Sunday, 28 July 2013


Lately there seem to be a lot of campaigns that haven’t managed to get the basics right of marketing. Here is a beautiful case study that sums up those basics that should be implemented for any campaign.

Make sure you fully understand your challenge and task at hand. What are you trying to achieve and why? If you are planning a campaign that doesn’t have a set of objectives or an end result, then what are you working towards?

All to often campaigns are run on the sample size of “one”, this might be the CMO, CEO or agency. Make sure you do the necessary research to truly understand your customer and the market. Assumptions are probably the biggest reason for campaigns failing.

Big Idea
You need a big idea or concept that can become your “golden thread” throughout the campaign. Every campaign should have some sort of overarching theme or positioning based on the research conducted. The insights gathered will help determine what theme is right for your campaign.

There should always be a solid communication strategy, this will help guide the messaging and the positioning of your campaign. You need to speak the same language that your customer speaks and it should resonate with them, in many cases you might find that you have more than one target audience, how do you customize your messaging so that it is relevant to everyone?

What influences your customer and how can you use this influence to support your campaign? We have seen this trend in the Twitter space, but make sure you do your homework and confirm that the “influencers” you select actually have an influence on your target audience.

Consider the different phases of your campaign, based on your objectives you should be able to determine whether there should be some sort of teaser phase, then a large launch phase and then a maintenance phase. Campaigns often just launch without considering the pre and post phases.

Your campaign should be integrated across all channels, what your customer experiences at one touch point should be the same at the next. No campaign can live in isolation, there is no longer a distinct line between the different media platforms.

How are you going to promote engagement with your customers, this goes back to brands chasing likes on Facebook instead of focusing on engagement rates. It is becoming extremely challenging to cut through the clutter and connect with customers, make sure you have a strong engagement strategy.

Once you have managed to acquire new customers, what are you going to do to keep them? CRM and database management is probably one of the most common basics of marketing that is omitted. Single view of customer will become your brands most powerful asset.

Going that step further
How do you differentiate your campaign from what your competitors are doing? You are going to have to innovate and do something different and unexpected.

This is definitely the one element of every campaign that is either purposefully ignored or insufficiently planned up front. Make sure you have specific targets and goals at the beginning of the campaign. This will be the only way you’ll know whether you succeeded or not.

So let’s take these learnings from Chelsea Bedan’s
birthday party and make sure every campaign ticks these basics of marketing. I must admit though, I was quite disappointed when I realized the pony wasn’t pink.

Sunday, 30 June 2013


When it comes to web design, many brands like to believe that they have a very user-centric approach and that they place their consumer's every need at the centre of everything. Sadly, this is very seldom the case. Many large organisations are made up of lots of different departments, each with their own specific targets and objectives and because of this they all obviously want to have their campaign on the homepage of the website.

We tend to try bombard our consumers with anything and everything possible without actually creating a simple user experience that actually asks the user what they are looking for and what you can assist with.

Just like in-store design, web design has a very specific science, methodologies and approaches. I am not going to go into detail around those topics but rather focus on the concept of designing for humans.

Designing a website is a complicated process that requires a lot of research and insights. The challenge is the fact that there is never just one target audience with one specific need. Every individual is different, in the way they navigate a website, their needs for visiting a website are different, the information they are looking for is different, however you as a user-experience specialist will be expected to design a digital user journey that meets every individual's needs in the most efficient and effective way.

These are my favourite videos when it comes to web design because they give you a completely different perspective as to what it means to design for humans. I am quite sure you will be able to relate to all three.

Landing Page

How often do you get this feeling when you land on a website's homepage, you have absolutely no idea where to navigate and there are just banners everywhere you look trying to sell you something that you are not interested in.

Online Checkout 

This is a common problem that I am sure everyone has experienced at some stage, you finally find what you are looking for and now you want to check-out or complete a lead form. Can anyone say "hippopoto mice"?

Website Search

When all else fails we usually resort to the "search box" only to realise the results are not even close to what you were searching for. This is often an element of the website that is completely overlooked yet it is so vitally important.

