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IN PICTURES | South Africa’s first black female helicopter pilot for SAPS uplifts young women



It was an offbeat love affair at dizzying heights, when a young woman from the northern parts of South Africa stumbled on an opportunity that led to her becoming the first black woman to pilot a helicopter in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Refilwe Ledwaba, born and bred in Lenyenye, a semi-rural township in the Limpopo province of South Africa, found herself at her wits’ end when she could not pursue a career in science due to outstanding university fees.

Today, as she soars the African skies as a contract flyer for various charter companies on the continent, her distant past keeps her grounded. 

By turning challenges to opportunities, this University of Cape Town and Bachelor of Science candidate, ended up at an interview for a position in an industry she knew nothing about.

“I think that it was one of my down moments because I am thinking that I worked so hard. I did well at university. I am supposed to go to medical school but I can’t go now and now I have to become an air hostess. You think life dealt you another blow, but that is when everything changed,” she says.

Pilot Refilwe Ledwaba. Picture: Gypseenia Lion

Honesty, determination and the $7,260 outstanding fees secured her a position as a cabin attendant at the lowest point of her life.

Her unique passion for aviation grew over time; she gave in to the persuasion from instructors at the Comair training center and eventually trained as a pilot.

Today, the 39-year-old is ready to open this world for generations to come.

Ledwaba credits the  journey, which started in the early 2000s, a time when the country was still going through political transition, to the strong women in her community. 

“The environment shaped who I am today. I was surrounded by strong women. I was exposed to academic women. My mother was a school principal and my sisters went to university. The women in the community were mostly teachers and doctors,” she says.

Despite the absence of a single mother who worked seven days a week, Ledwaba always had a strong support system from her community which filled the void; there was always someone around to take care of her.

Using her life-story as a backdrop, the founder of the Southern African Women in Aviation and Aerospace Industry created the non-profit organization in 2009 with the core purpose of addressing the challenges she faced when entering the industry.

By breaking cultural and social barriers in aviation at the grassroot level, Ledwaba aspires to make aviation a norm for women through the Girls Fly Programme in Africa foundation.

This, she believes, can be achieved by exposing young girls to the industry at a young age, with hands-on training courses and life skills in aviation.

“Limitations are not imposed by the community, they are created structurally. There are limitations imposed as to what you can be, you become what you see. If you are surrounded by teachers and doctors, that will be the limit in terms of what you will be,” she says.

Ledwaba is currently working on a documentary project that traces the history of South African women in aviation.

By documenting the untold stories of African women in aviation, she hopes to highlight the fact that women have proven themselves capable in male-dominated industries for years.

Pilot Refilwe Ledwaba at work. Picture: Gypseenia Lion

“It is almost as if have we regressed. We no longer  have women’s flying clubs. You hardly hear that women are competing now. But they did it back in the 1940s, that is why I feel it is important to touch that history. It needs to be in the museums, we need to go to museums and read these stories about the women so that it is no longer an event that women are flying,” she says.

The former Comair trainee is qualified to fly both helicopters and aeroplanes.

Jacky Fisha, CEO of FlyFofa, a South African-based aviation company, says women and men need to work together to ensure that transformation in the industry provides opportunities, from management to the cockpit.

Jacky Fisha, CEO of FlyFofa, a South African-based aviation company. Picture: Gypseenia Lion

“I see women taking over; if we work together, it will happen. We are trying to bring ideas that will not only benefit us as small private companies but things that will benefit the country. We are trying to reduce the unemployment rate, we are training girls as well,” she says.

A process that will take time but with adequate education and training, “there will be more women than men in the cockpit”.

Ledwaba discovered the industry in her late teens and was forced to learn on the go.

“Every pilot has a story and it is usually from a very young age. They will tell you that as far back as four-years-old they used to watch aircraft or build model aircraft … In Tzaneen [in Limpopo], we didn’t have any airport and there was no aircraft flying over us. I had never seen one, or been in on one until university. It was my first time being up close and flying in one,” she says.

The people who believed in her played a crucial role.

Pilot training pamphlets left in her locker and hints that she should be in a pilot class instead of training to be cabin crew gave her the impetus to step out of her comfort zone.

The hardest part of her training was flying a helicopter solo during her time with SAPS. 

FlyFofa, a South African-based aviation company. Picture:Gypseenia Lion

She was ready to quit.

