What To Do When You Hit A Wall

Earlier today I was minding my business and driving back home and just as I hit the turn to my place, I saw the rear end of Porsche Panamera 4 sticking out of my neighbor’s wall.

After I got over the initial shock, I was like “Yup, that’s an accurate depiction my life”.

Since 2009 I have dreamed of visiting Lagos, Nigeria and every year I passionately talk about it, to a point of breathlessness. In 2017 after I took part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship (“MWF”), my determination hit an all-time high as I got to meet some incredibly smart, fun, talented people from the rest of the continent and I added 10 more countries to my list places I wanted to visit.

In October 2017, I saw the She Leads Africa SLAY Festival would take place on 17 February 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria and I decided that “THIS IS IT”.

I sped off to write the event organizers and put myself up for any type of speaking opportunities that were available and was given the “thank you for getting in touch, we will get back to you.”

But they didn’t know who they were dealing with. I kept idling like a Porsche, waiting to make my move and then it happened!

As I was idle on Instagram I saw an insta-story of a friend/ client and he was with one of the co-founders of the She Leads Africa publication! I decided it was time to switch up lanes and accelerate this process by making a client an offer they can’t refuse, reduced legal fees in exchange for an introduction to the co-founders.

In December, a few days after Christmas I emailed the co-founder with my spiel and she said yes! Then on the other side, I started my application for a Speakers Travel Grant (“STG”) which is one the perks for alumni of the MWF and I was like “Yassss, I am cruising!!”.

So how did I go from cruising to hitting a wall?

Over hustling

The quality of your hustle will determine the kind of results you achieve. Over-hustling is like over-revving the engine, its fun and creates noise but you actually aren’t going anywhere. I turned every trick in the hustler’s handbook! I am resourceful as heck and got some good results:

  • The event organizers invited me to the event as a speaker hosting a masterclass and sent me a Visa application letter.
  • The Southern Sun hotel in Ikoyi agreed to sponsor me with accommodation for the duration of my stay.
  • I was able to negotiate with customs officials to leave me 2 blank pages in my passport which is almost finished.

Some hustles fail:

  • When my STG application was bounced, I decided to send sponsorship requests to every single airline that flies out of OR Tambo and I put them on notice on Twitter. Putting companies on blast on Twitter only works when you can go viral. I had 11 retweets. No bueno.
  • I had 2 pages left in my passport! Travelling under those conditions is very difficult.

The contingency

I put a lot of my eggs in the STG basket instead of working on other leads that would lead me somewhere.

When the STG responded to me I had exactly 1 week to shoot a new shot, which led to the frantic ‘spray and pray’ approach with almost 15 airlines, rather than a targeted approach I had towards Southern Sun which led to success.

Counting the Cost

Applying for a visa generally takes 2 weeks, or it can be more but I decided to travel 9 days before I would need to apply for the visa which was really cutting it thin.

As I would be taking this trip during a work period, which is a time to make coin- I hadn’t set up coin generating targets for the trip- if anything I was going to spend time and money in non-income producing activities.

I didn’t account for the cost of time and the cost of money in undertaking this exercise from the beginning to the end. I believe in miracles, but God isn’t in the business of covering up for laziness and folly!

Know Your Audience

In applying for the STG I wasn’t able to show the people controlling the purse string what they wanted to see, which was a high impact business event that would change and improve my business in a measurable way.

They saw a one-day social event that happened under the guise of entrepreneurship and I was basically asking them to fund a weekend getaway!

On a side note: imagine how much fun it would have been to watch Black Panther in Lagos though!

Creating Value

I was very excited to be part of the She Leads Africa SLAY Festival, but I hadn’t really thought of how I would use this platform to create value beyond the day. My talk I prepared was fantastic, but I was going to end up in a sea of speakers because I hadn’t really finessed my differentiator.

The same applies to my relationship with the hotel I should have stayed at. Beyond tweets and pictures, I hadn’t really thought of a way to add value to their brand in return for their hospitality.

After the Porsche hit that wall, it was pulled back and reversed onto a tow truck. In the same way, I need to reverse and get back to the drawing board.

The driver of the car will have to repair that wall, in the same way, I have to explain and apologize to the people who were expecting me.I have set a 3-month target to go to Lagos and this time it will be a beautiful, paced and thought-out journey!


DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO SHARE WITH US? SHARE YOUR STORY HERE.

