On this segment of Women In Marketing, we chat with Kgomotso Ramothea. She is the Marketing and Promotions Manager as well as Acting Hub Head for UK & Ireland. With a passion for tourism, it is only natural that she works for South African Tourism. Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I grew up in a village just north of Pretoria called Majaneng. My fondest memories are with my grandfather. I used to wait for him after school and we would walk home together. He had a walking stick and I always enjoyed watching him swing it while he was walking.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I love knitting. Earlier this year I knitted a scarf and I am now looking forward to my next knitting challenge. Also, I found out recently that my thumb can touch my wrist; hopefully, that counts as a hidden talent.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I am based in London and I would first travel to South Africa (current regulations allowing of course!). I love to travel so it is next on my list, and I would take a year off to see all the places I’ve been meaning to visit. I would start in Africa; A friend recently went to Cote d’Ivoire and it looked so lush!
I would love to go to Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique. Then, I would head to Asia to Japan to see the cherry blossom trees, sip on sake and just enjoy all the culture. I want to go to New Zealand to visit a friend. I’d love to go to Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Borneo and Hong Kong. In short, I would travel the world!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
I have a few but lately, I am enjoying making spicy salmon poke bowls at home. I had a similar type of poke bowl at the Time Out Market in Lisbon and I became obsessed. Every single mouthful of my home-made spicy salmon poke bowl sings in my mouth. It’s one I won’t be happy to share, that’s for sure.
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 stumbled into Marketing and grew to love it. After having tried my hand at PR, Events and Internal Communications, Marketing felt more like me.
I love coming up with ideas and seeing them come to life. I have worked in marketing roles in different sectors where the objectives varied: from raising awareness in the housing sector, to changing perceptions in the travel sector and educating in the STEM sector. It’s a challenge coming up with new and exciting ways to speak to target audiences and watch how they respond.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I would love to be a cat. I love cats anyway and I would love to come back as a cat so I can have my very own human to own (lol). I love how independent cats are but also playful, gentle, curious, loving and so smart! Also, big fluffy cats are the best when they sit on your lap in winter.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
I love cats as I’ve already mentioned.
I love reading and some of my favourite books of all time are from writers from Africa, specifically Nigeria, Zimbabwe and of course South Africa. I don’t read a lot of fiction though and many of the books are not light; many are filled with hardships and heartbreak. I love Converse shoes. I am not one of those people who have lots and lots of Converse shoes but I would never dream of cheating on Converse with any other brand. Never!
I have two beautiful boys who are my world and nothing on a LinkedIn profile will ever compete. My two boys and husband and I road trip together on all manner of adventures – they’re the best travel buddies I could ask for.
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!
None of the above.
I start the day with a cup of warm water. I don’t drink coffee and when I do, it’s decaf. I drink tea though and tend to have one mid-morning at about 10ish. Depending on the day, I may have another cup of tea (decaf) in the afternoon to deal with the post lunchtime dip. I am particular with how my tea is brewed, it’s a process.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
2020 has brought with it some challenges.
We started ‘working from home’ and I think after a while it felt like we were ‘living at work’. At the start of the lockdown when there was so much uncertainty, there was no proper balance which ultimately led to immense stress. I began to be strict with myself about not being tempted to look at my phone the very first thing in the morning after switching off my alarm.
I also need to have time when I close my computer and ‘finish’ work. If I have any work in the evening, I set time to finish it. But it is a challenge especially in these times and particularly due to the time difference between where I am based in London and our Head Office in South Africa.
I also think it’s important to take a break from work; to completely switch off and recharge. Rest is as important as working hard and for me, I prioritise taking time off to travel (when we could travel) and to do things and think about things that are not related to work. I find that I am more positive and energised when I come back from leave.
Resting doesn’t even have to be about going anywhere. 2020 has taught us to be able to relax and just be at home.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN JOURNALISM FROM THE RHODES UNIVERSITY (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?
My days at Rhodes were some of the best in my life and having an opportunity to attend any higher institution is great as it teaches one to be independent. It also teaches you about discipline so as to be able to balance studies, fun and enjoying university life.
