Women In Marketing 2020 Edition ft. Theresa Bernardo from The Urban Writers
Theresa is a Cape Town-born creative who works for The Urban Writers. A digital native, she has not met with any of her colleagues. Who else better to detail the intricacies of working remotely! Let’s explore more on this segment of Women In Marketing 🇿🇦
Thinking about anything for too long makes them more complicated than they are. Everything is always much simpler than what you think they are
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Some of my best memories include discovering new places with my friends and watching some of the best sunsets on Cape Town’s beaches. As a kid growing up, there was always something magical about sitting down on the sand with Table Mountain with the city lights to your left and the ocean to your right. It’s almost too much beauty for the eyes to comprehend.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I can sing. I have an insanely big passion for music and the art behind putting together different sounds. Music is something I currently value as personal to me. Perhaps one day, my introvert-self will escape her shell and share it with the world.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I would designate a portion of it to my family to ensure they live comfortably and are secured for the future.
I would also love to start a program that gets meals out to as many people in Cape Town that are struggling. It always bothers me to see the poverty displayed on our streets.
I believe that hunger and a lack of access to clean water and sanitation are some of the biggest issues we have in South Africa. It’s not only because people are suffering. It’s also because it fuels so many other problems, one of the worst being violence. Due to need, there is desperation, and due to that, there is violence. As a result, we misinterpret each other in this country and people act out.
A few million dollars won’t solve all of the problems we have in Cape Town or the entire country for that matter, but it can plant a seed. It can create a movement to improve the country and help its people at the root of the problem.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Probably sushi, and I like to share. :)
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
To be honest, starting in my career, I didn’t even think about marketing as a career for me. I was interested in many other things, but as I started experiencing the process of taking a concept and turning it into something that was not only creative but demanded attention — achieving that seemed quite fascinating to me.
I discovered this at a point in my work experience as I have only assisted a marketing team before I went solo with my work. Moving on from this assistant job and the one that followed, I woke up one day and decided that I’m going to write. Without any experience, I wrote millions of words over three years. Literally! I’m not sure what drove me to start, but without hesitation in my mind, I did. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t have a degree or experience.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
An owl, because it’s the animal that matches my personality the most. The owl keeps to itself. It is invisible but poised, and it’s perfectly content as is. It observes the world from a distance to learn as much as it can. It’s not disruptive, nor understood, although it can be misunderstood for many reasons. It’s many different things, but simple.
To say the least, it’s just a little majestic in its own under its wings. That is until it takes flight. Then it soars to show the world, unexpectedly.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
I’ve done a lot more than what’s displayed on my LinkedIn profile. What’s not displayed is the trial and error that moulded my skills as a self-taught writer, or as the marketing world calls it, ‘copywriter’.
When you start as a writer, the perception of a ‘new’ experience may last a few years because you do a lot more work than you would’ve ever imagined. At most, you are grateful for the opportunity to write for companies around the world, particularly if you get to bring new or improved websites to life with fresh content. Even writing 30,000-word ebooks, as I have for the past year, has taken a lot of time and hard work. Regardless of the quantity of work, bringing a website to life with the purpose to support a company’s sales, or an ebook to satisfy a customer, has been quite fulfilling.
It has allowed me to write millions of words over the past few years without constraint, all of which have contributed to what I can to do today. When you are a writer, it’s not about the prize as much as it is about the fulfilment you get when you finish a project or receive a thumbs up from your customer or client. Copywriting is a passionate endeavour, and it takes time to ease into, whether you’ve studied the field or not.
So, if you are interested, recognize if you are equipped with a passion for it. With time, your skill will excel, and the rewards will follow. It’s a never-ending process that builds an encyclopedia of information into your brain. Your secret ingredient must be persistence.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I am #TEAMCOFFEE! It’s comforting during the day, especially if I have a lot of work to do. My day starts with my most pressing tasks and responding to emails for the day, followed by a workout to recharge my energy levels before I continue with the rest of my work.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
When you like to work, it’s difficult to find a balance as opposed to someone that doesn’t like their job. I work from home permanently. It has been challenging in the past because it’s difficult to distinguish your work-time from your downtime.