Girls Talk London: Rebranding what it means to be a young woman in the UK

All across the world girls and young women are looking for spaces to express themselves and have their voices heard. While the issues may be different, digital media is providing the platform for young women to create what they wish they could see. Vanessa Sanyauke and Remel London, diaspora women based in London, have come together to create Girls Talk London and talk about the issues facing young women in the UK.

Vanessa and Remel shared with us how they’ve gotten corporate leaders to see the value in their organisation, the networking tips they’ve used to connect with high profile guests like Adele’s stylist and the best African restaurant in London.


Why is Girls Talk important to young women in the UK?

Vanessa: At present in the UK there is not one single talk show that targets young women. We do not have a platform to talk about trending topics that affect us or hear from guests that are of interest to our everyday lives.

Girls Talk is made for the everyday young woman in the UK and the hosts have open and honest conversation about current social media trends and have special guests and experts on fashion, beauty, work, relationships & life who give the viewer life hacks and tips to implement in their lives.

This show rebrands what it means to be a girl in the UK and the hosts are non-judgemental advocates for women’s issues and rights.

Remel: Young women need positive role models and I think that we showcase exceptional talented women from different walks of life and industries that they can aspire to be like.

How did you build the business case for corporate partners to see the value in Girls Talk?

Girls Talk London the organisation, connects FTSE 100 businesses with female talent-young girls and professional women. The business case is that a great deal of our corporate partners have less than 20% of staff who are women and even less at executive board level. We are the middle-woman and bring talent to them and help them to increase diversity.

The UK government has introduced reporting measures which starting this year that requires any business with over 250 employees to report the salary and bonuses of male and female staff. This is another incentive for businesses to really address the gender pay which is currently at 19%.

The fact that the government is putting pressure on businesses to treat their female staff better helps businesses see the benefit of working with us.

How have you gotten high profile people to serve as guests on Girls Talk?

We have built a reputation of professionalism and excellence in all that we do so most speakers can see that we are organised and they will be looked after when they speak at an event.

Also, most high profile women are tired of being the only women in the roof and are actually passionate about doing all they can to get more women in their sector so selling the benefits of speaking at our events is not always that hard for us.

What networking and relationship building tips can you share with our audience looking to connect with high profile people?

You need to show that you are professional and organised so we’d encourage having a website or information packs which provide detail about your work and mission.

For speakers and sponsors always show your gratitude for their time and be able to explain what you can do for them. Be confident and concise-high profile people always have limited time so try and avoid long emails and conversations by being clear and straight to the point.

What are the hardest parts of getting Girls Talk off the ground and how are you looking to fill in the gaps?

The hardest part in getting the talk show off the ground is building an audience. It takes time to grow so we are focusing on our mission, content and produce a show to the highest quality.

We fill a gap in the market because we cater to all young women in the UK as our hosts come from all backgrounds including African, British and Asian as well as having a Dean as a host we are able to reach out to male viewers too.

In addition, our show helps improve the lives of our viewers because interview guests who are experts in business, careers, fashion and beauty. It is not just about a group of women gossiping!

If you had the choice between a powerful mentor and significant business funding, which one would you choose and why?

Vanessa: Oh this is a tough one! I would say a powerful mentor because knowledge is priceless and if you have a powerful mentor the money will surely follow with their direction and support.

Remel: I personally have a lot of plans and ideas of how I would like to continue to support young women and create opportunities for young people so I would choose business funding. 

What’s your vision for Girls Talk and what can we expect to see in the next 12-18 months?

Remel: I would love to see Girls Talk go on an international tour visiting different countries to inspire girls all over the world but also interview inspirational women from all over the world. 

Vanessa: My vision for the show is for us to expand our audience —we want an international audience and we are looking at partnerships and sponsorships already for series 3 so watch this space!

Fast Five with Vanessa

Vanessa - Girls Talk LondonFavorite Afrobeat singer? Tiwa Savage

Best African restaurant in London? Wazobia on Old Kent Road

Makeup must have? Blusher

Favorite woman in business? Oprah

Topic you’re most excited to talk about on this season of Girls Talk? I am really excited about the interview with Adele’s stylist and also our show on Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose and the sexualisation of women on social media.

Fast Five with Remel

Remel - Girls Talk LondonFavorite Afrobeat singer? Moelogo

Best African restaurant in London? Sweet Hands

Makeup must have? Concealer!!!