I do think though that going to university need not be the be-all and end-all for everyone. The fact that we all have different life experiences in a workplace makes a workplace that much richer. We live during an age where people can become social media stars and therein lies a lot of opportunities for young women. In most cases, all you need is a data-enabled smartphone with a working camera. Look at Elsa Majimbo (@majimb.o). She started shooting short videos in her room at the beginning of 2020 at the height of the pandemic. In November 2020 she is a global star with 1,2m followers on Instagram all by being authentic and consistent and just being herself.
Beyond social media, there are a lot of companies and even influencers offering free courses to help women define and realise their entrepreneurial skills according to their interests.
There are also a lot of how-to videos on YouTube sharing tips and hacks and just about everything you can think of. If someone has a knack for writing or has a specific area of interest, they could set up their own blog and be in a community of like-minded people. For example, I have a friend who started a blog about what it is like to have a child with special needs and through that blog, she has created a community with other families facing similar struggles but also educating people who may not be aware of the daily struggles they face.
A blog can be monetised too so over and above finding your passion there are rewards too.
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?
In my opinion, there are pros and cons.
I am for job-hopping as it means there is a greater chance to be exposed to new ideas, innovation and be able to bring experience from previous work experiences into new jobs and also learn new ones. The cons for me are that it is hard for an employer to be able to invest in someone who constantly job hops. I think there needs to be a fine balance for the constant changing of jobs.
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?
I think there needs to be a fair representation of not just women but also a range of other voices in senior positions in companies. As to why it is important to have women as CMOs, you only need to look at your households to realise that women do the majority of the spending in their families, be that in cars, household material, holidays, you name it.
Women also spend a lot more time researching and considering before making purchases. Women spend more than men and are thus the biggest marketing opportunity for all companies. Having a CMO who understands this can create not only marketing messages but also products that put women first can only be a good thing.
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?
The fact that the Zoom is now worth more than seven airlines shows how much companies have had to adapt to a new way of working, especially in the face of a global pandemic. It has taken a global pandemic to force most organisations to be innovative and restructure outdated and archaic ways of working to ones that are more fitting with the times we live in now.
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?
The mental health of employees is important, especially during these uncertain times.
While most people have come to make ‘working from home’ the norm, it is important to encourage all employees to work predictable hours that suit the set-up they have at home which is now different due to also having children at home, homeschooling and no help with childcare. I also think there needs to be a relationship based on honesty and trust between employees and employers that just because emails don’t get responded to immediately does not necessarily mean that no work is happening but also that employees are given the right amount of support to be able to work at home.
Beyond mental health, employers also need to make sure that employees have the right tools to work effectively from home. It can be frustrating when there is a will and enthusiasm for employees to work from home only for them to be let down by not having the correct equipment to be able to deliver the work effectively.
MARKETING OBJECTIVES WILL MOST LIKELY CHANGE DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW HAS YOUR ORGANISATION PIVOTED WHERE MARKETING IS CONCERNED, AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY AMID THE PANDEMIC?
At the start of the pandemic, it was important to not be tone-deaf to what was going on in the world. It was important for us to pause what would have been regular marketing and acknowledge what was happening in the world. So in the first instance, we adapted our messages across our digital channels accordingly and reassured all our audiences that there will be a time when we can travel again.
We noticed several trends during the pandemic primarily in the UK. Due to lockdown restrictions and government advice for everyone to stay at home; people started consuming (and also creating) a lot more video and digital content. There has been an influx of new content creators in YouTube creating all sorts of contents from recipes to how-to videos and reviews. In the travel sector, we saw an increased demand in what was called ‘armchair travel’ or ‘sofa to…’ which is exactly what it sounds like: travel to anywhere in the world from your armchair or sofa at home.
VR content which featured holiday destinations was on the increase. In South Africa, many lodges started doing live streaming so audiences could see animals while they were sitting at home, from anywhere in the world. There was even a ranger who would do game drives and record them to be broadcast on YouTube. While travel had come to a complete standstill as a result of lockdown regulations, brands had to work harder to get travellers motivated and looking forward to travelling in the future.
It became even more important given the trends that our digital presence was strong with the right messages at the right time. We featured our VR content and made sure to highlight a lot of our video content in our communication on all owned digital channels.
In the middle of the pandemic, our key objectives were to keep awareness levels up in our identified target audiences and so a lot of the work we were doing – with very limited budgets – were very much high funnel work.
