Using the internet isn’t just about courses. Create a strong profile for yourself online so that you attract the right people to youEmelia Ainooson
Emelia is Director of Marketing and Communications for Ghana-based marketing agency, Brandason. As we find ways of adjusting to the new normal, Emelia explains how best remote work systems can be implemented and shares her thoughts on why Influencer Marketing will continue to thrive. Welcome to this segment of Women In Marketing
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in Accra, Ghana. My fondest memory is of making mashed kenkey (a Ghanaian dish prepared by mashing Fante Kenkey and adding sugar and milk) with my father. It was our Sunday tradition, and one of my fondest childhood memories.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I wouldn’t call them hidden talents but I have been in quite a few stage plays, I do enjoy the theatre. I play the piano and Atenteben (African flute) as well. I am also a sportsperson – if I can call it that. I was a goalkeeper for football, handball and hockey in high school, and played volleyball (although I credit my sporting ability more to my height than actual talent.)
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
My first thought would be to buy a round-the-world plane ticket. I love adventure and I’d sign up for everything – skydiving, tap dancing, pilot classes – everything.
I’d also build a multi-purpose ‘club’ for the aged. I have a pet project where I love to create opportunities for the retired in our community to meet and hangout. Unfortunately, outside of veterans from the army, there aren’t a lot of organised entertainment activities for retirees in Ghana, outside of the church and familial activities. Having quite a few grandparents, uncles and aunties above 80, I know how a lack of diversity in the daily routine can affect their overall health and wellbeing. So I’d work on building a super modern clubhouse for retirees in Ghana, where they can have fitness sessions, game nights, watch movies, have parties and live it up.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Hmm, I’m a foodie so this is a tough one, but I love yam and garden egg stew. I can’t imagine sharing that with anyone.
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
I was not a fan of doctors growing up. Haha. I always wanted to teach, and it was my dream job (I still teach today). I studied Journalism originally, and while I still practise it in my current field, I fell in love with marketing during my first semester at the university. We had a course in Marketing and I was fascinated by the concept. It’s surprising to think that I didn’t know about marketing till my first year in the university – but after that course, I dug a little deeper, got an internship with an agency, where I fell in love even harder and never looked back.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I’d be a parrot. I can’t imagine not being able to talk or express myself, or see the world, so the parrot for me combines the best of both. I can still ‘talk’ to both animals and humans, and I can fly the world and explore all it has to offer.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
Haha. This is a tough one. I am a nerd through and through. When I don’t have to be dolled up for work or a function, I’m all jeans, t-shirts and a thriller novel. I’m in love with fiction, and I relish every opportunity to leave ‘my world behind’ and enter new ones – whether through the written word, film, theatre, any way possible.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
My days usually start with a 10-15 minute stretch – calling it a workout would be cheating, haha. I struggle to eat very early in the morning, so I’m usually at my desk at 7:00 am and tend to have a large breakfast at about 10 am – sometimes including both tea and coffee, if I’m craving both.
I don’t go online till after breakfast – just because I like to have super focused mornings and I don’t want to be distracted so early in the day.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I’d be lying if I said I’d figured this out yet. The most I’ve managed to do is institute ‘Offline Sundays’, where I won’t go online or work on a Sunday – no matter what.
Friday nights are for friends and family too. I’m still working on balancing my life better and hopefully, it’ll happen this decade.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA IN STRATEGIC MARKETING FROM THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF MARKETING (GIRL YOU FANCY!). ACCORDING TO GLASSDOOR, IT HAS BECOME SEEMINGLY EASIER TO APPLY TO WORK FOR COMPANIES LIKE GOOGLE, APPLE AND STARBUCKS AS THEY DO NOT REQUIRE APPLICANTS TO HAVE A DEGREE. HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY IF THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO OBTAIN A FORMAL EDUCATION?
There are so many opportunities out there to learn if you want to. I’ve found that the challenge is less about accessibility and more about the personal will and motivation to see your plans through. Udemy, Alison and all these platforms exist for people to be able to learn and upskill themselves but industry reports say that only between 5 to 15% of students who start free open online courses end up earning a certificate.
Utilizing the internet is as much about discipline as it is about access. Because, I tell you, the distractions are there. You go online to start a course and you get notifications every 5 minutes for things nowhere near related to your course.
So I would say that the properly utilize the internet to upskill:
Be disciplined. Learn to focus when you’re online. Be determined to achieve the purpose for which you’re there – whether it’s to take a free course or join a webinar.
Use your distractions to your advantage. Say you can’t help but check in on Instagram every once in a while. Why not add some helpful pages to your list – so that you can learn while playing. For example; if you’re trying to brush up on your English, follow BBClearningenglish on Instagram so that you’re learning English every day.
Make the right acquaintances. Using the internet isn’t just about courses. Create a strong profile for yourself online so that you attract the right people to you. Reach out to people you think can help you learn and you’d be surprised at how people will help you along if you ask in the right way. But don’t forget, they will check out your page, before responding. So what they find when they look you up, will go a long way in influencing how they respond to you.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
This could honestly go either way. I have friends who have successfully job-hopped every year or so and it works for them. Ultimately, I think job-hopping is more about finding the right fit – and sometimes, it takes longer to find it. Our generation is looking for job satisfaction and well-paying jobs. There is a strong desire to feel like you are contributing to something and that your organisation values your input.
Some recruiters think a person is flaky or unreliable if they’ve changed jobs too many times in too little time. Some won’t bat an eye. It really could go either way and depends on what works for the person.
In the world of marketing and advertising, the creative industries can be very intense and demanding, and things change so quickly. As a result, you may have a higher turn-over. Unfortunately, clients get attached to their account executives, and a high turnover can affect an agency.
FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION?
