Launching a new brand to a new market, even when it’s a brand that’s been as successful as VMA Group has been globally, with a 37 year history and enviable track record, is still a daunting one. How will the market react? Will they be excited there is a new offering? Will they resist using a new face in the market? Do we have enough of a unique selling proposition to entice people? Can the brand equity take the business to the next level? Those are just some of the things that go through your mind.
VMA Group has now had its Africa office in place for three months, and the progress and market reception has exceeded all expectations! Reflecting back on the past quarter, I think of the issues and challenges, achievements and successes that VMA Group has experienced since expanding into the last continent in the world where they were not already present…
On starting at VMA Group, I had the privilege of working with and getting to know the London team for the first month, making friends and cementing much needed relationships to ensure that when working in a global business you always have the support you need. Since launching VMA Group Africa, we have rolled out the first ever South Africa Survey to understand the local communication market; hosted three heads of communication breakfast, where senior communication practitioners from a range of industries came together to discuss the issues of the day; and secured 10 active roles, not to mention already successfully placing a number of the those positions. PLUS all the business development and the market expansion activities, with reams of research, meeting upon meeting, radio interviews, press releases and featured articles. In fact, it’s worth mentioning, we have already profiled a number of our candidates, and secured new roles on the back of showcasing the talent we already represent.
Reception in the market has been extremely encouraging so far, with many HR and communication practitioners, alike, noting that the VMA Group offering is a unique one. Not only does VMA have a global reach, representing some 65,000 marketing and communication practitioners globally, with the South Africa database increasing by dozens of pre-screened candidates every day, but it also offers the VMA Enhance training, which is critical in an era of vendor rationalisation and consolidation. Click to hear more about our launch and market positioning locally (bizcommunity.com podcast).
It has also been really rewarding to hold the heads of communication breakfasts, co-hosted with strategic partners such as Altron, Woolworths and Standard Chartered. These forums allow senior communication practitioners to participate in a roundtable discussion with likeminded peers, to share their experiences of strategic communication and to consider the industry trends. The first two breakfasts focussed on the newly launched VMA Group research into the South Africa market. You can read more about that here. These forum meetings are now a regular fixture in the calendar with top corporates already confirmed as hosting the forthcoming sessions.
As a global organisation we are also playing in the broader Africa marketplace, with clients in Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana and the like – some work originating from South Africa, but other work coming in from global multinationals who are looking for local market expertise to assist in sourcing the right talent and expanding their talent pool where necessary.
Locally, it has been remarkably interesting engaging with the human capital teams and starting to learn how they operate in the marketplace when it comes to outsourcing talent search expertise. It has been particularly rewarding to work with some companies who had been searching for many months, using multiple agencies, and when we submitted our shortlist of five, they interviewed three and found the one they wanted, first time round!
I think this has a lot to do with VMA Group’s own recruitment philosophy, as we appoint people who have themselves worked in the communication space… this means we are in a position to intimately understand not only the recruitment process but the marketplace within which we are recruiting. Therefore, when we take a brief, we actually consult with the client on the scope of the role, becoming a strategic partner to them, rather than just an order taker filling out a job card.
We continue to receive positive feedback and new business from clients who, thanks to the media exposure that we’ve achieved since launching in May of this year, have now heard of VMA Group Africa. It’s always nice to sit in a meeting and the client says, ‘oh, we never knew there was someone like you in the market… you’re exactly what we need’, or ‘there’s definitely a gap, we’re so glad we found you’. It does of course make it easier when you have a four decade track record and presence in eight markets!
So here’s to the next three months of VMA Group Africa!