All too often, brands try to break into new markets without having enough local insights. For one strategic communications agency, that scenario was simply not an option for their clients. Innocomm, the brainchild of entrepreneur Jacqueline Boulos, believes in spending time in and getting to know key markets in order to get brand messages to really resonate with local audiences.
LoA chatted to Jacqueline Boulos recently to find out more about this niche communications business that is going places.
What does your company do?
Innocomm is a strategic communications agency that focuses on growing business trust and brand reputation in South and East Africa. We work with local partners in each market to provide the best possible communication solutions to build and grow brands. We focus our services on intrinsic and extrinsic brand communications requirements.
Consulting: Advisory services on how to internally and externally build business trust in your brand through communications. Consulting services include:
- Crises management
- Reputation management
- Brand management
- Project management (communications, activations and events)
- Communications policies
Strategy: Providing short-term and long-term communications strategies that can be implemented either internally or through our external communications team. Strategic services include:
- Public relations strategies and implementation
- Internal communications strategies and implementation
- Stakeholder and influencer engagement strategies
Training: Strategy and consulting is not enough – no business builds trust without the consistent implementation of a strategy. We train internal teams to manage business reputation. Training services include:
- Social media training
- Media engagement training
- Reputation management for the business or individual
"I would love to say that the initial journey was engineered and well planned but starting my own business almost by chance."
What inspired you to start your company?
I would love to say that the initial journey was engineered and well planned but starting my own business almost by chance with a freelance position becoming available in Tanzania. Having worked in South Africa all my life I jumped at the opportunity to work in a different market. Working in Tanzania made me fall in love all over again with communications. It also made me realise how passionate I am about working in other African markets. I realized that there was a great need for agencies to really understand other markets and not only remotely manage the work that they do for clients in those markets. I strongly believe that you have to live in a market and experience it before you can truly understand local and relevant ways to communicate in that market. And therefore I ultimately started my own business – to address this in the South African market. I want to offer businesses expanding into Africa the opportunity to communicate in these markets with relevant, localized content.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We are …
- Always enthusiastic, inquisitive and share knowledge freely with our team and clients.
- Committed to innovation and transformation of the industry through pro-active work and content driven marketing deliverables.
- Driven by a high standard of service delivery with insight and mastery of our field.
- Market relevant through local knowledge and ethical partnerships.
- Strongly business-oriented, highly strategic with foresight and vision – delivery every time – on time,
- Transparent in communication with both our team and client – we are communicators and keep communication channels open at all times.
- Relentless in exploring opportunities and the best ideas and partnerships for our clients.
- We are unassuming and approachable.
- Constant in living our culture – we are responsible for our actions as an individual and as a team.
"I strongly believe that you have to live in a market and experience it before you can truly understand local and relevant ways to communicate in that market."
Tell us a little about your team
We see ourselves as the Uber of the communications agency world… we don’t employ the best of breed communication specialists but we know them… and we partner with them on the projects that fit their specific skill set. This offers great value to clients as not only does this cut on company overhead costs that are ultimately passed on to clients, but it also offers clients the right team members for their requirements. I have, however, partnered with Natalie du Toit, Olympian and Paralympian swimmer to diversify the business. Having Natalie’s passion and dedication is contagious. She has a great strategic mind – always challenging the status quo. I am fortunate to be working with a partner who brings such a rich and diverse experience set to the partnership.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
It it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – is the mantra of mediocrity (Rich Mulholland) – this is from an article I read during January 2014 when I made the decision to change the direction of my life’s journey after having been employed in corporates and agencies for more than 13 years. This quote has stayed with me ever since and I think of it every time I evaluate a business of life decision.
It is so easy for us to fall into a life or business that is “good enough” but this is not always what makes us happy. From the start of the business, growth has been organic with little focus on growing the business but rather servicing existing clients. 2017 has however brought a time of change and for growth. It has brought about a period for strategic change and looking at the industry and our business in a new way.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
In my mind the future of agencies is in how well we can collaborate. I would like for us to further extend our network to become even stronger in the work we do. Through these partnerships, we will be able to offer even greater scaled services to our clients. In the next three years, I would also want to grow a stronger presence in the East African markets focus we focus on. Possibly in the next five years we want to extend our offering to Dubai and related markets.
"In my mind the future of agencies is in how well we can collaborate. I would like for us to further extend our network to become even stronger in the work we do."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
- The most joy comes from the small things. Thank you mails from clients or receiving a client recommendation.
- Seeing clients grow and knowing that we were part of their journey.
- Having the opportunity to manage my own time and priorities to accommodate family life.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Focus your energy on the positive and the areas that you want to grow in. Where you focus your attention is where the growth will be. This is not just a theory – this is reality. As woman we so often doubt our abilities. Don’t doubt yourself or your abilities and keep on challenging the status quo. Work hard for what you want. As Estee Lauder said: I never dreamed about success – I worked for it. Dream, but work hard and bravely every day!
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Why LoA loves it….
In marketplaces that are often congested, competitive, and saturated with conflicting brand messages, breaking through the noise and the clutter can be hard work. Yet this situation represented a unique business opportunity for Jacqueline Boulos, founder of Innocomm and her business partner Natalie du Toit. They saw a gap to offer clients a deeper set of market insights and local knowledge in key markets, combined with the specialist expertise to get brand exposure and traction where needed. This highly targetted and insightful approach is what separates out Innocomm from the competitors. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa