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Getting Media Coverage for Your Brand

Creating a platform for your brand doesn’t just happen over night.

Mongezi Mtati




“Marketing is expensive,” said the well-meaning business and entrepreneur trainer when I approached him with a business idea that would help to expand his reach and potentially bring in a whole new audience. You hear this statement a lot and it’s usually followed by “I’m already using social media” like it’s some kind of magic bullet.

The thing about social media is that a few tweets here, a status update there and pin or two can only take you so far in getting feet through the door. If you’re using it to grow your reputation and business, unless you have a defined objective backed up by a solid strategic engagement strategy in place, you’re talking into the wind.

Over the past five or so years, I have worked on building my personal profile and in the process have followed some – now influential – people as they rose through the ranks to become the meaningful industry voices they are today. I was interested in creating a platform for myself which would enhance and be beneficial to my start-up business.

On my profile-building journey, there have been a number of people have been instrumental in advising me and showing me the ropes. I will, in this two-part series, attempt to share what I learnt and shed some light in how you can build a platform for yourself.

Call a friend

When you get stuck for an answer in ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’, you are allowed to call a friend for the answer. Mentorship is very similar. It is about surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed and are willing to openly share the knowledge and experiences they have accumulated over the years.

A mentor doesn’t have to be older than you or necessarily wildly successful. Their value lies in sharing what has and has not worked for them and providing a sounding board when you’re unsure of the way forward.

Thought leaders are also useful guides. While you might not always have direct access to them, the insights that they share across their various platforms can help you to have important “Aha” moments or inspire you to follow a particular train of thought.

Early on in my journey one of my friends, who also plays in the creative space, encouraged me to share my thoughts, interpretations and insights across a variety of important industry platforms. This would allow me to raise my profile, as well as gain the opportunity to engage with the industry and to learn from their comments and feedback.

While initially a rather daunting prospect in the beginning, it made sense that if I was going to try and build my business around harnessing the power of influencers, then I should be living by example, showing potential clients what I had achieved rather than just making what might appear to be empty promises.

Writing regular thought leadership pieces for some of South Africa’s leading industry platforms, co-hosting an online TV show called ‘Let’s Talk Possibility’ and hosting Network Radio’s This Week in Startups has given me the opportunity, not only to share what I’ve learned through my research and the projects that I’ve undertaken, but  also to learn from those responding to the articles, or appearing on the shows.

Be relevant and interesting

In my search for a magic bullet, soon after starting my business, I approached a media consultant for help on how to grow my business. He told me to take my own medicine and that selling anything, including oneself, means you have to put yourself out there.

The thing about putting yourself out there is that you’d better do a decent job. Don’t share unless you have something that is meaningful, relevant and valuable for your readers or listeners. Always do your homework too, so that you can back your thoughts and opinions up with fact wherever possible.

Be aware that you’re not always going to have a favourable response. In fact there may be times when someone heckles you and insists that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; remember at all times that it is how you conduct yourself in these moments that leaves you looking professional or not.

Have you ever found yourself making the analogy “mechanics drive the worst and most dilapidated cars”? No one wants to be that mechanic, let alone make contact with them. If you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader, do your homework before you present your case, attend relevant industry conferences, events and workshops.

Take up interesting opportunities that will add to your knowledge in your chosen field and report back on what you learnt. Discuss past projects including what the brief was, what the outcome was and share what worked or what didn’t and muse about what you might do differently (if anything) second time around.

Why should anyone listen to you?

Our mentors are the people that we quite often bare our souls to, all the while trying to show them that we’re constantly growing and improving. My mentor has many of the traits that I want to cultivate in business, including the ability to captivate an audience and sell ideas that clients know are worth the investment.

The first questions he asked me was, “Why should anyone listen to you?” This got me thinking about the contribution I would like to make within my chosen field. In my case, the answer to that question is, “People should listen to me because I am able to generate conversations about their brands and products by introducing them to a network of fresh, relevant, exciting and engaging young South African thought leaders.”