“I used to weigh 49kgs and for you to fly a helicopter solo, at minimum, you need to weight 70 kgs because of the center of gravity, otherwise the helicopter will just hang. You need to balance it,” says Ledwaba. Ready to leave SAPS, her paperwork was signed but her heart was not closed to the idea completely.

Dressed in shorts and t-shirt, instead of her uniform, she made her way to what was going to be her last flight. However, it turned out to be the first of the 2,500 hours she would clock during the course of her career as a pilot.

“After hovering the helicopter a few meters above ground a couple of times, the instructor realized that it was not in the gravitational center. He got off and calculated everything. He knew I needed extra weight so he took a brick and put it in. He got off and on the radio he told me to take off, and here I am today,” she says.

Working in the SAPS not only exposed her to the most dangerous parts of the country, but it also developed her skills as a pilot and a woman.

“My instructor always told me ‘Refilwe, open your legs’. Now imagine a man saying to you ‘open your legs’, what comes into your head? But he is saying ‘open your legs’ so that you can control. Those are some of the cultural differences. So imagine a little black girl sitting there and the instructor keeps saying ‘open your legs’ and the more he said ‘open your legs’, the more I closed them. The more I did this, the more I controlled the aircraft with my legs [instead of my hands] and that is why I could not take-off properly,” she says.

With a sandbag adding weight and a little more confidence, she adapted to an environment created with men in mind. She gradually learned on the job.

The helicopters responded to crime-call outs ranging from murders to lengthy surveillance operations. “It is not for the faint-hearted. You get shot at while flying,” she recalls the times she recovered dead bodies in remote areas.

Now in the commercial airline industry, worlds apart from chasing the bad guys above the ground, her flights are more structured and regulated.

Ledwaba had a hard time adapting to the cleaner side of flying. From take-off to the final landing, procedures are followed thoroughly.

She now uses her experiences from both worlds to provide a multi-faceted education to her students. The future for women in aviation is positive, she affirms.

With adjustable cockpits in airlines that are suited for all shapes and sizes, Ledwaba says it’s a misconception that men are natural flyers and that it will change in time.

Pilot Refilwe Ledwaba. Picture: Gypseenia Lion

“I never got to be a captain but in the airlines, I used to listen to the captain welcoming the passengers when we land and you could hear the pride in his voice. ‘We carried you safely and we landed.’ I’ve always wanted to do that,” she says.

The industry is not what it was 10 years ago and this pilot is ready to do whatever it takes to come out on top.

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Driving Ambition

Popularity Of Freelancing Has Changed The 9-to-5 Landscape



The nature of permanent employment is changing, revolutionized by technology. Is the gig economy here to stay?

In the suburb of Randburg in South Africa, 25-year-old media entrepreneur Zola Brunner is determined to succeed as her own boss. She works as a ‘full-time’ freelancer.

The gig economy is an option she deliberately considered, like many  millennials like her.

“I didn’t intend to come into it. It just so happened that I was working at a news organization. I put in all my hours and dedicated my time. You push and push, but it got to a point where I wanted to also do more because I don’t like to stick to one thing or one job,” she says.

While working on a television show for her former employer, she was creating content for two other companies on the side.

“I was able to substitute that income where I was working and focus on the other jobs that I was doing.”

She cites flexibility as a major reason for venturing into freelance work. “It gives me more space and time to manage who I want to work with and what specific project I want to work on. You can also set your time and set your rate. So, for me, it fits into my lifestyle.”

 In 2018, Brunner founded Beyond Media for two reasons. One of them was quite unexpected.

“I was working three, four jobs at the time, with different clients, and these clients came from referrals, people requesting and requiring video content for their platforms to disseminate onto social media. These clients wanted to market their product, their organization, and just boost their social media platforms. I was able to assist them with this.

“At that point, I realized there is a set number of referrals I’m getting that need this content, then surely, I’ll be able to do this on a permanent basis because it was getting out of hand. I was getting to a point where I had to make a decision; where I was going to focus on juggling a number of clients or one specific job. I took the first option.”

Brunner says the second reason was the realization that there’s a technology gap and mobile phones are at the forefront. She uses her mobile phone to film and create content for her clients. “My most memorable experience was when I delivered the final product to a satisfied client who was happy. From there, it led to more work, and I realized that I could do it, and I’ll be okay. I’m happy with my decision.”

