The township’s economy is estimated at R307-billion nationally and with the rise of township residents climbing the corporate ladder, more brands are trying to penetrate the township market to cash in.

Townships such as Soweto, Gugulethu and Umlazi have grown significantly and are becoming more diverse in terms of culture and income levels.

But little knowledge has been gained about these growing economic hubs.

Big brands have a tendency to create marketing campaigns abroad and simply adjust them to make sense within these township spaces, which creates a disconnect when communicating their message.

In this blog, we will focus on growing your reach in these markets and avoiding a mismatch between your brand and your target market.

Social Interaction

A key difference between townships and suburbs is the difference in social contact. Townships are far more interconnected. With a lot more face-to-face interactions and word-of-mouth, social networks become an undercurrent.

This suggests that formal or informal brand activations with free samples can be an efficient way of spreading the word about a new product or service. Be aware though that news of a bad service or an inferior product will spread very quickly through these same networks.

Tactics like product sampling and pamphlet distribution are relatively easy to implement, thanks to several companies which specialise in these services. Costs for a leaflet distribution typically start at R100 per 1 000 leaflets and can be done by targeting specific areas like a single taxi rank or as broad-based as door-to-door distribution to an entire township.

The amount of high-quality, geo-demographic information that’s available for individual townships often surprises marketers but it provides specifics that help market effectively to this audience.


Targeting Commuters

The taxi industry alone transports 16 million people.

That’s 93% of South Africa’s total commuter population and research shows these people now spend more time than ever travelling – which translates into a captive audience for marketers with an appropriate message.

Research also indicates that taxi commuters are more upscale than previously thought, with 30% falling into the“black diamond” category of black upper middle-class consumers.

The Tavern Market

A common mistake marketers make is equating a tavern with a shebeen. Taverns are an important social gathering points and are gaining credibility as a channel for reaching younger, free-spending and image-conscious township dwellers.

Taverns are areas where you’re likely to find patrons that enjoy imported beers as opposed to brown bottled local drinks. They are also places where people gather to parade their success.

While there’s less preventing individual marketers from arranging their own tavern promotions, there is a proven formula for these activities and it may be best to use a specialising promotions company for this purpose.

Football as a Marketing Tool

Football is a very popular sport amongst the township residence. In 2010, a company who’s success derived from the back of the World Cup emerged, branding foosball tables called Foozi. The games were free to play and the tables were placed free-of-charge in selected taverns, shebeens and community centres.

The company responsible for the concept, Foozi Gaming, derived its revenue from advertising placed on the tables. Spokesperson, Damon Freeman, says advertising campaigns can cover all available tables, or be targeted at a specific neighbourhood, township or region.

Branded Pool Tables


Another popular game amongst tavern patrons is snooker, which allowed for an alternative innovation. Partnered up with popular bars, a marketing team introduced the first liquor branded pool tables that were bottle operated.

The team replaced the standard coin operating mechanism on traditional pool tables with a custom-designed mechanism that holds a standard beer bottle and uses a light-dependent resistor’ to recognise the unique RGB signature of individual beverage bottles.

In effect, this means that the table can ‘recognise’ individual brands and these brands can then be used as ‘currency’ to ‘buy’ a game of pool. All customers need do is buy the brand on promotion, place the bottle in the slot and enjoy their free game of pool.

It’s innovative ideas like these that are welcomed by the township market and ensure great success.


There are various events that happen on a monthly basis in various townships. One such event is Cookout Sunday. It’s an event that takes place every last Sunday of the month. They book out stalls for food outlets, cocktail bars and other brands.

These sort of events are a great marketing tool, as they attract numbers of over 7000 patrons of all ages. Unlike taverns, these events allow for a wider audience. They also allow brands to put up marquees, which wouldn’t really make sense for places like taverns.


Murals seem to be the latest craze in outdoor marketing. Big brands have resorted to this kind of marketing in the township. It’s a great and affordable alternative to billboards. These murals are usually painted in high traffic areas. This alternative attracts a lot of consumer attention as the paintings have a realistic finish to them. 

Social Media

Social media is a great way for your products to have a greater reach. One of the reasons being that it’s reach is unlimited. The number of active social media users was estimated at 22 million, in South Africa alone



Brand Ambassadors

Using brand ambassadors/ influencers is a new trend. The company endorses various people to market their products on social media platforms for a fee or in exchange for a negotiable number of the company’s products. This, like social media adverts, has a wide reach for a fraction of the price of a billboard or other print media.

For this kind of advertising, brands target users with a large following and users that align to the kinds of products the brand offers

Brand Merchandise

A tried and tested method that has stood the test of time. T-shirts work like mobile billboards. It’s been proven over time that consumers enjoy freebies. Regardless of how familiar consumers are with certain brands, they flock at the site of giveaways and freebies 


Everyone involved in building a website wants it to stand out from other websites. Clients want to stand out from the competition and leave a favorable impression on potential customers; designers strive for originality and to compete with other designers; back-end developers want a success story in their portfolios and an original or different-looking site can help with that.

Every business needs a stand out website. It’s no longer enough to simply provide a list of services and an “ About Us” section on your site. Your customers must be able to place orders, ask questions and make purchases through a seamless and delightful online experience.



Okay, this is perhaps one of the more obvious ways to differentiate your site from the rest. It’s also the most difficult. On the pro side, using a fancy layout or site structure that no one has ever seen before is instantly memorable. It can also be a lot of fun. After creating your fifty-second three-column site, mixing up the layout provides a challenge for your visual design skills and your front-end dev skills that can’t be beat.

