kenya Retail Snapshot report (H2: 2018) by Broll Property Intel, the research division of leading property services group, Broll.

Head of Research and Valuations at Broll Kenya, Vivian Ombwayo, who contributed to the report, comments: “While Kenya recorded strong economic growth in 2018, the retail sector grew at a slow rate. Increases in taxes and business regulations as a result of Kenya’s new Finance Act (2018) may have played a role, but it remains to be seen to what extent this act will affect the retail and broader real estate markets.”

The Finance Act was signed into law in September 2018. One of the big changes is the introduction of 8% VAT on petroleum products, which was previously VAT exempt. Ombwayo says that the increase in fuel costs is likely to induce a ripple effect on food and other prices. However, a positive for the property sector is in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) space, where transactions related to the transfer of assets into REITs are VAT exempt.

According to Ombwayo, the growth of aspirational consumers and Kenya’s middle class has influenced Food and Beverage retailers to diversify into Nairobi’s CBD. She also says that international fashion brands such as Hugo Boss and Turkey’s LC Wakiki, as well as French sports retailer Decathlon, have a growing presence in Kenya.

The French supermarket Carrefour is expanding in the country, while South African retail giant Shoprite opened its first Kenyan store in December 2018. Another South African brand, Game, which is owned by US-based global retail heavyweight Walmart, is also expanding as are other supermarket retailers.

There is an estimated 526,000m² of formal retail supply in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, according to the Nairobi, Kenya Retail Snapshot report (H2: 2018). This is up 5% from the first half of the year when supply was at around 502,000m². Ombwayo says community centres account for some 39% of this, followed by small regional and neigbourhood centres, each at 24%.

She says retail development in Kenya is expected to pick up as the country stabilises from a macroeconomic standpoint following uncertainty caused by the country’s drawn-out election in 2017. A new development to watch out for is the Waterfront project in Karen, which will include 19,000m² of retail space for which Broll Kenya is managing the leasing.

“Several other retail projects are in the preliminary stages of planning and development, for example the 28,500m² Beacon Mall, but investors are still somewhat cautious at the moment. A new trend in Kenya seems to be mixed-used developments that will include office, retail and hotel space. Major mixed-used projects such as The Pinnacle and Le Mac, are ones to also watch out for,” says Ombwayo.

She adds that despite the Central Bank Rate in Kenya dropping to 9% in July 2018, the weighted lending rate on commercial bank loans was still high at just under 13%. This makes it difficult for developers to borrow locally and has resulted in mainly dollar-based funding coming from outside of the country for real estate developments. Dollar based funding had its own challenges, with local retailers having to deal with dollar-based rentals.

Broll’s latest Kenyan retail study reports a shift in rent charges from largely a space occupied basis to either turnover-based rent or a combination of turnover rent and base rent.

“Due to the demise of a major local Kenyan food retailer – Nakumatt Supermarkets – last year, most landlords have taken a cautious approach by leasing smaller spaces to more than one anchor tenant at retail centres. Nakumatt closed dozens of stores, but a lot of this space was taken up by competing retailers,” notes Ombwayo.

She says the minimum lease period for securing retail space in Kenya is 5 years and one month, but notes changes may be on the cards.

Elaine Wilson, Divisional Director of Broll Property Intel, advises that the Broll Nairobi, Kenya Retail Snapshot (H2: 2018) is a helpful tool for both investors and occupiers to have a brief understanding of the country’s prevailing retail market conditions. She adds that Broll’s Intel department is proud to provide the market with research intelligence and that this is just the tip of the ice berg in terms of what the Intel division is capable of offering.

Click here to download the full Nairobi, Kenya H2: 2018 report or go to www.broll.com/publications

Marketing Fridays 22 February 2019 – Christinah Mazibuko

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What’s next in Africa starts now

In recent years many companies have struggled with the accelerating pace of change within Africa’s dynamic landscapes and have been unable to adequately anticipate and evolve to capture the inherent growth opportunities on the continent, writes Ailsa Wingfield. Companies have been blindsided by challenges, competition and other factors that warranted reassessment within thier own businesses, pointing to a growing need to incorporate future-focused insights and planning.

