“I am the founder of a boutique marketing and public relations agency called BEOPLE that’s based on the belief that people are the return on investment in the future economy,” says Livhuwani Nefolovhodwe, who also founded the podcast Lessons with Lion.
“We position ourselves as a business towards the anti-conventional pro-experimentation sphere where our biggest concerns are about value over popularity, and the impact of large numbers.”
Describe BEOPLE and how it started?
BEOPLE started informally when I met my business partner through a corporate marketing project we consulted on.
Our business formally started one year ago and we’re in the process of growing it through word-of-mouth and dark social. In everything we do we merge creativity with people, and I think that’s why our clients keep coming back to us.
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What sparked your love for marketing, social media and content?
My childhood instilled entrepreneurial principles within how I think and see the world. From my perception, an entrepreneur and a marketer are the same kind of person; someone who is obsessed with creating and adding value. Often this person is perceived to be crazy and is undermined, but over time everyone wants to emulate, imitate, and learn from them.
I spend my time finding spaces where I can add value, where I can experiment and play with new concepts or improving existing concepts and structures. My mind eats breathes sleeps ideas and how to make them have value for customers.
Why is digital marketing so important?
Digital Marketing is important simply because it gives you a wide reach over multiple online and offline platforms. If strategised and executed successfully, digital marketing gives you access to large numbers of people locally and globally.
You can use multiple platforms simultaneously to further accelerate your reach and impact, like television and radio (offline) and search engine optimisation and social media marketing (online).
That’s the reason it has been around for decades (because electronics have) and why it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with content marketing, Google Ads, social media or retargeting. Digital marketing can be done both online and offline, and both kinds matter for a well-rounded digital marketing strategy.
What have some of your biggest lessons been when it comes to digital marketing?
When we first started BEOPLE, we assumed that organisations knew what digital marketing is. We quickly learned that there is a wide misconception of what digital marketing is. Corporates and SMEs need to be transparent about what they don’t know about digital marketing to allow them to activate their digital marketing process efficiently and effectively.
When it comes to clients, it’s important to understand that digital marketing is about telling stories. It’s not about the platform, but about how you use the platform to reach and speak to your market. In this digitally saturated economy, companies need to become publishers not advertisers.
Companies need to spend more time and money investing in storytelling, making their content unique, relatable, and relevant over blatantly advertising their products. People want to associate themselves with brands not businesses, similar ideals not necessity, convenience that gives them more time and energy not products.
Digital marketing should not be a responsibility that is passed onto the least experienced member of the organisation. Many people and companies undermine digital marketing as a skill that is exclusive to young people who spend copious amounts of time online. This leads to unsuccessful execution, which results in bad results.
When this happens, a company automatically assumes that digital marketing doesn’t work. This is a false assumption. All jobs matter in a company, one weakness in the chain creates problems in the entire organization.
Tell us about your podcast Lessons with Lion
Lessons with Lion is a free marketing and entrepreneurship podcast for African pioneers. On Lessons with Lion we define a pioneer as anyone who wants more for their themselves and is actively taking steps to acquire it, whether through education, entrepreneurship, or their corporate profession.
Lessons with Lion is one of the first successful independent female-hosted South African marketing podcasts that pioneers in digital philanthropy by offering the podcast free of charge.
The aim of Lessons with Lion is to disrupt pioneers’ access to vital information. We want to challenge South African leaders and decisions makers to create an economy that is truly globally competitive by having stronger SMEs leading our economy.
What brought the idea for Lessons with Lion about?
After university I found myself in spaces where I would either be working with SMEs or consulting for companies that wanted to design programmes that would actively improve the landscape for small business owners.
Through my interaction with SMEs I realised that one of the biggest challenges that South African SMEs face is access to resources, whether it be finance, knowledge, infrastructure.
I wanted to play my part in improving the ecosystem for entrepreneurs, which led me to merge my content creation and marketing skills to find an innovative way to service the market. That’s how my podcast Lessons with Lion was born.
Share some of the challenges you’ve faced as the first South African female to run a successful podcast
Podcasting is still a male-dominated industry in South Africa which comes with challenges that patriarchy and sexism present. There is also the challenge of disrupting and teaching people and organizations about the benefits and influence of podcasting because podcasting is still a relatively new industry in South Africa.
As the first female in South African to run a successful podcast I have had to overcome sexist stereotypes that people try to impose on female intellect and female authority. This means that I have to find very creative ways to garner respect from decision makers and leaders for the value I add to spaces and acknowledgment for the work that I do.
I have been able to achieve this through strategic marketing decisions that have allowed me to position myself in spaces that can help me grow & succeed.
What key lessons can you share with other business owners?
I’ve learned that everything in life and in business is a mental game. As corny as this might sound, entrepreneurship requires you to have serious mental strength.
You have to keep reminding yourself not to take things personally, understand that it doesn’t matter how good you think you are what matters is how much value you add and how the market responds to it.
A key lesson that has improved my perspective is realising that the world has abundant opportunities.
When you believe that there are funds in the market for your value proposition, you will exist and operate in a manner that leads you to the right spaces. Your perspective is the difference between you and failure.