“I am because you are.” The story behind Ubuntu Baba

Meet Shannon McLaughlin, founder of Ubuntu Baba, the company that has recently been in the news for its successful ‘David-vs-Goliath’ battle with Woolworths. Her quest to design the perfect baby carrier for her son has translated into a business that ships to every corner of South Africa and around the world.

Shannon Mclaughlin had a beautiful vision of what her life, as a new mom, would look like. However, after her son was born in 2014 she came face to face with reality – those first 12 weeks were far from her dream of baby bliss. If her little boy was not in her arms constantly, there were tears – and an equal amount of those tears were her own.

“We’d tried all sorts of colic cures and ways to calm him, but still he struggled to settle. Getting him to sleep was incredibly trying and he seldom slept for more than 45 minutes. I was desperate. So was he. Thankfully a friend came over one day and gifted me a stretchy wrap and that’s how I discovered the magic of babywearing.”

In no time her child went from snatches of sleep to 3-hour snoozes and it took at most 10 minutes to “get him down”.  Shannon could now take relaxing afternoon strolls on the beach, meet up with friends, enjoy early dinners out and, most importantly, she could get on with her work while her baby slept, calm and content, on her chest. Both were so much happier.

As her son grew, Shannon began the task of finding the perfect baby carrier – something just as soft and comfy as her wrap, but strong enough to support him. After purchasing six different baby carriers and struggling in one way or another with all of them, she set out to design and make her own with help from her dad (who’d been in the backpack-manufacturing business) and her mom (who’d been a fashion designer).

“My goal was to create an easy-to-use, breathable and comfortable carrier with a supportive waistband that was gentle on C-section healing. I wanted it to be adjustable so it didn’t have to be replaced too often as my baby grew,” she says.

Using the finished article made Shannon aware of the addedbenefitsfor both babies and moms. The interest she received from other mothers made it clear that what had started out as an answer to a personal need could become a fully-fledged business.

Shannon grew up in South Africa where she witnessed African Mothers wrapping their babies on their backs from a very young age and so she wanted an African name for her business. In tribute to these original babywearing Moms, Shannon chose “Ubuntu Baba” as the name of her new company. “The explanation of ‘Ubuntu’ – ‘I am because you are’ – evokes so well the mother-child bond, as well as the transition into motherhood and the support and comfort we receive from other moms,” she says.

Four years ago Shannon started out with just one machinist; today Ubuntu Baba employs six machinists and six in the management team. The carriers are shipped worldwide, from the most rural areas in South Africa to major cities inAustralia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Amsterdam, France, and the United States.

 Join Ubuntu Baba for their inspiring 4th trimesterchats. Every second Friday she invites moms to join them for a relevant talk on motherhood, a muffin, coffee and a massage.

“It’s such a lovely space for new Moms to connect and just feel supported on their journey. It’s something I really missed out on as a new mom so it feels great that I am able to now offer that to other moms.” – McLaughlin

More on Ubuntu Baba

A leading babywearing brand that knowsbecoming a mother is the start of a beautiful yet challenging journey. Ubuntu Baba is there to help you step out into the world again with confidence, freedom and style.

 

The Talent Boom: Connecting South African creatives since 2013

Home to some of the world’s leading advertising and digital agencies, South Africa is renowned for its creativity and, like bees to a honeypot, its creative talent has attracted keen headhunters. With influences from its diversity of cultures, creeds, humour and heritage, South Africa’s creative talents are widely sought after by global companies.

It’s no wonder that The Talent Boom, a global digital and creative recruiting firm, opened its first office in the creative hub of Cape Town in 2013. With talent scouts combing agencies and creative departments for people who really stand out, they’ve been making matches between advertising agencies and creative departments of large corporations with elite talent worldwide for the past six years.

Founder and CEO Emily Keyes began her career in the UK and Amsterdam, working for various recruitment agencies before moving to Cape Town in 2013 to open The Talent Boom. She sees extreme creative potential in South Africans that sets them apart, placing them in high demand with international corporates. “In South Africa there’s a big opportunity to do innovative and inspirational work that no one else has done. In some countries, campaigns are just translations and adaptations, whereas in South Africa there’s some real on-the-ground work being done,” says Keyes.

As an English-speaking country with remarkable, hands-on creatives working on projects from inception all the way through to activation and completion, Keyes believes this is what makes South African talent so attractive.

The Talent Boom is not a traditional recruitment agency; instead its boomersconsider themselves pure headhunters. By specifically targeting top talent for companies and departments by headhunting, networking, or through word of mouth, it has no need to advertise jobs or find jobseekers for clients. According to Keyes, “candidates are the elite who have pretty much come into the job market for their clients role only.”

Just as an example of the type of global placements The Talent Boom does in a three month period, since Jan 2019, The Talent Boom has made placements in roles ranging from CEO, strategy director and executive creative directors to project managers, copywriters and business directors in South Africa, Kenya, Amsterdam, Germany, Ghana, Tokyo, Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and Texas.

The Talent Boom represents key digital and creative talent across the creative, digital, advertising and sports world, such as Ogilvy Worldwide, JWT, Saatchi & Saatchi,AKQA and Adidas. Its HQ, affectionately known as The Boom House, is located in Cape Town with offices further afield in London, Amsterdam and more recently, Miami.

After signing its first South African client in 2013, a leading digital agency, the company has grown substantially and now boasts 20 Boomersin South Africa. In 2017, The Talent Boom opened an office in Amsterdam which employs four Boomers, while its new Miami office has two Boomers.

If the past six years are anything to go by, The Talent Boom will continue to grow from strength to strength and continue to search for talent scouts to meet the job demands of their global clients. As an already well-recognised company within the digital and creative recruitment space, The Talent Boom aims to continue to expand its office locations across EMEA in the near future.

About The Talent Boom

The Talent Boom partners with advertising agencies and creative departments of renowned global brands to identify elite talent for their job openings. As a global recruitment agency, they recruit talent at their finest when they work in this diverse and exciting market, thriving on different cultures, countries and challenges.

For more information visit www.thetalentboom.comor email hello@thetalentboom.com

 

Overcoming South Africa’s Maths Challenge

In 2018, less than half of South African learners chose to study pure maths for matric, and of those, only 37% passed with 40% or more. Despite much emphasis being placed on mathematics over the last few years, the recent matric results show that the majority of South Africa’s learners have significant gaps in understanding, or opt for mathematical literacy as a subject, which limits access to higher-level careers in a digital, knowledge economy.

And, in a real-life demonstration of compounding interest, each year that goes by the conceptual gaps grow as learners move up grades. So, gaps in understanding in early school years widen considerably as the learner progresses through high school, to the point that they simply can’t engage with the curriculum anymore. Research[i]shows that these gaps exist along socioeconomic lines, with the poorest 60% of schools having persistent acquired learning deficits in mathematics of, on average, four grade levels by the time they reach the end of grade 9.

