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‘Mimi’ Fhatuwani Mphaphuli, Head of Search, CBR Marketing

CBR Marketing’s Head of Search, ‘Mimi’ Fhatuwani Mphaphuli, was aiming for a career in sound engineering and music production when she joined the world of digital marketing, not knowing what it was. “Music and music production were my passions and the courses I studied, but it was difficult to find work. Then I heard about a company looking for interns to train in something called SEO. I had never heard of SEO. But it all started from there – I fell in love with digital and I haven’t looked back.”

That was in 2010 and Mimi grew in the digital marketing world, first with a branding and marketing company, and then with a digital marketing company, where she gained experience in a wide range of disciplines. Mimi joined CBR Marketing in May 2015 as a Senior Search Specialist, and was promoted to head of search in July 2016, managing a team of five.

Mimi explains the Search Department’s role. “Online search is very process-driven and it can get too structured. We avoid that. We get to know our clients and understand their objectives – and then tailor-make campaigns specifically for them.” She says Search is about data analysis, understanding stats, knowing what people are doing online, and really understanding your client’s audience. “For some clients you may look at programmatic buying, but that may not work for another client. It’s always about the client.”

She advises companies wanting to make an impact in the digital space to “never stop learning”, adding that what was happening last week could change by next week. “It’s an exceptionally fast-paced sector and anyone in this space needs to follow the trends, read and read some more, and understand that this is a constantly changing environment – which is largely its appeal.”

Mimi is quick to compliment her team for their drive, for their willingness to learn, and for their impressive work ethic that ensures the best results are achieved for every client. She is inspired by different things, such as people who have overcome difficult circumstances, who have made something of their lives out of nothing, and taken disadvantages and turned them into strengths.

She is passionate about music, having been constantly exposed to it, as a child, by her father who had a vinyl record player and filled the house with jazz – Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, and many more. Mimi collects vinyl records herself now, and has extended her music repertoire to include indie, folk, blues and jazz – especially music that isn’t commonly heard on radio.

She plays piano and guitar and sings, and has placed learning to play the saxophone as top of her bucket list – for a different phase in her life. Mimi maintains that learning music as a youngster is an invaluable discipline for later in life. It ensures that when she researches and then presents to a client, she is totally prepared, with focus on every detail. “If I was performing an item, I would practice and practice until I know it perfectly. It’s the same in my work. Being practiced and prepared is very important to present excellent work.”

Mimi, who is 27 and single, is also an inveterate reader, ironically preferring real books and the feel of paper to their digital counterparts, and is a huge fan of African literature that reflects the colour, fun, and normality of African life. At the moment she is reading Purple Hibiscus by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She describes herself as “an extroverted introvert” who can do crowds, but loves her own space – and sitting in her pyjamas binge-watching Friends.

For more information on CBR, go to www.cbrmarketing.co.za.