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AM Communications: Ayanda Mbanga

Advertising entrepreneur builds her brand on relationships, not transactions.

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Ayanda Mbanga of AM Communications

Ayanda Mbanga Communications (AM Comms)specialises exclusively in recruitment advertising. Now in its 11th year, it’sone of the fastest-growing, award-winning, BEE compliant companies in South Africaand winner of 20 recruitment advertising awards. That’s quite an achievement, but thenMD Ayanda Mbanga, has a unique talent – understanding the art of branding whichshe says is the key to producing captivating and successful recruitmentadvertising for her stable of blue-chip clients.

Marketingtechnique

A Rhodes Universityjournalism graduate, Mbanga gained practical experience and hands-on know-howabout writing recruitment advertising while at globally renowned agency Saatchi& Saatchi. It was there that she learnt aboutLovemarks, a marketing technique which is a strong influence in her life. Theconcept was invented by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi.His premise is that loyalty to a brand should go, “beyond normal reason”, it’swhy customers pay more for a particular brand when there is a cheaperequivalent. According to Roberts, great brands infiltrate your life and youridentity. It’s that life-long love affair thing again. That’s why he stillshaves with a Gillette Sensor and will fight anyone for the last Steinlager inthe fridge. In 2006, Saatchi & Saatchi won a $430 million JC Penneycontract because of the idea of Lovemarks. Mbanga herself embraces the threeelements that have made Lovemarks so successful – mystery, sensuality andintimacy, but this affinity doesn’t stop there – she applies these elements toher business model.

Seeingthe gap

During her five-year stay at the agencyshe saw a gap in the market and decided to go out on her own. “At that timethere was a lot of change in the air,” Mbanga says. “It was 1998 andaffirmative action, women in the workplace and BEE were all very topical. Atthe same time, however, employer brands needed to be built up in the eyes ofprospective candidates looking for employment. Recruitment advertising was ripefor change.”

Thehardest part

The most difficult thing Mbanga had toface was building credibility in the market place. “I was fortunate because Ihad seed capital of a different kind in the form of seed clients,” she says. “It was this base and support fromSaatchi & Saatchi that helped me develop the reputation I needed. We havehad an annual growth of 25% to 30% with media billings in 2007 in excess ofR100 million. Things have slowed down a bit this year, but that’sunderstandable considering the economic climate at the moment.”

Another key to success comes from thefact that the company derives its income from media commissions rather thanclient billing. “Naturally, the more our clients spend the more commission wemake,” Mbanga notes.The business has evolved to includeother services such as employer brand management, media buying and call centremanagement. “In these areas we are paid directly by the clients. We help themto deal with responses emanating from an ad we have generated. We co-ordinateinitial short listing or paper screening, sort them and submit the responses tothe client, all in the interests of speed. Search and selection is a process weundertake via our associates, while e-recruitment sets up career websites forclients to enable candidates to apply direct via the website.”

Attitudepays off

AM Comms’ success is the result of hardwork and ensuring that the basics are in place: the best possible service,attention to detail and enthusiasm. “Many people have dreams andexpectations about owning their own business, but I have to admit that all theclichés out there apply. You will be successful if you are sure you can betough, if you can sit out the difficult times, if you have a burning passionfor what you do and the right attitude. Every day I repeat my favourite sayingwhich keeps me going: ‘Haeyo kgomo yaboroko’ – you can’t get a cow bysleeping.”

  • Company: Ayanda Mbanga Communications
  • Player: Ayanda Mbanga
  • Est: 1998
  • Contact: +27 11 234 6041, www.ayandambanga.co.za

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