Delia Colquhoun, Women In Marketing
Women In Marketing

Women In Marketing Interview | Delia Colquhoun from KWB Chartered Professional Accountants

“Some businesses will close but others will rise from the dust and I think we will find a plethora of new ideas and innovations that will be born from the pandemic.  Our world has changed, marketing is no different”

Delia Colquhoun

Born in South Africa, Delia relocated and is the Marketing Coordinator for the Canadian firm, KWB Chartered Professional Accountants. With an impeccable background in sales, she gives us the 411 on how to run successful campaigns that don’t result in a 404. Let’s dive into this segment of Women In Marketing

THE JOURNEY TAKEN 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career in marketing? How’d you end up at KWB Chartered Professional Accountants?

I was born to promote.  My entire career has been spent in customer service and that is an essential part of marketing; knowing your customer extremely well.  When I graduated from high school I went on to obtain a diploma in Public Relations.  Fast forward to 2015 after moving countries twice, I accepted a job offer to be the Marketing Manager for one of Canada’s largest restaurant chains. 

Delia Colquhoun, Women In Marketing 1
Delia Colquhoun

It was then that I realised that everything I had learned in my career had led to that moment where I was able to utilise my creative skills as well as my promotional skills. I spent 5 years in that role before accepting the marketing position I am currently in at KWB LLP.

What have you learned at KWB Chartered Professional Accountants that you had not learned at previous companies?

I have learned that the marketing of accounting and financial services is not an easy task! I have a new respect for the profession and I have also learned that accountants are not boring.  It has been a healthy challenge for me.

As a woman in the marketing and communications environment, what challenges do you face within and outside the organisation? What message do you have for other female professionals in the fraternity? 

I’ll start with the message first: KNOW YOUR WORTH. Do not settle for less, hang in there for the right opportunity.  While you wait for the right position for you, keep yourself informed and up to date especially within the social media world. 

During my career, I have experienced gender inequality however times are changing and I have not had challenges like those in a few years.  It is also difficult to measure success within a few months.  You need time to create those loyal followers and client lists (and ultimately sales).  Social media advertising is effective but if you are promoting a service or product that you do not need every day, it can take longer to acquire leads and clients.

What made you fall in love with the world of marketing? What particular moment in time pushed you to pursue this as a career? After all, we all wanted to be Doctor’s growing up, right? 

Delia, Women In Marketing 2

I knew from a very early age that I had “the gift of the gab”.  I could sell anything it seemed.  If I believed in a product or service, I would shout it from the rooftops.  How marvellous to then find a career where I could do just that.  When you find your niche, it is extremely rewarding.

ENTERING THE WORKPLACE

What does your typical day of work look like? How does your calendar look and are you a coffee or tea kind of person?

Tea all the way! Coffee when I am tired. A typical day starts with client birthdays and anniversaries with our firm. I send out birthday and anniversary cards every day to our clients.  It is vital to look after your clients and small gestures are remembered.  I work on a variety of projects in my current role.  We are a smaller firm so I take care of creating social media posts for the week to planning monthly information events for our clients and to create leads as well.  

Lately, all my meetings have been on Zoom and I average approximately 3 meetings per day.  I keep all our social media channels open to respond to followers as well as to jump on all the latest trends as they appear.  I prepare a monthly newsletter for our clients so I am always looking for great ideas to blog about and link those to the newsletter.  

My days are extremely varied and there are times where you need to drop everything and start an emergency project, for example, we had to keep our clients updated on the recent government subsidies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I belong to networking groups where I can learn from others in the industry.  Marketing accounting services is a fairly new concept and I value my interactions with others in a similar role, we learn from one another.

Forbes has an annual ‘The World’s Most Influential CMOs’ report. For the year 2019, one of the key highlights from the report was that 31 of the 50 CMOs were women whilst there were 19 men. In your opinion, is this a positive representation of gender equality?