So in summary, when designing a website remember that your target audiences are "humans" as well and not just a statistic or graph from a usability test. When users come to your website, why not just ask them what they are looking for before you try and force irrelevant products on them? 

Saturday, 25 May 2013


Let me start by creating a little scenario that will explain the value of conversion tracking and why every brand should be using it for all their digital media campaigns.

Imagine you owned an ice cream franchise and you had just acquired a new store location in Sandton City. You spend millions of Rands on store fittings, security systems, branding, lighting, advertising etc. and after a couple of months you are all set to open the doors and start selling ice cream to your customers.

Now if you didn't have conversion tracking your scenario would look something like this:

You open the doors on the first day of the month and then you leave the store, unattended and open 24/7. At the end of the month you come back to your store and suddenly realise that you have no idea who came into your store, you don't know what ice cream your customers liked or dis-liked or what they bought, which days and times were most popular and have you have no idea how much return on investment you made. This sounds crazy, right? Sadly though, this is what so many brands do, they spend hundreds of thousands of Rands on SEM (Search Engine Marketing) every month yet they have no clue what their ROI (Return On Investment) is.

Track ROI with Conversion Tracking

Now take that same scenario but this time you have conversion tracking in place. You will now be able to know who entered your store on a daily basis, what ice cream was most popular, which days and times were the busiest and how much ROI (Return On Investment) you made on every purchase, you will also learn what improvements in the store should be made in order to increase sales. 

Based on this you would think that Conversion Tracking would be an easy concept to get brands to buy-into and start implementing? Afraid not, many brands either don't know how to effectively implement the code or they fear that the tracking code will cause security risks. Many brands are quite happy to spend millions each year without a clue whether all the traffic generated resulted in any sales or not. 

I know if I had an "ice cream" store I would definitely be using conversion tracking

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


Have you ever heard the term re-marketing or re-targeting and wondered what on earth it means?  Today I will attempt to explain it using a practical example. 

Before I start though, I first need to explain the difference between third party display banners and display networks. Third party banners, are banners that are placed on a specific website with a specific location for a specific period of time. Display networks are made up of 100's and 1000's of websites (all different in terms of content and target audiences). Here is a quick video explaining what the Google Display Network is.

Put simply, re-targeting or re-marketing allows brands to continue marketing highly relevant content to users once they have left their website. It's quite a simple concept, when you visit a website the device that you are using has a unique identity, the website then places what is called a "cookie" on your machine and this allows the website to track what you are doing. Here is a short clip introducing the Google re-marketing tag that allows Google to monitor your online activity.  

As a practical example I have chosen Zando's because in my opinion they are currently very effectively using re-marketing strategies in their digital media strategies. When you visit the Zando website you will notice that as you start browsing through different products you will start to see the products you viewed first appear on the right hand side of the product that you are currently looking at. This is because when you landed on the website they started tracking and monitoring all the products that you looked at and they will continue to show you these products to try and entice you to purchase them because they know that you showed an interest into these products. 

Re-marketing allows Zando's to apply this same methodology in their digital media strategies, this means that once you leave their website they know what products you showed an interest in, which products you possibly showed more interest in but did not make a purchase (convert). Now as you browse the web in the weeks that follow, you will most likely be browsing within a display network where Zando's has a display media strategy running, this media (banners) will now show you the exact products that you looked at, it will usually also include the discount and have some level of interactivity that allows you to scroll between the different products within the banner. 

Zando's is able to set a cap on how many times you see the banner and if you don't convert on that specific banner they then have the capability to change the creative to try and entice you even further with a new design. On many of the websites within the display networks you will find tandem banners whereby the top banner and the side banner will be Zando's branded making sure you don't miss them. 

So the next time you browse the Zando's website, have a look and see if you start noticing some Zando display banners following you around the world wide web :) 

It may seem like a very invasive way of advertising but it allows brands and marketers to create very targeted campaigns and ensure that the content you see is extremely relevant. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Social media has revolutionised the digital industry completely. When the internet was first introduced, it was a very static and a one-way communication channel. Social media has changed this dynamic completely, the internet is now a content creating machine that empowers dialogue and sharing. We have all turned into #digitaljunkies, sharing and consuming content every minute of every day. 