The cons: There are only so many ways that information can be organized before you start to lose accessibility and usability points. The development time is often increased, as you end up working to solve problems few have encountered before. Layout should ideally not depend on JavaScript.



Branding is the other really obvious way to make your site stand out. And it’s easy. Just find out what your client’s branding guidelines are, and stick to them. Embrace them. Make your client sick of seeing their own logo and colors. Then maybe tone it down a little, and you’re good to go.

The content should be laid out so that what’s most important is most easily found. Never overload your audience with too much information and never force them search for the essentials.



If the branding isn’t enough, you can use graphics and/or photos on your site to establish a distinct visual style. Sites with big images do tend to convert more, after all. People are visual creatures, so visual stimuli can make it easier for users to connect with you on an emotional level. Graphics and photos are just one of the tools you have in your design toolkit, not the only one. Plus, the stylistic options are just about endless, which makes it easier to create an original-feeling design.

The cons: Graphics and photos that look original are expensive, because they pretty much have to be custom made. You can attract attention with words or graphics.


This is probably the most important and sometimes the most difficult way you can set yourself apart. What is said on any site can and should be a reflection of the client’s personality and/or company culture, while still being clear. You can use copy, microcopy, and even things like video to communicate personality in a way that sets you apart.

A great website is nothing without original content. The secret to keeping your audience engaged

The cons: Ok, first you have to get any text at all from your client. Then you have to get copy that actually feels like a human wrote it.



A great website must be easy to navigate. The design must be clean the layout intuitive and have design elements that are cohesive. This enables your customers to find your content easily– whether they’re using a desktop computer or a mobile device. Because, at the end of the day, what good is a website if no one sticks around to use it.



Animation is a huge deal right now, and for good reason. When done right, it can take a pretty good experience and make it unforgettable. Animation is not just for cartoons anymore. From full-screen moving images to small hover effects, touches of animation are popping up everywhere. Animation is trendy, fun and user friendly. Well make those pictures start moving. What makes animation trendy is realism. In today’s design landscape with so many flat and minimal style designs, users need more cues to tell them what to do.

The cons: I saved animation for last because it’s very effective, but also very hard to get right. That means that if you want your animation to stand out from everyone else’s animation, you’ll have to step up your game. The key to animation as a design trend is moderation. But if you start mixing up too many different moving effects, it can cause complete chaos.





A brand is a symbol. Symbols are designs which represent something else, and a brand is meant to package all of the associations, experiences and characteristics into an idea put up. This Idea can be evoked using consistent imagery, sounds, phrases and logos with which people come into contact.Brands are very important as they help you win customers and they also help you to keep them.

They do this by awakening the associations and experiences you previously had with the brand, or have seen through advertising, when you come into contact with the brand at key stages. For example, when deciding what product to purchase out of a selection of similar items.

Brands set expectations, and when faced with uncertainty people tend to pick the safer option. People know what to expect from a brand they know. Branding is a complex process that is performed across all types of media, from product packaging, TV commercials and magazine ads to interior store decoration and logotype design. Of course branding also applies to Web Design.

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a website for a multi-million rand brand or a personal blog, branding still matters for the reasons outlined above. In the case of a personal blog, branding will help set you apart and make your site memorable.


The choice of a good color is not just aesthetics – it’s stimulates various emotions and carries with it subconscious associations to various things and characteristics for example, the color red may actually increase blood pressure, pulse and respiration. It’s a color that symbolizes passion, energy, power and excitement, because of this, it is usually a good color choice for brands in the entertainment industry.

Other colors carry different associations and effects. Green symbolizes nature, environment, profit, money and health. It’s also a calming color, which is why hospitals usually paint their walls pale green.

When picking a color for your brand, research its effects and associations to see if it is an appropriate fit for the type of things your brand represents. Also note that different cultures may associate the same colors with different things, so it’s a good idea to check that your colors mean what you think they do in the markets you operate in.


Does your brand have character? Infusing your brand with a little personality can help you define what it stands for. Is the brand all about stability and safety so that your customers can be sure to rely on you? Is the brand fun and down to earth?

Many people in commercialized societies use products and brands to define themselves, so shape your brand’s character towards something which your audience will like to associate themselves with.

Humanlike is the attribution of human qualities and characteristics to other things, like animals or objects. Infusing your brand with human elements is a good way to give it character.

Great example :

Twitter’s little blue bird mascot has proven very effective; all of the custom media and websites that Twitter fans create usually feature their own variation of it. They may all look a little different, but are still instantly recognizable:


Emotion is another factor when building your brand. What feelings and emotions do you want people to experience when visiting your site? What sort of things do you want them to associate with your brand? Crafting the art of your site shouldn’t be about following the latest design trends, it should be about deciding on the emotions and ideas that you want your brand to project, and then working on a design that will do just that.


To build a successful brand you need to make it memorable. What do you do to make people remember things? you repeat them.Consistency on your web design will build on the choices you’ve made earlier regarding selecting the right personality for the brand and evoking the appropriate emotions. Keep consistent colors ,visuals and typography throughout to ensure your website projects a uniform image.

Skype consistently integrate several branding elements throughout all of their marketing media, which include the color palette with a dominant blue, white 2D clouds with illustrations sitting on top of them and multicolored rainbows:

Reusing Code and Visuals

Consistent visuals and layout allows you to reuse more of your content, be it stylesheets or images. This means that your site will load faster as the user’s browser doesn’t need to download as many things — old images and CSS are already stored in its integrates their logo with the navigation bar, infusing their brand into the page design:

Size And Position of the Logo

The accepted norm when positioning your site’s Logo is to put it in the upper left area of the page.