This is the challenge that Reflective Learning, a Cape Town-based edtech startup, has set out to tackle with its diagnostic and targeted catch-up based approach. By identifying gaps in learning that originated in earlier grades, and then addressing early concepts with a personalised, reflective learning approach, it is possible to catch-up the equivalent of six grades in one year[ii].

“Our aim is to increase opportunities to access mathematics, open doors to tertiary studies in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields and ignite a lifelong love for learning,” says Eugene Pelteret, Managing Director of Reflective Learning. “South Africa needs to tackle the challenge of learning gaps head on. The thousands of assessments we completed during our pilots showed us that some learners are functioning up to seven grades behind the grade they are in.”

“However, with the Reflective Learning approach, it is possible for learners already in high school to catch-up and excel in maths, if they are given the opportunity and are willing to put in the effort,” says Pelteret.

Since every learner’s deficits are unique, their subsequent learning needs to be personalised. Reflective Learning helps parents and teachers to pinpoint each child’s gaps in understanding and then fast-tracks catching up on their missed learning so that learners can engage fully in class.

How Reflective Learning started

In 2014, Tracey Butchart, a maths and science teacher with three decades’ experience, and now Reflective Learning’s director and education expert, was asked to monitor Uplands Outreach’s Saturday enrichment programme, called Learners for Excellence. Using the first iteration of Reflective Learning’s diagnostic approach, she helped grade 10 learners progress by between three and six grades within a year. Those learners went on to excel in their matric maths results and the majority went on to achieve in university, demonstrating the legacy of the intervention.

Butchart realised that it’s not too late for learners in grade 10 to both catch up and to excel at maths. Also, a personalised, metacognitive approach – where the learner is taught to think about how they learn and think — helps to accelerate learning by creating self-motivated, empowered learners that take ownership of their own education – ideally for the rest of their lives.

Excited by the potential of this educational approach, in 2015 Butchart teamed up with technology company Lightswitch Solutions to form Reflective Learning, and scale the learning approach. The first prototype of the online assessment tool was built in 2016, and has since been tested it in a range of environments, from urban to rural and townships, from desktops, to tablets and mobile phones. These pilots have included more than 3,500 learner assessments in around 25 schools, afterschool programmes and tutoring centres in urban and rural areas, as well as individual learners at home.

The diagnostic tool is available online for parents, teachers and large-scale education intervention projects wanting to measure their impact. It provides immediate results with personalised feedback for every learner. Also available is personalised catch-up material for high school learners that focuses on the numbers component of maths, and takes learners from wherever they are for each critical concept up to Grade 9 level.

In 2019 Reflective Learning will release further catch-up material focusing on fractions, as well as a natural science diagnostic tool. In addition, it will work with the Telkom Foundation in seven schools in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.

How it works:

  1. Diagnostics identify exactly where the gaps in learning are and how far back they go, measuring the mastery of foundational conceptual landmarks across seven threads of maths, benchmarked at three levels.
  2. Personalised reflective journalstarget the gaps identified through the diagnostic while developing metacognitive skills for independent learning.
  3. Re-assessments help to identify whether the learner has mastered each concept, as well as informing the next step in their learning.

More about Reflective Learning

Reflective Learningare experts in identifying gaps in learning acquired from early grades for targeted catch-up. By diagnosing conceptual understanding and addressing early concepts with a reflective approach, the programme has shown that it is possible to catch up the equivalent of six grades in a single year.

[i]Dr Nic Spaull & Janeli Kotze’s “Starting behind and staying behind in South Africa: the case of insurmountable learning deficits in mathematics”. See link.

[ii]Tracey Butchart, Craig Pournara, Patrick Barmby’s “Using a Diagnostic Assessment As Learning – Conceptual Thread Approach in Addressing Acquired Learning Deficits in Mathematics in South Africa”. See link.

How BODYTEC’s innovative technology is changing the fitness industry 

Over the past ten years, the fitness industry has become a force to be reckoned with. Nowadays people are taking their health and physical wellness more seriously and the increase in specialist gyms such as CrossFit boxes and HIIT facilities are creating massive waves in what has become one of the world’s leading industries.

With technology at our fingertips, such as wearable fitness trackers like Fitbit and Apple watches, the trend towards combining cutting-edge technology and exercise is seeing a considerable increase.

BODYTEC has embraced these technological advances. It uses Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to provide a time-efficient strength workout in a contemporary environment, making it easier to fit a workout into a busy schedule. The BODYTEC franchise has grown in just eight years from two company-owned studios in Cape Town to 38 studios throughout South Africa that employ 150 personal trainers.

BODYTEC was first brought to South Africa by Frankfurt-born Boris Leyck, who holds a degree in Sports and Economics from the University of Bayreuth. He discovered EMS in a small micro fitness studio in Munich in 2010 and was immediately blown away by the efficacy of the technology. He opened the first EMS studio in Cape Town in March 2011.

Most people have become accustomed to a busy lifestyle with many struggling to find the time to work out. With BODYTEC, Leyck presents a solution to this problem by providing an effective full-body strength training workout that can be achieved in just 20 minutes a week. BODYTEC’s EMS training uses an electric current to stimulate various muscle groups, causing them to contract, creating the same of kind of resistance found in weight training.

During EMS training, up to 90% of muscles are simultaneously activated with the quality of the contractions higher and more intense than voluntary exertion. Clients can improve their strength, endurance, muscle growth, speed, responsiveness, agility and perceived physical wellbeing as well as stabilising common muscular imbalances such as back pain.

After opening his first two studios, Leyck saw not only an increase in his client base, but also interest in EMS and its benefits, resulting in his decision to franchise the concept and offer a simple price and membership system, without any hidden costs. According to Leyck, “People are looking more for interesting, niche concepts suited to their fitness needs. In addition, the international industry states that the fitness market needs to adapt to millennials and other younger generations. In the future we might see more fitness concepts moving more towards pay-as-you-go systems instead of long-term contracts.”

Many of the current franchise partners agree, as they are former BODYTEC clients who gave up careers in fields such as accounting, marketing, HR, IT and insurance to become BODYTEC franchisees. As an avid cyclist and biker, Leyck says his business journey “has been like a fantastic, off-road motorbike trip without a final destination, but with a well-prepared road plan for each day.”

BODYTEC EMS studios can be found throughout South Africa with the opportunity for even more franchises to be created.

ABOUT BODYTEC

BODYTEC® is South Africa’s premier Electro Muscle Stimulation training franchise offering a time-efficient strength workout in a contemporary environment using innovative technology.

For more information visit www.bodytec.co.za or email info@bodytec.co.za.