Social media provides consumers with a voice, no matter where they are located or who they are, someone who lives in Ogies or Pofadder can now have an opinion and be heard by brands and others that might be listening. 

We have turned into Digital Junkies

When it comes to social media and social marketing, I would have to say that I was most inspired by a guy called Gary Vaynerchuk or better know as @Garyvee. He is the author of "The Thank You Economy", I would highly recommend this to anyone working in the social media space. Through his own experience he writes about how brands should use social media to their advantage by truly listening to their customers and by offering exceptional customer experiences through these channels. Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from his book: 

“A lot of companies resist building a Facebook wall, blogging, or starting a Twitter or YouTube account because an irate customer might post negative comments.

So what? Would you prefer that the customer post them somewhere else where you have absolutely no way to reply? Or somewhere you can’t even find? If you’re that afraid of your customer, you might want to take a closer look at how you’re doing business.”

It is time to become a "Customer Company"

“Embarking on one-to-one customer engagement offers significant long-term rewards, but the company will also experience immediate benefits – greater brand awareness, stronger brand loyalty, increased word of mouth, improved understanding of customer needs, and better, faster consumer feedback – and suffer very few drawbacks, if any."

“Meanwhile, the drawback to resisting social media engagement is clear: the longer you wait, the farther the competition can pull ahead. In the future, the companies with tremendous “relationship capital” will be the ones to succeed. Society is creating an ecosystem that rewards good manners, high touch, honesty, and integrity. Ten years from now, every company will have a Chief Culture Officer on staff and, if big enough, a team dedicated to scaling one-on-one relationships.”

This following quote is so true, how many brands do you see creating print or TV ads that just have their social media icons pasted somewhere? 

“When you place a traditional ad, whether it's on TV, radio, print or billboards, you're spending a lot of money to hold on to the microphone and say your piece over and over and over again. You're pushing your way into the consumer's consciousness.”

“If you are going to launch a campaign, it has to be one that evokes an emotion so that people feel compelled to share. Give them something to talk about, unleash the power of word of mouth, and allow them to pull you into their consciousness.”

“Develop creative work that allows the platforms to rally, to work together to extend your story, continue the conversation, and connect with your audience. It’s not enough to simply throw a Twitter or Facebook logo at the bottom of your ad, or show at the end of your TV commercial. That’s about as exciting and useful as saying “We have a phone!” or “Found in most stores!”

The Thank You Economy - "Out care your competitors" 

Many brands don't realise that they now have the ability to listen to their consumers like never before. It is like having a survey in the market every day, 24/7, 365 days a year and it isn't bias because it is honest conversations from customers and it doesn't cost a cent. 

Brands can now gain insights into what consumers think about their brand, their products, competitor brands and products and industries in general. These insights can provide invaluable insights into business strategies, product development and service enhancements. 

The sad reality is that many brands make use of ORM tools like Radian 6 and Brands Eye yet very few effectively use the insights obtained. In order to truly tap into the value that these tools have to offer one should have a dedicated team that analyses all the data captured on a daily basis, translating it into relevant data for business strategies. 

Business is Social → A Glimpse Into the Future

We Feel Fine (

This is possibly one of best examples of how powerful the web and social media can be in terms of "listening".  We Feel Fine came up with a concept to see what people around the world are feeling at any point in time and then try correlate it back to different things like weather, seasons etc. to see what influences people's emotions. 

The concept behind it is quite simple, they created software similar to ORM (online reputation management) tools whereby it searches the web and social media for specific keywords, in this case "feel". They then took all this data and created a dynamic and interactive website experience where users can filter the results and choose the way they wish to visualise the data. 

Radian6 Overview

Radian6 Insights and Social Listening

Another sad reality is that in 2013 we still find brands wanting to set "Likes" as the main objective. The question is not how many "Likes" you have but rather what you do with them and ensuring that they are relevant "Fans" and ultimately brand advocates. 