That’s the are where most people will look at to see what site they’re on. Additionally, it’s best practice to link the logo image to the site’s home page. But position is only one element – size is also important. Ensure your logo is. It enough to be the second or third thing that people will notice when they arrive on your site.

Value Proposition

When a visitor arrives on your site for the first time they take the first few seconds to orient themselves. Is this the right site? Does this look interesting? What is this all about? To answer these questions you should provide a clear and concise value proposition to your visitors. This value proposition should be a short statement in a prominent location on you page. It should preferably be located next to the site’s logo so that when a new visitor reads the title of the site or business they’ll follow on to the value proposition.

In a few words explain exactly what benefit your site provides to the visitor, so that they’ll know not only what your site is about, but why they should keep using.

Tone Of Voice

The language you use on your website needs to reinforce your brand’s character and personality. If your brand is a friendly and down to earth, and your audience are young, tech savvy people, then informal and fun tone of voice may work well for you. On the other hand, if you’re making a website for an investment bank, the tone of voice should reflect that by being much more formal.

It’s not just about what you say — it’s about how you say it. You can say the same thing in different voices and get the same meaning across, but the personality that this voice emanates will be different; so choose a tone of voice that suits your brand’s character and audience.


Getting all of the above elements will only get you so far though, because there is another very important thing to consider when building your brand: uniqueness.

If your website looks just like the competition, then is it really memorable? How would potential customers differentiate between the two? By putting in that extra effort to create a unique image you’ll not only stand out from your competitors, you’ll be more memorable, and that means a better chance that your visitors will come back for more.

Final Thoughts

Building a strong brand is important not only for big corporations, but also for small companies and even personal websites and blogs. Branding helps people differentiate between competition and quickly judge quality.

The web is an excellent platform to build your brand, so it’s important not to ignore branding when working on your website. Make sure to utilize all the various techniques to make it powerful and effective.

Some days it feels like social media is slowly taking over the world. From Facebook to Snapchat, to Twitter and Instagram, social media is becoming an increasingly important part of marketing. According to World Wide Worx, this year social media will be an indispensable tool not only for South African marketers but politicians, artists, and activists etc. as well. With this growth in social media’s significance, it’s important to acknowledge that with content-driven platforms, copywriting is still (and always will be) a core element, even if it is in small doses on platforms such as Twitter. 

Here are a few common copywriting mistakes that occur frequently on social media, and that brands should avoid at all costs:

1. Brand tone and language inconsistencies

It happens quite often that the brand language and the way the brand is structured is inconsistent with what is seen on their social media platforms. The most common reason for this is that companies undervalue the power of social media because they aren’t paid-for platforms. With this mind-set, there is a lack of investment in terms of resources, time, and skill. Immediately, paid-for advertising campaigns and executions have a higher standard than social media posts and campaigns. Social media activity is left to junior employees that have little or no guidance.

If your brand is all about being formal and professional, but your social media posts are very casual with slang, it will create confusion. It will become even more of a problem because it confuses the reader and detracts from the brand that you’ve worked so hard to build. When it comes to social media, consistency is key. Don’t constantly change your approach to social media, shifting from formal to casual within a few days. Make sure to keep representing the brand throughout all the platforms to avoid confusing your readers.

Having a comprehensive brand book, which clearly stipulates how social media should be approached and executed, will also ensure that consistency will remain despite different copywriters managing the platforms.

2. Problems

Whether you are a ‘hashtag-novice’ or a ‘hashtag-pro’, it is quite easy for brands to misuse ‘hashtagging’. Hashtags are a wonderful tool if you know how to utilise them correctly. It is a way to increase engagement and link your content to relevant information.

But, if they are not used correctly they can lead to a decrease in engagement, a confusing post or a nonsensical post or even something that comes across as spam. For instance, on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, less is more when it comes to hashtags. Only use one or two hashtags to avoid your content looking unprofessional or overwhelming.

With some platforms, you can bend this rule a bit. Instagram, for instance, allows for more hashtags, so you can go let loose a little more. The key is to always keep it relevant.

3. Same content, different platform

Copying, pasting, posting.

This formula is a common mistake that many brands still make today: using the same content for different social media platforms. People use different social media platforms for different reasons; having the same content for all of them doesn’t make sense.

It is important to acknowledge what makes a platform unique and to create content that matches the platform. Apart from this, many brands forget that people might be following them on more than one of their social media platforms. With a copy-and-paste mentality, users will pick this up very quickly.

4. Shoddy copywriting

Even though social media can be a more informal way of communicating with your potential customers, it’s no excuse for poor grammar or spelling. Poor copywriting reflects badly on the brand and can do more harm than good.

A simple spelling mistake can lead to an unprofessional-looking brand and might be the difference between a consumer choosing you or a competitor. Bland copy is also an issue; it definitely won’t inspire your reader to find out more about your offering. Make sure to craft copy that will stand out and entice your reader to find out more or click on the link to the article or website.

5. Not proofreading your posts

We understand that this task is tedious at times. You just want to upload the posts or are under a tight deadline, but make sure to check spelling and grammar. If you don’t have a proofreader on hand, there are very nifty tools that will be able to help with your spelling and grammar (although a human eye is always best).

The business-side of socialising

When it comes to social media, being reckless is not an option you can afford as a business. Remember, social media never forgets. Many politicians and comedians have forgotten this to their own detriment.

A professional copywriter that understands online marketing will always be a good investment for your brand and its story, especially for social media. On the flipside – if your business is losing out on the impact, insight, and advantages social media has to offer – you can only blame yourself.


