TRANSCRIPT: Let’s Talk Content Marketing with Tatenda Ziyambi
Ethan Baird: Okay, so today I am chatting to Tatenda Ziyambi. He is a person I worked with ages ago at Tuks FM and we reconnected recently on LinkedIn, realised we were both in the marketing space, so I decided to let me bring him onto the podcast, let us talk about what he is involved with and just chat all things marketing. So, before we talk about the main topic, can you maybe introduce yourself, talk a little bit about your career history?
Tatenda Ziyambi: Thanks for having me on, Ethan. I am in digital marketing. So I started studying law, still trying to finish my law degree right now, but I then did a bunch of short courses in digital marketing and once I left university, I worked in radio for a little bit, or not a little bit, three years, that was a pretty long time, and then I made the jump into digital marketing. So currently I am in charge of a couple of brands, I think, here in Zim. So, one of the biggest ones probably, I think, is Black Label and Castle Lite we do. The agency I work for, we handle all of the digital properties and just the general marketing. So that is a Spark Notes version of what I do, just my history and what I am doing right now.
Ethan Baird: Awesome. So, I think what would be super interesting is to discuss these big brand marketing campaigns and what they entail. So, let us talk about… Okay, you have got a brand, let us say for example, Black Label, one of these huge brands, how does an agency like yours plan and execute a marketing campaign?
Tatenda Ziyambi: Okay, so we have pretty much what you would call a 360 approach to it, so that is where there is your traditional media, your newspapers and so on and so forth. You have got your digital properties as well, and now you are having all kinds of media that is also coming through which falls technically under the purview of digital, for example, WhatsApp. That is now a really big thing and trying to get people to sign up through WhatsApp and trying to extrapolate data from that and trying to understand what you can do, which was a little tricky at first because it is getting to understand WhatsApp privacy, my number and so on and so forth, but that is how we approach it. We have got a 360-degree approach to it. So typically, when… Let us just say a brief comes in. So, it will be disseminated from the account executive down to someone like myself who is a digital marketing executive. So, I will focus on the digital stuff and they will focus on the other aspects, whether it is TV, print and so on and so forth. So, it is a pretty all-encompassing or time-consuming thing because you would imagine, you get this thing and these campaigns, minimum it is six months. So, you are literally just stuck doing that for… You have got your planning phase, then you send it to your client, your clients may not like what you do a lot of the time, you have that back and forth. So, you usually get these briefs about two or three months before it starts, so you are pretty much looking at about a six- to nine-month window where you have got one campaign and that is all you are pretty much doing, hence that is pretty much how we approach it.
Ethan Baird: So, I am involved mostly with small businesses. So, we do smaller campaigns for start-ups and that kind of stuff, and the budgets with those kinds of things are reasonably small, obviously, because people have limited budgets for marketing. With these big campaigns, what is the kind of spend that is required to make these things actually work?
Tatenda Ziyambi: Oh man. Good question. I guess, because I think in particular with what happened with COVID, I think we were very lucky that, I suppose, the clients that we have are some of these legacy brands, so they were not necessarily adversely affected by it, but some of the other smaller clients that we have, I think if I could give a ballpark figure, I think when things were all well and good, so if you have a national campaign, you could easily have a minimum budget of, I do not know, $300, $400 000.00 US, I do not really know what that is in Rands, but I am sure you can then work that out. And then, for some of the smaller guys, it might be between about $50 to $100 000.00 US. So, what now then happens is that okay, it is COVID and businesses are bleeding money, they cannot spend as much, so now they come to Mr Digital and pin all their hopes on me to try get the message out there, which was all well and fine because that is the way that we are trending. Then I think for a digital marketing campaign right now, I suppose if you are going to do the usual channels, like your YouTube, your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, the Google Ads and so on and so forth, we could easily use somewhere between about minimum of about ten grand up to upwards to about twenty. That is not the exact, just always depends, but digital, I suppose, ten thousand to twenty thousand. Then if it is national, it might be easily somewhere between $300 to $500 000.00 US.
Ethan Baird: Yes. So basically $100 000.00 US is R1.5 million, something like that. That is super interesting because one of the things that I know that small businesses struggle with is getting a return on investment on platforms like Google, Facebook, etcetera, because you do have to spend a reasonable amount to get the return that you are looking for. Let us say, okay, I am your client, I have got $20 000.00 US, I want to spend it on a digital marketing campaign. How are we splitting that up?
