by Nontokozo Madonsela (@NontokozoM88) Digital advancement means the chief marketing officer’s role is changing faster than most other industries around the world. This is true in Africa, too, and with this change comes immense responsibility.

It is no longer good enough to have a good story to tell, based on a model that may have worked in the past; additional instruments have to be unlocked within marketing platforms to continue the conversation and influence behaviour. There needs to be far more empathy and understanding of the goals and challenges human beings face on a daily basis. When you have empathy, then the level at which you can enter into conversation as a brand is value-adding and authentic, rather than just being about achieving financial targets.

Connect the dots

The world we live in has new slogans and brand promises coming through thick and fast, and so it is very important to be able to connect the dots and understand how people are interacting with all their brands on digital platforms. This means knowing what your target market is experiencing out there so that, when you are judged and compared with other brands, you get noticed. Ready access to big data on key behavioural trends is a very useful tool for the modern CMO, as it enables us to have a finger on the pulse of what customers really want.

For instance, when designing a complementary travel lounge experience at OR Tambo, it is no use just comparing yourself to similar lounges at big international airports; you need to go further and explore what is happening in the hospitality industry when it comes to their lounge experiences. After all, these are the real-life experiences customers are having and, if you start there. you can set a benchmark and work to deliver a truly remarkable service.

I believe you must use the available data to really delve into other sectors in order to be a true partner on a client’s journey, whatever that journey is. No two journeys are the same and no two people the same — consumers are the CEOs of their own lives. To use a simple analogy, it’s a bit like seeing yourself on Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 team: enabling remarkable success by supporting the person in the race at any given moment. It is about unlocking the conversation to understand where clients are going on their journeys.

Why you exist

To be a leading brand today, you need to be fully in touch with why you exist. I truly believe that, with information so pervasive and available and client demands rising in tandem with the wave of digital experiences they have on a daily basis, you need to do the good first, and then talk about it. Simply put, people want to see you do more. We all know how the gift of social media may quickly become a curse in the absence of doing the right things in the court of public opinion. When someone clicks a few times, they can put a picture to your face instantly, so we need to ensure what they see matches up to promises made.

Employees need to be a key part of delivery engines and have an incredible multiplier effect. For example, there are many conversations taking place every day at braais, dinner tables and picnics where a CEO is not available — yet, if there is someone who understands what you as a company or brand are doing and why, then they can contribute through dinner conversation from a place of good knowledge

That being said, engagement in various sectors may be complex and this makes our jobs as marketers that much harder! There are myriad layers of complexity that ultimately all have to add up to the brand experience.

For me, doing business with purpose will deliver lasting value to clients and stakeholders.


Nontokozo MandoselaNontokozo Madonsela (@NontokozoM88) is head of marketing for personal and business banking at Standard Bank. She has close on 20 years in executive marketing positions, including Coca-Cola, Brutal Fruit, and Carling Black Label, among others). Her portfolio wide includes strategy development, merchandising, experiential events, media and campaign Planning.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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