South African Services SETA integrated marketing communication strategy

Strategy consulting: Integrated marketing communication strategy for South African Services SETA

Brand awareness that translates into positive return on investment is possibly one of the greatest achievements of any company; if a company fails it might as well close its doors. Only once companies achieve sufficient positive brand awareness among their target audiences – most often linked to perceived successful service delivery – will this achievement translate into tangible acknowledgement of the company’s attributes and its position in the industry.

Client profile

The Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SSETA) is one of the 21 SETAs that was re-licensed by the Minister of Higher Education and Training in 2010, for a period stretching from 2011 to 2016. The SSETA is responsible for skills development in the services sector, which comprises 160 000 member companies.

Challenge at hand

In the past year, the SSETA has taken significant strides in improving operations and its approach to business. One such development was the restructuring process that led to the establishment of a Corporate Services department, which also houses a marketing and communication division. However, more needed to be done to develop the newly established Corporate Services function as a strategic business partner informed by emerging trends, models, systems and approaches to strategically support the SSETA to achieve its mandate, goals and targets. SSETA engaged Stone to review their current approach to marketing and communication. They required Stone to develop a strategy that would position the department as a strategic business partner to the organisation, transforming the SSETA marketing and communication division into a strategic centre of business support. The aim was to empower the Corporate Services department to provide the kind of proactive strategic support that will see SSETA ultimately repositioning itself as an industry thought leader.

Stone’s approach to meeting the need

Stone used its unique Pebble Ring Thinking© methodology to develop a fully-integrated marketing communication strategy, which placed the SSETA’s strategic objectives in the centre of all the development processes. A great advantage was Stone’s sound understanding of strategic communication. A critical part of the strategy development process was to complete an accurate analysis of the status quo internally. Stone also conducted an external survey to establish the external stakeholders’ current perception of the SSETA brand in the services industry. This was, amongst others, done through an extensive custom-designed online survey, as well as through a series of bespoke interviews with a substantial number of stakeholders across the services industry. Stone documented the results and carefully examined them for recurring themes and identified critical issues that hindered the brand performance. This in turn enabled Stone to conceptualise key messages and interventions that would stimulate and drive the SSETA brand objectives going forward.

Results achieved and value added for South African Services SETA

  • Maximum impact at minimal cost, due to key interventions that Stone masterminded.
  • An adopted and approved integrated marketing communication strategy, aligned to the organisation’s Sector Skills Planning, Annual Performance Planning and the National Skills Development Strategy III.

Through this project, SSETA achieved the following objectives:

  • An approach to the business of communication, including existing operating models.
  • An approach and methodology to internal and external reporting obligations that the communication activities should meet, including the required reporting formats.
  • Identified software and social media requirements and recommendation.

Due to the success of this project for the Corporate Services division of the SSETA, Stone was also approached to develop strategies for the other division and implemented the marketing communication strategy.