In the past change was more linear, the world was less connected, and companies could prosper by  understanding their consumer, their industry and their market. More recently, however, change comes from a multitute of different factors, often from outside our industry – such as technology, legislation, resources, and innovation. Today we are more connected to change and more vulnerable to elements from areas that we may not have previously considered influential to our business.

African societies also often “leapfrog” the stages of development seen in other advancing markets, therefore providing little basis for comparison and learning. Yet we must understand the overall environment and consider a variety of different outcomes that businesses might encounter, and then work to find the growth opportunities.

The challenge of change

Africa’s change and advancement are occurring at an uneven pace across the continent. In some areas, the change is even more rapid than outside of Africa or in other developing markets. Moreover, it is broadly acknowledged by leaders in government, industry and corporates that we need to fast-track advancement in some areas for the overall wellbeing of consumers, corporates and countries.

This has positive implications for consumers and business, and reaffirms the need not to wait until the major drivers of change have played out or reached certain levels, but to reconsider business’s roles in the short, medium and longer term, and be part of shaping this development.

Some of the big drivers of change that will influence Sub Saharan Africa over the next 5-10 years include the following:


Nowhere else have we seen the population explosion of Africa over the past 50 years, due to high birth rates, lowering mortality rates and extended life expectancy. Notably, the population of Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) will expand to 15% (1.2-billion) of the global population by 2025 – nearly one in every six people in the world will be in SSA. This is similar to the increase forecast for Asia, but with an SSA growth rate of 28%, versus that of Asia at 7%.

The rate of growth will vary from country to country. Nigeria and Ethiopia will account for 30% of the increase (80-million more people), while more mature countries like South Africa will see their growth slow. Bigger populations mean a larger workforce and more consumers, and many multinationals faced with declining growth in developed markets will increasingly look to SSA for growth.


Urbanisation will be rapid, with 2.5 times higher growth than rural areas, as consumers migrate for employment, access to infrastructure/amenities, trade, education, health, connectivity and other social reasons. Cities with more than 1 million inhabitants will increase from 37% to 43% (225-million people, +90 million). This will add strain to aging or lagging infrastructure and services, but will open doors to retailers and brands in more densely populated areas.

Conversely, 42% of urbanites will live in ‘smaller’ urban areas (<300,000 inhabitants). These offer equally substantial opportunities, but often with greater complexity in terms of reach, income ability and product requirements.

Understanding environmental and consumer diversity across urban areas will be necessary to generate the differentiated and meaningful offerings necessary to tap into the varied needs of consumers.

Urban Agglomerations

With the massive influx into urban areas and the vast expanse of SSA, companies need to be prepared to deliver to consumers in different ways.

  • 12 countries account for 69% of the SSA population.
  • By 2025, six countries will have urban concentrations of more than 10 million people (Nigeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Tanzania, and South Africa).
  • Five countries will experience growth ahead of 50% (Nigeria, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.)
  • Four countries will see absolute increases of more than 4 million people (Nigeria, the DRC, Tanzania, and Angola).
  • Three countries, Nigeria, Angola and Tanzania, feature across all three criteria – size, speed and absolute change.

This may mean making tough choices on where and how to focus and prioritise. Additional factors will need to be incorporated into planning, to fully assess the ability to unlock potential.

Big Cities

Narrowing this down further, there are 46 cities spread across 12 countries with more than 1-million inhabitants. Twenty-eight of these cities will each add another half a million people by 2025. Over half of these cities are concentrated in just two countries (17 in Nigeria, 7 in DRC), but country homogeneity does not naturally mean that these 24 cities are the most straightforward or viable for growth. Corporates must assess the attraction of individual cities relative to how they can action these prospects via their operational structures and product portfolios, to meet consumers’ needs.

The implications for urban society and industry are immense. Beyond the constraints of congestion and infrastructure – where we will continue to see advancement in spatial planning, roads, construction, amenities, jobs, technology and formalised retailing – some of the most influential change will be the shift in economic density. From this will come an ‘opening’ of trade beyond country borders, accompanied by the easing of trade restrictions to bolster collaboration. This will manifest in improved living conditions and shifting consumption choices. For industry, this provides massive, scalable potential, with the right products – those which are localised, agile and in-tune with consumers.