Favorite woman in business? Oprah Winfrey

Topic you’re most excited to talk about on this season of Girls Talk? Social media  

Beginner’s guide to marketing to an African audience

marketing in africa

Now is a good time to become a game changer. Social media has allowed the world to get a cultural peak into the diversity of African culture. From Azonto music to African films, many African media outlets are re-branding Africa’s image to the world.

Social media has given us the global platform to have unfiltered control over our own images (no pun intended) and build meaningful connections with those who are like-minded. Take advantage of the global opportunities that the internet has to offer.

Working within the field of marketing is based off of the relationships and connections that you build with others. When others see that you are of value to them in some capacity, they are more inclined to support you.

Content is king (or queen)!

Your content must reflect your values. If your mission statement says that you believe in high quality, but your social media images look like your little cousin Kofi took them, nobody believes you. High quality photos are non-negotiable.

The majority of your digital audience will most-likely have smartphones, if they can take semi-professional looking photos with them, at the very least, you can do the same. About 55% of online users leave a website within the first 15 seconds, this leaves little time to make a great first impression.

You should always “sweat the small stuff”. Have an eye for detail. Putting elements of your personality into your marketing strategy sets you apart from the rest. It shows a level of creativity that no one else can effectively duplicate because there is only on you.

Engage with your audience

You have to tap into your audience’s needs on an emotional level. You must engage with your audience so that they feel connected to your brand; this is how brand loyalty is developed. Take the time to define who your target audience is and create content that is relevant to them.

Be as personal as possible when addressing your audience, they need to know that they are valued. Implement nuances that remind them of their culture so that they feel a level of nostalgia and camaraderie in association with your brand. Allow your empathy to shine through. Show your core audience that you “get them.”

Please understand that social media for brands is really not about self-promotion but rather to engage with your audience and build trust. Brands should use their social media platform to learn about their customers needs and find solutions for them. When you are marketing, you are in the business of solving problems.

Social Media Week Lagos

It is imperative that you take the time to know and grow with your audience. In knowing their values, you can develop marketing strategies catering to their interests. Majority of online activity for many is done on a mobile device (i.e. tablet or smartphone).

Your website must be mobile friendly, responsive web design needs be integrated into your website.  Responsive web design is “a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).”  If visitors have to struggle and constantly scroll across the screen just to read a sentence, they will easily become annoyed and less likely to visit again.

Your website should be easy to navigate. If you are selling a product or asking visitors for donations on your homepage, visitors should not have to maneuver through three different webpages before finding the right button to click. People in the digital age are less patient, you have to find ways to accommodate that. I beg, “African time” need not apply in the digital world.

Create customer profiles

When marketing to an African audience, create a customer profile. A customer profile is just a detailed description about who your target customer is. Many marketing teams do this in order to make customer centered decisions that appeal to their target customer. The customer profile could include the following:

  •      Name
  •      Age
  •      Hobbies
  •      Where they live
  •      Favorite movies
  •      Goals and aspirations

In addition to the above, you can even google a picture of what your target customer would look like, be as visual and descriptive as possible. According to user experience researchers from Experience Solutions “most projects evolve from an idea, and grow through the opinions of influential members of the project team. The trouble is that these influential members of the project team are rarely the end user or customer.

This often results in a product or service that doesn’t quite meet customer expectations or needs…” Having a thorough customer profile serves as a reminder as to who your target audience is. You are more likely to accurately focus your branding strategies around their interests.

Make Google analytics your best friend

Make Google analytics your best friend. Google analytics is a free web service run by Google that tracks and reports your website traffic. You can use this tool to track the geographical location of your users, view which pages on your website they are visiting, the time of day that they visit the most, and a host of many other details.

In knowing how your audience moves, you can study trends and plan strategically. For example, if Google analytics shows that your blog has that highest amount of web traffic on Tuesday’s between 3-5pm, you may want to release new blog posts during that time. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that walk you through the process of using Google analytics.

Africa is not a country

Finally, marketing to an African audience requires significant research. Africa has over 50 countries, each of which has its own unique culture. A marketing strategy that works in Nigeria may not work in Kenya.

Collect data, analyze and respond accordingly. As long as you are working with a well-defined goal in mind, it is easier to establish your target audience and market to them effectively.

Have any other tips on marketing effectively to an African audience? Share them below.