Winning Women – Candice Goodman: A marketer’s pocket rocket

2014-05-12 08:00

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Candice Goodman, the MD of Mobitainment, has put mobile marketing on the map, winning both local and international awards for the company she owns, writes Sue Grant-Marshall

Vibrant and energetic mobile marketing guru Candice Goodman has spent a lifetime translating. That involved languages as a girl growing up in Rome, Italy.

Today she translates mobile technology, breaking down technical language into simple concepts and creating great return on investment for her marketing clients in the process.

In a nutshell, she helps marketers build relationships with their brand customers through their cellphones. This ranges from MMS and mobile websites to mobile competitions and digital communication strategies to create market loyalty.

She founded Mobitainment, a mobile marketing consultancy in 2006, “with the aim of integrating mobiles into traditional advertising”, she explains.

She accessed her home bond to raise funds for her start-up. “I also took a job as a project manager for an American company, working at night due to the time difference so I fitted in with their business days.”

During local daytime, she worked on her Mobitainment business. As the years passed – and she worked at night to fit in with US times and by day from her Benmore, Sandton, home on her Mobitainment business – she realised that in terms of mass marketing in Africa, the humble entry-level cellphone was the way to go.

With cellphones outpacing computers, cinemas and TV as the go-to screen of choice, “Africa is a mobile-first continent and in some cases, it can be seen as a mobile-only continent”, according to Goodman.

“But in developing countries, like South Africa, only 50%of cellphone users can browse the internet using their phones. The other half rely on SMS, voice and USSD [unstructured supplementary service data], using entry-level cellphones that cannot be used to access the internet. We had to find ways to do without the latter,” she says.

USSD is basically a call, but instead of hearing a voice, we communicate in text. It’s cheaper, works across all phones and networks, and is familiar to the mass market.

So Mobitainment became innovative, using world-first, home-grown technology to provide low-cost, sometimes free, mechanisms for South Africans to converse with brands using technology such as free messaging service and USSD.

“Mobile advertising was revolutionised by the advert tagged on to the Please Call Me,” explains Goodman. The latter, a free service, available to all cellphone users across all South African networks, on all phones, allows customers to send a free call-back request.

“It’s the most popular thing to do on a mobile phone in South Africa, with about 40?million advertisements sent daily.”

As work poured into Mobitainment, and its strategies and success were spread by word of mouth, so it grew. By 2012, Goodman was employing eight people, servicing more than 100 companies and had won international awards for five years running.

Goodman, who had obtained a BSc degree in computer science from Wits, continued to study, obtaining a first-class pass in marketing management at the Wits Business School.

In 2010, she became the first internationally recognised certified mobile marketer in South Africa.

She recently completed the Goldman Sachs-Gibs 10?000 Women Certificate Programme so that she could, as she says, take her company to the “next level”.

Last year, Mobitainment won the organisation of the year award from the Direct Marketing Association of SA.

This passionate businesswoman, who tackles everything she does with huge determination, is deeply involved in her industry. This year, she was made chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association of SA, having been head of its education and training committee for years.

Joburg-born Goodman grew up in an entrepreneurial family who moved to Italy when she was very young. They returned to South Africa when she was 14.

“We imbibed the spirit of entrepreneurship with our food around the dinner table,” she says.

She started her career in IT as a bursary student at Liberty Life. Some years later, she was asked to develop “the new internet business” at

When it was sold, she was asked to head another start-up in email marketing. Five years later, her team was servicing companies ranging from MTN to eBucks and Mercedes-Benz.

She realised the potential for cellphone marketing in 2004 and incorporated it into the messaging business. When it was sold, Goodman found herself once again working in a corporation.

The turning point came in 2005 when work demands saw her reluctantly leave her son with his grandmother in Durban during school holidays. “I wanted to be master of my own time and decided to open my own business from home.”

She hasn’t looked back and speaks enthusiastically about the potential for growth in South Africa, “where cellphones are a necessity and not a luxury”.

Goodman’s been invited to speak about mobile marketing in Africa at a conference in Frankfurt, Germany. “There is such a worldwide demand for information about reaching the African mass market. With our technology, we touch a consumer’s heart and then reach into his or her pocket,” she says.

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