While Brunner cherishes certain moments as a freelancer, she does face challenges. “Not knowing when to stop because, as an entity, you don’t necessarily have an accounts department, you don’t have a graphics team,you don’t have an HR manager, you become all of that. So, for me, the challenge is when do I stop? You get into a space where you do everything and there is no time clock, there is no 9-to-5. You work on the times when you need to deliver a project. That was problematic because it had an impact on my health. I had to resolve it by taking some time out and working on my time management and my health.”

Brunner sees a future for the gig economy. “The future of work is having the freedom to choose to work remotely or collaborate. It is the freedom to push boundaries and embrace new technologies because it’s ok. It’s how you are going to evolve and stay ahead of your competitors in order to be a success. It is also the freedom to disrupt the system.”

With one powerful brush in her hand, makeup artist Deogracious Dube, 27, works on the faces of clients. Besides referrals, she aggressively uses social media to acquire customers.

Dube previously worked as a makeup artist in a retail store.“I am largely in control of my own time. When I worked for MAC, I had certain hours to keep. I had to plan my life around those hours. As a freelancer, you can schedule how you work. You have time to actually do other things. I didn’t want to be on my feet eight hours a day. I have dreams and plans of starting my own business one day, my own makeup line, or opening my own salon, things like that.”

She speaks about the future of makeup artistry in the gig economy. “Makeup artists used to be in the background but the field is growing and becoming more glamorized and popular, and as a result, more people know about it and we have become more in demand.”

Uber is one of the major players in the gig economy. Their drivers, who are location-based freelancers, get paid for each ‘gig’. One hot Saturday afternoon, as people make their way in and out of a mall in the East Rand outside Johannesburg, Uber driver Donald Beukes waits in his car for his next customer, his eyes fixed on his phone.

“Being unemployed, I couldn’t find a job. I decided to join the Uber team because this was the only place I could actually get a job.”

When asked if he would ever consider returning to a nine-to-five job, he says: “No! I am my own boss. I determine how long I want to work. It actually builds your character. You push yourself if you work for Uber because you want to reach a certain target of money. If you reach your target, you’ll be able to make a living … Depending how much I push myself, I can make roughly R15,000 ($1,040) after paying everything.”

As South Africa is gripped by recession, pay hikes are hard to come by, and food and fuel costs are escalating. Therefore, having a ‘gig’or ‘side hustle’ has become critical for some people.

With the unemployment rate currently at 27.5% and the youth unemployment rate at 52.8%, some respondents we dealt with for this story have come to the realization that dependency on a government dealing with internal issues such as corruption, is no longer an option. This could be one of the many reasons why the gig economy is on the ascent in South Africa.

There is an increase in freelance work as more people opt for self-employment. Work in the gig economy can be web-based (you could work from anywhere) or location-based. Both provide flexible hours and a sense of freedom compared to a traditional job.

According to the Regus Exclusive Economic Survey, “A rise inflexible working also benefits individuals, set to save people 3.53 billion hours of commuting time by 2030. A predicted boom in flexible working could contribute $10.04 trillion to the global economy by 2030”.

Nesan Nair, senior portfolio manager at Sasfin Securities,says the number of platforms for freelancers to get their work to a larger audience are more accessible now, compared to 20 years ago.

“How many people have set up YouTube channels to do basic things? Baking a cake, for example, then they get people to subscribe and then they can sell advertising on that channel. It’s not a question of standing on a street corner and getting 1,000 people to come and view your product.

“We’re talking about millions and billions of people that can access what you have to say in a cheap and efficient manner. Look at Facebook users, for example; close to two billion people access the platform. If you can get your work on there and get a small percentage of people that understand what you’re doing, and if you’ve got a value proposition that makes sense and people are interested in, you can have a very successful launch in a matter of weeks.”

But while the benefits of the gig economy include freedom and flexibility, there’s a major downside to it, lack of security one of them.

“I know if I want to get a home loan, it’s going to be a little bit tricky because I don’t have a permanent job,” says Brunner.

“I don’t have fears when I reach my pension because I am putting aside money. It’s obviously not the same compared to a company that puts the money aside for you and you can’t touch it until you retire or until you leave,” says Dube.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution could disrupt the job market as technology threatens to replace a number of traditional jobs. There’s an alarming rate of retrenchments and job cuts in the formal sector and people may be forced to enter the gig economy.

According to Statistics South Africa, businesses in the country currently use 14% of total spend on their employees. These employment costs consist of salaries and wages, bonuses, pension, benefits, life insurance benefits, medical aid, and other employee-related costs. Businesses looking to offer freelance positions to lower company costs will mean more people will have the opportunity to take on more than one job at a time.

