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Gauteng based digital marketing agency Stilt Media are making waves as one of the few completely black women owned and led agencies in the current South African marketing and advertising landscape. The agency is already disrupting the typical client/agency relationship by using technology and data to add real value and return on investment to clients’ bottom lines.
Founded in 2015, Stilt Media headed up by Marketing Director Mimi Mphaphuli and Managing Director Tina Manyanya. Both women come from impressive leadership and management backgrounds, with Manyanya having headed up her own department at Publicis Media and Mphaphuli having lead a department at Ogilvy.
The pair decided to start up Stilt Media after noticing a gap in the current digital marketing environment in terms of service and delivery. They aim to use their unique backgrounds to create better processes and build better strategies to boost clients from an operational and business development point of view.
So what makes Stilt Media different?
“To start with, we believe in the power of technology and data and how it can be used to add measurable value,” says Manyanya. “We’re used to seeing the scenario where a client comes to an agency with a bunch of cash and tells them to run a campaign without having an understanding of what they agency is going to do and why. We want to use the data, analytics and tools at our disposal to demystify what we do, so clients can see that everything we recommend is from a strategic point of view. We don’t want to waste the client’s money.”
“So many South African agencies just take their client’s funding and rely on automated tools to do the heavy lifting for their social media and search campaigns,” adds Mphaphuli. “We’d rather dig deep into the data, so we can understand how to constantly better optimise our campaigns.”
“We’re very interested in where technology is going and in investing in tools that can help make things easier and more affordable for our clients. Whether it’s more efficient reporting tools or more efficient programmatic processes, we’re always looking at ways to get more insights without cutting corners.”
The pair acknowledge that the current advertising industry has a reputation for a lack of transparency, and hope to build trust through becoming strategic partners to their clients – and not just another agency.
“We understand that the industry has for a very long time operated without transparency and clients have been kept from seeing where their money is going and how it’s being spent. What we are doing is telling them what the work we’re doing will do to their bottom line,” says Manyanya.
“We are interested in being strategic partners and taking things beyond a typical client agency relationship. We’re asking ourselves, ‘how can we assist you and partner with you to help your business grow holistically?’”
Stilt Media also believes in fostering the next generation of black, female digital marketing leaders, and have created a paid internship program to facilitate this.
“Having both grown up in agency environments, we understand what the typical internship can be like,” says Mphaphuli. “We don’t just want to give them meaningless jobs to do. We want them to understand the thinking behind what we do and take ownership of it. We want to encourage a spirit of entrepreneurship.”
Stilt Media is currently taking on clients across verticals, and already has partnered with several major South African agencies as well as clients in the technology, automotive, financial and entertainment sectors. To get in touch with the company, contact 011 463 5767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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A MyJHB.co.za selected Market Theatre Johannesburg video for you:
Amateur Stage TV talks to Julian Cound, Marketing Manager for Darlington Operatic Society, who gives an insight into promoting the company‘s productions and overall brand.
Women in Marketing Awards open to South African candidates: Women in Marketing (WIM) are pleased to announce the 7th annual Women In Marketing Awards – celebrating the successes and advances made by women in the marketing, advertising and communications fields, and their male supporters. This year’s award takes place on the 16th November at the Ham Yard Hotel, London. In 2004, Ade Onilude, a […]
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CBR Marketing’s Head of Search, ‘Mimi’ Fhatuwani Mphaphuli, was aiming for a career in sound engineering and music production when she joined the world of digital marketing, not knowing what it was. “Music and music production were my passions and the courses I studied, but it was difficult to find work. Then I heard about a company looking for interns to train in something called SEO. I had never heard of SEO. But it all started from there – I fell in love with digital and I haven’t looked back.”
That was in 2010 and Mimi grew in the digital marketing world, first with a branding and marketing company, and then with a digital marketing company, where she gained experience in a wide range of disciplines. Mimi joined CBR Marketing in May 2015 as a Senior Search Specialist, and was promoted to head of search in July 2016, managing a team of five.