Many developed markets worldwide face diminishing workforces and slowing growth due to aging populations, resulting in a significant change in the products and retailing experiences required. Conversely, Africa will continue to have the youngest population globally (47% younger than 20 years old), with evolving consumer needs near the opposite end of the spectrum. Innovation cues from developing markets will be less relevant for Africa’s youth. The Africa youth conundrum is complex: whilst this group is largely economically inactive at present, companies need to engage and invest in them today to unlock future consumption.

Technology to facilitate experiences and encounters in this demographic will be crucial. The good news is that digital usage is as evolved (sometimes more so) than other developed markets; penetration and utility are rapidly following. Stemming from the broader external exposure now facilitated by technology, there will be a shift from traditional to more contemporary and aspirational influences, and therefore demand for products. Traditional invention processes, brand building, retailing and engagement are likely to be disrupted, and will need to be repurposed with more inclusive and interactive development, encompassing Africa’s heritage and preferences.


Investments in infrastructure are among the most significant any society can make, as these substantially propel and sustain a country’s economic growth. In SSA, these are essential, and a major driver of industrial advancement.


Adequate transport infrastructure will facilitate economic integration and support agricultural value chain development. Industries will be able to distribute to underserved areas and achieve economies of scale while reducing time, distance and cost. Investment in roads, simplification of border controls and reductions in duties will result in an estimated 52% boost in trade in the next 5 years (UNECA).

New transport veins will pave the way for access and efficiency in reaching additional consumers, transport optimisation and the provision of extended product portfolios and services to meet consumer needs across the spectrum.


Currently only 37% of SSA has access to electricity, with 600-million people without access – rural areas have the biggest gap at 18%. Urban electrification is higher at 69%, with many organisations working towards achieving 80% residential electrification by 2030, and 90% business/industry electrification.

Achieving a brighter future is difficult as it requires high levels of funding, and innovative combinations of renewable or off the grid solutions. One of the most significant societal implications of affordable electricity is the upliftment from poverty which is crucial for growth, prosperity and quality of life.


Many argue that the spread of the internet and mobile phones has been the biggest driver of consumer change, yet only about 50% of the global population has access to the internet. In Africa this is considerably lower. Here, technological change is largely linked to mobile penetration. SSA is the fastest growing region for mobile subscriptions, at 50% higher than the global average, and the continent’s uptake of services such as mobile money are a global exception and an example of best practice.

Smartphone connections in the last two years have doubled to 200 million, due to increasing affordability, network coverage and a growing market for second hand devices, as well as the uptake of broadband driving demand for digital content. Data traffic is forecast to grow twelvefold over the next five years. SSA will transition to higher levels of engagement in the coming years, underpinned by access to tech infrastructure, devices, data services and the youth population.

Mobile is a vital tool in delivering financial inclusion, previously accessible only to the limited few with a bank account. Great progress has been made in expanding financial inclusion in SSA, and will continue to drive change by giving access to more complex financial products and services. Investors and enterprises will also be able to leverage the large area coverage of mobile networks to deliver scalable and commercially viable services.

Lastly, there are two unfolding scenarios that will have inward and outward transference effects:

  • At present SSA may not have high rates of obesity, but the growth rate in many markets is sky-rocketing. Today, sugar and other sin taxes are being considered and implemented in more than 30 markets worldwide, and high on the agenda for new legislation. Companies trying to get ahead of the curve have already started product reformulation, and are looking into “healthier” options for their portfolio as this early signal of change rapidly impacts their core business.
  • By 2027 the world will not be able to feed itself and current agricultural powerhouses (the US, Brazil) have limited land available to expand output. A quarter of SSA is undernourished; environmental and supply issues, conflict and the displacement of people, as well as the reliance on aid and imports are at epic proportions in many countries. However, Africa has vast amounts of arable land and therefore significant potential for large yields, potentially feeding not only the African population but helping to meet the global shortfall.

These are some of the major change drivers, signals and opportunities in Africa. Forward-focused companies must seek options to capitalise on these signals, and act now to benefit from consumer and retail opportunities. We need to be part of the foundation, architecture and construction today, to reap the benefits of tomorrow.

Marketers must live their brand positioning

South Africa’s banking sector is facing significant disruption from new technologies, changing consumer habits and aggressive newcomers. Perhaps innovative marketing is the answer. Mike Simpson chats to Nedbank’s Khensani Nobanda.