Print your memories straight from your phone

With the arrival of BOFT Instant Photo Printing Kiosks in South Africa, mobile-phone photographers can enjoy beautiful Polaroid-type prints of any of the photos stored on their phones, or direct from their Instagram feeds.

Boft is leading the global movement to keep memories alive through the provision of photo printing kiosks that give customers a convenient way to print great quality photos from their phones.

Simply connect your phone via Bluetooth or wifi, select the photos and print. Boft kiosks showcase first class design and build, plus reliable hardware – a 32” waterproof touch screen with HD camera displays your pictures in the brightest colours so you can adjust (for example to include your IG caption, or not) and print them.

Boft’s 4-million customers have already printed 17-million photos in 30 countries including the USA, Australia and Switzerland…  And now their kiosks are popping up in Africa! The first kiosks are located at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, with kiosks coming to Joburg’s Sandton and Eastgate malls in January.

“Boft gives people an easy way of printing their favourite memories. A print of your special moments is something that remains timeless, whether you stick it on your fridge, in a memory book, or give it to someone special,” says Micaela Einhorn, Managing Director of Zahava Prints Pty Ltd and owner to exclusive rights to BOFT in South Africa.

“The kiosks also offer great opportunities for brands to engage with their audience, whether it’s through collaborations and activations, the digital advertising on the kiosks, or at corporate events,” says Einhorn. “The kiosks have ad integration and are able to show video ads and complex advertising mechanics. Campaigns to date include well-known brands like Kinder and Yves Rocher.”

Einhorn has been living in Australia for the past 13 years, travelling back to South Africa every year to visit family. Now that she is back, she is passionate and committed to delivering this instant printing solution to South Africa. “It is truly an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in South Africa. I have been so warmed by the support of the people who have helped me every step of the journey.”

The first two kiosks can be found at V&A waterfront:

1 – Outside Woolworths on the ground floor

2 – Next to the lifts on the 1st floor near Guess

“V&A were so helpful in facilitating this launch. It has been a pleasure to work with them in finding the best possible locations for this offering,” says Einhorn.

Follow @boft.sa on Instagram.

Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Game Plan

Research shows that the Black Friday phenomenon has grown faster in South Africa than any other country in the world. Last year, PriceCheck saw three times the number of dailyvisits to its online shopping comparison websiteon Black Friday, and twice the number on Cyber Monday, compared to its 2017 average. In addition, these visits were on average 30% longer than the 2017 average duration. See more in infographic here.

This year is likely to surpass that, with PayPal predicting that South Africans’online shopping spend will topR53 billion by the end of 2018, up from R37.1 billion in 2017. But as the South African online shopping market grows, providing more to choose from, shoppers should put a game plan in place to ensure they get the best deals from the most reliable, and secure retailers.

“I started PriceCheck in 2006 to solve exactly this shopping conundrum,” says Kevin Tucker, PriceCheck CEO. “How can I quickly and easily compare deals to make sure I am making the best decision? Then, how can I be sure I can trust the retailer before parting with my hard-earned cash?”

PriceCheck’s top tips for getting the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

  1. Have a plan. Know what you want, need and can afford before you get enticed by all the shiny offers in front of you.
  2. Choose a secure way to pay: credit card payments that ask you for a supplementary one-time PIN such as Verified by Visa; Snapscan; and PayPal are all good options.
  3. Take note of the delivery and return details. Will you get the purchase when you need it, and if you need to return it, will you end up paying more on delivery costs?
  4. Look out for hidden costs or additional purchases you might need to make.
  5. Compare deals: similar deals might be packaged slightly differently, so make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
  6. Only buy from reputable retailersso you can be sure you will receive authentic products.

And finally, to avoid FOMO and to be sure you get the best deals in town – often up to 80% off -visit acomparison service such as PriceCheck to see all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in one place and click-through directly to get the deal before it sells out. As an added incentive, Black Friday deals run for an entire week on PriceCheck.

PriceCheck is South Africa’s biggest product discovery and comparison platform, listing millions of products from 700 merchants including: Makro, Clicks, Yuppiechef, Zando, Superbalist, Faithful to Nature, Cybercellar, BidorBuy, Loot, The Kidzone, FirstShop, PC Link Computers, Cape Union Mart, Nula Baby, Old Khaki and more. Last year the most popular categories were tech, fashion, toys and baby.

“While we do our best to encourage shoppers, in these tough economic times, to shop responsibly, when deals are as good as they are on Black Friday, sometimes you just can’t help yourself. So as Kevin from PriceCheck I say shop responsibly, but as Kevin the consumer and online shopper, I say ‘shop like you’ve never shopped before!’” says Tucker excitedly.

About PriceCheck

PriceCheck is Africa’s largest product discovery and comparison service showcasing an extensive range of products from South Africa’s favourite and most trusted stores. PriceCheck is the only place where consumers can see all the best deals aggregated in one place. It enables consumers to easily compare products and prices and to make educated buying decisions.

More on PriceCheck here. 

For images click here.

INFINITY: NEW BOTTLED WATER HARVESTED FROM THE AIR

Sophisticated bottled water harvested from the Stellenbosch air has been launched in the Cape Town market.

There are many bottled waters on the market; but water harvested from the air, is unique. Infinity Air Water is a new bottled water company whose source is the humidity in the air. This special condition makes the water perfectly pure, soft and alkaline (pH8).

Infinity started its first harvest of the soft Stellenbosch moisture in July 2018 and now the company is distributing still and sparkling Infinity Air Water to hotels, restaurants, wine farms and corporates in Cape Town. The company was founded by Jacques Lubbe (South African) and Viviana Alarcon (Chilean) who met while working overseas and have just settled in the Cape.

“The availability of clean drinking water is becoming more and more scarce, not only in our country but also worldwide. Yet we only need to consciously turn our gaze to the vast and infinite sky to witness the untapped potential of the humidity all around us. We choose to be part of the solution by using innovative technology to bring clean drinking water, effectively from thin air,” said Jacques Lubbe, Director of Infinity.

In this way, Infinity is preserving ground and municipal water resources for the use of the City of Cape Town. “Due to the fact that we are harvesting one million litres of new water per year we are in effect adding the same amount to the city’s water balance over that period”, added Jacques Lubbe.

High local demand and tourism

Clean drinking water availability and plastic pollution are two topics of high concern in our local and global community. The company addresses both with its Sustainability Model.

“Our clients from the hospitality industry can rely on our product”, said Lubbe. Infinity Air Water is harvested directly from the air and never makes contact with the ground keeping it free from elements that may alter its taste, resulting in a perfectly pure water.  Additionally, multiple safeguards used in the bottled water industry are taken to ensure the quality of the water, including nine stages of filtration and the use of UV light before being bottled.