We have since realised that there are several other considerations now at play when travellers are considering their next holiday such as health considerations and additional requirements now needed before travel. They are looking for destinations which have managed the spread of COVID19 well to date so that they are confident in their choices.
They are also looking for places which provide them with wide-open spaces and looking to tick off their ‘bucket list items’. Our digital marketing objectives now also include an element of education so that travellers are confident and reassured when considering their holiday choices.
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 South African Tourism?
Innovation for us at South African Tourism, especially during this time, is the ability to use what we have to be disruptive in our marketing efforts and win over our competitors in this market.
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?
I think there is still a place for influencer marketing especially when you consider how many people use social media. In the last few years, influencer marketing has evolved to become a lot more transparent where paid content is declared by influencers etc. Going forward, brands will still look to engage with consumers through influencers based on long-term collaboration and ensuring that consumers are continuously engaging with the brand through an influencer.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF South African Tourism BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
In 2019, the South African Tourism team in the UK managed to drive approximately 419,000 visitors from the UK to South Africa. This was through a combination of a consumer-facing campaign called Meet Your South Africa which featured 12 charismatic guides from South Africa who shared their stories of what is special about South Africa and why British and Irish tourists should come and visit.
Through the campaign, we profiled our warm and welcoming South Africans, and is one of the campaigns that I am most proud of. We also had several B2B campaigns with the UK and Irish travel trade to make sure that not only do we drive the volume of arrivals but that we also ensure that we showcase, package and sell all South African provinces in the UK.
The consumer and trade campaigns were supported by a robust trade training programme which covered most of the UK and Ireland. The team and I are very proud of the work and we are buzzing with ideas of how to capitalise on all we learnt and how to come back stronger post COVID19.
HOW DO YOU LEVERAGE DATA TO INFORM YOUR DECISION-MAKING?
At South African Tourism, data and research are central to all the work that we do. We go through a thorough review of trends, consumer behaviour, customer journeys and identification of key target areas where we are likely to win as a brand and as a destination while also deriving the highest return on investment with our limited budgets. We can use the research, insights and trends to craft the right messages to our target audiences and identify channels where we can engage with them.
The UK is a competitive market and we need to make sure our campaigns punch above their weight in getting as many British and Irish consumers to consider South Africa for their next holiday.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I love reading! I just finished reading Fernando Pessoa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet‘ and this was an actual book. I loved it. I had so many quotes which were underlined, pinned as highlights and Instagrammed. I also recently finished reading ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother‘ by Candice Brathwaite from my kindle. I read this book in two days. I am now halfway through reading a book called ‘In The Sea There Are Crocodiles’ by Fabio Gedam. I am waiting to start reading ‘An American Marriage‘ by Tayari Jones and ‘Silence Is My Mother Tongue’ by Sulaiman Addonia both on kindle.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I am more of an Amazon Prime fan instead of Netflix and I am watching the newest season of This is Us. This new season does not offer any kind of escapism whatsoever. This is all I will say so as to not spoil it.
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 Jerusalema dance-inspired greeting involving a few jumps on the spot.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I haven’t seen my friend Sivu in many months although we speak on Whatsapp often.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Sometimes, the craziest ideas are the best!
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Don’t be afraid of taking chances and going against the crowds; that’s where all the good stuff is.
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?
Trying to decide which of the things in my life preCOVID19 do I still want in my life postCOVID19. These last few months have been a great opportunity to stop and reflect and I would hate to think it was all in vain if all I do afterwards is to go back to exactly the way things were.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Get my fitness levels up again (this is not an ideal one especially as it’s cold and days are very short here at the moment).
Get into the habit of continuous formal learning again.
Learn to make a perfect pasta carbonara
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
This could be a long one!
My mother – graceful, intelligent, modest, faithful and loving. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.
My sisters-in-love Kgomotso and Sibongile – I don’t know what it was like when I didn’t have them.
At South African Tourism called Dinky Malikane who challenges me both personally and professionally.
Our COO Sthembiso Dlamini at South African Tourism is an incredible leader who, even when things are unclear and muddy, she comes into the room to give direction and much-needed hope.
I work with the most incredible team and the two women in my team are the reasons for the success we have had – Rachel Lewis and Ana Candido.
My friends – I am surrounded by some loving and inspirational women who encourage me to be the best version of me.