As South Africa’s traditional ‘big four’ banks struggle to meet the challenges being posed by multiple disruptors – ranging from upstart Capitec to the digital-only branchless offering of TymeDigital and the impending launch of Discovery Bank – there is one key strategy that the bank’s marketing teams should follow. They need to live their brand positioning.

Khensani Nobanda, Group Executive: Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nedbank, believes that the biggest reason banks tend be mistrusted and poorly perceived by consumers is the gap between what they promise and what they deliver.

“The problem is that the things we promise [as an industry] … this beautiful, creative advertising … are not always delivered on,” she says. “We work on a great proposition, but then we change this and change that to get it almost to the lowest common denominator because we’re trying to manage our margins. There is a gap between expectation and reality. The minute we close that gap, the banking industry will be in a much better place.”

A career marketer with experience in sectors such as alcoholic beverages, tea, skin care and telecoms, 39-year-old Nobanda made her first foray into banking in September last year when she joined Nedbank as Executive Head of Group Marketing. Barely eight months later she was promoted to her current role, which also includes responsibility for transformation and corporate affairs.

Although a relative newcomer to the banking space, she clearly has strong opinions about the way that the traditional big players – FNB, Absa, Standard and Nedbank – operate, market themselves and interact with customers.

“Sometimes in banks we end up being driven by the numbers. It’s important, but at the heart of it we should think about why we do what we do. Whatever your positioning is, you have to live it. It applies to Absa with its new ‘Africanacity’ positioning and it applies to Nedbank and everyone else too,” she states.

Nedbank’s positioning of ‘See money differently’ was unveiled in early 2017 and Nobanda believes that it’s a brand journey which is still very much a work in progress. “Many people feel that money is the root of all evil and that they can’t manage their money. But, fundamentally, money well managed can make a real impact on lives. We are trying to say to consumers that at Nedbank we will help you to achieve that.

“That’s our proposition. But to be honest we’re not living it at the moment in the way we should. We have to challenge ourselves about what it is that we’re offering people to help them see money differently.”

Nobanda views her role as helping the organisation to live its purpose and wants to be seen as the “soul and anchor” of what Nedbank is as a business and a brand. She explains that there’s a massive culture change, and innovation drive underway within the organisation. How those dots are connected, and relevant ideas implemented will determine how well the brand proposition is understood and accepted by the market.

She declines to be drawn on the merits of Absa’s Africanacity positioning, but describes it as a “bold” thought.  “As marketeers in South Africa we are not being bold enough. We need to have more impact. There’s also a lack of depth and substance. I believe we have lost depth over the past few years.”

Challenges and opportunities

Apart from the seeming inability to walk the walk when it comes to living their brands, the big banks are facing other challenges too. These include a lack of agility due to their sheer size, plus a cost structure which Nobanda describes as “sometimes prohibitive”. The cost-to-income ratio for both Nedbank and Standard Bank, for example, are above 60%. By comparison, the figure for challenger brand Capitec is below 50%.

But there are opportunities too. At the lower end of the market, where consumers are unbanked or tend to use only the most basic of banking services, Nedbank has recently launched its MobiMoney product.

“In under a minute you can open a bank account on your cell phone and your cell phone number becomes your bank account number,” Nobanda enthuses.  “We have looked at how people at this level of the market want to use a bank account – it’s to buy data, pay electricity, transfer money etc. So, it’s a very simple and basic account. We see this as a big opportunity to get new people into the Nedbank brand and we hope that, as their situation improves, they will stay with the bank and use other, more traditional, banking products.”

Digital media is also an exploitable opportunity. While digital is enabling the disruptors of the banking status quo, it is simultaneously creating new ways for the likes of Nedbank to engage with consumers.

“Currently our ratio of paid media to earned and owned media is 80% paid, 10-15% earned only about 5% is our own channels such as social media and website platforms. That’s ridiculously low,” she observes. “We need to get our owned media channels to perform a lot better. Social media is an example: we have only about 100 000 followers, yet we have 7-million customers. We can do better. We are not interesting enough. So, we are doing two things: beefing up the social media team and ensuring that we have the capability to quickly generate our own content internally.”