Tatenda Ziyambi: Well, I suppose… Well, maybe let me change that up a little bit because the market that I am in right now, Zimbabwe, it is wildly different from whatever you might have learnt in whatever course or degree that you may have done, because you pretty much just have to… because it is going counter-intuitive to what I was saying, that is what I was saying, but you almost have to have a real sense of what the market wants and needs, so if, for example, Client A comes to me and they tell me, “Okay, I have got this expensive cologne or perfume brand that I want to do a digital marketing campaign for here in Zimbabwe.” I will be like, “Well, they do not really have the disposable income or the money to spare to buy your products.” So, I would usually… And again, this is counter-intuitive as a digital person, I would then tell them, “No, you are better off going to where they can now be buying their things, whether it is an Edgars, Woolworths, where the people are actually going to be who have got the money to buy it.” But if we have something that we feel that okay, we can really run on Facebook or Google and so on and so forth. Facebook is by far, by and far, the most-used platform in Zimbabwe. I would not know about South Africa but from what I see from the stats, on the ad spins in Africa, I think it is by and far the largest platform that most people use. So, you want to put at least about, give or take, 30 to 40% of your budget towards Facebook and Instagram. If you are able to have a big enough budget, say it would be twenty grand, then the other… You could place another 20 to 30 on YouTube because a lot of people are on YouTube nowadays, and then the rest is now just a mix and match and so you would like okay, depending what it is, it is probably going to be something that is on Twitter people might like, or you might… Or if it is something more business oriented, you might focus on LinkedIn, but that is how I would typically attach it. Facebook, Google or YouTube, they typically get you better results as opposed to if you want to do something specifically like on Twitter, but that is for the Zimbabwean market, so I hope no one takes this as gospel and tries to use it in South Africa or Egypt.
Ethan Baird: That actually speaks to a broader truth which is that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing campaign. I think people want to believe that you are going to do one thing, you are going to pay this amount of money and then you are going to get this amount of return, and the reality is that it is a lot more complicated than that. I know that from our own experience, we have tested a bunch of stuff just for our own marketing and we could just run a generic Facebook campaign and get zero results, because that is not the platform that is required for this product or service or whatever the KPI for this campaign is. And that is where getting experienced marketing people on board is really important, who know the market and who know this industry. And something that we struggle with sometimes is that I do not want to take on a project where I do not know that I am going to be able to deliver on it, and if you are going to come to me and you are going to tell me, “Okay, I have this product that you know nothing about and I want to market it to this audience that you know nothing about,” ultimately I should not be doing that campaign, or I should be finding someone that understands the market that could run with the campaign.
So, speaking about Zimbabwe, there is specific socio-economic factors in Zimbabwe that are different to South Africa, that are different to Egypt, that are different to every other country. To summarise, you really just have to get the people who understand the market and who understand the product on board before you spend a bunch of money.
Tatenda Ziyambi: No, for sure, and if I could just jump into that. It is not that you might not necessarily… You can be a person like myself who may not know about the market or anything like that, and in truth be told, [inaudible 00:08:49] especially when… because we get a bunch of people come to us pitching their new product and so on and so forth, and they tell us, “Okay, we want to launch this and we want to use digital. We want to use this channel.” So, we will typically tell them, “Okay, look. It is going to take us maybe at least a month or two for us to do some focus groups, some proper marketing research.” But now a lot of clients do not really want to invest in that marketing research and that is now like, “Okay, if you are going to do this, you are going to have to pretty much more or less just guess.” I would like to say guess, guess and sort of like, “Okay, if this product I am guessing likely A, B, C, D.” And that is perhaps where experienced marketers will come in because they know they have done this. But the one thing that I will always implore clients to do and maybe I am sure you probably might do, but that marketing research, it is so key because you can get a lot of insight just doing the initial ground work, trying to find out what people want, how they feel about it, where they probably would… Where the target market is likely going to be found. So that is a fight we have a lot of the time, even with some of our existing clients who want to launch new products and we say, “Okay, cool. You ideated this. Can we have a look at your market research for this? How did you come up with it?” And a lot of the times, they are going to say, “Oh no, one of our bosses saw some YouTube video their kids told them about somewhere in America and we want to do that.” And that is marketing in a nutshell for you. It is always just about if you do not have the research, you are pretty much just going to have to guess, or like you said, you would rather not touch it because you then do not want to not deliver on something.
Ethan Baird: One thing I have been curious about. So obviously you are involved in digital marketing. Traditional marketing still exists, and you said you do 360 approaches as an agency. So, for your market specifically, let us talk about Zimbabwe, what is the role of traditional channels in the marketing mix in Zimbabwe nowadays?
Tatenda Ziyambi: So, I think what you are seeing is a bit of… because obviously with your prints, print is slowly but surely dying a natural death. So I think what tends to happen now, if you are looking at print, for example, before I move onto the other ones, if they have got some earlier [inaudible 00:10:59] who are able to quickly realise that they need to get their business online and so you are pushing your website and then you are pushing your socials, like your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on and so forth. Then the certain print media houses that we know that we see, they have actually got a strong online presence like that, then obviously it is just another talk about can we place our ads on your website, can we have an infomercial thing on your social media pages? But print is, just generally speaking, I think in Zimbabwe is one of the last few countries in Africa where I think actual prints, like printing newspapers, I think the… I am trying to remember what the circulation numbers with The Herald, but they are still pretty high. They are still pretty high, but it is way down than what it used to be. Radio stands undefeated. I think as long as you have got a very strong personality and you know some of the [inaudible 00:11:51] programmes are going to be always listened to, let me say the freedoms that you guys enjoy in terms of what you can say on air, but still you have got some people who have got a large enough following who are on radio that you would want to advertise with radio and TV as well. In our case, we only really have one television station, so it is not like you really have too much of a choice, but you know that certain times, like the eight o’clock news or in the morning with the news programmes and so on and so forth, you know that there is going to a big audience watching you, a lot of our clients want to have their ads placed on there. That is, it. In Zimbabwe, radio is the biggest, followed by TV and then print, depending on how big their online presence is, it is also on a decline. But yes, I guess we will see in a couple of years where they stand.
Ethan Baird: And then how do you measure the return on investment for these giant campaigns?
Tatenda Ziyambi: Well, I think obviously the one thing that you cannot necessarily run away from is sales because I think Zimbabwe, more than any other country right now, considering the economic conditions that we are under, what companies just want is to see sales and what we usually will typically then ask our clients is then to say, “Okay, cool. We are going to start our campaign on this date so please can you just…” because they will usually give us a bit of an indication of what their average sales are in about a month and comparative to the previous periods. And then once we start a campaign, after the first month we will then have a sit down and we will have a look at how the sales figures are working. I know one of the big things that we really want to do is push digital in Zim, but the unfortunate thing is digital… I think people are very resistant to it.
Ethan Baird: Okay, awesome. So, then I want to talk a bit about what do you think is the future of marketing and digital in Zimbabwe.
Tatenda Ziyambi: We have this joke that we have as digital marketers here in Zim that any sort of digital innovation that you see that is now being popular in America and then I guess South Africa, probably South Africa, Egypt, will probably be one of the first African countries to get it. We are perhaps ten years behind that. So, it is always like a constant game of catch-up as it were. Because I think one of the best examples I can give, I think when we first got, I do not know what the technical term is, but data, like 3GP, all of that stuff. I think in SA you guys probably had it around what, 2005, 2006? It took us all the way up until 2010 for us to get that. So just to give you a bit of context. So now when you see all sorts of nice innovations, it is like you see these things like where people scan certain things and then you have got virtual reality, you have got the metaverse, it might take a while before that takes place, takes a hold in Zim. But my hope and my belief is that once Zimbabwe fully embraces the digital revolution as it were, that this is how things are going and this is how most businesses should be, if the right investments are made in the different types of infrastructure that are necessary to facilitate that, then I think Zimbabwe can really go far because I think we are still slightly behind in a sense where we are still more or less relying a lot on the tried and tested things, like your traditional media, because you know that is what may work and then if you try anything too new, digitally speaking, it is either going to be a hit or, more often than not, it can be a miss because people either do not know how to use it, they do not know how to… I think the best example I could give was when, during the pandemic, we had Clubhouse and audio rooms. We tried so hard with a lot of our clients to do things along those roles, but the market just was not really responding to that and a lot of the time, unfortunately, you see that it is not like people in Zim are not on it, but when you have got mass-market products and mass market, that means having access to the right kinds of phones and having data to be able to participate in things like this, a lot of people from a mass-market perspective, they do not have that. So, I am hopeful that once that is available, once the right investments, like I said, have been made, then I think digital marketing is obviously the future. It is just a little slow, but you just have to have patience with it and eventually, like I said, things should work themselves out. But yes, that is pretty much it. Whether that is five years or ten years from now when I can say that we are at least on an even footing with you guys in South Africa, it is hard to say but we will see. We will just have to see.
Ethan Baird: Awesome. Tatenda, thank you so much for your insights today. Super interesting, especially in terms of planning big campaigns. It is an aspect of marketing that not a lot of marketers have access to, so very valuable. If anybody wants to find you, how do they do so?
Tatenda Ziyambi: Oh, it is pretty simple, Ethan. I am not one of these people who goes and uses some funny names like @knothead64. All you got to do is just type in Tatenda Ziyambi on most things, that is Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and you will just find me there. I am all over. I even got on TikTok the other day actually.
Ethan Baird: Okay, Tatenda, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
Tatenda Ziyambi: Alright cool. Thanks Ethan.