Women In Marketing Interview | Delia Colquhoun from KWB Chartered Professional Accountants 1
Women In Marketing Interview | Delia Colquhoun from KWB Chartered Professional Accountants 2

It’s always wonderful to see women excel in the workplace and we have had many brave women clear the path for the future generation. I am pleasantly surprised to see those numbers.  It is encouraging as for decades women were never considered for managerial positions let alone an executive position.  

Closely linked to the previous question, several studies reveal that women account for the majority of purchase decisions including traditional male products such as automobiles, consumer electronics as well as home improvement products. Despite this, surveys further show that advertisers still do not understand women. Why do you think this is the case and what should change if research says that 50 of the most influential CMOs are in fact, women? 

The world is changing.  In my lifetime I have seen tremendous changes in the way advertisers market to the public. With social media watchdogs these days, it would business suicide to create an advertisement that was sexist or racist.  

Systems around remote work and video conferencing are increasingly becoming a staple to most organisations. To illustrate this, according to the infographic created by Visual Capitalist, Zoom is now worth more than the 7 biggest airlines in the world at a whopping market capitalization of just over $40bn. Working from home/remote working is an aspect of modern-day work that has been long overdue. Why do you think most organisations who are seemingly able to convert to this way of work have struggled to convert? Furthermore, how have you and your organisation structured your work since the COVID-19 pandemic? Any key lessons?

Visual Capitalist Graph, Women In Marketing
Image source: Visual Capitalist
Data source: Barchart

I think many employers feel they will “lose control” of their employees if they are not visibly in front of them. The lesson our firm learned during the shut-down is that some people are more productive, therefore more profitable to the firm, working from home. Others prefer to have more structure and enjoy being at the office more. It’s nice to have a choice.

Storytelling seems to be the next rising buzzword. What’s the KWB Chartered Professional Accountants story? How are you telling it in an interesting way? 

The KWB story begins in 1996 so we have been in our community for a long time.  We have always treated our clients like gold and our growth is proof of that. I cannot be passionate about a product or service that I don’t believe strongly in. The fact that we treat our clients and our team so well, gives me tons of content for telling our story. 

I put the “spotlight” on a KWB team member each Wednesday on social media where we talk about their passions and hobbies. I want the public to know that we are tech-savvy, personable, knowledgeable and most of all, trustworthy.

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

What have been some of KWB Chartered Professional Accountants biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?

Our team is amazing and I would love to take credit for a 30% growth in our business over the last year, but it truly is a team effort.

BCG published its innovation report for 2019 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 KWB Chartered Professional Accountants?

Innovation is part of our culture.  We are always looking at ways to automate our accounting services and to get our clients on the “cloud” to make their lives easier. Innovation should make your life easier, not harder.

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At the time of publishing, an article from The Digital Marketing Institute estimated that the influencer marketing industry will hit the $10bn mark by 2020. Whether it is B2B or B2C, it is evident that brands and organisations have had their own 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 is still viable but will it remain that way? The one thing that Covid-19 taught us is to be self-sufficient and to budget. Unfortunately, the fall out will affect economies across the globe.  Some businesses will close but others will rise from the dust and I think we will find a plethora of new ideas and innovations that will be born from the pandemic.  Our world has changed, marketing is no different.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Canva Software! It’s amazing for creating social media posts and brochures

Are there any recent/upcoming influencer marketing campaigns you would like to share from KWB Chartered Professional Accountants? 

We have a new partnership with B1G1 (Business for Good). Basically, when a client purchases a service from us, we give a person or community in a third world country with items such as clean water, livestock, food, clothing, education, etc. For example, when we onboard a new client, we give 365 days of loving care to a baby in India.

When a client transitions to our monthly payment plan, we give a goat to a family in rural Kenya and when we are hired for advisory services, we give a business loan to a woman in Zambia. It truly is a beautiful thing. We are going to launch our partnership with B1G1 officially once the pandemic is behind us.