Would-be astronaut

Although she’s enjoyed a varied marketing career, Nobanda’s original professional aspirations were somewhat different. Born in exile in Swaziland to a father who was a member of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) and a school teacher mother, she originally wanted to be an astronaut as it “looked really cool”.

Later she harboured aspirations to be lawyer and only stumbled upon marketing while in her second year at university. “I was already studying information systems, and someone suggested that marketing would suit me. I soon realised that it was what I wanted to do,” she recalls.

What’s the appeal of marketing for her? “I love the balance between logic and creativity. I love data, numbers, thinking about where the opportunity lies and planning for market growth and how to increase market share. But I also love that a lot of things we do in order to grow market share are very creative. I find it special that I’ve got a job that plays into both of those spaces.”

Nobanda kicked off her career with Brandhouse Beverages, marketing Smirnoff RTD (ready-to-drink) products, then moved to Unilever to market tea. She subsequently relocated to Dubai to become the Category Director for skin products, with responsibility for Africa, the Middle East and Turkey.

It was here that she enjoyed her greatest career highlight to date. “We launched the Ponds brand in the Middle East and the company really committed. Overnight we built the shelves and made the product available in stores. The billboards went up overnight too. We worked really hard and grew market share from zero to 10% in one year. I am very proud of that,” she recalls.

Nobanda then moved to SAB to become Executive Assistant to Marketing Director, Ian Penhale, and then General Manager for the Hansa brand. It was during this period that she also studied part-time to complete her MBA at GIBS. “I love studying and I thought it was useful from a long-term perspective to have a broader qualification,” she explains.

It was also time to move out of the FMCG environment. “I’m an FMCG marketer at heart, but the opportunity for real innovation is limited – you might revolutionise margarine once every 100 years,” Nobanda observes. She fancied the challenges being posed in the telecoms and banking sectors, both of which are experiencing significant disruption.

A move to Vodacom followed, where she was Executive Head of Post Paid for nearly three years before taking the plunge into banking.

How does she view the future for big corporates in South Africa? She believes it’s important to contribute to society and points to Nedbank’s ongoing support of efforts to protect the nation’s water resources (almost R50-million donated to date), as an example. “We can’t be successful in an unsuccessful country. If South Africa succeeds as a country, the bank will grow. So we have to get involved. Organisations don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in societies where there are challenges to be solved.”

In under a minute you can open a bank account on your cell phone and your cell phone number becomes your bank account number.

While digital is enabling the disruptors of the banking status quo, it is simultaneously creating new ways for the likes of Nedbank to engage with consumers.

A career with variety

Why is marketing a great career to pursue? Nobanda believes the enormous variation is what makes it exciting.

“When I was a 23-year-old brand manager for Smirnoff Vodka, I used to say to people: ‘I don’t know why they pay me to do this job; I’m having so much fun’. For me it’s amazing that you can create something that influences people and how they think.”

She also loves the big challenges. For example, management may want to grow usage of the product. Then it’s up to the marketing team to strategise as to how to achieve it.

“The week after that, you could be in Durban attending the Loeries. With that sort of variety, why wouldn’t you love marketing?”

Know the context

Nobanda’s advice to young marketers is to ensure they appreciate how marketing fits into the overall context of the business.

“Never think of marketing as just pretty pictures,” she urges. “The minute you do that you will never consider the big-picture things like ROI. From the outset, make sure you are thinking about how you can have an impact on the business.

“Certainly, it is a skill to create great advertising briefs and to get agencies to do great work. But if you believe that’s all there is to marketing, you’re not going to reach the heights.” 

Two key challenges

There are two key challenges that modern-day senior marketers face, says Nobanda. The first is to have a good in-depth grasp of digital marketing. The second is to ensure they have strategic influence within the organisation.

“If you’re a senior marketer and don’t have good digital knowledge, then you’re going to fail – because you don’t know what you don’t know. You have to learn the digital world. You have to be able to challenge your digital team and your digital agencies.”

When it comes to having strategic influence, she believes you shouldn’t simply be the person who gets asked to do an advertisement when a product has been developed.  “You must influence the product. You should be able to ask questions such as: ‘what is it that our clients actually need?’ ‘What are we trying to achieve with this product? ‘Does it make sense, based on our brand essence?’ As a senior marketer, you should be able to have broad influence within the business.”