Brands should be focusing on engagement rates and organic growth. I can't wait for the day when a brand updates their cover image with a graph showing their "brand engagement levels" versus they just reached 10 000 "Fans" or "Followers". 

Here is a formula to calculate your current engagement rates and some graphs that show what content gets the highest levels of engagement

Getting "Likes" is easy, it just costs money and requires giving away a prize or incentive every month. These graphs below show the direct result of campaigns on Facebook where Facebook Ads were used.  

Brands currently celebrate how many "Fans" they have, a case of "my page is bigger than your page", who says those same "Fans" don't "Like" every competitors page?

These are two of my favourite examples of how useless a "Fan" or "Like" truly is, firstly have a look at  and then watch the video below. This is essentially what happens when you just chase after "Likes" versus using social media to create true brand advocates and ambassadors. 

Buyral - Guarantees your brand to go Viral 

It is also important to remember that the more "Fans" a brand has, the more money they will need to spend to manage those communities and create content in addition to this the bigger your community grows the lower your engagement levels become. 
In conclusion, brands should be focusing on the insights and data that social media allows them to tap into, they need to move away from focusing on how many "Fans" they have compared to their competitors and start focusing on what they do with the "Fans" they have and how they they can use social media to "out care" their competitors. 

Monday, 18 March 2013


I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend an interview at 2 Oceans Vibe last week.  We experienced some WIFI issues and weren't able to broadcast live but it was aired this morning.  The topic for the interview was around new careers as a direct result of social media and the massive increase in new media and internet penetration. More specifically we chatted about the "Day in the life of a digital strategist". These are some of the questions from the interview: 

1.  What is a digital strategist? 

In my mind a digital strategist is someone who obviously has the ability to think strategically but a key skill that is required is the ability to be able to truly understand the brand, the objectives and interpret what the brand is actually trying to achieve and then look at the bigger picture from a holistic viewpoint. I often tell people that we are not digital strategists but rather just strategists or planners because in my mind there is no longer a distinct line (ATL, BTL, TTL) everything is now integrated and converged or at least it should be. A strategist has the ability to craft a strategy based on insights, research and experience that will meet the objectives established while remaining true to the brand's overall positioning. 

2.  What does a day in the life of a digital strategist entail? 

Not much sleep, just kidding. A digital strategist's life on a daily basis requires a lot of research, lots of reading and collaboration with colleagues. It also involves lots of presentations and meetings, if you are shy or if public speaking is not your strength then you might find this career quite challenging. 

A key strength as a strategist is the ability to be able to
 put your thoughts into a presentation in such a way that it doesn't result in "death by PowerPoint" and is easy to understand.  A big part of the job comes in the ability to be able to articulate your thinking simply and interpret your client's needs. 

The role also requires you to be "always connected" and by that I don't just mean to the web, I am talking about following relevant people and brands on Twitter, subscribing to YouTube channels, blogs, websites and "liking" all sorts of weird and wonderful Facebook pages. The problem comes in trying to find the time to get through all of this content. You have to become a #digitaljunkie. This was one of the main reasons why I started my Blog and my Facebook page, it forces me to spend time going through the research I flag each week. 

Personally, my knowledge and enthusiasm for the digital world enables me to think creatively and challenge briefs. My passion is strategy and showing how digital or new media can open new opportunities for clients.  I love coming up with strategies that push brands for maximum exposure and return through digital communication and engagement, utilising the correct tools and channels for campaigns.

Well conceived digital strategies and campaigns will push brands ever forward in the consciousness of their audiences and lead to long lasting adoption, advocacy and allow them to forge individual relationships with their audiences.  This is what I strive to achieve on a daily basis as a strategist. 

3.  What kind of a personality does being a marketing specialist/digital strategist require?

I would have to say that the four best traits of a strategist are: passion, enthusiasm, insights and attitude. I personally feel that attitude is the most important trait, at Base2 we have a saying: "we hire on attitude and train for skill", if you have the right attitude anything is possible and experience over time will help evolve your strategic thinking. 