What’s your mobile strategy? What have you found works and does not work for your target audience? 

Sometimes people surprise you. I have a strategy for our social media posts but sometimes a post you think will do well, does not and visa versa with a post you weren’t too sure about. Our audience is looking for information so I usually link the post with a blog on our website which has more information on it. I keep our branding and messaging clear and simple.  

How is KWB Chartered Professional Accountants changing the approach to marketing, growing brand affinity, user adoption, and engaging consumers living a digital lifestyle? 

KWB is one of the first accounting firms to hire a full-time marketing person. Most firms out-source their marketing but when you do that, you lose the personal touch. When you market for a business you are proud of, it makes a difference. We are constantly teaching clients (and the public) how to grow their business using technology and software. We offer free monthly virtual learning sessions with regards to accounting software and apps.

How do you leverage data to inform your decision-making? 

I network and I belong to many accounting and marketing groups both in person and on platforms like LinkedIn. In Canada, you cannot purchase mailing lists, you have to do the groundwork yourself.  It forces you to be creative.

What do you see as some of the major trends in digital in the next 12 to 18 months?

Voice control, “hands-free” software and technology.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I get rid of my most unlikeable tasks early in the morning. I get them out of the way so that I have the afternoon to be more creative. I go from the biggest “frog” in the morning, to the “tadpole” in the afternoon. I like to leave the office and not stress about work that has not been completed. Figure out what time of day you are most productive and go from there. I am more productive in the morning so I arrive at work at 6.30 am and work until 3.30 pm when my brain officially fizzles out for the day.

What are your thoughts on Marketing and Sales alignment? How do you align your Marketing and Sales team at KWB Chartered Professional Accountants? 

I AM the Marketing and Sales team. We are a smaller firm so I take care of both marketing and sales.  When I have had to deal with salespeople as a marketer, a team-building event once a month is a must. Both positions are stressful, you really need to unite as a team.

2020 AND BEYOND

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?) 

I love a paperback, I like to physically turn pages.  I am currently reading ‘The Gargoyle’ by Canadian author Andrew Davidson.

What is on your Netflix watchlist/How do you relax?

Documentaries and more documentaries. I like to relax and learn at the same time. Another way I relax is playing CandyCrush, it helps to keep my memory sharp and it’s a great way to switch off.

A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry

Learn to take constructive criticism.  

What haven’t you solved? What challenge is on your plate? 

Right now it’s trying to fill seats at events. It can be hit and miss and very frustrating. In saying that, we have an event coming up that is nearly full all because I switched the time it begins.  Sometimes a large problem has a really simple solution.

Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read 

Many Ollis – FujiFilm South Africa (Cape Town)

Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?

Oddly enough they are the same!  I want to write a Marketing book as well as a novel.  

Who are some of your female heroes?

Mother Teresa was an amazing human being and she made me take a good look at my values and my heart.  Maya Angelou inspires me to love.  Sylvia Plath inspires me to write.  My grandmother was my rock.  She was such a strong woman and entered the male-dominated business world and slayed! This was in the early seventies, she was a pioneer for sure. She inspired me to be a strong woman.

What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us? 

CryptoCurrency.

What does the word feminist mean to you? 

It means women representing women’s rights to me.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 

If it won’t matter in a few months, don’t lose any sleep over it. 

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success? 

I have always had people confide in me.  Strangers speak to me in public and end up telling me their life story. I seem to be warm and approachable and that helps me in my profession.

Which superhero/heroine or literature icon exemplifies your personality at work and at home? 

At home, I am Cat Woman and at work, I am Lucille Ball.  They call me Mama Dee 🙂

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Head of Relationship Management at naughtybanana. I am a father to an awesome boy who thinks highly of me; perhaps I'm doing something right after all. When I'm not establishing new business relationships, you might catch me reading a book or of course, being an awesome dad.