Females are gifted in so many ways. I’ve worked with both male and female CMO’s and I wouldn’t say that a CMO must be one or the other. It needs to be the one who best understands the customer and the company, and can bring these two together in a mutually beneficial way.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
Multiple factors are affecting the delay in transitioning to remote work. To fully and seamlessly transition a team to remote work, there’s a lot more involved than simply working in your favourite pj’s.
The company must be able to trust that its staff will be working effectively while remote, and not using power outages, or poor internet as excuses to skip out on work. The company culture must also be strong enough for the team to be as dedicated without ‘supervisors’ around.
The company must also be able to support its team in functioning while remote – this can include anything from buying dongles and data for the entire team to investing in project management software, cloud space, insurance etc, to ensure that workflow is effective. This can be expensive and is not always possible or easy to implement. That may be why it’s a struggle to convert to this way of work.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
This isn’t always easy to do. It’s even worse when there are major time differences.
I read of a company that removed its ‘overtime’ pay from their company structure – so that really, there is no incentive to work overtime unless you want to.
I think one way to better manage this is to be project orientated rather than hourly orientated. And by that, I mean that companies should focus on getting projects done, rather than be overly concerned with ensuring that everyone is at their desk at 8 am whether or not they are getting any work done.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE Brandason STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
The Brandason story is quite simple. As an organisation, we believe that there is a solution to every problem we face as Africans. The challenge is that a lot of these products, services, and solutions don’t live long enough to create the impact they could because; a. People don’t know they exist and b. People don’t understand their value.
As a boutique communications agency, Brandason exists to support the next generation of burgeoning and visionary brands in becoming global entities of change through sustained and cutting edge solutions in communications. We are a strategic partner to SMEs, scaling businesses by increasing their revenue, reach and brand awareness.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT Brandason?
Sometimes, the difference between new and old is as little as 1% when measured. So what makes anything innovative, is that 1% that gets people excited, curious and engaged. As the saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun. But what innovation is, is taking something that already exists and making it better, faster, more efficient or simply cooler. Sometimes, all it takes is 1% to make that difference. That is innovation.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
Influencer marketing will always have a place in the world of marketing and communications. The question is the magnitude to which it will be sought after. Social media has only come to amplify ‘Influencer marketing’ but it existed long before. One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760 when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England. Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today.
The pandemic has influenced influencer marketing both positively and negatively:
People are engaging more with social media and so the chances of influencer marketing having a stronger impact and increasing in value are high.
However, people are curbing their spending during the pandemic so while there may be more eyeballs on campaigns, it may not necessarily translate to sales.
Going forward, we will see more demand in metrics for influencers. It will be less about the number of followers and more about the value of the following, their expendable income, the income bracket, their value to the organization. In our part of the world, this tends to be less evaluated but we will see that become a major consideration in this.
Absolutely, but I do think that in our part of the world, this is already a consideration. At least at Brandsaon, we would always evaluate the ROI on influencer engagement to inform future campaigns, and I know a lot of agencies do as well.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF Brandason BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
We launched the first Architecture and Design Festival in 2019 which was a huge success. The Festival was established to capture the synergies, innovations, and progress being made in the building arts and design industry in Ghana. It featured a nation-wide series of events including exhibitions, installations, panel discussions, workshops, open houses, and rooftop tours over one month and showcased local talent, concepts, ideas and models on affordable housing in a bid to interject bold strategies to reduce the housing deficit in Ghana.
We also worked on Marketing, Branding and Communications for the first Tech By Her Accelerator held in Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali. The program was powered by MEST with support from the Tech Entrepreneurship Initiative, ‘Make-IT in Africa’, (implemented by Deutsche für Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Tech By Her was created to support burgeoning female-led tech ventures in becoming globally competitive and sustainable brands. The purpose of the program is to develop a strong Africa-wide female entrepreneurship community by mentoring female founders and building an alumni network of successful Tech By Her Accelerator participants who become ambassadors for other upcoming founders.
We are particularly proud of our work on Tech By Her, launching it, developing its brand identity and seeing it blossom into a program that attracted over 500 applicants in its first year and was such a success.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
This is quite simple, take a break when you must. We use a combination of the Pomodoro technique and scrum which has worked wonders for our campaigns and overall team productivity.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I’m reading Andy McDermott’s ‘Nina and Eddie Chase’ Series, starting with Hunt for Atlantis. I usually alternate between e-books and audiobooks. That way, I can continue to ‘read’ even while driving or doing laundry.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
Haha, quite a mix of things. I’m watching the Originals again (No idea why), Blacklist, Friends and the Duchess
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
A smile. I wish we could stop for a second, actually look someone in the eyes and smile at them. It is such a stress reliever and a great way to greet people.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
My nuclear family lives in a different country than I do and I miss them always. COVID made it impossible to see them this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Make it your mission to be as true to your clients’ desires as possible. It’s hard sometimes to hear what they want when it’s not in line with our ultimate vision for their brand. But I have learned that the best way to have the most satisfied clients is to hear them when they speak and listen to what they want.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Probably to take more time off
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
My challenge has always been managing my many many interests and finding ways to pursue them while still maintaining my career.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE?
Veronica Mulhall, Head of Marketing at MEST Africa
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Professionally, I would like to work full time in every continent in the world at least once.
Personal, to get a drastic hair makeover. Dye my hair with some crazy eye-popping colour and then cut it short, possibly.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
The founder of Kawa Moka, a coffee production house in Ghana, Emi-Beth, has quickly become one of my female heroes. She’s a successful businesswoman, has participated in multiple programs and is a mother and wife. I admire her work ethic, dedication and resolve. She is truly an inspiration to me.
My mother is also one of the most generous, industrious and hardworking women I know. She is my ultimate female hero.
HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?