You also need to be a hard worker and not take things personally, there will be many occasions where you probably only got 2 hours of sleep working on a strat and then the next morning the client bombs everything, with the right attitude you just pick yourself up and start working out how you going to evolve the strat and wow the clients socks off in the next preso. 

4.  What are some of the challenges in strategy?

There never seems to be enough time and lack of sleep is a reality but there is a lot of pressure on a strategist from colleagues and clients as they expect you to come up with the big idea or the blue print for the campaign and to always have an insightful answer.  The other biggest challenge specifically from a digital strategy point of view is the pace at which the industry evolves, you need to constantly try keep up with the latest trends and new technologies but not only keep up but actually get a comprehensive understanding of the new trend and then determine how a brand can be relevant within that space.  Consider things like Vine and Pinterest for example. 

Another challenge that you will experience as a digital strategist is something that I have termed "Digital Phobia", this is the phenomenon where clients are very apprehensive in accepting or trying digital or innovative campaign strategies because they are not familiar with the platform or how it benefits the customer or brand. This is probably one of the biggest barriers for brands out there trying to implement integrated marketing strategies. 

5.  What are some of the latest trends in the digital space?

These are by no means most of them but here are a couple of key trends:

6.  What courses would you advise someone whose looking to work in the digital space to take?

As a strategist, the more you know and understand the better, it's all about being able to have a comprehensive and holistic understanding of any campaign and by this I mean that you almost have to become a specialist in every discipline (digital media, usability, design, business strategy, marketing, research etc.)  

With integrated marketing there are so many aspects to take into consideration and the better you understand each part and the role that it plays the more effective your strategy will be. In terms of degrees or diploma's, I recommend something along the lines of strategic marketing, marketing and communications, business management and then obviously courses that offer specific training on social media, digital marketing and digital media however if you have the passion and the right mindset with experience you will soon come to understand and learn how each of these channels form part of your strategy.  The problem with the digital advertising industry is that it evolves so rapidly, so something that you study this year might be completely out-dated in a years time.  Marketing is no longer just made up of 7 P's there are a lot more additional New P's of Marketing

7.  What is your motto in life that keeps you going?

For as long as I can remember I have always lived by this quote: "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today!"  It is all about dreaming big and then going for it! 

8.  Could you briefly describe where you started out to get where you are?

I grew up on a farm outside a small town called Vryheid in Natal.  From a young age I knew I didn’t quite have the farm “gene” and realised I had a passion for marketing and innovation. 

After high school I attended the University of Pretoria where I completed my honours degree in B Com Marketing Management. After studying I had the privilege of being part of the FNB Graduate Programme and spent four great years at FNB, working in business units like Home Loans, Cellphone Banking and FNB.Mobi. During my time at FNB I discovered the career called a “strategist” through working with the different agencies and from that point on I knew that is what I wanted to do.  From there I started at Base2 as Head of Strategy and I have never looked back.  

In April it will be my second year at Base2, can't believe how time flies! When I started we were an agency of 11 staff and two clients, now we are 45 strong and have some of the biggest clients in the country. 

9.  Words of inspiration for others out there wanting to get into this industry? 

I have always told friends and students that you are your own brand and that is how you should approach your career, everything that you do is a reflection of your personal brand so with that in mind, always do your best and give 110% no matter how big or small it may be in your eyes. 

During my career, this is probably one of the most inspirational speeches that influenced the way I approach any strategy, it is also now our motto at Base2 and forms part of our Strategic Framework and that is "Start with WHY". This is the 7th most watched Ted Talk of all times, if you watch it you will know why. 

Then there have also been some books that have inspired me along the way, here is a list of them

10.  What do you enjoy most about being a guest speaker?

The thing I enjoy most about guest speaking is being able to share my passion with others and inspire others about this exciting industry.  When I was at university I had no idea the digital advertising industry even existed, It is important for the industry in general that people know what careers are now out there and to share the insights on how the advertising and marketing world has evolved due to the adoption of the internet, new media and social media.

Thanks for the great chat 2 Oceans Vibe and hopefully we can do it again sometime soon.