The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) contained in Infinity Air Water are below 20 mg/l, which means only the required minerals are present. With a pH of 8, this alkaline water is a powerful anti-oxidant, helping to boost the immune system and balance the pH in your body.

Infinity supports the reduction of plastic and single-use glass bottles. They only use glass and by returning glass bottles, Infinity’s clients not only pay just for refills but also are contributing to the reduction of at least 2 million plastic bottles per year. Additionally, distribution crates are made of wood, a reusable, repairable and renewable material.

Infinity Air Water and Aquacello, Importer, Distributor and full service centre for Atmospheric Water Generators, have recently entered into a Strategic Alliance Agreement to extend their capabilities to deliver value to clients and collectively focus their marketing, sales, research and development efforts.

Such good taste!    

Imagine a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food market… the bright colours, the beautifully displayed wares, the friendly greetings, the sound of a scoop plunging into a pile of nuts, the tempting scent of freshly baked treats and newly ground coffee … If only we had something similar in South Africa.

Welcome to the bustling treasure trove of The Good Batch!Everywhere you look, from floor to ceiling, is an exquisite array of hand-picked delights sourced worldwide. Jars piled high, sacks overflowing with treats and the best coffee in town.

Nuts, from pistachios and pecans to walnuts and macadamias, raw or roasted in-store. Truffles, pralines and chocolate salami. Turkish delight, authentic halva, old-fashioned bonbons, nougat and fudge. Delicious dried berries, fruits, seeds and biltong. Handmade, just-baked biscuits and cookies. And some of the world’s finest coffee beans, freshly roasted on the spot.

The Good Batch is a family-run taste emporium that gathers together best-in-class delicacies from the world over and from small local artisans. It is the brainchild of Alexi Hadjidakis, who began his retail journey at the knee of his father George, who started 7-Eleven in South Africa in 1967.

Inspired by the quality and displays at a food show he visited in Dubai, Hadjidakis was determined to bring that market-style experience home. “We drew inspiration from far and wide, locally and internationally, to bring the very best into one place for South Africans who enjoy gourmet snacks,” says Hadjidakis. “And it’s all under one roof so it’s easy to choose any quantity you like.”

The first store opened in Canal Walk, Cape Town, on 18 October. It is now open, 9am to 9pm daily, and there are plans to open 6 to 8 outlets in the next two years. The next store is scheduled to open at Cavendish Square in March 2019 but there may be some surprise pop-ups and openings before then.

If you love really great coffee, need a small, bespoke treat for a host or hostess or a large gift for a special client or loved one, the perfect solution will be waiting at The Good Batch.  Enjoy the age-old thrill of selecting your own items, or ask one of the experienced staff members to make up a box of delicacies – sweet, savoury or both!  Take some treats home, or pause for a coffee or enjoy them on the spot.

Each item is carefully chosen to complement the others, Hadjidakis explains. The experience is sensory and tactile with products served open and sold by weight. “Our nuts, coffee and chocolate are going to blow people away!” he enthuses. “This is a new sensory shopping experience for the South African customer – it’s unlike any they’ve had before.”

For more on The Good Batch – visit the website here.

How is PR measured?

Can you measure if your PR is working? Can you work out your ROI? Both common questions, especially when you are investing time and money in a communication plan. The answer is yes, it is. You can see if your campaign was successful, effective and where you can improve.

The process of measuring the effects of PR is simple. Compare the goals you set before beginning the campaign with the goals the campaign attained. If your PR goals are aligned with measurable business results, analysing the value of your campaign is easier. Here are a few ways that you can quantify results so that you can improve your communication strategy and determine your ROI:

If your campaign uses social media you can measure your engagement. Measurable factors include likes, views, shares, comments etc. This way you can see what content keeps your audience engaged and where they are not responding.

You can track leads and referrals who have shown an interest or have looked you up by using trackable links. You can use these to see what routes audiences are taking, if they are clicking on your link (click-through rate) and how many of them are completing an action after visiting (conversion rate).

You can also track press clippings that mention your company, products or services. The publications should be consumed by your current and prospective clients. This way you can determine media impressionsby calculating the circulation of the publication. 

From these clippings you can determine the AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) of a particular editorial piece. The AVE indicates how much the space would have cost had the content been an advertisement. Please note this measure is taken with a huge pinch of salt, but it does act as an effective benchmark to see whether a campaign has been effective or not.

Measurable factors can be both quantitative and qualitative. By conducting a content analysis you can monitor the content and see if it matches your brand’s key message.

After a PR campaign you can measure your website traffic. This way you can determine the amount before and after your communications plan.

All these factors allow you to evaluate your ROI by taking the total returns of the campaign and dividing it by the total expenditure.

If you’d like to see some real-life examples of PR reports and results we’ve achieved please let us know here. 

What is PR?

‘Doves are just clean pigeons, butterflies are pretty moths and squirrels are just rats with really really good PR.’

But on a serious note… it is scary how many people, CEOs, Marketing Gurus, Clients etc. don’t truly know what PR is, how it works and how it can be measured. We’ve tried to demystify it for you here:

PR (public relations) is a strategic and focused communication process offered to businesses and individuals to help build a good reputation, beneficial relationships with peers and publics and attract positive attention towards a brand. The plan is implemented using various media and mediums.

Good PR includes the following functions:

  • Anticipating, analysing and interpreting existing opinions of you or your company.
  • Establishing who exactly your target market is.
  • Influencing target audiences’ attitude towards your brand using free or earned media.
  • Drafting a communication strategy to support your brand’s objectives and to solve those problems keeping you awake at night i.e. not enough customers, no brand awareness.
  • Writing and distributing content and media releases.
  • Following up and liaising with the media to ensure your media release is covered to the greatest extent possible.
  • Planning and executing outreach efforts and media events.
  • Developing a crisis communication plan.
  • Defending a reputation and maintaining credibility during a crisis.

PR can be divided into two stages, the positive storytelling and the negative damage-control. Good PR is not limited to giving client’s a voice for their brand and cultivating a story that portrays a positive brand image and product. It is also used as damage-control to alleviate negative attention. Both stages require PR professionals to help build a positive image through traditional and social media.

What is the importance of PR?

No matter how big or small, old or new your business is, your brand can benefit from having a PR strategy in place. It will ensure that your brand is viewed by your customers as credible, that your message reaches a targeted audience and gives you control over your own narrative.

Credibility:

Your audience will trust your brand and message if it is coming from third parties instead of self-promotion. PR will motivate favourable mention of your brand by word of mouth, testimonials, editorial content and private accounts. People trust more what other people advocate.

Exposure:

With so many similar businesses, there will always be competition for audience’s attention. PR offers a way to catch their attention and build awareness around your brand, product or service by finding the diamond in the rough, putting an effective spin on it and telling your unique story.