“A lot of people will start working for themselves. At the moment, we’ve got women drivers who are driving for themselves. It just shows that it’s not a male-dominated business, women are also coming in.,” says Beukes.

“A lot of people are realizing the economy is so unstable,and you can’t really rely on a job. People are getting retrenched, the world is changing, and traditional jobs are not what they were, say 10 years ago. You can’t rely on one salary as much as you think you can.

New jobs are also being created these days which were not around, say, even as little as five years ago. The job market is changing.

“A lot of people are really talented. They’ve got so many talents. You can be an accountant but you’re talented at organizing things or planning events, so you do events management on the weekend, or plan parties… There’s more to life than just one job. We’re all very multi-dimensional,” says Dube.

Nadir Thokan, an investment analyst for 27Four, says that ultimately it’s about productivity. “If people can be more productive freelancing, then that’s the way we’re going to be migrating towards. If we’re more productive by being a contractual employee, then that’s what you’re going to do. It also speaks on people’s risk appetite.

“Ultimately, you have to have a higher risk appetite in order to be a freelancer because you don’t have the stability of a monthly cheque, but it can be more financially rewarding over the long-term if you become very good at freelancing because your time becomes your own and you can work for multiple sources and that can be financially rewarding for you.”

Is the gig economy here to stay? “In the space where it can create employment, I think it will definitely disrupt the South African industry and it’s definitely here to stay, for example, the way Uber has revolutionized how people travel in South Africa has been phenomenal. The reality of the matter is that it is more cost-effective than a normal taxi(metered cab) and it’s creating employment, so those kinds of disruptions that are positive, and make people’s lives easier are here to stay.

In addition to growing the economy and improving the absorption rate into the formal sector,maybe we’ve got to rethink the way we create employment. Freelancing could definitely be one way we could reduce the number of unemployed people over time,” says Thokan.

Adds Nair: “Younger people, because of their nature, are more adventurous. They don’t buy cars, they Uber. They don’t buy houses, they Airbnb. It’s almost a different mind-set that they have in life. They don’t want to acquire assets, they want to acquire experiences… Younger people want to explore their own ideas, their own ambitions and the technological environment right now affords them that opportunity more than any point in history we’ve seen before.”

The only option then for Africa Inc. may be to consider changing mind-sets and redraft the employment rule book.

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Brand Voice

With “Room2Run,” AfDB Launches Securitisation Market For Multilateral Development Bank Sector




Press Release


OTTAWA, Canada, 18 September 2018 — The African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Commission, Mariner Investment Group, LLC (Mariner), Africa50, and Mizuho International plc today announce the pricing of Room2Run, a US $1 billion synthetic securitization corresponding to a portfolio of seasoned pan-African credit risk. Room2Run is the first-ever portfolio synthetic securitization between a Multi-Lateral Development Bank (MDB) and private sector investors, pioneering the use of securitization and credit risk transfer technology to a new and previously unexplored segment of the financial markets.

Structured as a synthetic securitization by Mizuho International, Room2Run transfers the mezzanine credit risk on a portfolio of approximately 50 loans from among the African Development Bank’s nonsovereign lending book, including power, transportation, financial sector, and manufacturing assets. The portfolio spans the African continent, with exposure to borrowers in North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa. Mariner, the global alternative asset manager and a majority owned subsidiary of ORIX USA, is the lead investor in the transaction through its International Infrastructure Finance Company II fund (“IIFC II”). Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, is investing alongside Mariner in the private sector tranche. Additional credit protection is being provided by the European Commission’s European Fund for Sustainable Development in the form of a senior mezzanine guarantee.

“Room2Run gives us fresh resources to invest in the projects Africans need most,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group. “Africa has the most promise, the greatest natural resources, and the world’s youngest population. But we also have the world’s most persistent infrastructure deficits. The African Development Bank has the strategy to address these infrastructure finance gaps—and Room2Run gives us the capacity to make it happen.”

Structured as an impact investment, Room2Run is designed to enable the African Development Bank to increase lending in support of its mission to spur sustainable economic development and social progress. In connection with Room2Run, AfDB has committed to redeploy the freed-up capital into renewable energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, including projects in low income and fragile countries.

“On the Impact scale, Room2Run is off the charts,” said Dr. Andrew Hohns, Lead Portfolio Manager and head of the Mariner Infrastructure Investment Management team. “Room2Run answers the call of the G20 for private sector participants to step in and facilitate development finance, providing a template for attracting significant private sector capital into urgently needed projects in developing economies.”

Raza Hasnani, Head of Infrastructure Investment at Africa50 commented, “Room2Run provides an innovative and commercially viable solution to the African Development Bank’s risk management and lending objectives, while paving the way for commercial investors to support and benefit from the growth of infrastructure on the continent. Africa50 is very pleased to participate in this landmark transaction, which is in line with our mandate to drive increased investment in infrastructure in Africa, and to create pathways for long-term institutional capital to flow into this space.”

Room2Run enjoys the support and participation of the European Commission with an investment from the European Fund for Sustainable Development, in the form of a senior mezzanine guarantee. “Only a few days after announcing our renewed Alliance with Africa for sustainable investments and jobs, I am very happy to announce that we are, together with the African Development Bank, launching Room2Run,” commented Neven Mimica, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development. “This initiative is a perfect example of what we are doing to support investments in African low income and fragile countries through the External Investment Plan. Through Room2Run we provide
an additional protection to investments in the field of renewable energy. Through our Guarantee, investments under Room2Run will translate into extending supply to many people currently without electricity whilst creating much-needed new jobs.”

Room2Run also directly responds to calls by the G20 that MDBs use their existing resources to full capacity, as articulated in the 2015 G20 MDB Action Plan to Optimize Balance Sheets, as well as calls for greater MDB efforts to crowd-in private investment. The G20 has called on MDBs to share risk in their non-sovereign operations with private investors, including through structured finance, mezzanine financing, credit guarantee programs, and hedging structures.

The Government of Canada has been a global leader in advocating for MDBs to use their existing resources more efficiently and to mobilize private capital for global development. The goal of the G20 MDB Action Plan to Optimize Balance Sheets is to catalyze significant new development financing from the MDBs throughout the real economy in key development regions. “Attracting more private capital into global development efforts is critical to building economies that work for more and more people around the world,” said Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance, “that’s why Canada and our G20 partners have been calling on multilateral development banks to use their existing resources as efficiently as possible, and to look for new ways to attract more private capital. We are pleased to see the African Development Bank come forward with a transaction that directly responds to both of these objectives. Room2Run is an innovative solution to a long-standing challenge.”

Juan Carlos Martorell, Co-Head of Structured Solutions at Mizuho International, adds, “Compared to other synthetic securitizations, a major achievement of Room2Run has been to ensure that ratings agencies, and in particular S&P, reflect the merits of the risk transfer into their rating assessments for multilateral development banks. AfDB’s leadership through this transaction has now set the stage for broader adoption of the instrument throughout the MDB community.”

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Driving Ambition

How To Grow Your Business With Omnichannel Marketing




You see the news and reports. In general, the effectiveness and return of online and traditional media are declining. Ad blockers are on the rise, the continuous Facebook and Google algorithm changes affect your ads and search results, TV ads get skipped, emails go directly to spam or a “promotions” folder, and all of us can barely stop and engage with out of home advertising – unless we’re stuck in traffic. Essentially, as your arsenal of advertising methods increases, so to do pressures against these new and existing channels, formats and tactics.

Look, things are not that catastrophic. When your ads are seen, you do get some clicks, leads and sales. Your email campaigns are reaching a 20% open rate, achieving a moderate click-through rate and scoring an average conversion rate. You also notice some spikes in web and store traffic when your print ads and other above the line collateral running. Your loyal customer base also keeps you in business via repeat purchases and recommendations to their peers. So, you’re probably doing alright.

But, are you growing? And, more importantly, can you improve your results?

Growing? I don’t know.
Can you improve? Yes, as long as you are willing to put the work in.

So, how can you improve the results of your marketing efforts amidst the pressures on available media and tactics?

The answer is Omnichannel Marketing. Now, you have probably heard this term before. You may think that because you use a number of channels to reach current and potential clients, you already have an omnichannel marketing approach. This is likely, but you also may be further from an omnichannel approach than you think.

This post unpacks what Omnichannel Marketing is, how to effectively implement an omnichannel approach, and how this will improve the results of all your marketing efforts.

First, a quick definition of Omnichannel Marketing, followed by an in-depth example. There are two terms to clarify here – “Multi-Channel Marketing” and “Omni-Channel Marketing”. There is a difference…

Multi-channel Marketing is using various platforms to reach and engage with your target audience. These channels are print, your physical location, your website, app, events, referrals, tv, social media, emails and more.

