Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends Report highlighted partnership marketing as one of the year’s fastest growing marketing trends and spoke to how organizations operating in the modern business environment “have an opportunity to completely reimagine partnership strategies”.
Mat Conn, Chief Revenue Officer at BPO solutions provider and customer experience partner, Merchants, believes that this means brand collaborations should go beyond being a tick-box exercise for financial gain or B-BEEE requirements, and rather be thought of as a vehicle for social change.
The newly formed, and perhaps unconventional, collaboration with inclusion activist Thembiso Magajana, founder of Social Coding and Merchants is one such example.
Conn explains that businesses are being called to look beyond traditional partnerships with influencers or brand ambassadors simply seeking to promote their products or services. “In 2021, collaboration between business, brands and influencers need to be focused on aligning value systems to create a tangible difference to the communities in which each party operates,” he says.
The collaboration is multi-faceted, based on three pillars – facilitating job creation, driving skills development among young South Africans, and changing the face of technology in rural areas of South Africa.
Social Coding is a skills development company that focuses on equipping rural communities with digital tools to help them navigate an increasingly digitally focused world. Through her work in rural communities, Magajana has seen the possibilities for harnessing technology for a better future for South Africans.
Through Social Coding, she has designed and lead strategic workshops that have impacted 5 845 young people across three provinces in the last 5 years.
“South African people are at the heart of my business, as we strive to build skills, identify talent and change the face of technology in these rural areas,” explains Magajana. “It is imperative that we create an active and collaborative platform between non-profits, corporates and the youth, where we share strategies that allow us to encourage one another, learn from one another and hold one another accountable. Community engagement, particularly amongst rural youth, is critical and must go beyond tokenism. I am proud to be partnering with Merchants because at the heart of the Merchants business is the belief that ‘People Matter’. Our values are aligned in such a way that has the potential to create real change for the youth of South Africa.”
Merchants is a leading customer management partner specialising in BPO that has been creating and managing contact centre operations around the world to blue chip clients since 1981. The business is focused on using the latest technology in its operations to improve and enhance the experience for its agents, rather than replacing them. Conn explains that the collaboration with Magajana is also allowing for the support of local business, through leader-to-leader mentoring and skills transfer.
“Our shared passion for driving skills development at a grassroots level in South Africa has created a strong connection between our businesses, and we are excited about the potential of this partnership, for South African youth, job seekers and existing and potential employees of Merchants,” he concludes.