Once you have identified why people should listen to you, creating a plan and then implementing a strategic course of action which will encourage them to listen and to ask the important engagement questions, is easier.

He also shared with me, that people listen to those whom they perceive have ‘made it’ in their respective fields. So en route to blazing a trail, remember to build a network through your contributions, which will assist in building your credibility.

Give first

We all have that one connection who calls for help whenever they’re desperate but who is seldom able to return the favour. Don’t be that guy. It is the people who give first that are more likely to make lasting connections and it’s those connections that can help to make you a force to be reckoned with in your field.

Many people spend their lives building connections and making a meaningful contribution on various platforms. Others spend their time asking to tap into the connections you’ve spent countless hours nurturing without feeling the need to contribute anything of value in return.

Referring one of your connections to another is a difficult decision to make, because at the end of the day, regardless of whether or not you are involved in the interaction that takes place thereafter, your reputation is at stake should one person not live up to the promised expectation.

Would you prefer to be someone that encourages others to want to refer you because they can trust the way you will conduct yourself with others or are you comfortable with the possibility that your calls are being ignored for a good reason?

5 Steps to success

These are some of the first steps I took, and as I learn along the way, nothing is set in stone, the journey and the strategy changes on occasion and different things become more useful.

  • Start by  growing your network
  • Surround yourself with people from whom you can learn and who you can potentially help in return for their insights and guidance
  • Begin building your profile, making sure to do your homework.
  • Ask yourself the question “why should anyone listen to me” and then create a strategic plan to reach them.
  • Lastly, be the person that people like to refer to others rather than  drain their patience.


Mongezi Mtati is the founder of WordStartWordStart, a word of mouth company that connects companies with organic conversations.



Brand And Marketing: Finding The Balance For SMEs

For some entrepreneurs, this can be quite a sobering thing to do whilst for others it reinforces that they are on the right path to success.

Gary Harwood




Being in business is about more than just hitting the bottom line. Sure, financial growth is imperative to continued success. But if nobody knows about you, then your achievements will be limited to the short-term. Enter the world of brand and marketing.

To the uninitiated, these concepts might seem interrelated. And to a certain extent they are. However, branding revolves around delivering on a promise, it is what defines you as an SME and what makes you different from your competitors.

Marketing is about how you do it – your tactics and your strategic goals. It is about promoting a product or service to sell and earn revenue.

Both are equally important, and no entrepreneur can afford to ignore one in favour of the other. But how do you balance a limited budget and resources to finding the right balance? In some ways, it is best to take a step back and view your business from the perspective of your customers.

Related: The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

For some entrepreneurs, this can be quite a sobering thing to do whilst for others it reinforces that they are on the right path to success.

Emotional versus rationale

Cynics might argue that branding is all about emotions while marketing is a more rationale (and logical) pursuit. After all, how do you ‘know’ your customer? How do you analyse the effectiveness of your brand promise?

It might be an easy thing for large organisations to measure, but for a business just starting out, it is quite a challenging prospect. Given how data has exploded in recent years, organisations have a wealth of information at their disposal to analyse, scrutinise, and draw insight from in getting to grips with the effectiveness of their brand promise.

And while this might seem daunting for your SME, it does not have to be the case. While there are more than enough models to measure brand equity, most are challenging (not to mention costly) to implement and they all require extensive research.

Fortunately, things like internal staff surveys (questions like what do your employees think your brand identity and promise is), how integrated your brand and marketing efforts are (do your tactics reflect what you want to achieve), and how you compare to the competitors, can be reviewed relatively quickly and cost effectively.

Related: The Economics of Branding

The business of marketing

Marketing can add a dynamic component to this mix. By focusing on the tactical elements of how to achieve business growth (specific to your brand promise), the SME can develop a more nuanced strategy that factors in both emotional and rationale elements.