I try to maintain a balance by getting enough sleep, taking a break when I need it, working out to split my day in two, and when I’ve been indoors for too long, go out with friends. Retail therapy helps too!
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
In the early 2000s or before that, it may have seemed like something that damages your career but I think that, with the rise of technology and more people doing online work, or even becoming entrepreneurs, it’s changed.
Today, staying too long at a company strikes me as a waste of time, but then again, it also depends on the career you have. If you’re self-employed like me, changing the companies you work for doesn’t seem necessary because you’re constantly busy working with different people, developing yourself in new fields, and learning things you wouldn’t have otherwise. If you are working at a company as an employee, unless you are truly fulfilled or have specific goals, if you want to grow in your career, you have to gain as much experience as you can.
The bigger your goals, the more skills you require, which can only be learned if you are placed in challenging work environments. When you are comfortable, you stop growing.
FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION?
I think women add a touch of care to any industry they find themselves in. We are nurturers, and our reasons often differ from men’s.
That doesn’t mean we need to be more like men or vice versa to be able to do our jobs adequately or to excel. It just means that both parties bring something different and valuable to the table. Women possess more empathy than men, which is sort of like a superpower because all successful marketers and entrepreneurs are empathetic. Men can, of course, have this quality too, but it comes more naturally for women. In this regard, women are more fit to manage a company than men, which involves sales and marketing.
Women view things from various perspectives that are crucial to running a successful company, including the perspectives of customers and employees. We are often perceived as “too soft” to manage a business, but to have empathy means something entirely different than the concept of “soft”. To have empathy means that you care about people, and if you care about your employees, they will care about your customers. If you care about your customers, they are more likely to be pleased with your products, services, and the delivery of both if they are clear about your intentions.
The more you care about your customers, the more inclined they will be to trust you and appreciate your brand. They will be dedicated to your brand, which is not something many companies can achieve.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
There is a quote by Harriet Jackson Brown Jr. that reads, “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
Well, if your competitors arrived at the party earlier than you did, they probably got to have the best piece of the pie. It’s not to say that there isn’t any pie left, but the best has been diminished. It’s the same with the digital and technologically-advanced age we find ourselves in. I’m sure to some people, especially the elderly generation, it can seem overwhelming, and up until a few years ago, many businesses even thought of it as unnecessary. Most used the excuse that their business doesn’t need to go digital and that their traditional operations have sufficed for years prior.
However, today, it’s never been more necessary to take your business online. The sooner, the better too because it’s literally like a battlefield out there. Chances are, if you are an established and renowned business that hasn’t taken advantage of the internet yet, you’ve fallen short against your competitors, who have probably already established their brand and elevated its presence online. That means that they have managed to capture the attention of your customers, which likely also followed by rendering what used to be your sales.
If you think about the pandemic (Covid-19) and the impact it’s had on businesses and economies all around the world, businesses can gain more clarity about the point here. In South Africa specifically, there was a lockdown that lasted six months, which halted most business operations, some of which are now out of business because there was a sudden need for the entire country to purchase products online.
If every company in, for example, the food industry, sold their products online, then the sales would’ve been distributed evenly among all businesses but because many haven’t transitioned online, they suffered the consequences. The same goes for every category of the retail industry. Even after the lockdown, more people purchased products online than before it, which has forced many businesses to take their business online during the lockdown. Better late than never.
Of course, the pandemic is just one example of how crucial it is to have an online presence where all your customers are at, and where you can make sales with ease.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
With a formal job working for a company permanently, a system can be set in place for employees to log their hours to ensure they don’t exceed a certain number of hours. It can be done with online tools like TSheets or countless apps available online.