Remain Relevant:

Because of the internet, your story won’t disappear. PR can ensure that your brand or content stays visible and gains exposure over time.

SEO benefits:

PR shares positive, consistent content using appropriate search terms that will keep your brand relevant in the search engines.  This can also bring more customers and increase returns.

Crisis management:

PR can avoid and plan ahead for any possible bad publicity. It allows you to prepare for a disaster before it happens so that you can save time and position your business to save your reputation.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” – Bill Gates. He understood that PR is a long-term effort and solution to increase your ROI. If you want to be perceived as a squirrel you need to be a part of a long term PR strategy and work towards a desired goal. Otherwise you might end up a rat.

If you have any questions at all on how PR might help you or your business please let us know. 

Up-skill Your Team to Get Ahead of the Digital Curve

Concerned about declining skills and resources, Gone Digital, an agiledigital marketing consultancy that has worked with many of the top brands and agencies in South Africa, has recently launched the Gone Digital Academy.

“We have worked in the industry for over a decade and have seen a rapid decline in the quality of skills and resources in the market,” says Luke Peters, Group CEO and Founder. “Instead of complaining, we decided to do something about it and have invested in delivering knowledge and mentorship-based learning that will help up-skill teams to ensure they are ahead of the curve in a fast-paced digital world.”

Course content is focused and relevant with topics covered including digital strategy, development, content, design, paid media, SEO and data analysis. Graduates of the Gone Digital Academy will be well equipped to navigate their way through the digital landscape, and contribute in a meaningful way to the development of the South African digital industry.

“Our practical experience in the industry ensures that our courses are not only based on the theory of marketing but actually informed by real-world scenarios,” says Peters. As a result, the courses introduce students to the most relevant and transformative aspects of digital marketing. Students are instructedin classrooms by lecturers with real industry experience, and benefit from their ongoing mentorship.

Gone Digital Academy courses are affordable and Seta (Sector Education and Training Authority) accredited, so businesses and agencies sending staff on these courses will be eligible for rebates or BBEEE points, depending on their structure.

Candidates who pass the unique SETA-accredited examination receive recognised certifications and qualifications. The Gone Digital Academy’s first course, Performance Media Marketing, is launching in Johannesburg on the 26-28thSeptember and in Cape Town, 8-10thOctober 2018.Click hereto sign up.

The two courses on offer are:

·      Performance Media Marketing which incorporates Search marketing, Paid Social Media, SEO and Analytics.

·      Social Media Marketing, Digital Strategy & Planning.

Course costs: R6999 per person.

ENDS

ABOUT Gone Digital Academy

The Gone Digital Academy offers Seta-accredited, digital marketing education to businesses, agencies and individuals. Born out of the digital industry itself, the Gone Digital Academy provides the necessary recognised certifications and qualifications for candidates to advance and progress within this industry.

Moonsport Wins Young Agency of The Year

Moonsport has proved its mettle by winning the Sports Industry Awards’ – Young Agency of the Year.

Moonsportlaunched in 2014.Originally a digital content syndication business, it’s only in the last year that it has became a fully-integrated, client service, sports business.

“It’s always great to be acknowledged especially in such a competitive industry where one needs to constantly be thinking creatively, innovating and operating differently,”says Trent Key, MD of Moonsport.

The Sport Industry Awardsare South Africa’s most prestigious awards in the field, celebrating the best work over the last year. Moonsport was a finalist in four categories; Audio-visual Content of the Year; Best Use of Social Media; Cutting Edge Sports Award and finally, Young Agency of the Year.

“All the agencies we were up against are industry leaders and the award certainly could have gone to any of them,” adds Key.

In the past year, Moonsport has captured Mark Beaumont’s record-breaking Circumnavigation by Bicyclein an international digital media campaign, constructed and operated the largest digital screen ever seen in Africa at the Cape Town Sevens, won an SAB  Media Award and worked with global federations, personalities and sports codes. From sports presentation to digital content strategy, in-stadium entertainment to video production services, content generation to activations; Moonsport has developed into a sports business of the future, filling in the cracks in the sports marketing world and tackling a diversity of work.

To date, Moonsport’s clients include: Sky Sports, SuperSport, Mark Beaumont – Around the World in 80 days, Rugby 365, Rugby Pass, South African Rugby Union, South African Referees, Hunters, FIH – Hockey World League / Frontiers, Nike, Stillwater/Athletics South Africa, Cape Cobras Cricket and Varsity Cup & Sport.

“It’s great to be on the scoreboard. It’s an exciting time for sports content and entertainment in South Africa, there are some great players and lots of opportunities for growth and development,” concludes Key.

More on Moonsport

Moonsport (Pty) Ltd is a company dedicated to delivering sports content to multiple media platforms. Established as a division of Moonlighting, a leading South African film production service company, Moonsport has become a stand-alone provider of the written word, audio content, filmed sport material and sports entertainment. For more on Moonsport click here.

New BE YOU Toothpaste, try it – taste it – love it

Swiss oral care company Curaprox launches BE YOU toothpaste. Experience oral freshness and beauty like you have never experienced before!  BE YOU comes in six sophisticated flavours, while at the same time whitening your smile, protecting your teeth and freshening your breath. An all-in-one oral health solution – That’s [BE YOU.]

There’s a flavour for everyone and every mood!

Rising Star is an “up and at ‘em” combination of juicy grapefruit and revitalising bergamot, with peppermint and menthol to guarantee freshness almost all day long.

Pure happiness mixes subtle peach and apricot notes with a cool zap of peppermint, spearmint and menthol.

Candy lover combines sweet watermelon with an explosion of icy menthol.

Challenger is a wonderfully dry mixture of sweet persimmon and a touch of juniper.

In Daydreamer, tangy-sweet blackberry meets the zip of liquorice and menthol for long-lasting freshness.

Finally, in Explorer there’s a toothpaste for adventurers: juicy aloe and fresh green apple with highlights of peppermint and menthol. A uniquely refreshing brushing experience.

On top of these flavour experiences, Be You also promises instantaneous whitening through a gentle and natural double-whitening effect: enzymatic whitening and optical whitening. (The first whitens discoloured or stained teeth, while stimulating the production of the body’s own healthy oral flora; the second uses a compound called Prestige Sparkling Blue, which reflects blue light. The visual perception of the customer is an instantaneous whitening of the teeth.)

And that’s not all … Be You contains fast-acting fluoride to prevent cavities, and much more, such as hydroxylapatite to remineralise your teeth, seal open dentine channels and reduce pain sensitivity. Then there’s provitamin B5 for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Power beads offer extra long-lasting freshness, and health-promoting herbal extracts like Echinacea.