A successful business can often depend on what one does and doesn’t do in terms of marketing themselves online. Its important not to confuse a digital marketing plan and a digital marketing campaign. A digital plan refers to the series of actions taken to achieve the overarching marketing goals of the company. Whereas a digital campaign refers to the actions within your plan that moves the company towards its goals.

Before we learn “how”, we need to know “why.” Business owners, if you didn’t know, now you’ll know. The purpose of a digital marketing plan is to improve your working structure. When one has a coherent digital marketing plan, the process of putting your campaigns together can begin.  It is essential to put your plan on paper, illustrating your research and clearly articulating your goals and aims for your digital initiatives.  Without this, companies will find themselves struggling to grow and the likelihood of innovation decreases.


Listen Up


When putting your plan together, certain points need to be covered to ensure your plan is air-tight. Firstly, you need to set your objective.  Once that is finalised, you must ensure that the digital mission that has been put together fits into the grand mission of the company.  It is absolutely imperative to know and understand your digital marketing tools such as the main Key Performance Indicators. These are the tools that will help you measure the goals of the company. This information is vital. It will allow for adjustments in the future.

Secondly, you need to know and understand your buyer personas.  These personas are your ideal customers/clients.  They are generated through research, surveys and interviewing the business’ target audience.  One should never make assumptions about their audience. These assumptions are bound to lead you in the wrong direction.

Thirdly, you have to gather the correct type of information. This information will be comprised of qualitative information and quantitative information. Quantitative information refers to the demographic information about your target market. Demographics in terms of where they live, how old they are, the general income they receive and the kind of jobs they have. The qualitative information refers to the psychological information of your audience. Information such as the goals of the market, their challenges, priorities, hobbies and interests.  This kind of content will help your company to better understand their market and when you understand your market, communicating with them should be an ideally be a fluid process.



The Good Stuff


Now, to the good stuff – Digital Marketing Campaigns. Just a reminder, digital marketing campaigns refers to the actions taken within your plan that helps one move closer to their goals.

Firstly, you will begin with reviewing past strategies.  This will ensure you avoid past mistakes and to capitalise on past successes. Secondly, you have to start with a single measureable goal. The goal will be determined by the root of the most important thing to the campaign. An example of this kind of goal would be creating more traffic on your website. I will be using this goal as a reference to understanding how this plan would come about.  Thirdly, you have to formulate campaign objectives. This is what one plans to do to achieve each goal. In terms of increasing the traffic on your website, one could perhaps produce at least 3 pieces of work that would be uploaded onto the website at least once a week. The content should tackle issues or interests related to your target market. This should theoretically increase the number of people visiting your site and how often they do so. A majority of campaigns should have at least 3 to 5 objectives for the campaign to have some sort of impact.

Once your objectives are set then we arrive at the strategy development stage.  This is the stage where one deciphers how they are going to achieve their goals.  This stage is made up of operational elements that will help you navigate this stage successfully. Operational elements that should be taken into consideration are:


  • Approach definition – outlining how and when your digital marketing activities will be carried out.
  • Campaign objectives – to help you measure your campaign’s success.
  • Key messages – these are the most important messages that you wish to convey to your target audience.
  • Channel selection – explaining which digital marketing channels you will use to deliver your key messages to your target audience (e.g. email marketing and pay per click (PPC) marketing).
  • Campaign assets – this is the content, mostly text and images, which you will use across your selected marketing channels.
  • Marketing measurement – a plan detailing the measurement metrics that you will use to evaluate the success of your campaign.


Listen Up [AGAIN]


Before launching, you have to decide how you plan to measure the success rate of your objectives. At this stage you should have a clear idea of what you intend for your campaign to achieve and how you are going to go about doing it. There are two elements that you must decide on.

  • What do you constitute as a success? (These will become your measurement metrics)
  • How are you going to measure them? (These are your measurement platforms)

In the case of the former, your metrics will depend on the marketing channels that you select.

If one of your campaign objectives is to increase your social media engagement as well as increasing traffic, your metrics may be likes, shares, followers or retweets. While your measurement platform is likely to be Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics or perhaps HootSuite.

Regardless of your measurement metrics and measurement platforms, make sure that you setup and test them prior to your campaign launch.

Lastly, we arrive at the launch. Be sure to ensure that you remember the hard work you put into creating the campaign does not go to waste. Always keep track of the information that you gather. The more you know, the more effective your next campaign will be. Go forth and prosper young businesses.



One of the biggest mistakes that companies around the world make is forgetting that their customers are human. While it may seem obvious, many companies see their customers as statistics or numbers on a sales sheet. Consequently, their brand’s tone conveys the same monotonous notions as the view of their customers. Even if that isn’t the case and you truly value your customers and their needs, it’s natural for you to want to ensure that your brand sounds professional.


Unfortunately, aiming to sound professionalism can affect the personality and human element of copy, because we are so focused on perfect grammar and wording. In the end, we sound more like a cold, calculated business than a brand with personality. While grammar and spelling are very important – a simple spelling mistake can make a competent brand seem unprofessional very quickly – it’s important to remember that you’re talking to people:



People who don’t need to read another article or webpage that sounds like it was written by a robot. When it comes to good copywriting, adding the human element is what takes copy from good to great. It is all about making the reader think and resonating with the reader, but to achieve this, you may need some help. Here are some ways to remove the robot-tonality and ramp up the human factor:


Engaging humans



For copy to be human, it must be engaging. For instance, rather than just talking to them, ask your readers for feedback, what their opinions are or their experiences. Inviting people to interact with your brand is a great way to make sure that your copy is engaging. Not only are you interacting with your readers, but you might also get valuable insight into their thoughts and feelings about your brand – something no poll would be able to uncover. However, don’t try to force the conversation. Use subtle ways to encourage engagement through the interactive elements within your copy.