Mimi explains the Search Department’s role. “Online search is very process-driven and it can get too structured. We avoid that. We get to know our clients and understand their objectives – and then tailor-make campaigns specifically for them.” She says Search is about data analysis, understanding stats, knowing what people are doing online, and really understanding your client’s audience. “For some clients you may look at programmatic buying, but that may not work for another client. It’s always about the client.”
She advises companies wanting to make an impact in the digital space to “never stop learning”, adding that what was happening last week could change by next week. “It’s an exceptionally fast-paced sector and anyone in this space needs to follow the trends, read and read some more, and understand that this is a constantly changing environment – which is largely its appeal.”
Mimi is quick to compliment her team for their drive, for their willingness to learn, and for their impressive work ethic that ensures the best results are achieved for every client. She is inspired by different things, such as people who have overcome difficult circumstances, who have made something of their lives out of nothing, and taken disadvantages and turned them into strengths.
She is passionate about music, having been constantly exposed to it, as a child, by her father who had a vinyl record player and filled the house with jazz – Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, and many more. Mimi collects vinyl records herself now, and has extended her music repertoire to include indie, folk, blues and jazz – especially music that isn’t commonly heard on radio.
She plays piano and guitar and sings, and has placed learning to play the saxophone as top of her bucket list – for a different phase in her life. Mimi maintains that learning music as a youngster is an invaluable discipline for later in life. It ensures that when she researches and then presents to a client, she is totally prepared, with focus on every detail. “If I was performing an item, I would practice and practice until I know it perfectly. It’s the same in my work. Being practiced and prepared is very important to present excellent work.”
Mimi, who is 27 and single, is also an inveterate reader, ironically preferring real books and the feel of paper to their digital counterparts, and is a huge fan of African literature that reflects the colour, fun, and normality of African life. At the moment she is reading Purple Hibiscus by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She describes herself as “an extroverted introvert” who can do crowds, but loves her own space – and sitting in her pyjamas binge-watching Friends. For more information on CBR, go to www.cbrmarketing.co.za.
Companies wanting to make an impact in the digital space need to know their medium and know their audience – in equal measure. That’s according to Head of Content for CBR Marketing Solutions, Amy Meyer, who says that, for every medium there must be a different strategy and a different approach, which goes for the different audiences as well. Understanding who you are speaking to and how you’re speaking to them will make the difference between success and failure in a campaign.
Amy joined the company in 2015, and as an avid writer, is loving the outlet she has to be creative, ideas-driven, and strategic, while having fun too. A Jo’burg girl, Amy studied journalism at the University of Johannesburg, with philosophy as her second major. This had an impact on her future. “I fell in love with the ethics side of philosophy and decided I wanted to write stuff that mattered.” She joined an NGO, doing research and writing proposals for government and private clients, but the wheels turned slowly or not at all, and the job became very disheartening. After almost two years, she decided to explore a different path, falling comfortably and happily into her position at CBR Marketing Solutions.
Particularly appealing for Amy is how the company sets itself apart from the rest: “When we run a campaign for a client, it has the heart of our client in it. We entrench ourselves in our clients’ businesses goals – we are partners.”
Specialising in digital marketing, CBR Marketing Solutions provides Amy with the welcomed challenge of writing for Social Media, search engine optimisation, AdWords, web and app design and development, multimedia, as well as above-the-line marketing.
“Our promise includes giving our best to every client and giving our best to each other. This makes all the difference in our day-to-day work lives. I love coming to work because my colleagues inspire and support me; we have fun together, and they’re just a bunch of awesome people. The work is great – it’s always different, exciting, and challenging – with fine-tuned strategizing essential for every campaign.” Meyer adds that philosophy gave her a love of strategy because “you need a strategy to prove a point. You determine your end goal then determine how to reach it in the most optimal way. That’s what marketing is about too.” Meyer concedes that she never thought she would end up in marketing, but acknowledges that it is a perfect fit for her.
Writing in the digital space is also a minefield that many copywriters don’t get through unscathed. “Too often, people write too academically and rigidly or too colloquially. It’s important to adjust your writing to the medium and the audience for whom you are writing. You need to find your balance, and tweak your writing per brand and per medium. It’s a constant challenge – and it makes the job all the more exciting.”
