Independent Schools Marketing Association (ISMA) school marketers make waves in Durban

| March 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Keryn House

It promised to be a varied programme, entitled ‘Making waves’ and matching the diverse duties of a marketer, hosted at sister Tsogo Sun hotels Maharani and Elangeni, located on the beachfront in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

Usha Maharaj, chartered accountant and ISMA conference chairperson and master of ceremonies,1 instantly empowered everyone present by declaring her understanding of a school marketer’s duties: “The power of emotion, the power of picture, the power of words, the power of positioning, and the power of knowing your target audience and tailoring your marketing strategy to suit your audience.”

Keynote speaker Dale Tomlinson, CEO of The Hardy Boys,2 took up the theme of power too, inspiring the audience to take risks in their marketing, to encourage creativity and not to fear. Speaker Sonja Kruse3 is familiar with that message. The delightful ‘Ubuntu Girl’ had the audience captivated with her story of backpacking through Africa, covering 13 685 km.

Janina Masojada, independent architect,4 also wove a tale of a journey. The audience learned from her how building design is the visual expression of the value systems we want to live. This was particularly relevant to school marketers involved in the development of new school facilities.

Getting the most out of media

Doody Adam, editor of community magazine The Ridge,5 and Erich Viedge,6 international media expert, provided the school marketers with a revealing ‘cheat sheet’ for getting the most out of media (in particular, newspapers and magazines).

Nicholas Hall, attorney at Michalsons Attorneys,7 delivered possibly the most chilling presentation of the whole conference on how to handle social media threats, defamation, cybercrime and the use of personal information and images in school marketing.

The main sponsor of the conference, Varsity College,8 was ever-present. The college’s national marketing manager, Kevin Johnson, surprised the audience with his energy as he literally jumped onto the stage and threw up images of three different personal brands: Madonna, Lance Armstrong and Kevin Johnson, demonstrating how we (as marketers) “… are perception managers”. Yet integrity is key, he added. “We must be the same inside as outside”– a concept he called “the flip”.

Tell the truth

Other stellar speakers included Ingrid Budge, founder and director of Metamorphosis Brand Transformation,9 who spoke about market research and Brian Mitchell, executive head of Clifton School in KZN, who urged marketers to tell the truth about their schools, and to tell it often. The theme of authenticity was picked up by entrepreneur Karabo Che Mokaepo,10 who said: “Authentic marketing begins not with the tactics/strategy, but with self.” Photographer Matthew Wilman11 stressed the importance of capturing the legacy of your school to make it valuable into the future; and Aki Kalliatakis from the Leadership Launchpad12 changed on stage from a suit to biker kit, advising ISMA marketers to “reinvent yourself to meet customer needs and treat customers individually”.

Conference delegates also had the opportunity to meet Lebogang Montjane, the new CEO of ISASA, after he told the audience about the importance of quality education and provided an informative view of the schooling sector ‘big picture’ that impacts marketers daily.

Making waves All too soon, on the third day, the sun set over Durban and the delegates departed to their respective schools around the country. Having been showered with deserved praise, the ISMA KZN conference team breathed a sigh of relief, murmuring, “We ‘made waves’!”

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Category: Autumn 2015, Featured Articles

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News posts added for Independent Education by Global Latitude DMA

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