Omnichannel marketing integrates all these channels to create a seamless and valuable customer journey that drives a potential customer from recognising their need, to being aware of your offering, and finally to becoming a customer. Furthermore, you can convert your customer into an active brand advocate. The key here is to use your marketing channels not just to reach your customer with your branding and messaging, but to actively and intelligently guide them through your customer journey using the most relevant content.

Here is the in-depth print-related example:

Meet Jane. Jane has just started a small business. We know that Jane needs to print business stationery. This is business cardspresentation folders, branded notebooks/notepadsletterheads and product brochures. This is just some of what we offer that is highly relevant to a business owner.

Therefore, we want Jane to know about Printulu and our business stationery offering (awareness), we want her to order her business stationery from Printulu (conversion), to continue placing more orders with Printulu for other relevant products such as flyerspamphletsbanners and more (retention), and we want her experience to be so stellar that she recommends us to her friends, family, clients, suppliers and anyone she knows who needs printing to grow their businesses (advocacy).

Now, Jane has a lot of admin and considerations to make and prioritize on her journey as a small business owner. Little time and a lot to do, something we can all appreciate. She probably has business stationery as an item on her to do list, but it’s not something she can actively research and focus on now. Therefore, if we want Jane to consider us, in her journey to ordering business stationery, we need to make it easy for her.

So, Jane may spend her early days searching for business registration services, office space, job posting services, web developers, graphic designers and so on. This search behaviour tells Google (or anyone else who is actively listening) that she is a founder, director or manager of a small business. This puts her squarely in our target market.

We have ads running on Google AdWords targeting the small business owner segment. When Jane browses websites showing AdWords Ads, she will likely see our ads. Now, we cannot assume that once she sees an ad for business stationery then she will buy right away. She is still in the early research phase and wants more information that will help her make a decision given her limited resources (time and money). Therefore relevant content here is not a “buy business stationery now” advert, but a content piece (blog post) that will educate her on what business stationery she needs, how to design it and where she can get it. All we need to do at this point is inspire her need for business stationery, give her the necessary information to act sooner rather than later, and inform her that we are the reliable providers thereof. So the most appropriate content in this situation is our blog post titled, “Your Business Stationery Check List“. We can further target these ads to show only on websites with content related to starting and growing a business.

But what if Jane does not see our ads online?

Being a small business owner, she is likely situated in a business park or shared office space. These offices are usually close to high traffic areas such as malls and shopping centres. So, we can reach her there using promoters to hand out our pamphlets showing our office stationery offering. Because this format does not allow us to have as much copy as the blog post, this will have to be a shorter message, e.g. “Need business Stationery?”, with a few products, a short key message (“Order online and get free delivery”) and a call to action (“Visit and see what business stationery you need”). This will drive her to a landing page where she can learn more about what business stationery she needs. We can also include a link to the blog post on this landing page.


Step 1 – Awareness has been achieved.

Both the online advert and the pamphlet drive her to our website. That is the main action each we want to achieve. Why?

A website visit indicates interest. This means Jane is interested in purchasing business stationery, even if she is not ready to purchase. This also enables us to remarket to her with valuable content. E.g. If we have a special offer on presentation folders then this information may be valuable to her. We also start building a relationship with her by offering her a formal quote, subscribing her to our newsletter, offering an ebook that’s available for download, or a free design in exchange for her email address.

Once we have her email address, we can continue engagement through a series of relevant emails. This is a sequence of four automated emails that provide Jane with the information she needs to get to the point of making an order. An example sequence is; Email 1 – How to use the website, Email 2 – Benefits of printing with Printulu, Email 3 – Getting your design print-ready, Email 4 – A relevant product catalogue.

Also, because Facebook can aggregate similar people to Jane (using their algorithm and tracking pixel) we can show the same starting ad, content, and sequence to other small business owners like Jane.

Now, at this point, either Jane realised her pressing need for business stationery and placed an order immediately, or she is planning on doing so soon. What our marketing has achieved so far is to make her aware of Printulu, aware of our offering, showed her how to easily place her first order, outlined benefits relevant for business owners, and provided her with content she can use to get the most from her printing at the least expense.

We can safely say that if Jane has not ordered already, she will likely order from us soon. She will either visit the website directly, click on an email, search for “Printulu” or the product she needs (see one of our search ads or organic results) or click on a display advert.