Meyer, who 30, lives with her partner and comes from a big family – “I love coming from a big family”. She describes herself as, among other things, “quite a nerd” who enjoys reading philosophy. “Sometimes when I face an issue, I might wonder what Aristotle would say about it – and then do some reading to work it out.” Her reading has taken a backseat in recent weeks as she has been going through weekend training course on the digital user experience.
Top of her bucket list is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro because “When you get to the top of a mountain I don’t think many feelings could compare!” Apart from that, she has the travel bug and wants to travel “everywhere”. Meyer is inspired by new ideas – hers or anyone else’s – and being able to see things in a different way. Her father inspires her too; he’s always full of new ideas.
Whatever trajectory Meyer’s life takes, words will always be at the core of it. To quote American Yehuda Berg, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively use words of despair. Words have energy and power…”
For more information on CBR, go to www.cbrmarketing.co.za.
Rob Diering from CBR Marketing Solutions wears his three hats – Client Service Director, Strategic Director and Creative Director – with pride. He joined the up-and-coming digital agency over two years ago after ten years in big agencies and says, “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked – and I’ve enjoyed it the most.”
With his extensive experience in digital marketing, he is impressed with what is being achieved at CBR. “I believe we’re operating at a phenomenal level, even compared to global agencies.”
Diering finished high school at St Andrews College in Grahamstown in 2000 and then a B.Com at the University of Cape Town, followed by a postgraduate diploma in Management in the field of Public and Development Management at Wits Business School. It was here that he did his internship at Standard Bank and his passion for marketing flourished.
“I joined a small, hands-on firm as the Digital Account Manager in their new digital department. I worked closely with the partner, Steve Liversedge and gained amazing digital experience and skills across a range of digital disciplines. After four years, I joined Ogilvy as digital specialist, moving up over the years to Group Account Director. It was exceptionally valuable experience and I loved every minute. I gained lots of skills relevant to the market and my knowledge of branding was dramatically enhanced – they continue to honour David Ogilvy and his iconic lessons about brands.”
Diering then moved on from Ogilvy to Havas Worldwide, as Head of Digital. He says this too was a platform for great learning and he particularly got to explore more of his creative side.
It was then that he “found CBR”, a small privately-owned business in contrast to the massive multinational agencies he had called home for some years. He identifies CBR as a ‘bretail’ agency. “We’re not your typical creative agency – we’re a hardworking bretail agency. We embrace three core skillsets, brand, retail and digital, which I believe is unique.” He is deeply impressed by the foresight displayed by the owners of the business – and their ongoing investment in sister businesses, which has resulted in CBR building up other entrepreneurs in the digital space as they go. He is also wholly committed to the CBR philosophy that always puts clients first. “I’m passionate about stepping outside of the business mindset and into the consumers’ shoes.”
Diering’s advice for companies wanting to make an impact in the digital space is to truly engage with their agency as partner. “In my 13 years of experience I’ve had the privilege of dealing with an array of clients. If they treat the agency as a mere service provider, they don’t move forward. Preferably, it’s an attitude of “Our doors are open, we’re ready and willing to work together” – that brings about change. We choose not to just accept briefs but to rewrite them with our clients, engaging and building special relationships with them, based on trust. We make sure we understand the business and then put the right mix together – work that works! We’ve found that industry leaders are those who don’t disinvest in marketing.”
Diering is inspired by courage – by people who are willing to step off the well-trodden path, people who don’t accept the impossible, people like Nelson Mandela. He relates this to digital marketing: “More often than not a digital campaign involves development and there is sometimes a conflict between big creative ideas and the process-driven side of development. I have tremendous respect for the developers who rather than saying “it can’t be done”, say “I will work out a solution”. If you look at award-winning campaigns, such as those seen at the Cannes advertising awards, invariably someone said ‘yes it can be done’, when it hadn’t been done before.”
Diering is 34 and is married with two sons – both under three years old – and is a huge fan of motorsport, automobiles in general, rugby and travelling, which is on the top of his bucket list.
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