Responsibilities must also be distributed evenly, which should be checked by management weekly without the influence or pressure of micromanagement.
MARKETING OBJECTIVES WILL MOST LIKELY CHANGE DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW HAS YOUR ORGANISATION PIVOTED WHERE MARKETING IS CONCERNED, AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY AMID THE PANDEMIC?
The benefit of working for an online-only digital company is that nothing ever changed. We were privileged throughout the pandemic, especially during the months of lockdown. If anything, business increased because people globally were trying to make a buck some way or the other. As for marketing strategies, we have a very dynamic team that took care of our online presence to support the sales of our orders.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT The Urban Writers?
The Urban Writers (TUW) is a terrific company to work for. Although I’ve never met management or my co-writers and editors in person, we talk online on our communication platform, over webinars, and discuss work, updates, and sometimes have a nice chat. We work together to make sure our Ebook orders are according to marketplace standards and the best quality they can be to meet customer expectations. It’s a real joy to work with over 150 people from South Africa, Canada, the U.S., UK, Pakistan, and countless other countries globally. I’m not sure I would’ve had the opportunity to work with so many incredible and different people from all over the world at any other job.
What makes a company innovative is company culture, building your team up, giving them the opportunities to grow in their skills and expand their knowledge, along with supporting them.
These are the things that TUW has nailed without a doubt. Realistically, there aren’t many companies that can accomplish all of these things. Even if it seems simple, it’s not. I guess that TUW has discovered the secret sauce to what it takes to create a team as powerful, humble, and diligent as they have. If you look after your employees, they will look after your customers, which is the case for the Urbanites. The company’s innovation reflects how well employees and customers should be treated as both support the sustainability of the business.
With support from management, we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and acquire more knowledge about our skills and field. They have allowed writers and editors the opportunity to do what we love, and that’s why I consider them to be the best. I can truly say that I love my job. Any company that has employees who can say that, is surely doing something right.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
I don’t believe the pandemic affected the influencer marketing industry negatively at all. If anything, it turned influencer marketing into an even greater success because brands couldn’t go about advertising the way they used to. Since operations were halted, they had to find an alternative way to market and promote themselves, which made influencer marketing the perfect means of promotion to do just that.
Besides, people don’t want to see products being displayed on billboards or commercials. They want to see other people review their authentic experiences using products, which is a way better marketing technique than traditional advertising methods.
If anything affects influencer marketing negatively, it will be the rise of robots trying out lipstick and promoting the cosmos at the bar. Until then, yay for influencer marketing.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF The Urban Writers BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
I’m not in a management position, but I can see that the company has grown a lot over the past 12 months. Our team has expanded more than ever before, and we’ve had significant upgrades, like with our TUW app and online presence.
You may be wondering if Person “A” pays Person “B” to do the actual writing, who owns the final copyright? The short answer is that the copyright for a ghostwritten book belongs exclusively to the buyer.https://t.co/i4Eo1CEK0B#writingservices #selfpublishers
— The Urban Writers (@TheUrbanWriters) October 26, 2020
Our CEO, Marco Moutinho, and COO, Natasha Moutinho, has also done a great job at connecting us with our customers by simplifying the process of direct communication to ensure our customers get the full experience from overseeing their writers’ work to communicating with both writers and editors during the process of writing a book.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”
Don’t think too much about everything you have to get done. When I write, it’s not 300 words a day, it’s more like a couple thousand, and you have to be mentally ready for that. If you’re tired, I don’t recommend continuing work if it requires you to maintain focus for a long period like I have to with writing Ebooks.
It’s also not helpful to overthink as it can halt your productivity. Thinking about anything for too long makes them more complicated than they are. Everything is always much simpler than what you think they are.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Apart from research, I find myself flipping through the latest headlines and reading some news articles to start my day. I prefer paperbacks over Ebooks, but I read both. I enjoy nonfiction self-help books above fictional ones. My favourite books include ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, books by Mark Manson, and of course, Gary Vaynerchuk, like ‘Crush It!’