Step 2 – Conversion has been achieved

So far we have used omnichannel marketing to convert Jane into a customer as well as reach and convert people similar to her.


We can stop here, but we know a repeat customer is more valuable than a once-off customer.

So, in Jane’s package that will be delivered to her after her order, we will include a brochure with similar products. Not just business stationery, but promotional items, retail collateral or anything that is highly relevant to her. We will also include paper samples illustrating other finishes and paper types that she could have ordered.

She will also receive this catalogue of similar products via an email that confirms her delivery and requests feedback on her experience. We can use this feedback as a customer review on the relevant page and use it to improve our services.

This does 3 things.

  • Cross-sell – by showing her related products that she can order.
  • Up-sell – by informing her of upgrades she can make to her next order.
  • Advocacy – by using her review to inform other buyers of what they can expect.


Step 3 and 4 – Retention and Advocacy achieved.

Therefore, by integrating our marketing channels and by applying the right content to a stage in our customer journey; we have acquired a customer, converted them into a repeat customer and inspired advocacy.

This is an ideal that we are aiming for, we are not quite there yet. So just like you, we want to know: ‘how do I do this?’


Know and understand who you are targeting

Analyse your current customer base.
Who is benefitting from your product and service?
What are the common characteristics, behaviours, and interests that they share?
What products or services do they order?

Use this information to build segments by grouping shared characteristics, behaviours and needs. Once you have that you can go to the next step of mapping the customer journey.

Remember to constantly update this information and keep it in a central database, such as customer relationship management software (CRM).

Tools you can use:


Understand your customer’s journey

The general steps in the journey are:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Consideration
  • Evaluation
  • Decision

Your objective is to move your prospect from not being aware, to making a purchase decision. Do this by matching the need, content and channel to the most appropriate stage in the user journey.

Note, this does not apply to only your common advertising channels. Remember that customer service, dispatch and even HR are channels/touchpoints relevant to some stages in the journey. If you are service business, you may find that your customers may look up your employees on LinkedIn, or your potential customers are also potential recruits.

Try to visualise this. Seeing what this looks like on one page will help you to match the most appropriate content to the right channel and stage in the customer journey. Relevant channels are:

  • Your physical location
  • Your website – remember to make key pages work on the most relevant devices, if not all devices.
  • Your mobile app
  • Your product catalogue
  • Social media pages
  • Display Advertising
  • Search advertising
  • Direct phone calls
  • Emails
  • Customer facing departments
  • Back office departments
  • High traffic areas

The above journey does not apply to all businesses. Your sales cycle or closure time may be one day as an e-commerce company, or over many months as a SaaS company or B2B company.

Also, speak to your sales team to get some clarity and try to see your company, your product/service offering, and the need you address, through your customer’s eyes. Walk in your customer’s shoes.

Tools you can use:

  • CRM – use this to see your average closure time and what steps your prospects take to becoming a customer.
  • Analytics – use this to see which channels people come from and what action they take from the channel.

Cross-Functional Teams

As mentioned above, this is not an advertising channels integration only. You are integrating more channels than usual advertising channels and therefore more teams than just your marketing team and agencies.

Therefore, when mapping your customer journeys and implementing your omnichannel strategy, include your sales, HR, dispatch, product, finance and any other teams/departments that directly, or indirectly, interact with your customer. Building cross-functional teams ensures that you will have a full view and understanding of your customer’s journey and include informed people that can inform the right content and implement the necessary procedures to achieve success.

Tools you can use:

Understand your ad serving platforms

Ad serving platforms are always increasing their abilities to reach your target customer, with the most relevant content, at the right time. Whether you manage the platforms yourself or use media agencies, it helps to know what is possible and how you can incorporate this into your omnichannel marketing.

Display Advertising. It’s important here to understand your targeting options. The available demographics, available interests and available behaviours. Know if you can target certain websites and exclude others. Know the different bidding options and programmatic tactics available to you, and other granular targeting options such as time of day, device, geolocation, etc.

Search Advertising. Relate specific keywords and text ads to specific stages. Being generic means you will reach people searching for something related. However, creating ad groups that target “buy now” (decision), “how to” (research), “what is” (research), location-specific searches, and comparison specific searches (consideration), allows you to create ads that address the searcher’s need. Ads that address that exact need will get you more website visits than a generic “buy now” ad. Remember website visits, even without an immediate purchase, are valuable for remarketing.