Once upon a time



Tell me: What’s your story? This is such a deceptively simple question, but the intricacies behind storytelling are such a big part of being human. What is human history but a collection of stories? If copy can tell a story, it is a great way to add that human element to your brand. Telling stories has been a great part of recording and sharing human history – this is why, throughout history, storytelling was considered a very valuable skill.

Stories are a great way to connect with people, share their experiences, and to touch their hearts. The best brands out there usually have some sort of story-element that resonates with their consumers. Even if you think you don’t have a story, there are many hidden in every facet of a brand: Tell stories about the people behind the brand, stories about your work, about your passion, the employees or
your customers.

Every story is unique – that is why they are so intriguing and captivating. Stories are also a way to showcase a different aspect of your brand and give you that stand-out factor in a sea
of marketing clutter.


Humans are social beings



In today’s digitised age, it’s important for your brand to feel accessible, and the interactions with the brand – genuine. When it comes to social media, your brand develops a personality, whether you do it on purpose or not. This is why it is important that the human element plays a large role when you consider how to tackle your social media platforms and posts.

When your brand is on social media, it can act as a sounding board, a platform to listen to your customers, a way to grow the brand and engage consumers, but only if your social interactions have a touch of humanness. Automated responses just don’t cut it anymore. If you want to be on social media, make sure to take some time to think about how you want your brand to come across. Having a strong personality on social media can say a lot more than you might think, so make sure your copy on social media is in line with what you want to achieve.


Have a laugh



We all know the best way to break the ice is with a joke. Humour just has a way of connecting us. If using a little bit of humour can work with your brand’s personality, then it is an ideal way to add that human moment to your brand. In doing so, you can easily resonate with your readers.
If you want to use humour, make sure to always keep it in line with your brand. I’m sure if we all had to think about examples of brands that are humorous, we could immediately list at least one of two. That is because humour has the ability to make a big impression on us; it’s what makes a brand a lot more relatable.


Getting a bit emotional?



What is more human than emotions? When writing copy, always consider the way people will feel
when you are speaking about your business or brand. Consider the industry, the product, the
service, and the type of customer.

Understanding the consumer’s mind-set when they are reading the copy can contribute a great deal to understanding the emotions they might experience when they interact with your brand. For instance, if you’re in a healthcare industry dealing with people who are sick, making sure that when they read the copy they can see that you have sympathy for their circumstances, care about them, and truly want to help. Addressing the right emotions can make a big difference because you’re acting like a human would.


We are all just human



In the end, it is important to remember the simple fact that everyone is human…and your copy
needs to reflect that. As Aaron Carter said, “The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being

Disruption In The Advertising Space

Man: Strong, black, and bitter sweet. BWD is ruffling feathers in the advertising space by highlighting the lack of transformation in the sector. Founded in 2006 by Bongani Gosa, the company is attracting blue chip clients and already paying it forward through the Each One Teach One Foundation. Gugulethu Cele sat down with Bongani to discuss how disruption can be a change agent.

Gugulethu Cele: Talking about the theme of disruptive and disruption, you yourself are a young black man, moved into the advertising agency, and established an institution at a time when it wasn’t exactly easy to do so as a black individual. That’s clearly a step into a disruptive system shaking up things in the advertising industry.

Bongani: No, definitely, I can say it’s a bit of a disruptive thing that we did. Although it took us about 11 years to get to where we are, because we started initially in 2006 mainly as a web design company, then evolved into a digital agency, then ultimately to where we are now, where we are a 360 degrees agency.

Gugulethu Cele: But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the journey’s been easy. Just recently you were head above board that some of your competitors took you to the Advertising Standards Authority for…where you expressed, you know, that your entity’s 100% black owned.

Bongani: Yeah, the billboard, I suppose just also…the…when we created the billboard, the idea was to get people talking because [inaudible 00:01:40] says that good advertising starts a conversation. So our billboard says we’re 100% black owned and something up, [inaudible 00:01:48] at 100% was pretty much intended for that, to just start a conversation in the industry, get people talking. And then, also, just ignite that consciousness, black consciousness within black people that is there, yeah.

Gugulethu Cele: That obviously speaks to the theme regarding transformation, as well as disruptive thinking and disruptive advertising. But talk to us about the marketing environment where you can’t just put up a billboard anymore but there needs to be a disruptive element to the communication of your message and how you achieve that.

Bongani: As far as we achieve that, it’s just mainly using a bit of research and a bit of creative thinking. And then, like I’m saying, our approach is to just start a conversation when we do our marketing, so that that way then our marketing lives slightly longer than what we can pay for.

Gugulethu Cele: Is it easy, though? Is that kind of disruptive thinking available in the market?

Bongani: I would be lying if I say it’s easy, because it requires a lot of thinking and it takes a bit of time to come up with a good concept that just works. Yeah, so it’s not easy at all.

Interviewer: Something else that’s quite disruptive, especially in your fraternity and your background, is your step into entrepreneurship. And of course, that’s quite difficult to do, especially when you don’t have a solid support structure around you. How have you managed to navigate the environment, bearing in mind that you also have some co-founders who work with you at BWD?

Bongani: The entrepreneurship part has been a little bit of, I suppose like any other entrepreneur would say, it is a bit of a challenge, because what I did is that I started around when I was 16 years old. I was just mainly selling, so during school holidays I would sell cow dung to the…

Gugulethu Cele: Oh so you used to that culture of being an entrepreneur?

Bongani: I started a little bit early. So 16 years I started selling cow dung in the community, it’s like manure type of thing. So that’s where I learned my sales skills, and then went to school, started IT. After IT, started the digital agency. So then I took those sales skills, implemented them when I was selling, like the digital services that we’re doing.

And then pretty much got to where we are now, which is about 11 years later, but I’ve always felt that should I have had, even though I’ve started, say at 16 years old, should I have had a mentor earlier into my career I would have grown faster and quicker. Because then the mentor would have pretty much fast tracked my growth.

So I suppose that’s why I started the initiative called Each One Teach One, where what we pretty much do is that we find people that need mentorship and then we match them up with mentors. Sometimes I’m the mentor myself. But if someone is in the construction industry for human’s sake I can’t really give that person useful advice, then I would match them up with someone that’s in the construction industry so that they grow faster.

Gugulethu Cele: You mentioned something so critical there regarding mentorship, because sometimes it takes a nudge in the right direction and some guidance for people to actually fast track their development. But what does it also teaches us about our networks? So often we hear that your network is your net worth. Has that proven to be true in your entrepreneurial journey?

Bongani: It has to some extent, but I suppose it’s pretty much the entrepreneurs thinking or approach. So you need to put yourself out there, you need to go to these networking events. If you have, like, a rich uncle you must visit them more often. No, it’s honestly that simple. Because hopefully then you’ll meet someone that can help you, stuff like that. So your network is pretty much still very important to your growth as an entrepreneur.

Gugulethu Cele: Coming back to today’s business context in South Africa, where we’re faced with all these macro-economic challenges, political uncertainty, how best do you see young entrepreneurs developing that mindset of disruption in the sector that they look to and step into? What do they need to do right in order to be true disruptors like you have been?

Bongani: I’d say that the process pretty much starts with us entrepreneurs that have been there. We need to preach that message of entrepreneurship. We need to preach that message of changing the status quo, preach that message of disruption so that they see it as normal. Because the issues that…because of our economic situation, where we come from as black people, we usually in a rush to catch up.

So entrepreneurship is not necessarily the quickest way to catch up, quickest way to go to school, get a nice degree, get a nice job and then be comfortable. But if we preach entrepreneurship as also an alternative then we will get more and more entrepreneurs coming in.

Gugulethu Cele: At the same time [inaudible 00:06:28], we all wanna achieve those levels of success. There’s also an element of discipline that needs to come in there.

Bongani: No, no, discipline is definitely key, because without discipline you can’t really achieve anything, to also succeed as an entrepreneur or to achieve whatever objectives that you need to, that you want to achieve. You need to be disciplined enough to work on your craft.

So if you’re a designer, you need to spend “x” amount of time per day just making sure that you’re refining how you design. If you’re a copywriter…exactly. So you need some kind of discipline for you to succeed. Without discipline, you can’t be an expert. So or it will take you twice or three or five times longer to become excellent at whatever you want to do.

Gugulethu Cele: To tie this back to our initial conversation about being a leading, black owned advertising agency with a very bold statement that you’ve made regarding your billboard in advertising for your own entity. It almost seems that, though, there’s a tight rope, right, being disciplined, but at the same time being bold enough to get your message across and being keen and willing to take any of the criticism, positive or negative, that might come about with it.

Bongani: Discipline, I suppose it’s something that I’ve practiced over the years, or I suppose maybe I do it even unaware that I’m doing it because I’ve been doing it for, like, 11 years now. So, but I can say that to get to where we are now discipline has been very important with regards to pretty much what we do and how we do things, yeah.

Gugulethu Cele: Very necessary.

Bongani: Yeah, because we must also remember that the industry is not as welcoming to black owned, black run agencies. So we’ve also took it upon ourselves to kind of educate our clients about our issues as black owned, black run agencies so that they know our struggles.

Because remember white agencies and black agencies have totally different problems. The MAC charter, which is the marketing advertising and the communications charter, which was done last year, it pretty much addresses the complications of white agencies, but black agencies are left out. So I suppose…

Gugulethu Cele: How so? What are some of the typical challenges there?

Bongani: It would be transformation maybe. So transformation will be stuff like ownership of the agency. We don’t have, as black agents, we don’t have ownership problems because we’re already 100% black, and staff training, maybe training black staff and stuff like that. We already have, the bulk of our stuff is already black.

So the challenges that are listed in the MAC charter don’t necessarily talk to us, they talk to white owned agents. So I suppose it’s then up to us as black owned agencies to educate our clients and say, “Hey, we’re here.”

Interviewer: Exactly. To do that, we’ve already surpassed some of those challenges.

Bongani: A hundred percent.

Gugulethu Cele: Very briefly, though, stealing an extra minute, I want to get your view as to how you look to disrupt going further, as Bongani, in your personal capacity, as well as of the founder of BWD. Especially in such a changing landscape, where from a marketing and advertising perspective, it’s no longer just about billboards and magazines, but social media, as well, and using influences. How do you look towards disrupt and continue on the path that you’re on going forward?

Bongani: I suppose it’s pretty much our slogan. So our approach to disruption is pretty much, “We grow when you grow.” So we help our clients grow, in the process we help us to grow. So that’s pretty much our approach to how we approach disruptions with regards to either digital advertising, PR, and pretty much anything that we do. We just think of how can we help our client grow faster, quicker, and at the lowest possible amount of budgets, yeah. So that’s our approach to disruption.

I’m currently doing my LLB second year at the North West University of in Mahikeng. During the June 2017 school holidays I did a short internship/vacation work at BWD Advertising at the end of the internship I was asked to write a blog on the topic “How To Get Value Out Of An Internship Program As A Law Student”, here goes.

An internship allows us as law students the opportunity to apply our knowledge and skills in a professional setting/environment while we are still in university. It helps us know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

This program assist student to work to their best ability to take a step closer to their dream careers and gain more knowledge as to what is needed from them in the workplace and their improvement. Internship programs must be done with dedication and determination for one to achieve their goals. It is the only place where one is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them in order to become better at what they are doing or what they are planning to do in the near future.

In order to get value from an internship one must be prepared and willing to learn and be able to conduct oneself in an acceptable and appropriate manner in the workplace. One must dress according to the dress code in the environment, be ethical and professional in the workplace. It will also help to dress appropriately so that the colleagues and clients can take you seriously because dress code is very important as a law student so that you must be taken seriously.

As a law student one is expected to be professional, ethical and to abide by the rules and regulations at all times. When one is in the internship programs they become exposed to the procedures they have to follow and abide, therefore one gains experience and also gains practical knowledge by following those procedures. When one is given something to do, it must be done with excitement and wholeheartedly and where one does not understand they must ask so that one can be able to do the task easily with more understanding which will help increase your self-confidence.

It is very important again to be polite all the time and interact with other people in the workplace, as it will make the staying there and the job easy for oneself and everybody else. I would conclude by saying that as an intern it is best to just be yourself and strive to succeed with passion in everything because the difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.

Name: Vuyelwa Gosa
Institution: North West University – Mahikeng
Year: Second Year

How to make sure your customer service team is skilled, empathetic, and engaged. Improve customer service. No matter how great your product is or how talented your staff is, one of the things that customers are most likely to remember is the direct interaction they have with your company.

Bottom line, your customer service team is often the face of your company, and customers experience will be defined by the skill and quality of the support they receive. A strong company will already have great customer relationships. But a smart company will always be asking “What is good customer service?” If you are not constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve your customer service, then your relationships will stagnate. Here are a few customer service tips for identifying ways to better serve customers.


  1. Strengthen your Team Customer Service Skills

First, it’s important to make sure that your team customer service has the right skills for your managing customers’ needs. No amount of CRM software can compensate for shortcomings in this area.

  • Empathy, patience and consistency. Some customers will be irate. Others will be full of questions. And others will just be chatty. You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.
  • Adaptability. Every customer is different, and some may even seem to change week-to-week. You should be able to handle surprises, sense the customer’s mood and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to learn– providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.
  • Clear communication. Ensure you convey to customers exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer to think he’s getting 50% off when he’s actually getting 50% more product. Use authentically positive language, stay cheerful no matter what and never end a conversation without confirming the customer is satisfied.
  • Work ethic. Customers appreciate a rep who will see their problem through to its resolution. At the same time, you must have good time management skills and not spend too much time handling one customer while others are waiting. Stay focused on your goals to achieve the right balance.
  • Thick skin. The customer’s always right… right? The ability to swallow one’s pride and accept blame or negative feedback is crucial. Whether your team works directly with customers or looking for feedback on social media, they’ve got to keep the customer’s happiness in mind.


  1. Look at every touchpoint

 A bad customer experience at any point in the customer life cycle can ruin your relationship. In addition to    making sure the right skills are demonstrated, you need to be sure they’re being demonstrated consistently. Pay the most attention to key touchpoints, but make sure you have a full view of the customer experience, or you risk lapses in service that can really hurt business.


  1. Improve your Customer Interactions

  • Ask reps to try to identify a common ground–like shared interests–with the people they help. Having this point of understanding makes conflict easier to overcome by humanizing the relationship, and it endears customers to your rep (and ultimately your company).
  • Practice active listening so your customers feel heard. Clarify and rephrase what the customers say to ensure you understand them. Empathize with and reflect their feelings by saying things like, “That must have upset you” or “I can see why you feel slighted.”
  • Admit your mistakes, even if you discover them before your customers do. This builds trust and restores confidence. It also allows you to control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue.
  • Follow-up after a problem is solved. Make sure the issue stays fixed and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Sending an email, or even a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re still on their side.


  1. Enhance your Customer service strategy

  • Get personal. Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not bots and FAQs. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your telephone prompts or website send them down a rabbit hole. Take full advantage of social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) and write responses when your customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website. This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.
  • Be available. Part of the personal touch is making sure your customers can reach you. For example if your business is primarily online, meet in person occasionally with local customers and offer video calls (such as Skype) for those farther away. Work early and late when needed, especially if your customers are in different time zones. Even providing customers with your physical address helps build their trust and reminds them that your company exists off the internet as well.
  • Cater to your customers. Make sure you are fully meeting your customers’ needs. Consider assigning reps to specific customers so they can build a relationship. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. What special services might your customers like? Set up focus groups, interview customers, or run a survey to get ideas.
  • Create communities. Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, trade shows and conventions. And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much–if not more–from them.


  1. Make sure your Reps are engaged

You can have the best customer service skills and the best training in the world, but if your team are checked out, it won’t matter at all. Improvement  employee engagement is another way to make sure customers have a great experience. Dissatisfied employees are unlikely to come forward with their problems, so consider an anonymous suggestion box or an employee engagement survey to see what makes your employees tick.

You’ll want to know how your team feels about working conditions and compensation, opportunities for career advancement, training and their peers. Our employee engagement template offers a good overview. We’ve also compiled benchmark engagement data to help you understand how your employees’ engagement compares to other companies.


  1. Give your customers a way to provide feedback

No matter how proactive you are, you’ll never be able to get in front of every customer issue. To make sure you learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly experience your customers have, create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback.

Whether it’s a phone survey at the end of a service call, an email survey sent directly from your CRM tool, or a form on the “Contact Us” page of your website, creating a means for customers to give feedback makes it easier for you to learn what needs improvement. It also helps keep unhappy customers from voicing their displeasure on highly visible places like your social media pages.