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
How I Met Your Mother and mostly documentaries.
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
Here in South Africa, we greet with the elbow, but if all else fails, we can always click each other’s heels.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
Previous co-workers. Even though you don’t always acknowledge each other when you work together or keep in touch after you’ve moved on from a company, you end up caring for those you spend at least a third of your day with five days a week.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRYs
Don’t stand still. Keep moving in many directions, but be sure that you have clarity about where you are going. Research everything you do, and never work for a company or client that is not credible in some way. It is very important in the freelance world specifically.
Freelance makes up a big part of the marketing industry, so it’s necessary to know how to navigate the grounds thereof. When you seek clients, don’t rush it, and don’t be desperate either. Take your time and know your worth, but be realistic. Make sure you have what it takes to deliver the expectations of respected clientele.
In an ideal situation of work, you get paid based on your ability to utilize marketing tools to such a degree that you add to the success of another company, whether it’s through branding, content creation, social media marketing, sales, etc..
So, make sure you understand what your client needs and the message they want to convey to their customers.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Firstly, don’t be afraid to fail. Your best work will blossom if you maintain the resilience to push through times of difficulty and challenges. You are what you survive with your head held high, no matter if your knees are on the ground. Secondly, this too shall pass. Finally, your future is whatever you want to make of it.
Your vision may come into focus tomorrow or ten years from now, but if you believe in yourself, your potential and dreams will speak for itself.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
I’m not the ideal candidate for managing too many things all at once. I’d like to believe that I am, but my focus is permitted to either one or two tasks at a time. When I have too many things on my plate, it gets a little crazy, and I become quiet and stressed out. Other than that, I experience anxiety in stressful situations where the attention is diverted towards me. I usually prefer to fly under the radar.
It becomes very difficult for me to communicate effectively in circumstances like this, which is something I recognize as my weakness. It’s been a significant challenge to step up and put myself out there to overcome it. I try, even though it’s very challenging, and seems impossible sometimes. I reckon that I will eventually overcome it, but until then, here’s to putting myself on the spot as much as I can, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, and hoping for the best.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE?
Ella Kruger, the Head of Customer Relations of The Urban Writers.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Professionally, I would like to meet and learn from my sources of inspiration, preferably Gary Vaynerchuk.
He is what I like to call ‘king’ of inspiring influencers/ entrepreneurs that have aided in my journey from going from the person that didn’t know what to do next workwise to someone that created self-employed opportunities without going the traditional route.
It may sound cliche to say, but GaryVee changed the game for me because when I felt lost as a stagnant office employee, I found the courage to quit, and instead of being careful or reviewing what I don’t know, jump. I dived into the freelance world. At first, it was awful due to my lack of knowledge, but eventually, after you fall a couple of dozen times, you gain something. You learn, and then you get up, and then you grow.
Listening to his videos and podcasts taught me a lot, seven years and counting. He changed my perspective about what work should be, the purpose of it, and gave me insight into what it takes to live your best life. Optimism is the only way. It doesn’t matter what the question or situation is.
As a personal and professional goal, I would also like to start writing my own books, and honestly, use my creativity for as many things that I’m passionate about, like creating music or tapping into the fashion industry to start my very own little brand. It’s a wide pool of goals, but there’s this quote by Napoleon Hill, which I strongly believe, “What the mind of man (or woman) can conceive and believe, the mind of man can achieve.”
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
I feel like people choose heroes for all the wrong reasons sometimes. While I don’t have a celebrity or particular president in mind, I have always admired Princess Diana and the work she did. Her life seemed well put together, but impossible to endure, yet she held her head high and, instead of hiding, she tried to help the causes that needed it the most. To help a world that treats you with a shallow heart takes great strength and humility,
HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/theurbanwriters/
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/theurbanwriters/
Pinterest — https://za.pinterest.com/theurbanwriters/