Remarketing. Simply put this is showing ads across display networks through cookie tracking. Remarketing allows you to persuade a user to return to your site and complete an action by showing them relevant content. Find out what remarketing functionality your display network or ad serving platform allows for, and how granular you can target someone. Gooogle Adwords, for example, can show different content to someone who visited your website in the last 5 days versus someone who visited in the last 20 days. Each of these people are at different stages of the buyer journey.

Custom Audiences. Facebook and Google allow you to upload a list of your customer details (with their consent), such as phone number or email address, that you can use to reach those specific customers or reach customers who are very similar to them. This is useful for all stages of the journey. Note, the platforms only match data that they have to the data you upload. The data is encrypted (or hashed) so that it can only be matched to existing users on the platform while protecting the privacy of data they don’t already have. Ensure you inform customers on how you will use their data in your privacy policy.

Always have a general understanding of the current and new functionality provided by these platforms, whether you use an agency or not.

Tools you use:

Create relevant content

Content is used broadly these days, so let’s define it. Content is information that is practical, functional, tactical and directed at an end user. This can come in many formats, such as:

  • Online – website pages, display banners, blog posts, infographics, landing pages
  • Social media – social media posts, updates and pages
  • Print – print advertising, brochures, annual reports, flyers, pamphlets, inserts
  • Out of home – billboards, banners, signage
  • Video – TV advertising, YouTube videos, Vimeo videos
  • Product Accessories – instruction manuals, packaging, tags
  • On-premise – counter standsposterspull-up bannersx-banners

Consider your channel and available format when creating your content. Also, determine your key message, the prospect’s need and your call to action when designing your content.

Tools you can use:

Marketing Automation

Before marketing automation, an email strategy was just one newsletter sent out daily, weekly or monthly to all subscribers. We still use newsletters today as they’re useful for maintaining communication with your subscribers and updating them on any new developments. However, at an average open rate of 20%, there’s an additional 80% that you are missing.

With marketing automation, you can reach the remaining 80% by building segments based on certain characteristics and behaviours that match the stage of your customer’s journey.

You can then send targeted emails to these segments based on certain triggers. Basic triggers are subscribed to a specific list, opened a specific email and/or clicked on a particular link. Advanced triggers are visited a specific page, performed a certain action on that page, or accumulated a particular lead score.

Start with one segment and a series of emails first. Understand what behaviours those emails drive, which ones get the most engagement, and achieve their objectives. You can use these insights to expand your segments and email campaigns/sequences.

Tools you can use:

  • CRM – this is where all your customer data is kept. Try to use an automation tool that integrates directly with your CRM.
  • Marketing Automation – MauticMarketoHubspot.
  • Integration tools –

Measure Everything

You will have a number of channels running with different content, triggered at different times through various actions, and resulting in a multitude of engagements. All of this needs to be analysed and optimised to get the maximum return. To manage this you have to measure everything.

Start simply by adding Google Analytics to your website. In most cases, your website is the main channel where you are driving most of your traffic. If you are a physical store then use your point of sale system to measure as much as you can. At the very least ensure you can relate changes in your sales to specific marketing initiatives.

What you want to know is:

  1. What is working?
  2. How can you improve? (Modify, pause or scale)
  3. What is your ROI?
  4. Have you achieved success?
  5. What has lead to failure?

Tools to  use:



Omnichannel marketing is essentially a customer journey strategy. Understanding your customer journey and the interventions you can make to get them to the next step is a great start. From there you need to understand the channels available to you, the content formats, the teams and departments you should inform and involve as well as how to integrate everything seamlessly. This is why being able to visualise the entire process in one view is important. There are a lot of elements that can be integrated.

It’s clear to see that the pressures negatively impacting the performance of your current media and tactics can be reduced by omnichannel marketing.

Remember, as much as this is about tools and data, all of that is supported by your people who have a good understanding of your customer’s needs and pain points. Your people are your most valuable tool in implementing and to seamlessly integrate this approach. Get the right people/teams in the room early on in the journey, ensure they understand what you are trying to achieve, what this looks like if it is successful, and empower them with the right tools, budget and approvals.

Lastly, see the journey, the content, the channels and the objectives through the eyes of your customer and not just your company. Think of it as marketing as a service to your prospects and customers.


  1. The Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing – Plus 7 Tips
  2. 7 Outstanding Examples of Omni-Channel Experience
  3. How to Plan and Create the Perfect Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy
  4. 4 Important Differences Between Multi-Channel & Omnichannel Marketing


– By Mat Sexwale from Printulu

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