Whatever steps you choose to take, remember feedback’s importance to improve satisfaction. Unsure what your strengths and weaknesses are? Don’t know why the numbers are dipping? Make an effort to get closer both to your customers and your reps.

Not only will you discover touchpoints and skills that need improvement, but your customers will see that are dedicated to providing top-notch, proactive customer service.

The last thing you want is to keep investing time on content marketing without evaluating the amount of value it adds to your business. You need to confront the reality that your revenue, traffic on your site as well as your audience grows exponentially as far as content strategy is concerned.

As you start out, you will notice a considerably slow growth pattern. This then requires you to keep adding nutritious ingredients to your content creation pot. As soon as your ingredients simmer and your pot comes together, you will start noting the fruits of your content marketing labour.

Research done by HubSpot revealed, on its 2015 benchmark report that companies with more than 400 published blog posts get double the amount of traffic than those with less than 400 blog post. This should be enough to convince you to have in place a killer marketing strategy.

However, just analysing the number of published blog posts alone doesn’t give the best measure of the results of your content marketing efforts. We could consider making use of a realistic monthly/annual estimate which reflects the success rate of content marketing.

It is crucial to establish your content marketing optimal point in order to channel your efforts into content that will be fruitful in the end, so to be certain of your direction of motion. Below are 4 steps which will reveal to you when your content marketing strategy will start to show fruitful rewards.

Step 1: Identify the goals you want to achieve from your content marketing strategy

You might have been unaware, but you have just ventured into a long term investment in content marketing. You will generate triple the amount of leads and it costs you 62% less than traditional marketing. Your chances of winning with this are even greater if your content is exceptional and people will feel the urge to share it on their platforms.

You do need to ensure that you’ve already identified your optimal point and are steering the ship in the right direction. Only then will you be able to reap the rewards.

Take note of the fact that content marketing is more long term than short term. You will not see the benefits of a 3 months campaign for that is too short a period. Be mindful of falling into the trap of using phrases or words that drive you to taking a short term approach in your content marketing, words such as ‘sale’ ‘program’, ‘traffic’, ‘marketing campaign’ to name a few.

Setting SMART content related goals should be part of your content strategy. It helps highlight the progress of your content marketing efforts. You may also document your content strategy by answering the questions here. This will be to your benefit.

Most companies make the mistake of celebrating their companies’ content marketing success prematurely. To ensure that you do not fall into the same trap, constantly work on developing your content marketing plan based on the evident results. Be patient and keep at it.

It would take about 6-9 months for you to start seeing your content marketing results. However, if you wish to quicken your growth, then this means you might have to increase your publishing frequency while simultaneously maintaining exceptional quality content. With great content, you can help improve your long-tail keywords ranking. You can also appeal to various audiences with different types of content, making use of paid social to gain more traffic as part of your marketing strategy.

A list of companies that publish over 16 blogs per month was put together by HubSpot. These companies get 4.5 times more leads than companies that publish between 0 and 4 posts each month.

It goes without saying that publishing more blogs and good quality content will require a considerable amount of resources and budget allocation for your content marketing strategy. One of the important things you’ll need to continue doing is to promote your content across social media platforms. It is highly important to be realistic at all times. Align your goals with the content marketing resources your company can afford.

Step 2: Conduct extensive research on your audience and understand their needs.

It is very common for marketers to oversimplify this step. This step in fact, deserves tremendous focus in relation to your content strategy roll out. Basically, there are 3 essentials:

  1. Define your target audience and identify their pain points
  2. Create persuasive and effective content that appeals to your audience.
  3. Consider that content marketing is an ongoing dialogue

Step 3: Manage your SEO and content publishing properly

This is an important part of your relationship building.

In order for you to start seeing an improvement in numbers from search engines, you need about 6 months. HubSpot have been benefiting from their personas to determine keyword usage. This has worked for them for their traffic grew by 538% in just a year. You can tell that their search engine traffic growth took about 6 months then started to compound with time.

You will have to be patient through the first few stages. You’ll only see leads pop up later on. Content marketing and blog posting are not the only important things you need to focus on. Having regular interaction with your audience is very important, as well as ensuring exceptional on-page SEO.

Establish relationships with influencers

These are the gatekeepers, the gurus, the industry stalwarts who can direct targeted traffic your way. It is said that 92% of customers trust recommendations from individuals. It is then worth your while to increase your conversion rate by 30% in a few weeks.

Build a vault of foundational content

Have content that is valuable to online marketers. Many visitors will find you through these foundational content pieces and then become more regular members of your audience. These are evergreen pages that keep receiving traffic and social media shares.

You will note that most other popular blogs also have their pieces of cornerstone content which could be either eBooks, guides, blog posts or courses. This work works amazingly as lead magnets to attract new email subscribers.

Step 4: Check your content marketing performance, monitor audience feedback and set fresh goals every 3-6 months.

By now you’ve put together your high-quality content and are rigorously promoting it and building relationships. You’ve also created foundational content and worked on your relationship with your audience. It is now time to evaluate your content marketing performance by answering the following questions:

  1. Have you slipped off your content marketing schedule?
  2. Which content marketing promotion tactics are driving the maximum traffic per hour?
  3. Who are your best customers?

As soon as you’ve put together your content results and collected all the feedback from your audience, refresh your content marketing goals.

If you’re seeing positive momentum in the first six months of your content strategy and marketing campaign, then you’re in the right track. Keep at it, be consistent and do not be afraid to explore paid marketing and outbound campaigns. This will help generate leads for your business.