We all want to make money but that hardly has the makings of a solid marketing strategy. In fact, marketing is less about flashiness and more about implementing solid business principles.

Sure, the sexiness comes in some of the tactical executions but it all revolves around delivering value to shareholders, marketing to the strengths of your business, and setting yourself apart from your competitors.

A successful marketing campaign revolves around bringing customers to your business. And this is where the brand promise is so important. You must understand what the customer requirements are if you are to deliver tactics that fulfil them.

Business today requires branding and marketing to work together. By compromising the one in favour of the other will not result in any significant long-term gains but risk your SME losing ground to competitors.

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5 Steps To Building Your Personal Brand From Scratch

Whenever you engage, shine a light on your values.




What would you like people to say about you?

As Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Your personal brand is the sum total of what you do, how you do it and why you do it. It’s not something you can fake. It’s authentic and deep-seated.

If you get it right, your personal brand will make you stand out from the crowd, shine a spotlight on your expertise and enhance your value. You’ll have an energy and a buzz about you that people can’t help being drawn to.

So how can you build your personal brand?

For starters, don’t make the mistake of thinking your personal brand is all about you. It’s not. Your personal brand is not about your work experience or your personal accomplishments. Your personal brand should be about other people, specifically what you can do for other people.

Start by asking yourself a few questions: What needs can you address? What are the areas where you can offer the most value? What makes you different from the rest?

Related: 6 Personal Branding Rules To Being Popular And Profitable

With a little thought and planning, you can build your personal brand from scratch. Just follow these five steps:

1Discover your opportunity

Passion is not enough. You might have a passion for rock climbing, or playing the ukulele. But having a passion does not automatically translate to recognition and success.

Instead of focussing on your passions, study the needs of the people in your circles. What are they trying to achieve? What are they struggling with? What are their frustrations?

Think about how you could best help these people.

Dig deep into who you are. Identify what you can bring to the table. Evaluate not just the skills and experience you’ve acquired but also the values that guide and inform you.

Study your competition. Can you serve a need that in an area that doesn’t have lots of competition?

If there’s lots of competition wherever you look, don’t be discouraged. Can you serve a need in a way that’s distinctive and noteworthy?

You’ve identified your opportunity when you’ve found a significant need that you can serve, in a way that sets you apart from the competition.

2Know your audience


Everything starts with your audience. Find out as much as you can about them. This includes standard demographic data such as what jobs they do, how much they earn and where they live.

Equally, if not more importantly, you need to know what their beliefs and values are, their hopes and dreams and the challenges they are facing.

Talk to your audience. Take them out for a coffee or set up a Skype call. Study them by reading what they’re saying on relevant social media, forums and review sites.

Is your audience more interested in quality or value? What’s more important to them, making a difference or making money? What public figures do they admire?

How much do your audience know about what you can offer them? Will you need to educate them for them to appreciate your value?

Identify who your core audience is. Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Identify which audience segments are most likely to become long-term customers and advocates. These are the people you should focus on.

Related: Personal Branding Pitfalls Women Should Avoid

3Craft your message

In Hollywood, budding filmmakers learn to prepare an “elevator pitch” to sell their movie ideas to busy studio executives. The key is to summarize their idea in a short, memorable phrase that could be pitched even if they had to do it in an elevator.

For example, the movie Alien was initially pitched as, “Jaws in space.”

You want to tell your audience about what you do, about what makes you different and exciting. But they probably won’t have time to listen to your life story.

Instead, you should create a short message that sums up what you’re about in a way which connects with your audience. Keep it simple and memorable. Think of it as your elevator pitch. Your message should reflect the people you serve, the values that you embody and the results you achieve.

If you have any testimonials, study them. What were the things about you that people valued the most? Observe the exact phrases people use when talking about you. Often, these are the precisely the phrases you should use when describing yourself.

Use your message to brand yourself on your professional profiles. Most importantly, embody it in everything you do.

4Hone your uniqueness

Maybe you can do something highly useful that very few people can do. Well, that’s your unique quality, and you should tell your audience about it.

But perhaps there are plenty of people who do what you do, and you’ll be competing for the same audience. Being able to demonstrate a point of uniqueness is your key to success in a competitive market.

The most obvious point of uniqueness is to be the best. There are many ways of being the best. Find out which way plays to your strengths. Are you the most experienced, most creative, most efficient? Do you excel at customer service?

Related: [PODCAST]: Listen To Rich Mullholland Share Tips On Building Your Personal Brand

If you can’t be the best in some way, becoming more specialised can make you unique. For example, instead of offering a marketing service to small business owners in general, you could offer a marketing service targeted at chiropractors.

And don’t be afraid to be controversial to stand out. If you hold different opinions from the others, don’t be afraid to voice them. Just stay away from topics that are likely to cause offense, like religion and politics.

5Define your values

Authenticity is the cornerstone of personal branding. Your authenticity is what allows your audience to trust you, to engage with you, to tell their friends about you. Being authentic is about having stated values and being true to them.

So what are your values? You should include business values, such as driving innovation or personal accountability. You might also add ethical values, such as care for the environment.

How you speak and write is also a reflection of your values. Are you serious or informal? Do you address the layman or expert? What are your cultural reference points?

Guard against inconsistency, such as saying one thing and doing another, as this will cast doubt on your values and undermine your brand.

Keep your values at the heart of everything you do, as you interact with people, network on social media, or publish blog posts. Wherever and whenever you engage, ensure you do so in a way that shines a light on your values.

This article was originally posted here on

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Wrapping Up Profits With Niche Vinyl Wraps

Marketers always want to grab consumers’ attention while business owners may want to differentiate their company’s fleet.




Marketers always want to grab consumers’ attention while business owners may want to differentiate their company’s fleet.

Cars are used as form of self-expression, and some individuals will pay a small fortune to make their wheels unique. All of this can be achieved with speciality vinyls, which allow a range of attention-grabbing special effects.

Robbie Fuchs from World Signs said that these unique effects are sought after and that matte black finishes are popular, and are being used in some campaigns to tone down shiny chrome.

Popular requests include partial wraps for select sections of cars, such as: mirrors, stripes on the sides of vehicles, bonnets and high gloss black vinyl on roofs, which gives a panoramic look and feel.

‘There are a handful of people who will spend a lot of money on a car and then spend more money on making it look fancy,’ he says.

Related: Celebrating Women In The Signage And Printing Industry

Fuchs added that vinyls for home owners and private use is a niche market. ‘We have also had requests to wrap toilet seat covers, fridges and kitchen cupboards.’

Different textures such as chrome, wood grain, carbon fibre and a variety of metallic effects, glitter, ultra matt finishes and ‘sandpaper-like’ non-slip surface finishes are also available. One can also create pearlescent effects and even velvet, while colour changing vinyls also provide really unique wraps.

‘Vehicle advertising is good for any business size, and some small-business owners feel it legitimises their company by getting their brand and logo out where potential customers can see them,’ said Rakesh Rosen, Midcomp.

‘When smaller businesses use vehicle wraps, it puts them on the same playing field as franchises and companies that are large enough to maintain vehicle fleets. Vehicle vinyl wrapping is definitely on the increase in South Africa and will continue to grow.’

Henri Robert from Sign Wonder, said, ‘Vehicle branding is an effective promotion tool because it combines the key elements of marketing, advertising and branding into one convenient and proven solution. It is high impact, cost effective and they work for all types of businesses. Vehicle branding allows a vehicle to serve as a low-cost mobile billboard seen everywhere a vehicle typically goes.’

You can see vinyl wrapping solutions and business opportunities at the FESPA Africa and Sign Africa Expo at Gallagher Convention Centre from 13-15 September.

Visit for more information. 

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