All this goodness without the harm – there’s no SLS, no triclosan and no micro plastic in Be You toothpastes.

You’re different from everyone around you, so why should your toothpaste fit the mould? Next time, choose one that is not only good for you but also comes in a flavour you enjoy. You will love brushing your teeth and will brush for longer. And the more brushing you do, the better for your oral health.

Of course, a toothpaste that protects against decay, provides lasting fresh breath, helps protect against tooth sensitivity and strengthens your enamel, supports the flow of saliva, prevents the appearance of aphthae ulcers, minimises plaque AND gives you a choice of great flavours is not going to come cheap. But at R249,99 recommended sale price, you get a great deal of value.

Ask your dental practitioner about Curaprox’s Be You toothpaste, or shop online at shop.curaprox.co.za and Takealot.

 Try it – taste it – love it.

PRIME DENTAL

CURAPROX BE YOU is distributed in South Africa by Prime Dental. Prime Dental is a dental supplies business that has been in operation since 1997. A wide variety of dental materials and consumables are supplied, but the primary focus from a product perspective is on oral hygiene brands. These are distributed primarily through dental practices, independent pharmacies and online. Prime Dental has been importing the Swiss-manufactured Curaprox range into South Africa for more than 10 years.

Greenworks innovative battery-operated driven products to hit SA soon

Greenworks, battery driven garden and DIY equipment, is launching in South Africa this September. Established in 2006, Greenworks is a rapidly growing brand offering a wide range of cordless garden and power tools worldwide.

“Greenworks products are designed to make garden and home chores simpler and easier, with one battery that fits all your tools, zero fumes and no maintenance just clean, strong battery power”, says Chase Weir, South African Country Manager.

In a world where more and more companies are turning to renewable energy, Greenworks is leading the pack. Greenworks products are designed for modern thinking people who really love gardening and DIY and want smarter, greener, and cleaner solutions.

The demand for global battery-operated equipment is growing rapidly in South Africa, especially in a market saturated with electrical and petrol products. Not only does GreenworksÒ prioritise environmental impact and running costs, the brand has also endeavoured to keep their products affordable for the South-African consumer.

Greenworks cordless equipment, allows you to get creative as far away from a plug socket as you wish. For the professional and day-to-day DIY-er alike, Greenworks offers a wide range of 24 or 40 volt, lightweight power tools. There is one battery that fits the entire product line making storing and transporting that much easier.

Greenworks products will soon be available for purchase on Takealot and at selected retailers nationwide.

ABOUT GREENWORKS

Greenworks is the innovation driven brand for modern thinking people who really love gardening and DIY. For people who want smarter, simpler, greener, and cleaner solutions then Greenworks can solve all your needs. For more go to: www.greenworkstools.com/

#greenworks #powertools #gardentools #DIY

Life after Bitcoin

By Richard Beddow, Founder and CEO of ClickFX.

You probably noticed the shift during the second half of 2017. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies went from something you vaguely knew about and planned to read up on real soon, to the main topic of conversation at dinner parties. Since then the crypto fanboys have quietened down just a touch with the Bitcoin price hovering around the R85 000 mark, down from the heady heights of more than R300 000 in December 2017.

There has been a massive correction in the market, and today anyone still investing in cryptocurrencies is doing it for its underlying future application rather than as a blind get-rich-quick punt. Now, investors are taking the time to understand the real-world application of the cryptocurrency and betting on its future.

In our view, the Bitcoin bubble was driven by investor hype, and now that things are normalising, the real-world value of the underlying technology (blockchain) will emerge in a range of new-age tech products such as Storj (storage), brave (browser), steemit (social) and status (messaging). In years to come, blockchain will be integrated into so many things we do that we won’t even know it’s there. In the same way that the Internet didn’t disappear after the Dotcom crash, it just got embedded more deeply into our lives, a similar thing will happen with blockchain.

Adaptations of blockchain will improve different processes and systems that we use every day. For example, in cross-border payments today money moves from A to Z via a complex, slow and expensive correspondent-banking network (Swift), which has hardly changed since 1973. Blockchain technology could revolutionise this by making transfers faster, safer and cheaper. Another area where blockchain has significant appeal, and where some early pilots are already being run, is in property. Last year Georgia became the first government to use blockchain to validate property transactions. Again, it’s quicker, cheaper and more secure.

Of course people have made money from the Bitcoin boom, but by the time the masses were getting involved – just as the market downturn happened, the “whales” had cashed in and moved on. One particularly clever and totally legal move we saw happening is called “roundtripping”. South Africans were using their offshore investment allowance (up to R 1 million a year) to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum on offshore exchanges. They’d then transfer the cryptocurrency back to a South African exchange and gain up to 20% on the price difference between the exchanges.

Essentially, they were trading cryptocurrencies as an equity, benefiting from the price difference between the two exchanges as well as a probable upturn in the value of the cryptocurrency during the transfer process. They’d sell their cryptocurrency locally and repeat the process until they had exhausted their R1 million annual allowance. The only real trick was to ensure their forex transactions were as fast as possible — delays added risk to the transaction as the market was so volatile. And of course, like any arbitrage situation, the more people who climb on board, the quicker the window closes.

So, now that the dust has settled on the Bitcoin rollercoaster, keep an eye out for agile disruptors using blockchain to take on the likes of Chrome, Dropbox, Skype, SWIFT, etc. Exciting times ahead…

So what’s next for South African investors? They will no doubt continue to look for opportunities to use their foreign exchange allowance to grow their wealth, so here is a quick overview of the rules.

Forex and South Africans:

1. Every South African Resident over 18 has a Single Discretionary Allowance of R 1 million per calendar year. You don’t need a tax clearance certificate and the money can be used for investment purposes.

2. Additionally, there is a Foreign Investment Allowance of up to a further R 10 million, but for this, you need a specific tax clearance certificate from SARS.

3. Over and above this R10m allowance, one can apply for a Certificate of Compliance from SARS. This is a fairly lengthy process, but there is effectively no limit to the amount that can be transferred offshore under this arrangement.

Detonator Media Group partners with Brandnew IO

Sub-Saharan Africa – Detonator Media Group, a leading consultancy in the media and marketing space, has partnered with influencer marketing technology platform Brandnew IO

Born out of digital thinking: Positioning brands in the digital world

Detonator Media Group helps connect their brands with the most relevant and influential audiences by focusing on KPI’s – such as value, engagement, reach and impact – to achieve the brands’ objectives. Since its inception in 2014, Detonator has worked in the gaming media, video, audio and streaming services, influencer technology and native content marketing space, to name a few. An innovation-based operation, the organisation sells platforms and audiences that are big overseas and that are scaling locally. With all these accolades under their belt, partnering with influencer platform, Brandnew IO, was their obvious next step.

A powerful partnership: the detonator for influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is now one of the fastest digital customer-acquisition methods. Due to the sheer power of peer-to-peer endorsements, precise targeting capabilities, more detailed tracking and access to affordable influencers promising high engagement – influencer marketing has become a fundamental element of marketing budgets, globally. A recent Adweek article boasts; “67% of marketers think influencer marketing campaigns helped them reach a more targeted audience, thus leading to more impactful results.”

In early 2018, the Detonator team identified Brandnew IO as the tech player to align themselves with, to roll out influencer campaigns with global best practice. Brandnew IO started as one of the first technology companies in the space in early 2013. Together, the two organisations can significantly enhance the way brands connect with their ideal audiences. “Detonator is proud to be partnering with Brandnew IO across sub-Saharan Africa. We are thrilled to have found this advanced, trusted and scalable global influencer technology partner and are excited to roll it out to service our influencer campaigns across all our clients,” says Garth Rhoda, Managing Partner, Detonator Media. Francis Trapp, Founder and CEO, Brandnew IO adds: “Detonator is one of the best agency partners I can think of in South Africa. Their contacts and expertise paired with Brandnew’s influencer marketing technology is an incredibly strong combination for brands.”

ABOUT Brandnew IO

Brandnew IO empowers marketers with the tools to discover, track and work with influential content creators across all major social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube, blogs, Snapchat and Facebook. The end-to-end platform saves marketers time by enabling them to use hard data to find the most relevant influencers and gain key insights. With Brandnew IO, marketers can effortlessly communicate with creators, coordinate campaigns through a centralised dashboard and measure success in real-time with live reporting features. Brandnew IO’s machine learning pricing algorithm uses years of historical data to add transparency to creator prices in different regions, social networks, and industries.

“Influencer technology is moving very fast and this platform is perfectly positioned to adapt and execute in our ever-changing landscape. We are confident the platform will perform for our clients,” concludes Rhoda.

DHL E-commerce MoneyAfrica conference set for Cape Town in March

The fourth DHL E-commerce MoneyAfrica conference, one of the continent’s largest e-commerce events, is set to take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 14 to 15 March 2018.

Having grown by 45% since 2017, the show will bring together the regions’ top merchants, major retailers, brands, developers, designers and startups, business owners, directors and CEOs as well as managers involved in marketing, merchandising, customer service, operations and supply chain management.

Industry experts will host keynotes, panel discussions, technical demonstrations, networking opportunities, cocktail functions and an exhibition showcase.

Unlocking e-commerce potential

South African online sales recently surpassed the 1% mark of total retail sales. Whilst a milestone achievement, developed economies are proportionally further ahead, and South Africa and other African countries require exponential growth to catch up.

“The 1% problem is as much an intriguing opportunity as it is a daunting task, the potential for growth and rapid acceleration is real. Understanding where the acceleration opportunities lie not only from an online retail perspective, but in the payments, funding and fulfilment space is what MoneyAfrica 2018 is all about,” says Terry Southam, managing director of conference and exhibition company Kinetic.

Key themes

According to the event organisers, guests will be afforded networking opportunities to connect and collaborate with bright minds in the online marketplace. With over 400 companies attending and 82 international speakers, attendees will obtain key insights and strategic takeaways from thought leaders as well as acquire different perspectives on how to remain competitive in the space by implementing the latest technology available in e-commerce, payments and fintech.

Main themes this year include:

• Customer experience: Winning the CX war – supercharging customer service

• Digital commerce: From digital pretender to digital performer – raising your digital IQ

• Omni-commerce: Perfecting user experience and efficiency in e-commerce sales channels

• Defining the path to next-generation delivery and fulfilment and accelerating cross-border logistics

• Tapping into the mobile commerce revolution

• Disruptive payments innovation in e-commerce

• Envisioning the future of fintech in e-commerce

“The e-commerce landscape in Africa is evolving so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep up. I have found the E-commerce Africa conference and exhibition to be one of the best ways to be informed and meet those who are making major disruptive and innovative changes in all aspects of e-commerce,” says Chris Folayan, CEO, MallForAfrica.

SA Agency Captures World Record Breaking Circumnavigation

Scottish cyclist and adventurer, Mark Beaumont, recently broke the Guinness World Record for circumnavigation by bicycle in 78 days, 14 hours, and 40 minutes – an incredible feat captured and shared with the world by South African sports production agency, MoonSport. The record was previously held by New Zealander, Andrew Nicholson, who in 2015 managed the feat in 123 days.

When approached by the world-renowned cyclist to cover his 80 day circumnavigation, MoonSport couldn’t turn down the privilege and challenge of such a complex, global production. “Being part of a team that breaks a world record offers a sense of achievement like no other,” says Trent Key, MD, MoonSport. “Professional sportsmen don’t get to where they are easily and our team had to match that intense commitment.”

Mark Beaumont used the Artemis World Cycle as an opportunity to raise funds for Orkidstudio, a small charity dedicated to uplifting communities through innovative architecture and construction, such as the Sachibindu hospital in northern Zambia.

“As soon as I met Philip Key, CEO, and Trent Key, MD, of MoonSport Productions, I felt I’d met a media partner with the same amount of passion and vision as I have and I knew then that they would be able to bring my 80 day circumnavigation by bicycle alive.

Rather than talking about the ‘if’, the conversation was immediately about the ‘when’ and the ‘how’.

The focus was on creating a global social media journey, as well as a documentary that would reset history—if successful.” – Mark Beaumont.

MoonSport was tasked to find a crew that would work for 80 days non-stop, 16 hours a day, and in very challenging conditions. The team gathered footage for the documentary, and also gathered daily content for social media.

This included Mark’s website

run by 80 Days Digital, as well as the international

press (managed by PR company, Muckle Media). Moonsport was also responsible for the management of Mark’s social media pages including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Daily content included stills, daily previews, reviews, weekly wraps, and incident videos.

The team covered 16 countries: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada

Portugal and Spain. They travelled in two motorhomes and were the only two team members to stay with Mark for every single day of the race.

“As soon as we landed, I knew we were in for one hell of an adventure.” – Helmut Scherz, Cinematographer and Soundman

“One epic adventure that will never be forgotten. We are very proud to have made history with Mark and the team.” – Johnny Swanepoel, Content director, Photographer and Editor

Supported 24/7 by Emanuel Fereira back in the Cape Town, the team would get up at 3:30am every morning and film Mark’s morning preview, edit the material, and then send it through to base. Approvals for content were often only through Whatsapp with the UK management team.

Despite the fact that the team faced mental and physical fatigue, minimal resources, challenges with signal and communication, language barriers, losing a drone in Canada, and even having a vehicle collision in Australia, they got the job done.

“With the nature of such an extreme expedition, everyone involved worked under huge pressure, but with a solid media team on the road and back in Cape Town, we have successfully achieved what we set out to achieve, and MoonSport has captured this epic journey with wonderful and unique content,” adds Mark Beaumont.

To date, the campaign has generated a global reach of over 500 million (514,154,966) with social media content views exceeding 5 million, a number that is still rising! “This campaign has shown us that the impossible is actually quite possible, and that social media is a truly powerful tool if content is engaging, organic and interesting,” concludes Trent Key.

Africa’s Top Cyber Security Event hits Johannesburg this October

The 2nd Annual AfriSecure Cyber Security Summit, Africa’s most respected cyber security conference, will take place on the 18th & 19th of October at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton.

2017 has seen an increasing number of cybersecurity meltdowns breaches which have caused havoc for large organisations and individuals alike. Millions of rands have been lost, jobs put at risk, and confidential information leaked.

“In today’s world cyber security has become a very real threat and one that organisations can no longer ignore. The AfriSecure Summit is about building relationships and bringing to light the latest trends and technologies in the fight against cyber criminals,” says Shannon Mackrill, Joint Managing Director, Kinetic.

AfriSecure aims to connect senior executives responsible for protecting their companies’ critical infrastructures with innovative solution providers and renowned information security experts. “Delegates will gain knowledge through the sharing of ideas, information, and expand their general awareness concerning cyber crime and cyber threats,” says Advisory Panel Member: Danny Myburgh, Founder and Managing Director, Cyanre.

Lead Sponsor, Mimecast, will be hosting the Anatomy of an Email-borne attack on the second day of the summit. This session will address hot topics such as: Why and how the threat landscape is evolving; How your email can be used as an entry point in multiple types of attack; How to enhance your email security and thus improve your overall cyber resilience; as well as a Live Hack Demo.

With 55 speakers, 24 workshops and 350 registered attendees to date, AfriSecure will address the most critical cyber issues Africa is currently facing. The expert keynotes, workshop sessions, networking opportunities, and panel discussions will feature topics such as: application security, risk management, ransomware, disaster recovery, mobile security, social responsibility, and so many more.

The advisory panel members have been instrumental in assisting with the conceptualisation and crafting of the conference agenda. This year the panel includes: Julian Ramiah, Group Chief Information Security Officer, Liberty Holdings Limited; Jacques Lourens, Chief Information Security Officer, Nedbank; Thagraj Moodley, Group Chief Information Security Officer, Discovery; Abid Adam, Former Chief Information Security Officer for Old Mutual Emerging Markets; Vernon Fryer, Chief Information Security Officer, XON/NEC; and Danny Myburgh, Founder and Managing Director, Cyanre.

The objective of the summit is for delegates “to share knowledge and collaborate with industry leaders in creating a platform to enhance and continuously improve the discipline of information security,” Thagraj Moodley, Group Chief Information Security Officer, Discovery.

Speakers include Aki Anastaiou, Host of Technobyte on Radio 702 and Tech Busters on CNBC Africa; Francis Cronje, Data Protection, and Information Governance Specialist; Brigadier Piet Pieterse, Section Head Hawks; Marc Silver, Head of Operation Security, Investec and many more.

Lead Sponsor: Mimecast.

Platinum Sponsor: Arbor

Silver Sponsors: Commvault, J2 Software, Fortinet and Panda Security.

Official Research Partner: Forrester.

Three ways Spree is leading the way for customer experience in Africa

Sven Schoof, head of customer experience at Spree, unpacks three ways in which Spree is leading the way for CX in South Africa, and how important it is for brands to keep innovating to remain relevant.The current state of the customer experience industry sees a continuous evolution. There are a few lighthouse examples of offering great customer experiences in South Africa, but, at the same time, there is much room for improvement.Even though awareness around great customer experiences and the need to invest in customer-centricity is growing, too many companies still offer poor customer experiences.
1. Innovation and growth in the industry
In this digitally enhanced, always on and increasingly transparent world, brands that are not embracing customer centricity are likely to face an increasing amount of issues. If your company is not innovating and attempting to find ways to delight your customers, you can be assured that your competitors are. Ultimately, fostering long-term loyalty of your customer base is always highly profitable.From a retail perspective, it is primarily all about having a well-designed, high-performance, mobile-first online offering, showcasing relevant products at the right price points. And, as for any other business, offering a delightful customer experience needs to permeate every layer of the business – from the technology to the user interface, from the customer service to the courier handing over the parcel.
2. Transforming customer experience with technology
In order to transform our customer experience, we recently launched a highly innovative image search and similar style feature in the Spree shopping app. The visual search technology uses images uploaded by users as search queries instead of keywords.It then returns visually similar images by analysing the pixels inside the image instead of the image metadata (size, resolution, etc.) The order of the displayed images is based on the parameters; colour, pattern, and style silhouette – all of which have different weightings.Within the existing search functionality, the Spree app now offers a feature, which allows shoppers to take a photo or upload an image, which will return visually similar items in seconds. Finding similar styles while browsing is now also easier; shoppers can tap and hold any product image in a category, search results or product view and the feature will highlight items that are visually similar.It is imperative that we invest in this new technology. Within the past one to two years, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Amazon have all released image-based search or recommendations features.This clear global trend uses today’s technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to make life easier and more intuitive for customers – especially when using mobile devices; another global trend. As a mobile-first company that continuously tries to delight our customers, investing in this new technology made absolute sense to Spree.
3. Why it works
So far, we have received a lot of positive results. The ‘Similar Styles’ feature is gaining traction fast, as it is very easy and intuitive to use by merely tapping and holding on a product image. The increase in engagement is the most positive feedback we have, but it is still early days and we are very excited to see how our customers will be using our image search features in the near future.We anticipated high engagement for the ‘Similar Styles’ feature, and slightly less for the ‘Image Search’ feature, as this requires more interaction. This has so far proven to be spot on, but again, it is early days and we are still learning.Regarding the ‘Image Search’, we are pleased to see that the image quality used by our customers has been improving and that they are moving towards using social media images to find matching Spree products.
The future is of course hard to predict, but I can safely say that in my view, companies will continue to focus on getting the mobile customer experience right, as well as viewing customer-centricity as a holistic approach that requires the entire company to buy in to make it successful.There are quite a few brands that are leading the way for customer experience in South Africa. One of them is the online home and kitchen retailer, Yuppiechef, which stands out as a leader in creating delightful customer experiences and thereby gaining customer loyalty.I believe that we can inspire growth and innovation in the South African customer experience industry by leading by example. Singular companies that shine by innovating within the customer experience sphere will automatically drive others to follow suit. For more information, visit www.spree.co.za. Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram.